Interview with Holly Million, Breeder of Bluefire Cesky Terriers
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Holly Million: Our primary kennel is located in Jones, Oklahoma, but we have partner breeders; Pamela Bale in Edmond, Oklahoma, Monica Kipp in North Prairie, Wisconsin, Paula & Mike Turner in Johnsonville, New York, Nanette Loya in Grand Junction, Colorado, Michael & Susan Cuda in Arlington, Texas, Carol Tschida in Akin, South Carolina, Celeste Perkins in Omaha, Nebraska, Jennifer Shelton in Amanda, Ohio, and Jason & Kristen McElwee in Overland Park, Kansas.
Tim and I started out in 1999 breeding Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers separately. I bred my first Wheaten litter in 2001 and Tim in 2002. Monica has been in dogs for 40 years.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Holly Million: Our kennel name is Bluefire Cesky Terriers. Between all of us we have about 20 Ceskys in the program. This does not include dogs we have placed in show homes.
Which breeders have provided the greatest influence on my decision to breed dogs?
Holly Million: Wendy Craig has been very valuable to us with our breeding program. Glenn Dorsey has genetic knowledge of the breed and has shared that knowledge. We have reached out to breeders in Poland, Mariola and Pola Dziemidowicz, who are very knowledgeable of dogs in Europe.
Can I talk a bit about my foundation dogs? How have they influenced my breeding program?
Holly Million: Our first dogs came from Wendy Craig (Zlata Praha) in Canada. Zlata Praha Gillespie Bluefire is the first Gold Grand Champion Cesky. He is the only Cesky to date that has won a RBIS. He had many Group placements. The two other girls we imported from Wendy were very nice and have had much influence on our program. These dogs set our breed type here is the US and we have had much success in the ring.
We have also imported dogs from Poland, Russia, Czech Republic, and Sweden that have greatly enhanced our program. GCHS Norkenstein Bavaria (RUS) is a beautiful Cesky. She has won four National Specialties, two Royal Canine Nationals, and three Westminster Breed wins. She is owned by ourselves and Charles & Jane Brideau.
GCH Pumpkin Pie Daybreak, our import from the Dziemidowicz Day Break Kennel in Poland, is the dam of the current No. 1 dog. GCHB Bluefire Drive By, owned by ourselves and Michael & Susan Cuda.
What about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped?
Holly Million: Our dogs live in our home. We think that having them in and around the house teaches them to be a companion and not just a show dog. It also gets them used to being in the real world and ready to go to permanent homes when we decide to place them after showing. Puppies are mainly whelped in Tim’s bedroom.
Do I have a “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do I make my decisions?
Holly Million: We use the Puppy Puzzle and pick the dogs apart structurally. We start watching movement around 6 weeks, but they really aren’t ready until 8 weeks. And we usually start placing between 12-16 weeks. Ceskys mature slower that other breeds and can change after 8 weeks. We usually make our final decisions around 12-16 weeks. With some puppies, we do not make decisions until 6 to 8 months of age.
How do I choose the homes for my puppies? Is puppy placement important to me as a breeder?
Holly Million: Being a rare breed, we don’t get many calls for pets. But when we do, we vett them through our application process and by talking to them extensively about the breed and what to expect from the puppy. Most people who are looking for a Cesky puppy have done the research before calling. Puppy placement is extremely important. We need people who will take their Ceskys places to socialize them and to promote their pets to get the word out about how wonderful this breed is.
Can I share my thoughts on how my breed is currently presented in the show ring?
Holly Million: Right now, in the ring, there is not a uniform grooming effort. Looking back to when the breed started, you could see how František Horák wanted them groomed. Many breeders are not following his outline. At Bluefire, we were taught how Cesky Terriers are to be groomed by Wendy Craig and Horak’s daughter when she visited Canada several years ago. Our dogs are correct per his standards. Tim spends a lot of time with new show people and owners on the grooming process. Just because this is a clipped breed it does not mean that you do not use a pair of scissors. The Czech Standard calls for clipping, but it also calls for blending the lines into the unclipped areas.
