From Pup to Champion!

  • “Best All-Around Chocolate Female the Breed Has Had!”
  • AKC Master National Hall of Fame Inductee (2015)
  • 4/4 AKC Master National Passes
  • 5 HRC International Grand Passes

The sunrise peaks through the sunflowers and needle grass bestowing another beautiful morning in the serene Sandhills of Nebraska. Nested in these hills known as “God’s Cattle Country” is a cowboy and his wife who raise Labrador retrievers in a dream kennel they built from scratch.

Pat and Carmen Keslar are lifetime Sandhillers, calling Hyannis, NE (pop. 293) home, in the heart of the county seat of Grant County. They live in remote ranch country where most people are cowboys and ranchers. They raised their two children, son Tehl, daughter Marcee (now full grown), in the little village since they were in kindergarten. Hyannis has always been home.

Keslar Kennels started raising labs in 1980 and focused primarily on hunting dogs. Six years ago, Pat wanted to take the kennel brand and quality of his labs to an elite national level, and to do that he knew he had to find a phenomenal foundation female.  Shortly after Pat’s search he came across a chocolate female: Leitner Farms Land Shark QAA, aka…“Jaws”.

Jaws was two years old and had a title of Qualified All Age (QAA) when Keslar Kennels bought her. To unlock and maximize Jaws’ full potential, they knew they had to find the right trainer. Chris Jobman of Flatlander Kennels in Bayard, NE took Jaws under his wing, and the pairing has been nothing short of magical. Throughout the next two years of intense training Jaws performed at a level that no other chocolate female has ever risen to in HRC (Hunter Retriever Club), and AKC (American Kennel Club) Master Hunt tests. Jaws successfully earned her Grand Hunter Retriever Champion and Master Hunter titles, something no other chocolate female in the history of the breed had accomplished. Four years later, she now has 5 HRC International Grand passes, and has passed the AKC Master National 4 times to become a Master National Hunter. She has been inducted into the Master National Hall of Fame and still remains the only chocolate female to have met these lofty goals! Her current title as of printing of this article is:

5XGRHRCH LEITNER FARMS LAND SHARK MH MNH4 HOF QAA

Throughout the field trial/hunt test games there have been many great individual dogs that have come and gone, but the true testament to the genes is how the offspring of those dogs perform. Jaws has now raised 3 litters of pups that garnered national attention in the field/hunt test world. Because of her performance and the quality breedings of highly selected and vetted sires, she has had five of her offspring compete at the recent 2017 HRC Grand and six at the AKC Master National with more in the pipeline developing. The oldest of which was three year old “HRCH KESLARS LAND SHARK ON THE RITZ MH”, which is Keslar Kennel’s own Jaws’ daughter who qualified for both!

The Jaws and Ritz mother-daughter duo will be competing for the first time together at the HRC Grand and AKC Master National this year!!! With all the competitive hunt tests, Pat is adamant about still allowing the dogs in the offseason to enjoy the “hunting” season. “I’m a firm believer that no lab should be bred only for the pure purpose of competition. I want them to have the opportunity to hunt and enjoy what they were born to do.” Keslar said.

Another opportunity Pat has had to showcase his labs is at another nationally recognized event, known as the Nebraska One Box Pheasant Hunt (www.nebraskaonebox.com), which will celebrate it’s 57th hunt this year. This hunt has drawn celebrities, astronauts, music artists, sports athletes, and past NRA presidents. Pat and Tehl have been official new team dog handlers for the event.  Pat just completed his 36th year and Tehl has been competing for 14 years. They both use Keslar Kennels dogs and have the most combined family wins in the entirety of the hunts existence. They love to compete. Their kennel tagline, “Our Dogs Hunt” highlights the dog power they bring, and their passion for the outdoors have made many lifelong friends through their dogs and time in the blind and field. Pat says, “I hope to see my two year old grandson, Patrick Keslar, carry on the tradition with our dogs for this great hunt someday. He’ll damn sure have the dogs to do it!”

The growth and development of Keslar Kennels has been and will continue to be a true adventure for the Keslar family. Tehl, is totally responsible for the website, social media, and advertisements of the kennel. Carmen, known by many as the “puppy whisperer”, spends hours in the whelping box with every litter creating that imprint of well-behaved and socially temperamental pups they have been known to sell. Most if not all have an established name that Carmen has given based on the personality of the pup! Both Carmen and Tehl’s wife, Kelsey, love the dogs and support their husband’s passion they have for labs and hunting.

They are proud to share these accomplishments and know Jaws is a one in a million find. She has established the foundation and future of their kennel. They hope to have one of their pups be the foundation of yours! You can view their website at www.keslarkennels.com or visit them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KeslarKennels. Lastly, Pat says in true Sandhills fashion, “Stop by anytime or give us a call, we would be happy to visit with you over a cup of coffee or an adult beverage or two. Until then, Happy Trails!”


“My first contact with Pat Keslar, owner of Keslar Kennels, was very informative and to the point. I purchased a Jaws puppy and she has turned out to be phenomenal! Keslar Kennels has earned my dog business loyalty, and I have just purchased my second female from Pat and will plan to purchase more down the road.”

Todd Helton,

Former Colorado Rockies 1st Baseman

5X MLB All-Star, 4X Silver Slugger, 3X Golden Glove

About The Author

Midwest Hunting & Fishing

Where and what to hunt and fish, that’s usually the big question on most sportsmen’s minds. Midwest Hunting & Fishing magazine has been connecting our readers to outdoor adventures all over the Midwest and beyond. Over the years our magazine has become a must have “Travel Guide” for sportsmen looking for information on the next new hunting or fishing experience. Every issue brings the reader interesting, informative and educational content on the world of the outdoors. Inside each issue you will hook up with Guides and Outfitters, new products, places to stay, reviews and even recipes for your harvest. Midwest Hunting & Fishing magazine is a unique bi-monthly magazine. Additional copies are distributed through non-profits, expos, trade shows, and are sent to soldiers overseas.