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Silver Spoon Kennel [SSK], was created as a result of a very unexpected and unique encounter with one of the foremost and experienced breeders in the field of this unique looking Labrador retriever - Dean Crist, owner and breeder of the ‘world’s oldest silver Labrador kennel’ - Crist Culo Kennels [CCK] in Minocqua, WI (www.silverlabradorinfo.com). In 1972, Dean began his kennel with an AKC black Labrador retriever, named Pato, which a year later whelped a litter of 11 black Lab pups.

In 1981, CCK’s black bitch, Topo Culo, whelped her first chocolate female Lab named Queja Culo. Although chocolate Labs were both controversial and rare in the United States in the early 1980's, Dean managed to locate a perfect mate for Queja - another chocolate Lab from the Upper Penisular of Michigan - ‘Toma’s BeaverCreek Herschel’. It was the mating of these two chocolate Labs that produced CCK’s first silver Lab pup - every subsequent breeding of this pair produced a phenotype [color] ratio of 1/4 silvers, 1/2 chocolate and 1/4 yellow pups.

Although this represented the first ‘silver’ whelping for CCK, it was subsequently learned that it was not the first such in the United States. Unfortunately, earlier breeders did not appreciate or fully understand that the ‘silvers’ were not the result of ‘breeding errors’, but represented a Labrador phenotype that had genetically always been available - simply awaiting the nurturing, interest and development that Dean Crist employed. Acceptance of the silver Lab in the Labrador breeding community did not come without challenge. Indeed, if not for Dean Crist’s educational training and degree in Zoology and Bio-Chemistry from Iowa State University, coupled with his love for this wonderful breed, the ‘silver Labrador’ may never have been considered more than an anomaly - a ‘breeding error.’

It was not long before other breeders began recognizing CCK’s great success in breeding, marketing and successfully standing in battle with what Dean describes as the ‘flat earth accusations’ of ‘anti-silver breeders.’ So confident was Dean that his silver Labs were 100% genetically identical to every other pure-bred Lab, that he allowed the AKC to conduct onsite examinations, access to all breeding and litter records, as well as the opportunity to interview silver Lab pup owners. The AKC concluded, "that based upon their investigation, the AKC felt CCK’s silver Labs were without question pure-bred Labrador Retrievers."

Despite the unequivocal affirmation, the uproar from other breeders continued. This perpetual ‘noise’ was put to vocal rest by what Dean describes as the ‘Silver Lab Challenge’. The simple, but effective ‘line in the sand’ - the invitation to put one’s ‘money where one’s mouth was’ - the opportunity for all nay-sayers, ‘flat earth’ proponents, all experts and critics, to simply step forward and match the $100,000.00 Dean Crist was advancing to anyone successful in disproving CCK’s claims that its silver Labrador retrievers were, with the exception of coat color, 100% genetically identical to any other pure-bred Labrador retriever. There may be those that still disbelieve, but the ‘noise’ is imperceptible and peaceful.

It was through this background and commitment that I came to know Dean Crist, his animals and my desire to do all possible to perpetuate the wonderful and unique silver Labrador retriever. CCK and SSK are of common interest and common goals - to promote and protect the best of everything that makes a silver Labrador retriever. SSK has now completed the process of transferring all of CCK’s silver Lab breeding stock from their home in Minocqua, WI to their new retreat in Burnsville, NC where the same great quality of silver Lab will continue to be bred, produced and developed through the very same stock created and nurtured by Dean Crist and Crist Culo Kennels. Dean will remain available for all purposes for a period of not less than two years, and will continue to share his invaluable advice and information in making Silver Spoon Kennel a successful continuance of everything Dean Crist and his Crist Culo Kennels has stood for, for almost 40 years.