Breed History

Elma Stonex

By Rachel Page Elliott

elma1Elma Stonex is already a legend in the Golden Retriever world. To have known her was a privilege and an exciting experience. I shall long remember her stately bearing, her quick mind, her dry humor and her generous sharing of knowledge. Several years ago she was voted a life member in the GRCA.

Mrs. Stonex was a pioneer in researching facts relating to the origin of the breed, research that continued even after the publication of her book The Golden Retriever in 1953 and through important writings to be found in British yearbooks, our Golden Retriever News (1956), the American Kennel Club Gazette (May, 1959) and other periodicals. Her findings substantiated beyond a doubt the true origin of Golden Retrievers, disproving the previously accepted myth about the Russian circus dogs.

Elma was educated in Normanhurst Court, Sussex, and in Paris, and comes from a background of horses (her first love) and dogs. She was a keen student of racehorse pedigrees. As a young man, her father shot in Buckinghamshire with Colonel le Poer Trench, one of the early breeders of “Yellow Retrievers”, and proponent of the Russian myth. It is interesting to know that Elma raised Toggenburg goats for five years, and her first dogs as a child were a Smooth Fox Terrier and a black Cocker, followed by three well-loved Sealyhams. She bought her first Golden puppy in 1931. Her first bitch pup, purchased in 1932, is ancestress of 60 full English Champions and well over 90 winners at field trials, including at least seven field champions. Always a staunch supporter of the working Golden, Elma openly expressed her preference for the medium to darker coat, often going to battle against the near white. A highly respected judge, for many years she was chairman of the British Golden Retriever Club.

Elma Stonex passed away early in September of 1985 after a long illness, deeply unhappy because of the separation from her beloved Goldens. It seems that her training whistle, which she wore during her confinement to the nursing homes, was her only touch with the sporting life that she loved. Bless you, great lady! You have given so much to us all.