History of the International Gundog League Retriever Society

The dogs and handlers who competed in the inaugural IGL Retriever Championship. Picture: Courtesy of the Kennel Club

The International Gundog League was formed in 1900 arising from the idea to generally supervise the interests of Sporting Gundogs.

Three organisations namely The Retriever Society, Pointer and Setter Society and the Sporting Spaniel Society decided to amalgamate those interests within an organisation that would be known as The International Gundog League.

Each Society would remain completely autonomous and independent of the other two but in matters affecting Gundogs generally they agreed to act in unison with two members nominated from each of them coming together to form “The Grand Council” of The International Gundog League. This continued until 1953 when the Sporting Spaniel Society was put in abeyance.

The International Gundog League Retriever Society staged the first Retriever Championship in 1909 at Havant in Hampshire on the 9th January. It was won by the Duchess of Hamilton’s retriever “Dungavel Phoebe”. With the exception of the two World Wars and the foot and mouth out break in 1967 The Retriever Championship has been competed for annually.

A full history of the IGL Retriever Championship, 1909-2011, may be found in "The Best of the Best" by Graham Cox and Dr. Gareth Davies, published by Pernice Press.

Left to right Mrs Quintin Dick (later Lorna, Countess Howe who owned and handled FTCh Balmuto Jock to win the Championship in 1926, 1928 & 1929), Charles Alington (winner of the Championship in 1921, 1922 & 1930) and Reginald Cooke. Picture: Courtesy of the Kennel Club