05.04.2022 | Chris Griffith and his contribution to Dobermanns in South Africa

Posted in KUSA News

A tribute by Brian Blades

Former Chairman of the Federal Council of KUSA, Chris Griffith, has passed away, aged 90. Before becoming Chairman of Fedco, Chris was Chairman of the Dobermann Club of Natal for many years, as well as Chairman of the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Council.

Chris’s Dobermann journey began with a puppy bitch from the United Kingdom, “Dizown Dressed to Kill”, known as Scarlett, imported as a family pet and companion with no intention to breed or show. When Scarlett arrived, it was evident that she was an outstanding puppy and Chris was persuaded to attend the Dobermann Club of Natal’s Championship Show in July 1994.

On arrival at the show, Chris informed me that Scarlett would not walk on a lead and was an absolute hooligan. At the show, Scarlett quickly grasped what was required of her and was judged Best Puppy in Show. With this success, and being a true competitor, Chris was keen to repeat Scarlett’s debut success. A few weeks later, he entered an All-breeds Championship Show, where Scarlett was once again awarded Best Puppy in Show. A second beautiful trophy got Chris hooked on dog-showing and led to the founding of his well-known Southernbell Kennels shortly thereafter.

Scarlett’s most impressive win came at the Dobermann Club Championship Show in Gauteng under a German Specialist Judge. For a UK-bred Dobermann to win Best of Breed under a country-of-origin specialist was unheard of and was a tribute to Scarlett’s outstanding quality.

Chris spent the next three decades importing, breeding and showing some of South Africa’s top Dobermanns, travelling the length and breadth of the country, attending every Championship Show with outstanding dogs such as Ozymandus, Prince, Blondie, Auri and many, many others. His constant companion on these trips was his devoted wife, Gill, who was to the Jack Russell breed what Chris was to the Dobermann.

It was Gill who organised a triumphant 90th birthday party for Chris last year, where scores of friends gathered to celebrate the occasion. He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure a few months later and passed away peacefully at home on 13 March 2022, with Gill by his side. Chris will be remembered in the Dobermann world for his passion and enthusiasm for the breed and will be sadly missed.