Interview with Mr. Kazumasa Igarashi

My request to the next generation:
“I want to see more Hadleigh dogs than ever before.

Fascinated by Hadleigh Pomeranians, I studied abroad in England while still in college.

I first owned a Pomeranian during my first year at high school, when my mother, a dog lover, gave the dog to me through an acquaintance. However, I was not really interested in dogs at that time. Then, when I went to England on vacation, I saw the wonderful Hadleigh Pomeranians of Mrs. Dyke, a world-class breeder, at Crufts, the world’s largest dog show with 180 years of history, and was shocked to see how completely different they were from my Pomeranian. I immediately thought, “I want Mrs. Dyke’s dog,” but others told me it would be extremely difficult to get her to sell it. Not ready to give up, I wrote her several letters and was able to get an English Champion dog named “Eng CH Kestrel Kessendu Hadleigh” for sale.

Later, I attended the Department of Veterinary Medicine at Nihon University in Japan, but my curiosity about Pomeranians was unquenchable, and I convinced my parents to take me back to England again to study the language. That’s when I started keeping a Hadleigh Pomeranian named “Sweet Dreams of Aurum.” When I entered the dog in a Crufts show in Richmond, it won the Best of Breed award (first place among Pomeranians). At that time, I had very little knowledge of Pomeranians, so I didn’t even know how my dog had won, I was just absolutely amazed. This was such a big event that it even made the Japanese news (TOKYO MAN BEST TOY AT CRUP 23rd years old KAZUMASA IGARASHI) in the Asahi Evening News). In hindsight, it may be because the Hadleigh Pomeranian that first struck me was a very nice dog, and I was lucky enough to find one that was as good.

At the age of 28, I was selected to be a member of the judging panel traveling to exhibitions in 28 countries around the world

In fact, during my language study, my parents found out that I had become obsessed with dog exhibitions, and I had to return to Japan. It was too difficult to return to the Department of Veterinary Medicine at Nihon University, so I transferred to the Economics Department, and after graduation I worked for a trading company. The company required a lot of overseas business trips, and every time I went on a business trip, I would always travel via England to visit an exhibition.

In England, I had the opportunity to learn various things from Mrs. Dyke, who would tell me to “go to so-and-so kennel and learn.” Mrs. Dyke is a graduate of Oxford University and a very knowledgeable person. She also taught me how to look at dogs. It is thanks to Mrs. Dyke that I was able to get the opportunity to meet Mr. Joe Braddon, the most famous judge in the world. Every time I went to an exhibition with Mr. Braddon, he would ask me, “Which dog do you like?”, and in a short time I was able to develop a keen eye for selecting a dog.

After gaining valuable experience, at the age of 28, I was selected to be a judge at a solo exhibition of Pomeranians only. From then on, I got more and more into dogs and spent my days attending championships as an international judge for exhibitions in 28 countries around the world, including the United States, Canada, Latin America, Africa, and Europe. Now that I am 80 years old, it is difficult for me to travel the world like I used to, but my feelings for Hadleigh Pomeranians still have no bounds.

Hadleigh Pomeranians are admired by everyone, and the way they move with such dignity is truly a thing of beauty.

The Hadleigh Pomeranian is a brand so coveted that it is known as the “Queen of the Pomeranians.” Mrs. Dyke’s kennel is the pinnacle of the brand within the Pomeranian breed. In Japan, the name Hadleigh is easily given because it makes the dog more sellable, but a pure Hadleigh dog is only recognized if its lineage has continued through four generations of Hadleighs. In Japan, as well as in Europe, America, and other parts of Asia, everyone wants a Hadleigh Pomeranian.

In Japan, a Pomeranian may have the image of a watchdog that barks a lot, but in the UK they are very good-natured and I have never seen a barking Pomeranian. Their bodies are round like bowling balls, and the way they roll around, wrapped in fluffy fur, is truly beautiful. It is said that Queen Victoria created the modern Pomeranian, a dog that has been a favorite of the royal family since her reign. It is said that when Queen Victoria visited Italy, she adopted the bloodline of a small Pomeranian named Marco and reduced its previously normal size of 15 kg down to 6-7 kg. Modern Pomeranians have become an even more compact size of 2-3 kg. They are very small, but when they walk, they look like bowling balls and move beautifully.

