Page 242 - ShowSight - November 2019
P. 242

                AKC Breeder of the Year 2019 Q & A
 “Many breeds are not inherently glamourous. Sometimes glamour is a fault.”
We usually have between six to ten dogs and have one or maybe two litters a year. We are fortunate to have successive generations of families coming back for another pet when they are ready. Our Bulldog Club of America breeder referral program is another excel- lent resource. We never advertise puppies on our website or in news- paper classifieds.
The advice I got early on from an old time breeder was to start with a female puppy. Like most newcomers I resisted that idea but I took their advice and that is the same advice I give to new people. ‘One size doesn’t fit all’ but I believe that starting with a show pros- pect from a well bred background will be a solid building block for the future because that is the foundation for the future.
As for a humorous show event it would probably be the time that one of our male specials took down the entire ring fencing in his efforts to capture the ball of fur that was blowing around on the other side of the ring. Although it certainly was not funny at the time!
La Brise is simultane- ously the top producer of performance and com- panion event Pyr Sheps and the top producer of champions, group plac- ers, group winners, BIS, and BISS dogs. Prince- house set out from the beginning to maintain true breed type, includ- ing the working and per- formance ability of her talented little dogs. “This little dog can do it all,” she says, “so why not do it all with them!”
A second-generation dog person whose first love was the Great Pyrenees, Princehouse discovered the Pyrenean Shepherd as a 14-year-old exchange student in France. She spent much time in France in her formative years, and the breeding stock
she acquired there would form the basis of the breed in America. Princehouse was instrumental in her breed gaining AKC rec- ognition, and to date the La Brise Pyr Sheps have earned over a thousand titles across a wide range of dog sports organizations, with many top wins. “It is a small breeding program, but most pups end up competing in one venue or another,” she says. “Indeed, the number of titles earned far outstrips by many-fold the number of
pups produced.”
Pricehouse was the Pyrenean Shepherd Club of America’s inau-
gural Hall of Fame breeder, responsible for over 20 Top Produc- ing, Hall of Fame, and Register of Merit sires and dams, including both the top producing sire and dam in breed history. As one of the world’s leading figures in her breed for many years, Pricehouse’s accomplishments are too numerous to list here in full. A partial list includes the first AKC group-placing, group first, and BIS dogs in the breed; 24 national-specialty winners; a World Agility Cham- pion, three AKC National Agility Champions, and more than 50
Master Agility Champions; more than 100 AKC conformation champions, and scores of titles in obedience, rally, tracking, agility, coursing, and herding; and 35 PSCA Versatility awards.
In her non-dog life, Princehouse is a paleoanthropologist and science educator with a Ph.D. from Harvard. She is associate director of the Institute for the Science of Origins at Case West- ern Reserve University. How do I feel about the current quality of my breed and group? Today we are graced with a good half doz- en Pyrenean Shepherds of extraordinary quality currently being shown in the US—especially cool since they are of several colors and coat types! You can see in them a bridge from the outstanding dogs of the past and a good crop of young up-and-coming dogs. Many of the young dogs are of varied colors and there are a few really top notch Smooth-Faced dogs as well as the more common Rough-Faced fawns.
At the group level, in the Herding Group (and Working) I’m seeing a lot of dogs of many breeds who lack reach and kick their hind feet out behind them to avoid interfering. I worry many judges mistake the kicking for length of stride. They need to look through the voluminous hair of many breeds to make sure that all that apparent extension is taking place over the ground, and not up in the air behind the dog where it does no good. I also see grooming converging more than ever toward a “generic American show dog” look. Many breeds should not look fluffy and spiffy. Many should have a coarse, sparse, flat-lying, haystack coat. Many breeds are not inherently glamourous. Sometimes glamour is a fault.
Changes I’ve seen in my time involved with my breed? The Pyre- nean Shepherd breed is at a crossroads. In the breed’s homeland of France, the old breeders with ties to the original, unregistered stock from the high mountains are all either retired or deceased. The newer crowd, wishing to distinguish themselves, have devel- oped a new look for the breed—and altered the FCI standard to match! The AKC standard remains closer to what was in place from 1923-2002 in France. The correct dog should be small, light-boned and racy to sweep fast from one side to the other in steep mountain valleys. The head must be triangular with full fill under the eyes and a short-muzzle for the stereoscopic vision that allows the breed to run straight at the side of a cliff, gauge the distance without slow- ing down and leap onto boulders without breaking stride. The body should be long, with a marked rise over the loin and long let-down to a very short hock. This extreme angulation in the rear should be matched in the front and all that reach and drive should work together to produce a double suspension gallop and a flying trot.
But the current fad in many places is toward heavier dogs with coarse heads and pushing the upper height limit of an already gen- erous standard. In going for this look they’ve sacrificed not only head and eye, but also movement. These chunky dogs lack the ener- getic flying trot that “shaves the earth” with the traditional “Allure Pyreneenne”. I worry some of these folks are much more interested in producing a splash with extreme characteristics than with safe- guarding the future of the breed. If “anything goes” then why breed purebred dogs at all?
A truly typey dog is necessarily sound, but a sound dog is not necessarily typey. The only extreme that should be rewarded is “extremely” typey.
Any particular challenges I face in our current economic climate? I do feel it is harder for the average owner to compete these days due to lack of disposable income. I go to great lengths to encourage kids and new people—including many performance people—to
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