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History of hightest


The history of Hightest Kennels began in 1968 with trainer Rex Carr at Carr-Lab kennels in Escalon, California. Rex became famous for developing the first electronic training collar program for competitive retrievers. The electronic collar was new on the retriever training scene and not well received by the traditional trainers. When the dogs Rex trained began winning trials throughout the country, retriever training was changed forever. 


In 1976 a partnership was formed with trainer Warren Grimsby of Warcon Kennels. During that time Hightest worked with Peter Lane who had two great field trial dogs, NAFC-FC Kannonball Kate and FC-AFC Truckee’s Little Crackerjack. Kate ended her career in 1982 with 410.5 all age points and a National Amateur win. An unbeatable record. Jackie had 144.5 all age points. 

In 1977 CFC-CAFC Lomac’s Rockin Raja was purchased. Raja went on to acquire 39 Derby points and be the high point Canadian Derby bitch in 1979. In 1980 the kennel name "Hightest" was registered with the Canadian kennel club. “Hightest” was the term used to describe high octane gasoline in Canada and it became symbolic of the highly bred, high performance field retrievers that Hightest would later become known for. Raja’s first litter produced Hightest's successful field trial dog - FC Hightest Magic Mouse.


In 1986 Hightest Kennels was built on prior rice ground off Lower Honcut Road. At the Honcut property there was plenty of room to do all the training on site. The pumps used to irrigate rice were used to supply water to training ponds year round.

In May of 1987 construction began for a 30 run kennel building. The plans were drawn for the construction on a paper napkin over a beer at a local pub. The kennel was completed for under $25,000.

That May was one of the hottest on record with the mercury near the century mark most days. The dogs lived on the dog truck during construction and were relieved when their new quarters were complete. The specially contoured training ponds were constructed simultaneously with the building of the kennel because you had to have adequate water to train retrievers during summer months in California. Hightest then expanded their business plan to concentrate on training personal hunting dogs. Hightest's training services were in demand by duck hunters both locally and out of state. The Kennel's web site came into being in the early 1990’s when the internet became mainstream, drawing in business from all parts of the U.S.


TOP: The ponds take shape.


OTHERS: Hightest Kennel Building I - constructed in 1987.


Owners Jim & Teal Knapp

In 2005, Hightest began to lay plans for the construction of a second kennel building and office.  By this time the business had expanded into several facets offering programs in all breed obedience, puppy head start training, as well as the continuation of the hunting dog program. Hightest was also breeding 8-10 litters of puppies a year. The business had outgrown the original kennel and a front office was much needed. In 2006, a second 34 run dog kennel and office was completed. The building that was similar in size to the original kennel, cost exactly seven times more to build. This brought the total number of dog runs at Hightest to 85.


In 2018 Hightest Kennels, Inc began acquiring additional breeding stock and raised the bar on required Sire and Dam health clearances. All Hightest breeding stock are now CHIC certified by OFA and are running in AKC Hunt Tests and/or AKC Obedience Trials. 

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Gun Dog Trainer running HT Reagan's One Grand Sweet Song JH


Junior Handler running HT Roots by the Bay.

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With additions to our breeding stock, Hightest has whelped litters producing quality Labradors sold throughout the US. and abroad. Many Hightest puppies earn Hunt Test Titles and a few have become Field Champions. The history of Hightest would not be complete without mentioning some of the great Labrador sires that have produced successful hunting dogs (pictured below). 


Customer Dog handled by Hightest Kennels in a Junior Hunt Test 

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FC Keno

Paint-Derby CH

Danny MH

Groovy MH

Beau MH


Rooty DGD

Sage-Qual AA

Booze MH

Willie SH

Chance MH

Orvis MH

Hightest Kennels, Inc continues to offer a broad range of services to this day. The Kennel offers Puppy Head Start training, Obedience training for all breeds, provides fully trained Diabetic Alert Dogs and for customers who have purchased a puppy from us, wetlands Gun Dog training,. Hightest has become a prominent boarding and training facility with customers driving from all over the State to board and/or have their dogs trained here. 

So there you have it – over forty-five years in the dog business. Hightest Kennels has been a life’s work and if you ask anyone where they would rather be – they would say right here at Hightest. There is nothing better than watching a well-trained dog work or see the smile on the face of a satisfied customer. 

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