Interview with Darcy Morgan, Breeder of Steadfast Standard Schnauzers
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Darcy Morgan: We live in Spring, Texas, and this is where our breeding program started. We whelped our first litter in 2018, and ever since then, we have been dedicated to raising top-quality, healthy puppies that carry the best traits of Standard Schnauzers. Our passion for breeding dogs stems from our love for these amazing creatures and our desire to provide families with loyal companions.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Darcy Morgan: Our kennel name is “Steadfast” because, to me, it sums up the characteristics of the Standard Schnauzer. We have four dogs that live with us in our home, but we’re fortunate to have our “Steadfast Pack” of friends and dogs that fill in our social calendars.
Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy winners?
Darcy Morgan: Our noteworthy winners are happening right now. In just five short years of breeding, we’ve produced five Grand Champions and four Champions that are still on their way to Grand. We have two Steadfast dogs ranked in the Top 10 for the nation right now, and one of our females, “Fiona,” is currently the No. 1 Standard Schnauzer for the breed. We’re already planning our return trip to Westminster with her and her brother, “Kodi.” These are exciting times for us, but what we really appreciate about the owners of these dogs is the dedication and commitment it takes to exhibit in Conformation while also providing an active life for the dogs. Both of the dogs are top competitors in multiple sports and carry a string of titles on both ends of their names.
Which have been my most influential sires and dams?
Darcy Morgan: We are proud of the foundation we have laid with Postem’s Zoey. She is a daughter of CH Parsifal Di Casa Netzer, “Pa,” and though we only have photos and videos of him to reference, we can see in “Zoey” the incredible qualities and traits that he possessed. Pa was a stunning example of the breed who turned heads in the show ring, and Zoey inherited her father’s grace and beauty. But, what we really admire in our Zoey is the purposeful, serious, watchdog temperament that comes from strong bloodlines that were bred to guard property, herd livestock, rid stables of vermin, and work alongside their human families day in and day out.
Can you talk a bit about your facilities? Where are your puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Darcy Morgan: In our breeding program, we start by carefully selecting our breeding pairs based on their health clearances and temperament, and then we put a lot of emphasis on early enrichment. I’m a strong believer in how much influence the breeder has in the dog’s first 12 weeks.
Our pups are raised in the house, so they’re quickly accustomed to all the sights and sounds of a busy home environment. We follow a program of exposing them to a wide array of sights, sounds, smells, and even conditions like “alone time” in a crate. We run blenders and vacuum cleaners, play music, observe quiet time, have people coming and going, and when nature assists with a thunderstorm, we take mama dog and pups outdoors to acclimate to that too.
We start litterbox training as soon as they’re able to leave the whelping box and then transition them to the concept of using the outdoors instead. Our owners happily report back to us that their puppy was already potty-trained upon arrival in their new home.
Schnauzers are intrinsically smart anyway, but I truly believe that going the extra mile in those first few months sets the puppy up to be a confident, resilient, better companion for life.
What is my “process” for selecting Show Puppies? Performance Puppies?
Darcy Morgan: For us, a Show Puppy is also a Performance Puppy. They must have it all—the temperament, structure, and coat for the show ring, and all the physical attributes and instincts necessary for Performance. The same is not true, however, of a strictly Performance Puppy. A Performance Puppy may not have the temperament for the show ring, or may have a less than perfect ear set, but their physical attributes, energy level, and instincts are all correct for sports.
No one knows a puppy better than an observant breeder who has studied structure, movement, and the dog’s mind. Because I live with a pack of dogs that free-roam our property and home, evaluating temperament in puppies was easier for me to learn than movement and structure in puppies. This knowledge normally comes from years of experience, but I’m very fortunate to have a strong Standard Schnauzer breeder community that has mentored me and comes to my aid when needed. Our community of breeders is so dedicated to the betterment of the breed that I know I can rely on them to help me evaluate puppies, even when we will eventually be competitors in the ring.
Do I compete in Performance Events? In Parent Club Tests & Trials?
