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Lori Whorff | Camellia English Setters

Lori Whorff

Interview with Lori Whorff, Breeder of Camellia English Setters

  1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Where do you live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder? What is your kennel name?
  2. What is your “process” for selecting show puppies? Performance puppies?
  3. In your opinion, is your breed in good condition overall? Any trends that warrant concern?
  4. As a Preservation Breeder, can you share your thoughts on the sport today? How’s the judging these days? What do you think about the number of shows?
  5. In your opinion, is social media good for the sport? Is it harmful?
  6. What are the biggest challenges facing the dog show community as a whole today and how can these be addressed?
  7. What are some of the positive changes you’ve seen in the sport over the past decade?

1. I’m Lori Whorff. I live in East Texas and my kennel name is Camellia English Setters. I have been an animal lover all of my life. I’ve been involved in the sport of purebred dogs for close to 25 years. A former molecular biologist, I took 10 years to study my breed before becoming a breeder. I do believe that a good understanding of genetics, and a more than familiar knowledge of pedigrees and the traits that they are known for, is an essential part of being a successful breeder.

2. I begin evaluating my English Setter puppies the second they are born! Heads, necks, just the feel of them… I think you can tell quality early, especially if you’ve been looking at puppies for many years. I do make my critical decisions regarding conformation between eight and nine weeks of age. I look for type and balance, “smoothness,” and bone.

3. I think, right now, my breed is in the best shape that it has been in in many years. This past fall, I was at our ESAA National and I was so excited to see the quality in many classes. The bitch classes were particularly exceptional and Best of Breed was thrilling, with so many lovely dogs. I was so happy to see this. Breeders are doing a tremendous job. I do want to see breeders being mindful of temperament, of how that is an integral part of our breed’s type.

4. As a preservation breeder, I love going to shows, especially Specialties, and seeing what other breeders have brought forth. There is so much to see and learn from other breeders and it’s interesting to see what stud dogs and certain lines are producing. There are a lot of shows… too many, I think, making it easy to finish almost anything. But, as a breeder, it is your job to evaluate your animals and be critical and analytical about what should be bred and what your goals are. I love going to shows because I love dogs. Of course, I like to have success, but for me, that is not the sole purpose of going. It’s to enjoy my dogs, my friends, and to learn and talk to other breeders.

5. Social media is a double-edged sword. I think it’s great to be able to see dogs from all over the country, and to be able to easily communicate with other breeders all around the world. Unfortunately, I also think that some people use it to bully others. People say things on socials that they would never say in person, and that is unacceptable. I’ve also noticed a big uptick in “shaming.” Criticizing another exhibitor and posting a pic online… yikes! These are the kinds of things that chase people away from our sport. From the outside looking in, it’s not a good look. Rather than make a spectacle of it, just tell the person directly, “Hey, I have a bag if you need it for picking that up.”

6. Animal rights groups are powerful. They have huge amounts of support and money. They buy ads on TV that discourage the breeding of purebred dogs. They’ve made it “uncool” to have a well-bred dog. It’s hard to combat that. In any community that we hold a show in, we need to always reach out and educate the public about purebred dogs, about preservation breeders. The public is unaware of what we do and we need to take every opportunity and let them know. Be kind, be informative, be inclusive. I love it when I’m given the opportunity to speak at a school or a club. We need to share the joy of a well-bred dog, and let them know how hard we work to care for our animals and breed to preserve purpose-bred dogs. If ever you are presented with the opportunity to educate the public on what we do for purebred dogs, take it! I am the new media person for my kennel club (Tyler Texas Kennel Club) and I’m looking forward to sharing my love of purebred dogs!

7. I love how easy it is to communicate and stay in touch with other people in the dog fancy. Social media has been great for that, and also, Zoom meetings are wonderful. You can use these for meetings, for sharing information, or even for holding online seminars about breeding, handling, grooming, anything! We are very lucky to have these tools for both educating and uniting us.

Thank you, SHOWSIGHT, for allowing me to share my thoughts as a preservation breeder and as a lover of dogs!