Bruce Schwartz – Talking Terriers with Montgomery County Kennel Club’s President
Bruce Schwartz, of Los Angeles, California, began showing dogs as a 15-year-old and has never wavered from his devotion to terriers. The President of Montgomery County Kennel Club got his start with Miniature Schnauzers but is best known as a breeder of top-winning Welsh Terriers. His Bruhill-bred dogs have helped to bring the “Old English Wirehaired Black and Tan Terrier” to the fore in the US, collectively amassing nearly 150 all-breed Best in Show awards.
Among the kennel’s many victories, the inaugural Great Western Terrier Association of Southern California, Montgomery County, and the 100th-anniversary show of the Welsh Terrier Club of America, are notable. Bruce is past President of the Welsh Terrier Club of America, a former AKC Delegate of the American Fox Terrier Club, and the current President of Montgomery County’s All-Terrier classic. He is an AKC judge, approved for the Terrier Group, several Working Breeds, Junior Showmanship, and BIS.
An Early Introduction
“Our Dachshund had died and our vet suggested we get a Miniature Schnauzer,” Bruce recalls of his family’s introduction to terriers. The year was 1966 and the young man soon found himself at a dog show with his new pup. It was only a matter of time before he stepped into the ring. As Bruce relates, “The second time I showed the Schnauzer myself he got two points and it was a big deal.”
The win must have been all that was needed to convert this dog-crazy kid and his mother, Lillian, into fanciers. In no time, the family had more than one show dog and was looking for guidance from a professional handler. “The person who showed our Mini Schnauzers for us was Daisy Austad,” Bruce recalls. The family also hired another handler who was just getting established in the US at the time. According to Bruce, “Peter Green showed a Schnauzer bitch on the East Coast for us for a while.” It is through Peter that Bruce met the man who introduced him to the breed he has devoted himself to so completely.
“Ric Chashoudian had this Welsh Terrier in the kennel that I took a liking to,” Bruce recalls of his early visits to the legendary terrier man’s facility. Apparently, Ric recognized a connection between the young man and this dog, so he allowed Bruce to take the Welsh home on occasion. The two youngsters quickly bonded and in no time, Ch. Philtown Protocol was Bruce’s show dog. In 1973, the pair traveled to Philadelphia for the Montgomery weekend where they enjoyed their first taste of a big win. The victory took place at the Devon Dog Show Association the day before Montgomery.
As reported in the New York Times on October 7th, “Another of the finalists was owned by a student, Bruce Schwartz, a senior at Pepperdine University. He flew from Los Angeles, with his Welsh Terrier, Ch. Philtown Protocol, who was gaited by Ric Chashoudian to his first blue rosette.” Edward E. Loebe was the judge who awarded the win under the watchful gaze of the world’s leading terrier experts. Bruce recalls the memory with clarity. “We were hooked on the breed,” he says of the win.
“Protocol” was more than just a show dog. “He turned out to be a good stud dog,” Bruce says of the dog that sired his first home-bred champion, Bruhill’s Concordat, and the Best in Show winner Ch. Tujay’s Touchdown. “Touchdown” was co-owned with Wood Wornall, who also handled the record-breaking Ch. Anasazi Billy the Kid, bred by Nancy O’Neal and owned by Bruce. In 1996, Jim Reynolds awarded “Billy” Best in Show at Montgomery. “It was an amazing, unexpected thrill,” Bruce says of the win. “We had a great Westbury weekend but a really not-so-great Hatboro and Devon,” he recalls of the shows leading up to the main event.
“Our feeling [on the day] was just kind of ‘whatever it’s going to be, it’s going to be.’” The win was a triumph for the Welsh Terrier’s team and it provided Bruce with an invaluable lesson. “Although we had been ‘in dogs’ for 30 years, it wasn’t until those 30 years that we had the quality of dog that could do that,” he offers. “Greatness doesn’t come along that often.” In 1999, Billy the Kid became one of only a handful of American show dogs to win 100 All-Breed Bests.
In Service to the Club
The success Bruce enjoyed at Montgomery is reciprocated through his active involvement in club activities. In 2010, he joined Walter Goodman, Carol Carlson, and Helma Weeks as a club officer. His term as Vice-President was short-lived as he became the club’s President the following year. Bruce is also the current Breed Club Liaison, together with Ken Kauffman, tasked with coordinating the needs of each parent club with those of Montgomery and its members. “That’s really what I do,” he says of his engagement with breed clubs both old and new.
Although Montgomery welcomes each parent club as part of the family, Bruce understands that every organization is a unique collective of volunteers. Some clubs are well established and are part of the tradition of exhibiting at Montgomery, whereas others are still in their infancy. As Bruce suggests, “I think some of the [clubs] have great drive to get a breed established and once the breed is established there’s less cohesiveness to keep the breed going forward.” Montgomery County and its membership are always available to assist any club that might be experiencing a loss of momentum.
Bruce acknowledges that his leadership of the club is in service to the tradition of offering breeders and exhibitors of terriers the finest platform for comparing breeding stock. “[We have] a responsibility to ensure that we do our best to offer the National Specialties a really great venue to showcase the best of these breeds,” he emphasizes. To that end, the judging panel at Montgomery is always comprised of individuals selected by those parent clubs that consider classes at this show as their Specialty. Only Best in Show and those breeds without a Specialty are judged by individuals chosen by Montgomery County. “Montgomery is a show for breeders,” Bruce continues.
“It’s really about the breeders and exhibiting our dogs to be seen by other breeders.” To that end, the show’s current location (since 2021) on the grounds of Macungie Memorial Park in Macungie, Pennsylvania, has proven an ideal venue for showcasing terriers. “We want our show [to be held] on the best grounds in a setting for Terriers, and that is an outdoor setting,” Bruce asserts. “Not everyone was initially happy with the new location, but I think we’ve learned to think of [the new site] as our home.”
Bruce admits that putting on a successful one-day event at any location presents certain challenges in today’s fast-paced world. “As club members, we’re all trying to evolve as dog shows have changed,” he says. “Because entries at most shows are down, many exhibitors seem to be less about competition and more about just finishing dogs as quickly and as easily as possible, rather than really wanting to attend the best shows where the quality is and being proud of your wins.” In this show-and-go environment, Bruce understands the value of a having a good entry at Montgomery. “To have a stand-alone [event] with everything that it takes to put on a show, it gets very expensive,” he confides. “Naturally, we’re very dependent on entries.
There’s no two ways about it.” Thankfully, entries at this Terriers-only show have been relatively steady for the past few years. The average entry of just over 1,600 would be a respectable figure for any American all-breed show today. The fact that Montgomery can continue to draw exhibitors to its Sunday show from across North America and abroad is a tribute to the club’s reputation as a world-class event and to the hard work of its officers and committee members. “We have the premier terrier show in the world,” Bruce says with pride. “People want to be there to show-off their best dogs to fellow breeders and exhibitors.”
When he’s not working on behalf of Montgomery County, Bruce revels in the occasional overseas judging assignment. “I enjoy traveling, seeing new and different things,” he shares.
“My biggest surprise was discovering what a beautiful country Romania is. I had no idea!”
To readers around the world who would like to experience the charm of Southeastern Pennsylvania for the first time, the Montgomery County Kennel Club extends a heartfelt invitation to come to Macungie, Pennsylvania, on Sunday, October 8, 2023. And for terrier breeders and exhibitors planning a return trip to Montgomery this year, Bruce and the club’s officers and committee members would like to welcome you home.