Interview with Debbie Dales, Breeder of Deroche Appenzellers
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Debbie Dales: I live in a small unincorporated town called Deroche, located in the Fraser Valley of B.C. Canada. I am primarily a Pug dog breeder and have only been exhibiting and breeding for the past 12 years. When I was planning to move to this rural community, I wanted a bigger, but not large, dog to help ward off predatorial animals and raptors. After doing some research, I came across the Appenzeller Sennenhund breed.
Appenzellers were bred partly as a guard dog and partly as a herding dog, and are known for their high-pitched bark; they are very intelligent and are quick learners… all traits that I was looking for in a breed to help guard over my Pugs. They are a short-haired, medium-sized, multi-colored cattle dog of Spitz type. Appenzellers require very little grooming and, as a Pug breeder, how could I not love how the Appenzeller’s tail curls up over its back? Appenzellers also have very few health concerns and live an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years. Nothing comes before health in my breeding program, and even though it was not my intent to start breeding Appenzellers when I brought my first one home, it was a bonus to find a breed with so few health concerns. On February 22, 2015, my first Appenzeller came to live with us.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Debbie Dales: We currently have three Appenzellers at Deroche Appenzellers:
- “Ulric,” a five-year-old male;
- “Buca, a two-year-old female;
- “Dani,” a 10-1/2-month-old female.
All three have black tri-color coats. We also have a grumble of eight Pugs under our Cuddle Pug kennel name.
Which show dogs from the past have been mu noteworthy winners?
Debbie Dales: Highleigh Ulric has his UKC championship title and his International Honors Bronze Championship title. I started showing Ulric in AKC Open Shows in 2019 where he was awarded Best of Breed and Group One. Due to COVID-19, Ulric was not entered in AKC events in 2020 & 2021 and is yet to obtain his AKC Award of Merit. Bucanevue of Alpine Appenzellers has her International National Championship title. These dogs are noteworthy winners as there are only a handful of Appenzellers in North America that currently have any of these titles. Appenzellers were not recognized by the CKC (Canadian Kennel Club), so we have been unable to exhibit them at dog shows in Canada.
I have CKC championships on all but one of my adult female Pugs and CKC GCH titles on both of my adult male Pugs. In addition to having a CKC GCH title, Yellow Frame’s The Hustler, one of my male Pugs, also has his AKC championship title.
Which have been my most influential sires and dams?
Debbie Dales: Coining the phrase “quality over quantity,” Desta from Townview, our first brood Appenzeller female, only produced a total of 13 live pups in four litters before we retired her from our breeding program. She produced very nice puppies, two of which have gone on to be show and performance dogs. I believe a good breeding program starts with good, healthy, and sound brood bitches, which I am hopeful Buca and Dani will be.
Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Debbie Dales: We have a small room set up in our basement for whelping puppies. Our puppies spend most of their time in this room until they are weaned. After that, weather permitting, they are introduced to a contained outside kennel with more space for them to play and run around in the fresh air. On nice days, they spend most of their time in this kennel and return to the whelping room to sleep for the night. During the day, we take our puppies out for excursions in our front field for exercise and to explore. Sometimes mom gets to join in too.
Am I working with my breed’s parent club to gain full AKC recognition for my breed?
Debbie Dales: Since 2015, I have been active in the roll as President of AMDCA. As such, I have been very involved in the effort to gain full AKC and, more recently, CKC recognition for the Appenzeller Sennenhund breed. As Appenzellers are still a very rare breed and their population is still very small in North America, we anticipate full recognition will continue to be a work in progress for some time yet. Paula Webber, Vice-President, AMDCA, and I have provided education presentations to dog show judges in both the US and Canada, and I am very happy to announce that in January of this year, CKC has approved the addition of the Appenzeller Sennenhund breed to its Miscellaneous list. Effective July 1, 2023, exhibitors will be permitted to enter Appenzellers in CKC Conformation events.
What is my “process” for selecting Show Puppies? Performance Puppies?
Debbie Dales: To select show and performance prospect puppies, I start by confirming sire and dam are both health certified. Then I research the sire and dam’s pedigrees to learn as much as possible about their lines in an effort to identify any health, conformation, and/or temperament issues. At seven (7) weeks of age, I evaluate puppies’ temperaments using the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test.
Even though the Volhard test also looks at the structure of each puppy, I have created a conformation evaluation based on the Appenzeller Breed Standard that I complete for each puppy at eight weeks of age. This additional evaluation helps me to rate some of the desirable breed-specific show qualities, such as color markings, symmetry, tail, eyes, ears, etc.
Do I compete in Companion Events? Performance Events?
Debbie Dales: I have done some companion and performance training with my Appenzellers, but have not competed in companion or performance events with them personally. However, I have bred some dogs that do compete and do very well in a variety of these events. My focus is mainly on health, conformation, and breeding.
How would I define “conditioning” as it relates to my breed?
Debbie Dales: Socialization, mental stimulation, and exercise are key components to a well-conditioned Appenzeller. Appenzellers do go through multiple fearful stages as puppies and adolescents, which stands to reason why it is so important to start socializing Appenzellers as young puppies and to continue socializing them well into their maturity. Appenzellers are very smart and can get bored and destructive very quickly, so mental stimulation is also important. Teaching them new tricks, providing mentally stimulating problem-solving games, and introducing different toys are some things you can do to keep their minds stimulated.
