Interview with Cory Downey Hart, Breeder of DHart Rat Terriers & Bouvier des Flandres
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Cory Downey Hart: We are in Washington State, near Gig Harbor. I have had dogs all my life, but got my first show and competition dog in 1994, a lovely Bouvier des Flandres bitch. Our first litter was whelped in 1998.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Cory Downey Hart: Our Kennel name is DHart. Between our two breeds (Rat Terriers and Bouviers), we usually have at least six dogs living with us, but we also co-own several with other people. We find that this arrangement allows us to give the dogs here ample time and training, but it also keeps a nice diversified breeding program.
Which breeders have provided the greatest influence on my decision to breed dogs?
Cory Downey Hart: Our first show and breeding dog was co-owned with her breeder, so, of course, I learned a lot about breeding from her. My other influences have been varied—some of them not breeders.
One thing that did influence me greatly was the years I spent as Breed Rescue Coordinator for both the Rat Terriers and the Bouviers. The differences I see in a well-bred dog verses most purebred dogs that come into shelters and breed rescues was eye-opening. I think my biggest reason for breeding is to maintain the standard and breed type—both conformation and temperament—in the two breeds I have.
Can I talk a bit about my foundation dogs? How have they influenced my breeding program?
Cory Downey Hart: The foundation for my Rat Terriers is “Sassy,” CH Skippin CJs Sassy Girl. She was the first Rat Terrier that I showed in Conformation, but not the first Rat Terrier we owned. (We have had Rat Terriers since 1998.) She is, however, the one that has had the biggest impact on our breeding program so far. She had nice type, excellent temperament, and she was very healthy! Currently, I own several of her grand-pups, so she has had a big influence on my line.
What about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Cory Downey Hart: When we moved out to our place in 2000, we invested in complete perimeter fencing for our property as well as fenced dog play areas and kennels inside that perimeter fence. When you have intact males and females, having the ability to safely and securely contain them when the bitches are in season is vital. And, of course, at any time of year, ensuring the dogs cannot get loose is important.
Pups are born in my office, which allows me to keep a close eye on them. We follow all the current recommendations for Early Neurological Stimulation as well as programs like “Puppy Culture” to do as much as we can to ensure the pups have an opportunity to mature to their full potential.
Do I have a “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do I make my decisions?
Cory Downey Hart: As the pups mature, we keep notes on their temperaments and how they react with new situations and people, and on their overall health. I do not make the final choice until the pups are 7-9 weeks old, as personally, that is the age when I feel we can get the best idea of the conformation of a pup as well as the temperament.
How do I choose the homes for my puppies? Is puppy placement important to me as a breeder?
Cory Downey Hart: I have an application that I ask all potential homes to complete. This lets me know their goals for the pup, as well as gives me an idea of what kind of temperament will be best-suited for them. Puppy placement is extremely important! My contract states that the puppy always has a home with me at any age, but if I do my screening of both the owners and the pups correctly, everyone is happy.
Can I share my thoughts on how my breed is currently presented in the show ring?
Cory Downey Hart: This is a difficult question. I find that so many judges have different ideas on what the Rat Terrier is or should be. They often want the dogs to go too slow, so the movement is not shown correctly.
Are there any health-related concerns within my breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Cory Downey Hart: We are lucky to have a very healthy breed overall, and we are fortunate that our potentially concerning health issues have genetic markers and can be tested for. My dogs eat a wide variety of foods and have no health issues.
In my opinion, is my breed in good condition overall? Any trends that warrant concern?
Cory Downey Hart: At this time, I feel we are in good condition overall, but as with most breeds, there is a danger of people breeding towards what is winning in the show ring rather than to the Standard.
Is my breed well-suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Cory Downey Hart: Yes, overall, the Rat Terrier is an excellent family dog. They do best with active families or active people in general.
Do I feel that my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Cory Downey Hart: You can never have enough true Preservation Breeders, breeders whose first concern is the health of the breed and breeding to the Standard.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with my breed?
Cory Downey Hart: Watching the Rat Terriers play with my Bouviers is always entertaining. But, for a funny story: We were trying to get one of my girls to do “Barn Hunt” a few years ago when it first started. She was not at all interested in that tube with the rat in it. She did not see the point until, one day, the rat escaped and… everyone was shocked at how fast she moved.
Are you looking for a Rat 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 a Rat 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.
Rat Terrier Dog Breed Magazine
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Read and learn more about the friendly Rat Terrier dog breed with articles and information in our Rat Terrier Dog Breed Magazine.
Rat Terrier Breed Magazine - Showsight