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I’ve always wondered how people become interested in showing and breeding dogs. What really interested them in a particular breed? How do they raise them to be worthy of becoming champions? I got the chance find out more about the show world when I interviewed a breeder and owner of generations of champion dogs, Christina Koffman-Heard of Summerford Perm. Reg’d. Newfoundlands
How did you choose your breed?
We were looking for a dog that could do various activities such as water rescue work, carting and therapy work, along with lots of outdoor activities. Our family liked the Newfoundland breed because they are kind, sweet and happy and are the perfect fit for families with children. After we had been involved with the breed for more than five years, we finally decided that breeding might be a good fit for us.
How do you prepare your puppies for a future in the show ring?
When it comes to the Newfoundland puppies at Summerford Newfoundlands, they are born and raised in our home. Good nutrition is one of the most important aspects when it comes to breeding and showing. Fueling a dog with the right nutrition really sets them up for life. At three weeks, our puppies are introduced to Purina® Pro Plan® Sensitive Skin and Stomach Salmon and Rice Formula. Fun fact: in their province of origin, Newfoundland dogs’ diet came mainly from fish so it’s fitting they are on a Purina® Pro Plan® Salmon formula. The kibble is mushed with some goat’s milk, and then at approximately six weeks it is softened with warm water. At twelve weeks, the puppies are on kibble completely.
So, the right food makes all the difference?
Finding the right formula for your particular breed is the single most important piece of the puzzle to ensure the proper growth and development of your dogs from puppyhood through to adulthood whether they are show or companion dogs. As breeders, we go through so much food we get it delivered by the skid! Thankfully, we’ve been members of the Purina® Pro Club® for 17 years and it’s fantastic! And when our Purina® Pro Plan® fed dogs finish in the Top Ten All Breeds, we are rewarded with valuable coupons to replenish our stash at home. We have tried every diet out there, every kibble with every added supplement, including a completely raw based diet and Purina® Pro Plan® is the food that works for our dogs.
You’ve got the nutrition aspect covered. What else is important for a future show dog?
Socializing your puppies is important to prepare them for being in the show ring and the earlier the better! We bring our puppies as early as four months to dog shows and in good weather we bring them to town so they can get used to all the noises. Our grandchildren also play with the puppies and that really helps with them being socialized. We always recommend that when puppies go home with their new owners that they sign up for puppy classes as this is so important to help with socialization
We usually start to show our dogs at about two to three years of age. Daily road work is essential, along with lots of yard running and just plain playing and having fun. Dog shows are hard on dogs physically and mentally and they must be happy and healthy to want to participate.
Any last tips?
In order to be a good show dog, they have to be well groomed, with healthy skin and coat. Again, the basic credit has to be given to nutrition, which comes from Purina® Pro Plan® Salmon and Rice Formula
. Our show dogs are bathed twice a week, with ear cleanings and nail trims done at the same time.