Are there any health-related concerns within my breed?
Holly Million: There are no specific health problems that are alarming. Since the breed is the result of breeding a Scottish Terrier to a Sealyham terrier, Scotty cramp does occur in the breed. The Scotty club recently announced that, using their DNA database, it is working on discovering the genes that cause Scotty Cramp. Hopefully, they will be able to isolate the genes in the near future. This will benefit the Cesky Terrier.
As a responsible breeder, we believe that we should do the complete DNA profile for canine traits and diseases. This can be used to head off any issues and concerns along with being a tool to use to improve on certain genetic traits. The DNA testing also provides the coefficient of inbreeding, which will be very useful in a breed with a small gene pool. And Cesky’s are eaters, so monitoring their weight and exercise is an important part of maintaining good health.
In my opinion, is my breed in good condition overall? Any trends that warrant concern?
Holly Million: The breed is in good condition; however, it still needs to be maintained. We need to make certain that fronts and rears remain balanced along with the proper spring of rib to ensure that the Cesky has the correct movement. We need new breeders with a passion for Ceskys. There are very few breeders in the US. It is imperative that we have more people involved in the breed for it to survive in the US.
Bluefire has been very lucky to be able to import dogs. These imported dogs are the future of the breed in the US, and the quality that we have been able to get is a testament to the breeders who have shared their best with us. We reciprocated by sending dogs to Canada and Poland to add to their genetics. Breeders need to share breeding stock. There are only about 10 breeders in this country. Many only breed one or two litters every 2-3 years.
Size has varied over the years. The AKC Breed Standard is specific, and we need to make a concerted effort to try to breed the correct size and weight. The topline of this breed needs to be correct. Like most breeds, they should have parallel hocks when stacked, but still maintain the slight rise over the loin.
Like a lot of rare breeds, when you start out, the judges have the impression that the stock is not quality. Bluefire has been lucky to import quality dogs. Being in the Terrier Group, as an owner-handled breed, it is hard to overcome the long-standing Terriers with professional handlers to get Group placements. There are several Ceskys out showing now that deserve a good look in Groups, but they tend to get passed by. Presentation is also key. A clipped dog in a Group where hand-stripping and scissoring are the norm may also impact judging. (One judge even said that they aren’t a pretty breed.)
They are a beautiful breed when properly groomed to show off the correct structure! If a judge is uncertain of the breed, ask us. We will be happy to mentor or answer any questions. The Ceskys that are out being shown are generally of extremely good quality. They have shoulders properly laid-back and balanced with the rears, correct toplines, and clean, proper movement coming and going.
Is my breed well-suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Holly Million: Absolutely. They are very much a family dog. They are a pack dog, so family becomes the pack. Cesky Terriers are very outgoing in their environment and love to be busy, but they can also be a couch potato. The best candidates to own the breed are pretty much anyone who loves dogs; those who want a smaller Terrier that is game for fun, travel, and being with their family.
Do I feel that my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Holly Million: There are too few breeders in the United States. We don’t see breed dedication as the foundation of the Cesky Terrier in the US. Traditionally, there has been a more casual group of hobby breeders as compared with serious, dedicated breeders hoping to promote the breed and ensure the future.
We plan our current breedings with an eye to what we will then breed to down the road. This is always looking forward at what needs improvement (and what needs to be locked in) when planning subsequent litters. We are at the dawn of DNA testing for traits like coat, ear set, temperament, and health. In the near future, we will have more knowledge at our fingertips to make specific breeding decisions.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with my breed?
Holly Million: Ceskys are true clowns and they constantly entertain! They talk and, sometimes, they really scold you if you do something that offends them.
Are you looking for a Cesky 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 Cesky 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.
Cesky Terrier Dog Breed Magazine
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Read and learn more about the clever Cesky Terrier dog breed with articles and information in our Cesky Terrier Dog Breed Magazine.
Cesky Terrier Breed Magazine - Showsight