The sisters have been raising dogs since they were little, but they are both fairly new to the rarified world of AKC dog showing.
Gautreaux, who owns Reinem-N Kennel and Stables in Caroline County and is also a farrier, has been breeding Australian shepherds since 1998, but only began showing in 2013.
Symonds started breeding and training dogs in 2012, after realizing her career in corporate management was not fulfilling.
She started Trademark Kennels with Fresca, a German shepherd she got from her mother.
“I have all [Fresca’s] grandbabies now, who are winning everywhere,” Symonds said.
Six of Symonds’ dogs are AKC champions and three are grand champions. Cash, in addition to being a grand champion, is also a Canine Good Citizen and is working on endurance and obedience titles.
Symonds said she breeds her German shepherds to exhibit endurance, intelligence and versatility, traits necessary for herding.
“They’re an endurance breed meant for herding, not protection, believe it or not,” she said. “That’s what I try to showcase with my dogs—brains and intelligence.”
Symonds said achieving AKC champion status is difficult with the German shepherd because judges are looking for a stance and gait that is not easy to show in a small ring.