2016 AKC NAC 16″ Preview: Where Height Matters

The 16” height division is an interesting one. Dogs competing at 16” measure between 14-18” at the withers, and in years past shelties made up a good proportion of the class. In recent years, an increasing number of small border collies have entered the height class. At the same time, the FCI cutoff for the medium class is 16 7/8″ (and the cut-offs for WAO and IFCS are around 16”), meaning that many of the teams with international experience are in the low to middle end of the jump height. Thus, while many dogs with international experience compete at this height, they typically don’t fare well against the larger border collies they run into at nationals. While shelties and border collies make up a large part of the 16″, other breeds found in the class include: miniature American shepherds, Australian cattle dogs, Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers, and a growing number of all-Americans–especially as medium-sized sport mixes continue to grow in popularity.

Three of the five 2015 AWC medium team members will be competing at this year’s NAC: shelties Jovey and Denise Kilpatrick, Speedo and Susan Crank, and Michael and Maureen Waldron. Rush and John Nys and alternate Whimzy and Kathleen Oswald will not be present. As with the 12” division, world team hopefuls will be striving for stellar performances to help them secure a spot on the 2016 AWC team.

Last year, border collie Spice and Cynthia Hornor won the 16” division. They will be the only past NAC champions competing in the 16” division. The Bad Dog Agility Power60 for the 16” class highlights the dominance of border collies, accounting for 8 of the 10 fastest dogs running at that jump height in 2015. Of those border collie teams, six will be competing for the top honors: Wish (Ruth Lewis), Cricket (Chris McLeod), Edge (Pamela Fish), L’eau (Melinda Pope), Valiant (Loretta Vojtech), and Ici (Lori Pope).

The top spot of the Power60 this past year was occupied not by a border collie, but an Australian cattle dog. Genny, handled by Alan Benner, averaged over 5 yps in Standard and 6.5 yps in JWW over the course of 2015. This will be Genny’s first NAC, and she and Alan will be an exciting team to watch.

Harper photo credit: Scott Klar
photo credit: Scott Klar
Other teams to keep an eye on are sheltie Cheer and Jean Lavalley, miniature poodle Spencer and Deb Schulman, and border collie Smart and Kate Moureaux. All of these dogs have been former NAC finalists and competed on the international stage. Australian shepherd Sage and Ralph Johnson, all-American Vegas and Gloria Krueger, pumi Petey and Tami Hall, and miniature American shepherd Harper and Courtney Farmer are also in the top 20 16” dogs, based on PowerScore.

In Friday’s ISC class, the winner of the 18” ISC class will win a spot onto the 2016 European Open team. Similar to the 12” class, about 25% of the 16” class has opted to run ISC instead of premier. However, over 25% of the ISC contenders are running at 16”–not 18”. This may be a result of the 16” dogs at the top of the height range being too tall for international competition at the medium height class.

Tamar Fuhrer

Tamar Fuhrer

Tamar began training in agility in 2012 with her all-American, Murray who went on to earn his MACH and PDCH. Today, she runs Murray in the 8" class and a young lowchen named Riff in the 12" class.