Interview with Lynn Partridge, Breeder of Alura Italian Greyhounds
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Lynn Partridge: I live in Greenville, South Carolina, All my life I’ve had dogs as farm dogs and pets. Now, I don’t consider myself a “dog person.” I am an “Italian Greyhound person.” We got our first IG 9-1/2 years ago, then got another one two months later. I started showing within six months. There is just something about this breed that seems like a deeper primal connection/obsession than I (or any other “IG person”) have ever experienced with any other dogs, which I’ll explain in a following question. (Hint… IGs aren’t dogs.) I’ve been a breeder for 7-1/2 years.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Lynn Partridge: My kennel name is Alura Italian Greyhounds. We have four girls at home… at the moment. I am utilizing co-owners on some of my “keeper” pups, so the home pack remains small, but not for long… (chest tightens).
Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy winners?
Lynn Partridge: My first homebred Special was “Boy,” GCHG Alura Warwick Thunder Down Under For Clovelly. He was from my second litter and the dog that “put me on the map.”
Second, an oops litter during the COVID shutdown, produced my red girl “Vibes,” GCHG Alura Boccalupo Good Vibes CA BCAT. She retired on top as the No. 1 Italian Greyhound (Breed) for 2022 at the ripe-old age of 25 months after Orlando last December. In March, Vibes flew over to England with me and won the Bitch Challenge Certificate as Best Bitch at Crufts, with a Breed entry of 82 IGs, snagged an AOM at Westminster in May, met a tall, dark, and handsome boy three weeks later, and now awaits motherhood for the end of July.
Third, my present new, shiny black and white Special, 15-month-old “Dezi,” GCHB Alura Darkest Dezire BCAT, is a first cousin of Vibes and is the No. 1 ranked Italian Greyhound (Breed) through the end of May. The plan is to Special her through the end of 2024, then have puppies in 2025, then fly across the ocean to go do it all again for her owner in Australia.
Which have been my most influential sires and dams?
Lynn Partridge: My breeding program is still pretty young, with only 10 litters.
Sires: According to our breed archive Popular Sire list, the most influential Alura sires would be Top Producer “Victor,” CH Alura Marchwind Victor By Warwick, listed as fourth place sire in the US, and “Willy,” Australian Supreme CH/AM CH Alura Willy Wonka To Oz, listed as third place sire in Australia.
Dams: My first generation dams (who are also full sisters to Willy) are two of my former BISS winning Specials: “Goody,” GCH Alura Goody Goody Gumdrops CA, and “V,” GCHS Alura Va Va Voom CA. They are Vibes’ and Dezi’s moms and will soon be bringing some more future show dogs into the world.
Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Lynn Partridge: At night or when we aren’t home, we have a sun room between our kitchen and garage that is our dog room. The adult dogs have constant dog door access to our large enclosed back deck which we open during the day to our shady backyard where bunnies get chased and squirrels antagonize the dogs from the trees. A dog door into our kitchen gives them access to our living area with big, soft cave beds and a comfy couch covered with fuzzy blankets. When pups are old enough to leave the bedroom/nursery area, they go to their own pen in the dog room with a dog door opening to their own private deck that is covered with bird netting to keep the hawks and owls from getting them.
Puppies are whelped on my bed, although the new mom of my last litter was really wanting to have them under the loveseat. I still can’t figure out how she squeezed her giant belly under there.
Mom and newborn pups stay in a pen in my bedroom until around 5 weeks old—until they become rowdy roommates and graduate to the puppy pen in our dog room. In early July, our dining room table and chairs are going into storage to make room for two more additional nursery pens, because ALL of our breeding age girls decided to come in season TOGETHER! (There’s that chest tightness again!) My husband and I are venturing into uncharted territory with four litters arriving in July. Yep… FOUR LITTERS! IN the HOUSE! AT THE SAME TIME! (Grips chest, takes a deep breath!) Clearly my husband and I are insane, but our usual one litter a year can’t meet the high demand of top IG breeders around the world waiting for a pup from us.
