Interview with Non-Sporting Group Breeders Michael & Linda Brantley
Where do we live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Michael & Linda Brantley: We live in Lubbock, Texas, and have been in dogs for 66 years. (My parents bred and showed Pekingese before I was born.) As a second-generation dog person, I grew up helping my parents with their breeding program.
What is our kennel name? How many dogs do we currently keep?
Michael & Linda Brantley: Our kennel name is Dreamland. We keep about 20 Chow Chows here and co-own many others around the world.
Which show dogs from the past have been our noteworthy winners?
Michael & Linda Brantley: Noteworthy winners include CH Owlheads Justin Your Dreams, CH Dreamlands American Revolution, CH Dreamlands Star of Winalot, CH Winsong Tango In Dreamland, GCHG Dreamlands Game Changer, CH Versaws Star Of Justin, GCH Eastern Magic Fly Me Safe (Pilot), GCH Dreamlands Wanna Be A Billionaire (Forbes), Ch XiShans Guardian Angel (Jordan), and GCH Dreamlands Thrill Of The Chase (Rush), to name a few.
Which have been our most influential sires and dams?
Michael & Linda Brantley: These would include CH Versaws Star of Justin (sire), CH Dreamlands American Revolution (sire), GCH Dreamlands Wanna Be A Billionaire (sire), CH Dreamlands Indulgence (sire), CH Dreamlands Drive It Like You Stole It (sire), Ch Ayran Hongs Jingle All the Way (dam), CH Dreamland Net Asset (dam), CH Dreamland Startin A Revolution (dam), CH Dreamlands Bombshell (dam), and CH Dreamlands Haute Couture (dam). I am sure I have left out several, but after 34 years breeding under the Dreamland prefix, there are so many who have contributed to our breeding program.
Can we talk a bit about our facilities? Where are our puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Michael & Linda Brantley: We have a commercial boarding kennel, thus have room to keep more breeding stock. But our puppies are whelped and raised in our home. It is very important with our breed that the pups get constant socialization and lots of people contact. We use the Superpuppy desensitizing program to make sure our puppies are ready to be future show dogs or great pets.
What is our “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do we make our decisions?
Michael & Linda Brantley: We will observe the puppies critically from the day they are born, but with our line we will usually select between 7 and 8 weeks.
How do we prepare our pups for the show ring? Does our breed require any special preparation?
Michael & Linda Brantley: Chows are a very dominate breed and are very intelligent, so they require much more socialization than other breeds. We will be bathing and grooming them from an early age, teaching them to lay down on a grooming table to be groomed. Lead, ramp, and general stack training are done daily, but only for short periods so as to not “burn out” the pups.
Can we share our thoughts on how our breed is currently presented in the show ring?
Michael & Linda Brantley: There is FAR TOO MUCH trimming being done. This is a breed that should be shown much more naturally than what I see now. Also, people tend to move too fast with their dogs. Chows are not slow, but they are not meant to sprint around the ring either.
Are there any health-related concerns within our breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Michael & Linda Brantley: We continue to battle eye issues and have far too many elbow problems. Chows require a fairly high protein and fat food to maintain the coat and muscle.
In our opinion, is our breed in good condition overall. Any trends that warrant concern?
Michael & Linda Brantley: We are in a fairly good place with the breed, but I am very concerned with the lack of younger, serious breeders to carry on the future generations. With fewer serious breeders who study pedigrees, and know proper structure and type, I do not see as much consistency as in the past.
Is our breed well-suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own our breed?
Michael & Linda Brantley: Chows are a very loyal and protective breed, and a great family dog, but they require a firm and dominant hand. This means a person who is willing and able to put the time in to be the pack leader.
Do we feel that our breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Michael & Linda Brantley: NO!
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing we’ve ever experienced with a Non-Sporting Dog?
Michael & Linda Brantley: As I have referred to earlier, Chows are a very hard-headed and independent breed—and they love to show it. I cannot count the times I have been embarrassed by Chows just refusing to do what I’ve asked of them, from laying down and rolling over on the down and back to forgetting what “stay” means, and so many others. If you want to enjoy a dog show, just come to the Chow ring where even the most accomplished show dog can—and will—make a fool of its handler.