Showsight Presents the Schipperke

Schipperke Q& A

“It has been my experience that showing any breed that is traditionally docked should be well thought out as one needs to be prepared with thick skin.”

Cathy Thistle continued

walking into the ring not knowing if you will be welcomed, ignored or excused by the judge. LISA VIZCARRA I live in Lodi California, northern California. I have six Schip- perkes. Three of them are show dogs, the other two are pets. My dogs are not “outside” dogs. They live in the house and sleep in my bed room. They are family members. How is the breed around the house? Most of the time they sleep. I do take them out for walks and we play a lot of fetch in the house or in the yard. I keep their minds active with cat toys—fishing polls with something fuzzy on the end for chasing. Has the breed’s popularity fluctuated during my involvement? When were they ever popular, and let’s keep it that way. Popularity tends to create self-serving interesting in breeding and not bettering the breed. It’s important the dogs we breed are genetically diverse and tested for known genetic health problems, i.e. MPS 3b. Dogs that test positive are “fixed” to prevent the spread of this genetically linked disorder. The general public’s biggest misconception about the breed? Most of the public thinks I’m walking a pig, not a dog. When asked they think it’s a Pomeranian. The other misconception is that they are guard dogs. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, they bark, and can be aggressive but they are not guard dogs. They have a herding behavior. What clothing color do I favor to complement the coat? I like to wear a contrasting color in the ring. Black and white works, red can be too over-powering, unless it sparkly! Although showing is about the dog, what the handler wears important. Sometimes it’s the attitude of the dog that helps decide the color. Bold dog, bold contrast. “I’m going to win” colors. And little bling goes a long way- stand out in the crowed. How do I place my pups? I place my puppies only with people who are familiar with the breed. Schipperkes can nip and bark so knowledge of the breed in important. For first time Schipperke owners, I recommend websites, in particular the AKC site. Many Schipps are not good around children. At what age do I choose a show prospect? I select show prospects around eight to ten weeks. I look at the whole package not focusing on one aspect—i.e. the head. My favorite dog show memory? Diane Johnson, a well-known Schipperke breeder, sold me a dog that she didn’t think would win BOB, but I’d have fun showing. Low and behold, my first show (Ventura) that dog and I get three majors. The look on her face was priceless—mine too! I had no clue what happened. I finished that dog within a few months. What I enjoy most about this breed are the breeders. I’m a novice in the dog show world and they excepted me, trained me and now I’m breeding. They have been so supportive, and even thought we compete, we still are more family than competitors. Don’t get me wrong, we are all out to win, but Schipperke people are always willing to help, always willing to give a hand. If more people experienced this kind of camaraderie, we would have more people showing.

off nicely. Or a light blue/gray background compliments just about any color. All a matter of the handler’s choice and taste. How do I place my pups? My dogs are placed by word of mouth. And I match each puppy with the new owners. If the prospective new puppy owner is looking for a performance dog I will let them pick out their own if there is a choice to be had. Most Schipperke litters are not that big and leaves the breeder and new puppy owner with little choice to pick from. It has been my practice to never take a deposit or promise anyone a dog until the puppies are well on the ground at about a month of age. At what age do I choose a show prospect? That is a hard ques- tion and has no definite answer. Most litters one can tell by at about eight to 16 weeks which puppies you want to keep and grow out for a while. The biggest problems I have run across to render a puppy a pet is that the bite will go off or a male puppy will retain a tes- ticle. These things usually to not make themselves apparent until the puppy is about six to ten months of age. At six to ten months of age you usually have a good idea of coat, bone, temperament and structure. I have and never will guarantee a show puppy to anyone. Too many things can happen both physically and environmentally to go from show quality to pet in a short amount of time. Most of which the breeder has no control over. One of my favorite dog show moments was watching then han- dler Frank Sebella showing a spectacular black Standard Poodle at the Garden. The spot light followed the team moving across a darken group ring. It was just breathtaking. Another was when my 89 year old grandmother finished her CDX on her Papillon. Being asked to judge sweeps and futurity at the Schipperke Nationals is right up there too. It is always an honor to be asked to judge at your own national. Showing dogs has given me so many great memories since childhood. There is something that I would like to share about the breed. Schipperkes are a natural breed in that not much should be done as far as upkeep and maintenance of the coat. The Schipperke coat pattern is the essence of its breed type.This should be reflected in the show ring but it is not so much any more. Dogs that are over scis- sored and dyed are being rewarded in the show ring by the judges who put them up. I understand that this is not a unique problem to just Schipperkes. Most coated breeds whose standard use the word “natural” to describe the dog have fallen victim to this kind of over grooming. Its really too bad and it needs to stop it just hurts future generations. The average breeder who wants to use a top winning dog at stud is not at all sure that “what they think they are seeing is what they are going to get”. A few years ago after being in the breed 40+ years I decided to break tradition. I began to show a very nice undocked Schipperke of my own breeding. He and I went out and completed his AKC championship making him the first (and only to date) to finish with a full natural tail. We made a lot of new friends a long the way as well as losing a few old ones. It has been my experience that show- ing any breed that is traditionally docked should be well thought out as one needs to be prepared with thick skin. Not an easy choice to make to show a totally natural Schipperke. It is a bit unsettling

S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , O CTOBER 2019 • 307

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