Darcy Morgan: Absolutely! We know firsthand the dedication and commitment it takes to be involved in Performance Events, as well as how incredibly rewarding it is. We encourage all Standard Schnauzer owners to explore and find a sport that they and their dogs enjoy. These activities not only showcase the impressive skills of the Standard Schnauzer, but also provide an opportunity for owner and dog to bond and grow together. Besides, a bored Schnauzer can be an awful companion, so I constantly remind Standard Schnauzer owners that a little time spent training—even if it’s just new trick—goes a long way toward burning off some of their energy.
Is “performance” part of my decision-making when it comes to breeding?
Darcy Morgan: Always. But “performance” to us is that the dog should be ready to perform what the Standard Schnauzer was bred for: guarding, hunting, herding, and working all day. If they have the correct structure and temperament for that, with proper training, they can perform in sports.
How would I define “conditioning” as it relates to my breed?
Darcy Morgan: In the Standard Schnauzer breed, conditioning refers to maintaining and enhancing the physical and mental well-being of these dogs. It involves ensuring that they are fit, healthy, and capable of performing their original working tasks efficiently. Conditioning in this breed encompasses various aspects such as exercise, training, socialization, and mental stimulation.
Are there any health-related concerns in my breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Darcy Morgan: Standard Schnauzers are a pretty healthy breed overall. They have strong immune systems and are not prone to many genetic health issues. However, like any breed, they still require regular exercise and proper nutrition to maintain their overall well-being.
Do I think my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Darcy Morgan: We have a good community of preservation breeders, but our ideas sometimes differ on which traits are most important to the breed. Some preservation breeders prioritize the physical appearance of Standard Schnauzers, ensuring that each dog has the signature square-shaped build, wiry coat, and distinctive facial hair. They aim to produce dogs that excel in Conformation shows, where judges assess how closely they adhere to the Breed Standard.
Other preservation breeders value temperament above all else. They strive to produce Standard Schnauzers with the temperament suited for guarding, hunting, and herding, while others prioritize a friendly and outgoing personality more readily suitable as a family pet. To our Steadfast owners, I always tell them that these dogs are born knowing how to guard and hunt, so it’s the great responsibility placed on the owner to teach them when it’s not appropriate or desirable to do those things. Without proper training, they will chase the cats and herd the children, and potentially be an over-zealous watchdog when guests arrive.
Is my breed well suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Darcy Morgan: Standard Schnauzers make excellent family dogs as long as they have strong leadership and guidance. Generally, the best candidates are people who have owned Working Dog breeds previously. These individuals understand the importance of consistent training and socialization from an early age. They know that a Standard Schnauzer needs mental stimulation and physical exercise to thrive, as they have an abundance of energy.
The ideal owners of a Standard Schnauzer are active and enjoy spending time outdoors. They should be committed to providing daily walks, runs, or playtime in a securely fenced yard.
What is the biggest misconception about my breed? What is my breed’s best-kept secret?
Darcy Morgan: They’re not a terrier, and they’re not a “big mini.”
If I could share a comment or two with judges of my breed, what would I like to say to them?
Darcy Morgan: Be educated and practiced on how to check structure. Exhibitors know a lot of grooming tricks that can fool the eye, so be diligent in your examinations. These dogs need to be able to move, move, move all day long and have the course, wiry coat that requires minimal care to maintain it. Be wary of temperaments that are shy or overly aggressive, but expect them to be aloof. Standard Schnauzers can convey the sense that they’re judging you, instead of the other way around.
Do I have any words of wisdom to pass along to newer breeders?
Darcy Morgan: Don’t try to do it without the guidance of experienced mentors. Standard Schnauzers are headstrong, and you will need to be picky about choosing owners for your puppies. Early socialization and exposure are as much your responsibility as they will become later with new owners.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with a Working Dog?
Darcy Morgan: The fun never stops with a Working Dog. Their intelligence and eagerness to learn new things is always entertaining. One of our dogs, “Glory,” can run up the side of a 6-foot fence and walk along the top 2×4. I think she likes the heart attack effect it gives us.