Icons of the Sport: Buris Boshell

Learn about the contributions of dog author, judge and breeder Buris Boshell.

Buris Boshell
Bo-Mar Miniature Pinschers

Buris Boshell’s multifaceted career featured achievements as a physician, researcher, educator, author, judge and breeder of more than 115 Miniature Pinscher champions under the Bo-Mar prefix.

Born in 1926, Buris described himself as a farm boy from Birmingham, Ala., where he grew up with a menagerie of pets. He studied animal breeding in graduate school before enrolling in the veterinary program at Auburn in 1943. During these years, he established a herd of Jersey cattle and a kennel of Irish Setters and Cockers at his family farm. He was forced to give these up when he decided to attend Harvard Medical School. In 1954 during his residency at Boston’s Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, a patient gave him a Boxer puppy. He soon visited Grayarlin Kennel where he met Jane Kamp and George Pusey. His rekindled interest in purebred dogs led to great success breeding and showing Boxers before he set his sights on Min Pins. During these decades, Boxers and Min Pins experienced similar transformations into a more stylish, elegant type that we are familiar with today.

In 1951, Buris married Martha Sue Johnson, and their combined names became the source of their Bo-Mar prefix. They established their kennel in 1956 with foundation stock from Von Enztal, Alema, and Bel Roc kennel. Buris described his foundation bitch, Rebel Roc’s Cora von Kurt, as a top show dog, a warm companion, a wonderful producer and the inspiration for the Bo-Mar motto, “Good puppies have good mothers.”
The typical 1950s Min Pin was a short, cobby, heavy-boned dog. Bo-Mar’s goal was to produce a sounder, more elegant dog, with the style, showmanship and flashy hackney gait to be competitive in the Group ring. The most famous Bo-Mar Min Pin was the multi BIS and national specialty winner Ch. Bo-Mar’s Drummer Boy. Handled by Clara Alford, he became the first big-winning black and red, and sired 35 champions. Other notable Bo-Mar winners include the top producer Ch. Bo-Mar’s Road Runner, sire of 73 champions, and the Group winners Ch. Bo-Mar’s Ginger Snap, Ch. Bo-Mar’s  Snicklefritz, Ch. Bo-Mar’s Saucy Susan and Ch. Bo-Mar’s Brandy of Jay Mac.

In stark contrast to today’s dog scene, Buris consistently worked with other breeders who were ostensibly his major competitors. He campaigned Ch. Rebel Roc’s Star Boarder, a flashy red, to back-to-back national wins in 1968 and 1969. Bred by E.W. Tipton Jr., Star Boarder was sired by the 1963 Westminster Group winner Ch. Rebel Roc’s Casanova v. Kurt, winner of 75 BIS, 146 Groups and sire of 47 champions. Buris described him as the ideal Min Pin of the 1960s, despite his straight front and rear, and lack of hackney gait. He recognized that this dog’s style, confidence and ring presence could take the breed to another level. Another of his all-time favorites was the 1975 Westminster Group winner Ch. Jay-Mac’s Impossible Dream. Bred by John McNamara, who founded his famed Jay Mac line with two Bo-Mar bitches in 1962, Buris cited this stylish dog as an example of how far the breed had progressed in 20 years.

During Bo-Mar’s heyday, from 1959 to 1989, Buris taught at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, where he also distinguished himself as a researcher in endocrinology and renowned authority on diabetes. In 1964, he helped to found the Diabetes Trust Foundation. Its Diabetes Research and Education Hospital at the University of Alabama was renamed the Buris R. Boshell, M.D., Diabetes Research and Education Hospital In 1985. The Boshell Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases Research Program Endowment, created in 2001 to support diabetes research in humans and animals, provided a $1 million gift to Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Buris authored two important books on diabetes and one of the most popular books on his breed, Your Miniature Pinscher, in 1969. He began judging Min Pins in 1965 and was eventually approved for all Working, Herding and Toy breeds, half the Non-Sporting Group, Standard Manchesters & BIS. He judged at Westminster in 1972, 1978, 1983, 1986 and 1988.  Unlike many judges, he continued breeding and showing. When asked if he considered this to be a conflict of interest he emphasized the importance of staying connected to the bedrock of the sport, saying that “breeding and showing makes a judge a better judge.”

Buris died in 1995.  His contributions to dogs and medicine were wide ranging, but in each of them he demonstrated his ability to focus on crucial details while never losing sight of the big picture.


From the May 2012 issue of Dogs In Review magazine. Purchase the May 2012 digital back issue or subscribe to receive 12 months of Dogs In Review magazine.

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