Appenzellers require regular exercise… they love to go for walks, love to run, love to swim, love playing in snow, love playing fetch, and love playing with other dogs. Play with other dogs does need to be supervised, as an Appenzeller’s play is usually very exuberant and can get rough. When they are doing an activity or exercise that they really like, they may bark in excitement… keep in mind they are known for their high-pitched bark.
Are there any health-related concerns in my breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Debbie Dales: Hips, elbows, patellae, and eyes are important health-related concerns for Appenzellers. Obtaining a normal rating for hips, elbows, and patellae prior to breeding has been a standard breeding practice for AMDCA breeder-members for many years. Because entropion and ectropion are disqualifying faults for our breed, eye testing was recently added to our list of required health testing. In support of best breeding practices for Appenzellers, the AMDCA partnered with the OFA Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) program in July 2021.
In addition to the above-noted health concerns, skin sensitivity is not uncommon with the Appenzeller breed, so making sure that fish oil and glucosamine are included in an Appenzeller’s daily diet is important.
Do I think my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Debbie Dales: I am very passionate about breed preservation and am happy to be able to say that currently all the Appenzeller breeders I know, members and non-members of the AMDCA, are purebred dog breeders. There are not very many Appenzeller breeders in North America, so I hope, by continuing to mentor and educate new breeders and the public, the AMDCA is able to increase the number of ethical and responsible purebred Appenzeller breeders in North America.
Is my breed well suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Debbie Dales: Appenzellers are great family dogs, but they are not for everyone. They need a lot of activities, exercise, space, and they need a job to do. Appenzellers are caring and loyal and will certainly let you know when there is the slightest bit of unusual activity going on around your home. They are great with children in the family and will form a strong bond to them if they are raised with them. Appenzellers treat everyone they know like their best friend. However, they like to jump up unless otherwise trained, so they do need to be supervised around small children and people with physical disabilities, especially those who have had little exposure to dogs.
The best candidates to own an Appenzeller are active themselves and have the time and desire to actively engage in activities with their dog, whether it is hiking, performance, search and rescue, etc. Appenzellers are very diverse and are happy to do a variety of different activities with their human companions.
What is the biggest misconception about my breed?
Debbie Dales: Most people do not know about Appenzellers, so Appenzeller owners are often asked “Is that a Bernese Mountain Dog?” or “Is that a Bernese-cross?” This gives Appenzeller owners a great opportunity to educate the public on our breed.
The tri-coloring of Swiss Mountain Dog breeds is the same for all four Swiss Mountain Dog breeds with only one exception, and that is that Appenzellers not only have black tri-color coats, some Appenzellers have havana brown tri-color coats. And did you know that Appenzeller puppies can yodel?
If I could share a comment or two with judges of my breed, what would I like to say to them?
Debbie Dales: Some Appenzellers may seem aloof when judges approach them in the show ring. This behaviour usually derives from a lack of confidence caused by the lack of exposure to people, dogs, or the environment. It is not because they are unfriendly or that they do not want to be a show dog. Some Appenzellers, especially younger ones, may require a lot more exposure than others, which is why we emphasize the importance of socialization so much with this breed. If you happen to come across this when you are judging Appenzellers, do not approach from the front; approach from the side and do not stare into their eyes. If you follow these instructions you should be able to complete your evaluation without further hesitation, and the Appenzeller you are evaluating will likely believe it has just found a new friend.
Do I have any words of wisdom to pass along to newer breeders?
Debbie Dales: As purebred dog breeders, we have a responsibility to preserve our breed, so please do your part to breed ethically. Join a breed club and network with other Appenzeller breeders.
Do all required health testing for the breed and any additional testing for other health issues you may find in your dogs’ lineage. You can’t fix something you don’t know about… the more you know, the better breeding decisions you will be able to make.
Find a mentor who can teach you about conformation and how it impacts structure. Have the conformation of your dog(s) judged.
Know your dog’s pedigree and study pedigrees of dogs that you may be planning to use in your breeding program.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with one of my dogs?
Debbie Dales: I would have to say that the most amusing thing I have experienced with any of my Appenzellers is playing in the snow. Our first Appenzeller, “Hilja,” came outside with me the first winter I had her. I started shovelling the snow and throwing it over our fence into our front field.
Hilja became excited and ran into the field where the snow was at least as high as her withers. She started jumping up to catch the snow I was throwing and continued to do this for well over a half hour as I was shovelling. She jumped up to at least six feet high at times to grab the snow. What I found most amusing was that she was so extremely elated the whole time. It is so heartwarming to see an Appenzeller that happy. We took full advantage of every opportunity we had to do this again.
Are you looking for a Appenzeller Sennenhund 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 Appenzeller Sennenhund 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.
Appenzeller Sennenhund Breed Magazine
Read and learn more about the Appenzeller Sennenhund dog breed with articles and information in our Appenzeller Sennenhund Breed Magazine.
Appenzeller Sennenhund Breed Magazine - Showsight