Showsight Presents the Schipperke

SCHIPPERKE THE

1. Where do you live? What do you do “outside” of dogs? 2. Such an active dog seems to require an active lifestyle. How is the Schipp around the house? 3. At #105 the Schipperke is in the top fiftieth percentile of the most popular breeds. Has his popularity fluctuated during your involvement. Why do you think this is so? 4. What is the general public’s biggest misconception about the breed? 5. We know image is important. What clothing color do you favor to complement his gorgeous black coat? 6. How do you place your pups? 7. At what age do you choose a show prospect? 8. What is your favorite dog show memory? 9. Is there anything else you’ d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. DAWN BANNISTER Dawn Bannister, along with her husband, Craig, and her mother, Pat McClain, are Kurakuma Schipperkes. They have been involved with the breed for nearly 30 years and have produced over 40 AKC champions, including Best in Specialty winners, group winners and placers and top producers. Dawn and Craig are also the authors of the book “The Historical Schipperke”, which is a collection of seldom seen early articles it also includes pictures, announcements and other items about the Schipperke breed. My husband and I live in Michigan. One of the things we love outside of dogs is visiting the Michigan beaches, as we have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. We will spend the day on various beaches looking for interesting rocks such as Lake Superior agates, Leland blues, Petoskey stones, and lightning rocks. We also enjoy hikes along the shore lines. How is the breed around the house? Our dogs have a dog door so they can take to the yard any time they want during the day. Because we have multiple dogs, a lot of their energy is worn off by play with the other dogs. They also consume some energy by a bit of misbehaving. Other activities include sunbathing and taking naps. Has the breed’s popularity fluctuated during my involvement? Twenty years ago, even local specialties drew large numbers. Nation- als had specials that filled the entire ring. These days, our Nationals are closer to the size that our local Specialties once were. Many of our older breeders are gone, many others are considering retirement, and our breed has only a few newer and/or younger breeders. Part of it is, I believe, simply that we do not promote involvement in the breed as we should. Breeders should feel out every puppy buyer for an interest in showing; most will not be interested, but some might just enter the sport and become lifetime breeders for our breed. Another part, for our breed, is the docking issue—many people that might consider our breed do not, either because they do not want to bother with docking, or they don’t like it altogether. That is sad, because we really need new breeders to come in and preserve as many lines in our beautiful breed that we can. While this a tra- ditionally a docked breed, many long time breeders are choosing to show their dogs naturally, and I hope this way of having both will become our way in the future. The general public’s biggest misconception about the breed? While the Schipperke is a silhouette breed, their silhou- ette should never be reduced to just an outline in the darkness.

The Schipperke’s unique silhouette is created by its defining fea- ture: its coat pattern. From the beginning it was awarded the most points in the first Belgian standards, and it later became a major point of contention between the English and Belgian breeders. In America, the standard was changed in 1935 to more precisely define the Belgian coat pattern, it was that important! The Schipperke’s coat pattern is made up of four distinct parts: the ruff, the cape, the culottes and the jabot. These four things together create the distinct look to the breed. In fact, the jabot is so unique to our breed that it is the only word in AKC’s glossary that mentions the Schipperke by name. This is one of the reasons trimming is so looked down upon in our breed: the coat pattern, to be correct, must be natural. What clothing color do I favor to complement his gorgeous black coat? We have to avoid black and dark clothing, which is unfortunate, because most of us would appreciate the chance to look a bit thinner in the ring! Which colors we do choose matter less than detracting from our little black dogs, so solid colors are best, and we should seek to look professional in the ring. How do I place my pups? I have advertised through AKC and verify potential homes. I spend a good deal of time speaking with potential buyers to confirm that they are a good fit our little ones. Schipperkes become a member of the family and require a long term commitment as this is a long lived breed. At what age do I choose a show prospect? Eight weeks has always been the “window” that we look at puppies, but I have found that continuing to watch their development up to four months is often necessary. A puppy that looks like a pet at eight weeks is unlikely to improve, but a good show prospect at eight weeks that doesn’t hold it together until about four months will often not come back into show form. However, most Schipperkes are not at their best until fully mature, closer to two or three years of age. Asking their ages in the ring can be an important piece of information. My favorite dog show memory? We were still fairly new, and it was our first National. I took our foundation bitch into the ring, and there were 20 bitches in the class, so I just prayed for a pull— not even a placement, just a pull. The judge broke the class into two groups, brought them in together and began making his selection. Every time he pulled a bitch out my heart fell because I was sure that was the last pull he was going to make. After pulling out nine bitches, he finally pointed to us. I was so excited! He asked us to go down and back, and he looked my girl over when we returned and then said to me, “Why don’t you take her to the head of the line!” We won that huge class—we were floating on air! A judge once asked me how I would like the Schipperke to be judged. My answer is simple. While you are looking at the dogs in order to choose your winner, ask yourself this question. If the dog I choose is the one that is used for breeding, in 20 years will the breed be better off because of my choice, or not? CLAUDIA FOWLER I have been involved in showing, breeding and training Schip- perkes since 1975. I have had and still have other breeds but always need a Schipperke. I raised three girls in the show world whether that be good or bad but I really think the kids love showing. I have finished many Champions both my own and other breeders dogs. I have shown and finished other breeds but always come back to the Schips. I live in Mineral Well, Texas now and have lived mainly in Tex- as since 1965. My kennel name is Lusa Chula which is Choctaw

298 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , O CTOBER 2019

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