We handle all the pups a couple times a day at least. Once their eyes open, every evening we have “family time” on the living room floor in a play pen (with Scott and I sitting in it to supervise) for the pups to mingle with the older dogs (as long as their mom is cool with it). This early interaction provides mental and physical stimulation and development and bonds all of us together. At 4 to 5 weeks old, we go outside in the grass for daily play time if it’s warm enough. This is when the “Puppypupeee Pup Pup Pup” game starts, where my husband and I sit on opposite sides of the room and call the whole litter back and forth. Years later, they instantly recognize the implanted call and go wild with joy for a reunion with us.
What is my “process” for selecting Show Puppies? Performance Puppies?
Lynn Partridge: I take pictures at intervals as they grow, to chart and compare to their older siblings and cousins as to what I can likely expect when they mature. My keepers seem to always stand out early. We socialize, provide play, and environmentally stimulate them to develop their personalities.
At 5 weeks old, we tie a white grocery bag to the end of a leash and introduce them to the lure in the house and outside in the yard on a flirt pole.
How important are Breed Specialties to you? How important are Group Shows?
Lynn Partridge: Breed Specialties are very important. They attract larger entries. I’m always seeking out shows with the best competition. Plus, there’s the added bonus of meeting breeders who live far away. Group Shows attract me if the geographical area will likely have a good Italian Greyhound entry and when they are an extra show added to the usual show days.
What are my priorities when it comes to breeding? What are the drawbacks?
Lynn Partridge: Besides the obvious answers of good health, temperament, and correct conformation, it’s important to me to keep the breed’s instinct to chase… to remain a true sighthound. I also study and research pedigrees that blend exceptionally well together with really outstanding bitch lines.
For me, the drawback is just puppy poop. Breeding is an art form and comes with the highest of highs and the occasional heartbreaking lows… it’s not for everyone, but it is imperative for top preservation breeders to bring in and nurture new people in their breeds who will carry on after we are gone. I grew up as a farm girl. My grandpa had me delivering lambs by the time I was seven years old, pulling calves by 10, and birthing foals at 16. This early childhood exposure to the natural circle of life prepared me well.
What helps me the most is that I come from many, many generations of farmers imbuing me with natural instincts for animal husbandry that begins with developing a good eye… then the ability to set aside emotion, despite loving them all. So, I can OBJECTIVELY analyze what I have… research, research, research… and do the pedigree homework… match up the best possible mate… manage a healthy pregnancy… handle birthing… raise pups… then finally, select the best offspring to carry (or not carry) on with. This was taught to me by my grandpa and dad, and is now my formula for breeding success.
How would I define “conditioning” as it relates to my breed? How important is coat care?
Lynn Partridge: All an IG needs to stay fit is daily “zoomies” in the backyard. High-quality food and a bath a couple times a year is all an Italian Greyhound needs. Before a show, my show dogs are bathed with a whitener/brightener shampoo followed with conditioner. That’s all mine need to have shiny coats.
Are there any health-related concerns in my breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Lynn Partridge: Leg breaks are the No. 1 health problem and are always on our minds to prevent. Italian Greyhounds are incredible little athletes, running and jumping around on stick legs. Leg breaks most often occur between 5 months to 2 years old as the result of recklessly jumping off something (or someone) that is too tall. Monorchid males are common within our breed and are really disappointing. Keeping teeth in good shape is ultra-important. Autoimmune diseases can pop up occasionally because our gene pool is pretty small, which is another reason to do your homework on bloodlines before breeding.
Young adolescent IGs (especially males) can be very difficult to keep enough weight on, and the breed can be ridiculously picky eaters. They need a quality high-protein/high-fat food. They quickly get tired of the same dog food all the time, so I mix 3 to 4 different brands together and rotate throughout the week. I use lots of chewing options for teeth cleaning, like rib bones, yak cheese, bully sticks, and chicken feet. IGs are highly skilled at begging too.
Do I think my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Lynn Partridge: Yes, for now, but many of the longtime, bigger preservation breeders are getting older now. We need more newcomers to get on board and learn as much as they can from wise mentors.
