The History of Joy Dog Food

We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Russell “Chip” Kohser Sr to talk about the history of Joy Dog Food and his family.

joy dog food russ kohser

Joy was started by Chip’s father Russell Kohser and Albert “Ab” Shiffler in 1945 as Best Feeds & Farm Supplies in Washington, PA. While originally a farm feed company, in 1953 they began experimenting with formulating their own dog food with the help of a nutritionist. The name Joy came about in 1954, after one of Ab and his wife’s dachshunds. Joy was popular among working dogs like farm dogs, sheep dogs, and even coonhounds, as well as those who competed in beagle trials.  

joy dog food beagle trial

Chip came to work for his dad’s company in 1975. Around 1980, Joy began pushing our food to even more potential customers and their hunting dogs. Russell and his sales staff would spend almost every weekend at beagle trials or other events handing out samples to get people to try Joy. People immediately began to notice dogs that were fed Joy were healthier and had quality stools, all at a better price than the other feeds.

This was all happening at a time when coon hunting and PKC were emerging in popularity. Joy partnered with PKC in their infancy. Joy began offering scholarships for PKC youth champions. This set Joy apart from other dog foods. This began Joy’s golden age. Even with their explosion in popularity, Russell never stopped going to hunting events to get to know the people that were using our food. Joy Dog Food was bought by Wade Graskwicz in 2011. Wade had fed his dogs Joy in the past and understood the history and responsibility it carried. Chip praised the way Joy is currently operated, highlighting recent improvements like added pumpkin that makes Joy even more nutritional for the dog. Chip also loves how Wade got back into sponsoring hunting events and working with customers to make Joy feel like a community and bring it back to the forefront of the hunting dog world. Chip is extremely proud that we are carrying on the traditions of the past while also looking forward to an exciting future. Find a dealer near you here to be a part of our proud tradition of serving the hunting dog community.