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  • Writer's picturePet Gazette

New “Family Dog” breed developing in WNC

The new breed has been named Bell Griffin by partners Gene Eu and John Barlow. Eu described the dogs as “hardy mutts,” but admitted that would hardly be a popular name. The men explain the “Bell” comes from the sound of an alarm bell, since they want their dogs to sound the alarm when animals or people arrive. The “Griffin” is a small tribute to a French hound combined with the mythical creature that guarded precious gold. “And what could be more precious than family?” Eu asked.

Eu grew up in Malaysia, moved to Los Angeles and then to the Asheville area. His dream was to have a sustainable farm on which he would breed “the ultimate family dog.” He wanted it to combine high intelligence, friendliness, a low prey instinct, a healthy constitution and a non-shedding coat. It would also have strong protective instincts without being overly aggressive, plus loyalty to the whole family, not just the alpha member.

In 2014, Eu bought a four-acre farm on a mountaintop south of Black Mountain. He named it High Cockalorum and began living his dream. In 2016, he was joined by Barlow, who he had known in Los Angeles years earlier and was ready for a totally different lifestyle.

The development of the Bell Griffin line started by mating a French Poodle and an English Springer Spaniel. A resulting female Springer Doodle was then mated with Wally, a Hungarian Komondor, an ancient breed used to protect livestock against predators. That mating produced the first generation of Bell Griffins. Cover dog Otto is a member of the second generation. Genetically he is 50% Komondor, 25% French Poodle and 25% English Spaniel, which adds up to 100% Bell Griffin.

In addition to dogs and puppies the farm has chickens, sheep, goats, geese and three cats. The adult dogs, in addition to their mating duties, protect the other animals from the many coyotes in the area.

Barlow describes feeding time for the current 9 puppies as “delightful chaos.” They are fed twice a day and given an afternoon snack. Their meals are dog food supplemented with free-range chicken eggs, goat-milk replacement formula, occasional raw veggies and occasional raw chicken meat with nutrient-rich organ meats. All or most of the supplements are raised there on the farm in keeping with the sustainable concept. And the puppies are fed communally, which prevents food aggression

All the dogs are raised in their natural pack environment, with aunts, uncles and parents grooming and teaching them together. This teaches them proper social cues, so when dogs go from the farm to their new homes they are much better socialized. Barlow also points out that Bell Griffins seem naturally gentle and very tolerant to small animals and children.

In addition to developing the ultimate family dog, Eu is developing new breeds of chickens, all of which are free-range and forage in the forest as well as the fenced yard. The partners’ farm is also one of the last in the US working to save the White Rose Comb Dorking chicken, an ancient English breed now approaching extinction worldwide.

The men intend to keep developing the Bell Griffin through generations, but are noncommittal about eventually achieving AKC recognition for conformation competition purposes. That is not their primary objective. “It would be nice to be recognized,” Eu said. “But our focus is on developing the best functional family dog.”

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