Is my breed well suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Lynn Partridge: It depends on the dog and how they are raised to be around children. Italian Greyhounds are very sensitive, so I prefer to place mine in older, calmer households that have someone working from home or retired. My target demographic for my puppy people are other successful show people, established responsible breeders, and newcomers who are totally committed and want to “get into the breed.” It’s preferable if my pet people have previous Italian Greyhound experience… there’s a learning curve with this breed.
I also prefer people who are at least in their late 30s or older who have a handle on their lives already, retired or empty nesters who are well grounded, financially comfortable, have a stable relationship, quiet household, possess intelligence and common sense, and most importantly, they need to be willing to devote the time and love this breed needs to thrive. Emotional and mental stability of the candidate is of extreme importance due to the sensitivity of the breed. Insecure and neurotic owners will make insecure and neurotic IGs… I won’t put my dogs in a stressful situation.
I had an inquiry last year from a woman looking for an Emotional Support Dog for her college-age daughter. She told me that her daughter had thoroughly done her research and decided an Italian Greyhound would be a good fit. I asked what emotional condition she particularly needed the dog to help her daughter with? She answered, “Social Anxiety.” Uhh, NO! Your daughter needs a Cavalier.
What is the biggest misconception about my breed? What is my breed’s best-kept secret?
Lynn Partridge: The biggest misconception is that you want just one. Italian Greyhounds are like potato chips and quickly become HIGHLY ADDICTIVE! You’ll have at least three or four within two years. The best-kept secret? I’m not sure if the world is ready to hear this… Italian Greyhounds are NOT dogs. They are actually aliens from another planet masquerading as dogs… sorta. They can control your mind and secrete a pheromone that sedates and paralyzes you so that they can lay on top of you for hours at a time. IGs are solar powered, so a sunny spot is vital to their survival. Oh, and their tail is a snorkel to breath air when they burrow under blankets.
If I could share a comment or two with judges of my breed, what would I like to say to them?
Lynn Partridge: So much!!! But I’ll just comment on the three most important things that judges ask me about.
PROPORTION & SHAPE: When judging, erase the image of a rectangular Greyhound or a Whippet because the Italian Greyhound is shaped and moves much differently than their larger cousins. Look for balance! An IG’s body frame should fit inside a perfect square – height from withers to ground is equal to body length from forechest to buttock. Picture the “S” curves over the neck, croup, and underline.
TOPLINE: The withers should be the highest point of the topline while standing and moving. IGs consider any temperature below 75 degrees cold, so their toplines will get curvier accordingly.
MOVEMENT: Correct Italian Greyhound lift, reach, and drive are immensely important and widely misinterpreted. Hackney is wrong. Daisy clipping is wrong. There have recently been some big improvements done to clarify the written Breed Standard for the IGCA’s Judges Education Illustrated Standard. Please, PLEASE, study that before you judge Italian Greyhounds the next time. There is an especially well-done section clarifying the mechanics of the breed’s hallmark “high stepping and free” movement. A CORRECT Italian Greyhound side gait instantly indicates whether or not the dog is put together the way it is supposed to be.
Do I have any words of wisdom to pass along to newer breeders?
Lynn Partridge: To get started, find yourself some honest, caring mentors and a caring breeder who has successful dogs and bloodlines. Talk to as many breeders as possible and do your research on them and their dogs. Don’t waste your money or be in a rush to go out and buy the first puppy you see. You’ll need to build a relationship and friendship with the responsible breeder you most desire a dog from.
It takes breeders some time to earn and build trust with the people their precious pups are chosen for. The most sought-after breeders may have a long waiting list for their quality pups, so make it a priority to keep yourself noticed by messaging and meeting the breeder at shows (but don’t be a pest either). When a high-quality person that I like comes along, their wait might not be as long as others if they are the best match for their dream puppy.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with a Toy Dog?
Lynn Partridge: Walking an Italian Greyhound around in public is like having a unicorn on the end of the lead. They quickly become a spectacle as people are stopped in their tracks as soon as the IGs are spotted… full grown men will squeal in delight like an 11-year-old girl… stares of wonder with open jaw while people try to wrap their brain around what kind of magical creature this is. They take pics, ask questions, and ooh and ahh. This always turns into a 20-minute educational Q&A so that they won’t run out and get their own IG without doing their homework thoroughly.