Interview with Cathy & Mike Dugan, Breeders of Aviator Kennels – Portuguese Water Dogs
Where do we live? How many years in dogs? How many years as breeders?
Cathy & Mike Dugan: We live in Shingle Springs, California, east of Sacramento in the foothills of the Sierra-Nevada mountains. We have been in dogs our entire lives. We have been breeders for 35 years, since 1987.
What is our kennel name? How many dogs do we currently keep?
Cathy & Mike Dugan: Our kennel name is Aviator kennels (Cathy was a pilot). We have four dogs on our two-acre property.
Which show dogs from the past have been our noteworthy winners?
Show Dogs include: Ladybug, Anchor, Manley, Keel Tonel, Ace, Sonho (Germany), Webster (England), Argus (Portugal), and River (Australia). As an AKC Breeder of Merit, we have over 170 AKC champions and over 30 international champions.
Which have been our most influential sires and dams?
Cathy & Mike Dugan: Influential sires and dams are Ladybug and Anchor.
Can we talk a bit about our facilities? Where are our puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Cathy & Mike Dugan: We have a professional kennel attached to our house (25 ft. x 50 ft.) with ten kennels and runs and a grooming facility in the back, all attached to a half-acre yard. Puppies are whelped in a room in the house. Pups stay in the whelping room for the first four weeks. From weeks 5-9 they are moved to a garage-sized room with a 4 ft. x 8 ft. cage divided into two sections; one for pooping and one for living in a clean environment.
Potty training begins at four weeks and they are potty trained when they go home at nine weeks. They have a 20 ft. x 20 ft. room to roam as well as an attached 20 ft. x 20 ft. area with DG (decomposed granite) as a ground cover. We always have a TV or radio on so that the pups become used to noise and human voices. No one wants a pup that is used to silence when it goes to a new home. Neighbor kids regularly interact with the pups for socialization.
What is our “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do we make our decisions?
Cathy & Mike Dugan: First you have to find a show family, one familiar with dogs that is willing to be involved with showing dogs and familiar with the time and money commitment needed. As they grow, we continuously assess the pups.
At seven weeks we can begin to evaluate the litter, looking for pups that are confident, outgoing, and have the “look at me” temperament. We also look at structure, because at that age they are proportionately similar to their adult type, and we look at which pups can demonstrate movement and drive. We also have litter evaluations with fellow breeders, often from around the country, to help us score and evaluate potential show dogs.
How do we prepare our pups for the show ring? Does our breed require any special preparation?
Cathy & Mike Dugan: We use basic obedience and socialization classes, table training, stacking, leash training, and basic commands to prepare the pups to go to their professional handlers for advanced training for their show routines. When they are over six months old, we often take them to a dog show to see how they react to the noise and chaos of a dog show.
Can we share our thoughts on how our breed is currently presented in the show ring?
Cathy & Mike Dugan: Portuguese Water Dogs are mostly shown by professional handlers because of the grooming requirements.
Are there any health-related concerns within our breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Cathy & Mike Dugan: No, Portuguese Water Dogs are required to have multiple health tests by the PWD Club of America. Two issues continue to be Addison’s Disease and Hemangiosarcoma, although both issues are fairly rare in the breed.
In our opinion, is our breed in good condition overall? Any trends that warrant concern?
Cathy & Mike Dugan: Yes, the breed is in very good condition overall.
Is our breed well-suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own our breed?
Cathy & Mike Dugan: Portuguese Water Dogs are excellent family dogs. They are not predatory or territorial. They are great with cats, birds, or children. Among the best candidates are people with prior dog experience (required, as PWDs are not a breed for rookies), empty nesters, and families with kids over five.
Do we feel that our breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Cathy & Mike Dugan: Absolutely, here and in Europe and Australia.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing we’ve ever experienced with our breed?
Cathy & Mike Dugan: Portuguese Water Dogs are clowns and make everyone laugh every day. Because they are so intelligent, they can be stubborn. For example, they will play fetch until they get bored and will not bring the toy back. Then you get the Portie “look” that says, “Is this it? Can’t we do something else?”
Several years ago, at the Southern California Specialty, our big stud “Anchor” was shown in the Veterans Class. He was fine on the first days and won. On the third day, however, we got the “look” and he was obviously bored. As he approached the judge for his exam, he looked at the judge and then at us, and laid down. He was done, period. He enjoyed the laughter from the judge and the crowd.
Are you looking for a Portuguese Water Dog puppy?
The best way to ensure a long and happy relationship with a purebred dog is to purchase one from a responsible breeder. Not sure where to begin finding a breeder? Contact the National Parent Club’s Breeder Referral person, which you can find on the AKC Breeder Referral Contacts page.
Want to help rescue and re-home a Portuguese Water Dog
Did you know nearly every recognized AKC purebred has a dedicated rescue group? Find your new best friend on the AKC Rescue Network Listing.
Portuguese Water Dog Breed Magazine
Read and learn more about the adventurous Portuguese Water Dog breed with articles and information in our Portuguese Water Dog Breed Magazine.
Portuguese Water Dog Breed Magazine - Showsight