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Bennett, Chauncey Z.

Founder of the United Kennel Club

Today, the United Kennel Club, the second oldest and largest register of pure bred dogs, operates out of its 100 East Kilgore Road building, but its humble Kalamazoo origins took root in 1898 with its founder, Chauncey Z. Bennett, an Alamo Township native whose love of dogs (especially working dogs) drove him to establish an alternative to other kennel clubs–those like the American Kennel Club, which Bennett considered elitist, and lax in their inbreeding regulation.


1898-1936

Born in Alamo Township in 1875, the young Bennett bounced from job to job (clerk, firefighter e.g.) in the late 1800’s. By 1898, the city directory indicates that he was working for the Desenberg Grocery Company as a traveling salesman. But apparently at his core, Bennett’s true passion was to be a dog fancier. A lover of working dog breeds like Coon Hounds and Pit Bull Terriers, Bennett bristled at the practices of other dog breeding associations, believing them to be negligent in their breeding standards and registering of dogs. Bennett’s own dog, an American Pit Bull Terrier, was not recognized as a purebred according to these other registry organizations. Bennett believed these kennels were focusing mostly on purebreds associated with the upper class for the purpose of showing. He also held that breeders were “unscrupulous”, often “passing off mutts as purebreds, complete with falsified papers and breeding records.” Determined to correct these industry shortcomings, Bennett set out to develop his own independent organization. Unsurprisingly, the first dog to receive his official registration under the U.K.C. was his own, “Bennett’s Ring”.

U.K.C. Pedigree Certificate, 1957

Established at his home in 1898, the United Kennel Club was born. Traveling throughout the country, Bennett became a leading dog fancier, compiling knowledge that would lead to stricter, more transparent standards. In 1905, he began publishing Bloodlines, a nationally read publication detailing the U.K.C.’s activities. According to a 1999 article from the Kalamazoo Gazette, “Over the next three decades, the standards he set helped reduce inbreeding of dogs, improve registration of all dogs and increased the number of recognized breeds. Working class dogs like the American (Pit) Bull Terrier and the Coon hound were given consideration in UKC that they couldn’t get from other “elitist” kennel clubs.” In addition to increasing the visibility and appreciation of Coonhounds and American Bull Terriers, the U.K.C. was the first to recognize “one of the most popular breeds of the 1940’s, the Toy Fox Terrier, and later on the American Water Spaniel and the English and Australian Shepherds.” As the business expanded, and more staff were added, Bennett moved the U.K.C. to the downtown Hanselman Building.

United Kennel Club Brochure

Bennett died in December of 1936, and was buried in Riverside Cemetery. His daughter Frances assumed operations over the business, later marrying Dr. Edwin G. Furhrman, who then took over as President of the U.K.C. in 1944. The U.K.C. was sold in 1973 to Fred T. Miller, and continues today.

“When Bennett died in 1936, U.K.C. registered 30,000 dogs a year and was considered the largest registration bureau “of its kind in the world.”–Kalamazoo: The Place Behind the Products (p.290)

Article written by Kalamazoo Public Library staff, Ryan Gage, May 2022

Sources

 

Articles

 

“Chauncy Z. Bennett Founded Registry Known Over Globe”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 26 March 1950

“Passion for Dogs Became Business Venture”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 19 June, 1999, page S9, column 1

“Every Dog Has Its Day–120 Years of the United Kennel Club”

Museon, Summer 2018, page 14


Books

Kalamazoo: The Place Behind the Products, Larry B. Massie and Peter J. Schmitt (H 977.418 M417)


Local History Room Files

Subject File: United Kennel Club

Name File: Bennett, Chauncey Z.

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