When we look at them, we are tempted to single out the good qualities of each dog, like its profile, body shape or gait. However, in the case of dogs, 1 + 1 does not always equal 2. Losing points sometimes shows the difficulty of pedigree.

In 1998, I built a house and kennel in Shiraoi-cho, Hokkaido, to carry on the tradition of the Hadleigh Pomeranians protected by Mrs. Dyke. It is a vast kennel where many Pomeranians can run around, and a hot spring pipe is laid under the concrete to prevent snow from accumulating even in winter due to its heat. Thanks to this, the dogs are running around happily all year round. I have come to the conclusion that in order to create good dogs, we must first create a good environment for them.

Mr./Ms. Maekawa (HAKODATE Maekawa) was in charge of breeding and rearing, and we have continued the kennel with the help of his/her apprentice, Mr./Ms. Mori. Small dogs are at high risk when giving birth, and even after giving birth, they cannot raise their young well, so the puppies need to be artificially fed, which is a very labor-intensive process. My belief is that “you can’t dance alone,” and I have made it this far because I have had good partners.

Due to my age, I have now reduced the number of Pomeranians, and five were born last year. At our peak of 60 dogs, we sometimes had 25 puppies born in a year. And most of these puppies have gone on to become champion dogs. To date, 178 champions have been born in Japan and have been inducted into the JKC Hall of Fame.

I was so amazed with Ms. Hisada’s enthusiasm for research,
I entrusted her with the Hadleigh’s 100th anniversary plan

I first met Ms. Hisada 12 years ago when she was still a complete Pomeranians novice. Nevertheless, using a smartphone to watch and study Pomeranians around the world, she has absorbed in 12 years what it would normally take a person 50 years to do. She was amazingly research-oriented, and whenever we met, she bombarded me with questions and we spent all our time talking about Pomeranians. We have acquired enough knowledge of show dogs in our own way without having to go to England as many times as we used to in the past.

The Royal Grace Kennel created by Ms. Hisada is so clean it is comfortable enough for people to live in. I don’t think anyone else could build such a large kennel in the excellent location of Tokyo. She loves creatures that glide with beauty, whether it is dogs or birds, and I hope she will draw on her sense of style to show me more Pomeranians than ever before that will make me “ooh and aah” in admiration before I die.

However, if you breed just Hadleigh Pomeranians then the bloodline will become too close and you will have an unhealthy dog. On the other hand, if you let go of the bloodline, you will revert back to its ancestors. Without introducing different blood, you will be stuck. If you outcross (introduce different blood), it will take 3 generations or 10 years to revert back to the original Hadleigh Pomeranian, which may be upsetting during that time. That is why, when outcrossing, I want you to think carefully and use your imagination when doing it. I hope that you will prioritize creating a good dog, even if it takes time.

I think that I myself am so passionate about Pomeranians because they are such a difficult breed. In the little over 60 years since I encountered my first Pomeranian, I have had many interests, such as fishing and golf, but as they became more physically demanding, the last thing I had left was my dogs. Pomeranians are beings with whom I spend more of my time than I do my own family.

The Hadleigh Pomeranian has a history of 77 years now, since Mrs. Dyke first bred them in 1945. I sincerely hope that Ms. Hisada and other generations will carry on the 100th year plan and protect the Hadleigh breed. I have seen a few good dogs emerging recently, so I have high hopes for them.


Mr.Kazumasa Igarashi Profile

He has been a Pomeranian breeder for more than 50 years, and is a judge of all breeds of Pomeranians for the JKC. He has been an international judge in 28 countries including the U.K. and U.S.A and is also the president of the JKC’s Pomeranian section. After the death of Mrs. Dyke, a world-renowned Hadleigh breeder, he inherited her dogs and the Hadleigh kennel name in Japan. He has produced more than 178 champion dogs in Japan and still takes his Pomeranian for a 10 km walk every morning.

Royal Grace Kennel Pomeranians Dog Shows