Interview with Kelly Edwards, Breeder of Ceallach Irish Terriers
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Kelly Edwards: I live in Princess Anne, Maryland. I have had dogs all my life, but got my first Irish Terrier in 2002. I have been breeding Irish Terriers since 2006.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Kelly Edwards: My Kennel name is Ceallach, and I currently have five Irish Terriers.
Which breeders have provided the greatest influence on my decision to breed dogs?
Kelly Edwards: I have been very fortunate to have been mentored by icons of my breed:
- John Childers (Baystone Irish Terriers)
- Dan & Georgina Sackos (Geordan Irish Terriers)
- Ellis West (Gloccomara)
- Nancy Petersen (Huntermoon)
- Cory Rivera (Trackways)
In my case, it truly takes a village! I speak to John nearly every day, and Dan and Ellis almost every week.
Can I talk a bit about my foundation dogs? How have they influenced my breeding program?
Kelly Edwards: My dogs come from a family of dogs: Baystone, Geordan, Gloccomara, and Trackways. Early on, my mentors instilled in me the importance of line-breeding and breeding to a family of dogs. We currently have 17 consecutive champions in our maternal line.
What about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Kelly Edwards: I saved my entire life to build my dream kennel. I spend more time in my kennel than I do my house. My kennel has six indoor/outdoor runs, a kitchenette, grooming room, laundry, a whelping room/office, and a puppy room. All rooms have floor drains and the walls are made of material that can be hosed down. I have two acres divided into four paddocks to separate dogs when necessary.
My pups are whelped in my office. I have a full-sized futon and sleep there with the dam and pups for the first two weeks. For the first 10 days, I do the “Super Dog” protocol (developed by the Airforce for military working dogs). It’s basically early neuro-stimulation and has been found to make the pups smarter and more willing to learn. At 4 weeks I start stacking puppies on the table. At 6 weeks I start crate training and begin doing some basic obedience, and I have my 4-H kids come over to help train. By the time my pups leave at 10 weeks they are walking on a leash and know “sit” and “come,” and they can sleep through the night in their crate.
Do I have a “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do I make my decisions?
Kelly Edwards: My process is pretty similar to Pat Trotter’s Puppy Puzzle with the exception of the evaluation of the head. I’ll take a good look at 8 weeks and make my final decision at 10 weeks.
How do I choose the homes for my puppies? Is puppy placement important to me as a breeder?
Kelly Edwards: I have clients apply via the Good Dog app. I have found the app is a good way to manage my waitlist, and additionally, it offers a free secure payment service. After prospective puppy buyers apply via the app, I do interviews over the phone and through Zoom. I do not ship my puppies, so prospective clients have to come to the kennel to pick up their puppy. On pick up day, they receive instruction on how to glue ears, training on how to hand-strip the coat, and instructions on house training and obedience training. Puppy placement is extremely important; I have invested a lot of time and energy into my puppies, and I want to make sure they get the best homes possible.
Can I share my thoughts on how my breed is currently presented in the show ring?
Kelly Edwards: There are only a handful of owner-handlers in Irish Terriers; most are shown by professional handlers, especially at the specialty shows. The current trend is to show them in very short coat and a bit heavy.
Are there any health-related concerns within my breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Kelly Edwards: The breed is pretty healthy, although recently, due to popular sire syndrome, there have been many cases of cystinuria. This mainly affects males and the cure for the disease is, in most cases, castration. The ITCA is working with the University of Missouri to find the gene responsible for this disease.
In my opinion, is my breed in good condition overall? Any trends that warrant concern?
Kelly Edwards: Sadly, I don’t think my breed is in good condition overall. We are losing the hallmarks of our breed. The Irish Terrier is built on lines of speed, with a graceful, racing outline. The racy, rectangular body is being replaced by a more square, generic body, or if they have the length of body it is coming from the loin and not the rib. It’s rare to see a good, flat head with parallel planes that can do the job a vermin killer was meant to do. I’m seeing a lot of very refined skulls that look more suited to be on a Fox Terrier than an Irish Terrier. Most importantly, we are losing the fiery temperament that defines the Irish Terrier. It is of utmost importance that the Irish Terrier shows fire and animation.
Is my breed well-suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Kelly Edwards: Irish Terriers make great family dogs. They absolutely love children. There is an Irish story that says the Irish Terriers once belonged to the Fairies and that they were a gift from the Fairies to the Little People. It is amazing to me that the dog can go from hunting critters to loving little children in the blink of an eye. The best candidate for an Irish Terrier is someone who has the time to put in to properly train their puppy, and someone who can be very consistent and structured from the start. Irish Terriers are supersmart and will quickly rule the household if you don’t get them trained early.
Do I feel that my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Kelly Edwards: Unfortunately, there are only about 15 active breeders in the US. I think it is imperative to get new people involved. I have several co-ownerships with “guardian homes.” Additionally, I have invested my time and energy in mentoring new people to the sport, specifically Junior Handlers. I know that Juniors probably won’t be breeding dogs right away, but I think when they have the means and the time, they will come back to it. The AKC’s new rule for Juniors that gets rid of the requirement for the Junior to own the dog is really exciting. I am heading up a committee in the Irish Terrier Club of America and hope to match Juniors to interested breeders. As for new people in the sport, I try to be as helpful as I can and encourage them to carry on.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with my breed?
Kelly Edwards: In Irish Terriers, the bitches aren’t called bitches for nothing! Before I built my kennel, my dogs ran in my backyard, which had an equipment shed in it. A few of my girls figured out how to open the shed door and would occasionally open the door and leave it open. John Childers sent me his stud dog, “Jasper,” for breeding. I put Jasper out to run with my young girls. After a few hours, I went to call them in and the girls came running—and there was no Jasper. I went out to the yard and couldn’t find the dog anywhere. I started to panic, screaming for the dog… no Jasper.
Finally, I thought to look in the shed. The door was closed and the hasp was turned to the locked position, so I didn’t think he would be in there. I opened the door, and there stood Jasper, wagging his tail and happy to see me. Those evil little bitches had opened the door, let him in, and then locked him in!
Are you looking for an Irish Terrier 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 an Irish Terrier 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.
Irish Terrier Dog Breed Magazine
Read and learn more about the bold Irish Terrier dog breed with articles and information in our Irish Terrier Dog Breed Magazine.
Irish Terrier Breed Magazine - Showsight