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Insights from a Toy Group Judge Nancy Smith Hafner

Nancy Smith Hafner


Interview with a Toy Group Judge Nancy Smith Hafner


Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a judge?

Nancy Smith Hafner: My late husband and I moved to the small town of Tuscumbia, Alabama, in May 1987. I sold my boarding and grooming kennel in Nashville, Tennessee, as my husband took a job as Chief Engineer of Heat Pumps to design. I applied to judge my one breed, Poodles, in 1997 and I judged my first assignment in January 1998.

What is my original breed? What is/was my kennel name?

Nancy Smith Hafner: My original breed is the Miniature Poodle in brown, black, and apricot colors. My kennel name is Apogee, in a partnership with Monroe McIntyre of Daktari Miniature Poodles. So, our kennel names were Daktari Apogee Poodles.

Can I list a few of the notable dogs I’ve bred? Any performance or parent club titles?

In Miniature Poodles: Ch. Daktari Apogee Halston, Ch. Daktari Apogee Jarvas, Ch. Daktari Apogee Capezio, Ch. Daktari Apogee Macho, Ch. Daktari Apogee Sabrina, Ch. Apogee Daktari Lyca Cornflake, Ch. Apogee Daktari Arina, Ch. Apogee Daktari Arinna, Ch. Daktari Apogee Dakota, Ch. Daktari Apogee Allura, and Ch. Daktari Apogee Arabica.

For me, in this time period, I was credited with 77 Miniature champions. In those 20 years, we always had one or two among the Top Ten winning Miniature Poodles, with Top Producing Sires and Dams yearly.

In Toy Poodles: My first All-Breed and Specialty Winner was Ch. Apogee Daktari Conspiracy, a black bitch, along with her litter sister, Ch. Apogee Daktari Coppatina. These were from an accidental breeding to a black Baliwick dog that climbed a six foot chain-link fence and bred a small brown Miniature bitch of all Miniature breeding! These were my true beginning foundation bitches in Toy Poodles. (As Maxine Bearn once told me, the BEST Toys she showed came down from Miniature breeding!)

No performance titles for me. I went to my first training classes in Obedience in 1970… we graduated in the class, but that just wasn’t for me! However, many Poodles we’d sold went to performance homes. It’s always about anything a Poodle can do—and does—that makes it is a great representative of our breed.

What are some of the qualities I most admire in the Toy breeds?

Nancy Smith Hafner: I admire their type and soundness… many breeds are head breeds.

Have I judged any Toy Breed Specialties?

Nancy Smith Hafner: Yes, several, and it’s always an honor to be invited.

Can I offer any advice to exhibitors regarding the presentation of these “table” breeds?

Nancy Smith Hafner: Training! Get them out while young, and practice… and feed them outside the ring!

Some longtime exhibitors have “downsized” to Toys. In my opinion, has this had an impact on quality?

Nancy Smith Hafner: No, a quality Poodle of any variety is always type and soundness. Condition and showmanship doesn’t change! Just takes less time to groom!

Toy Breeds can require special care. Do I have any advice to offer breeders, exhibitors, and judges?

Nancy Smith Hafner: Toy breeds are not for the weak at heart! We have smaller litters, broken legs, C-sections, mothers without milk for two days or more… one must know how to tube feed or bottle feed… and we have ONLY ONE INCH to choose from, 9 to 10 inches; one or two pups and, if you are lucky, one might get three pups. Each color in Poodles needs six to eight bitches for breeding. Breed before two and they are over by five to six years of age. They live to be 14 to 17 years of age. So, lots to take care of in any Toy breed’s lifespan.

I have bred, more or less, one hundred champions and finished many more for Ianthe Bloomquist of Baliwick Toy Poodles. I showed her first Toy Dog, Ch. Baliwick Mystic Warrior, in 1985. In 2019, I finished four champions for her that year. Our friendship has been a lifetime, since 1985 thru today.

In my opinion, how do today’s exhibits compare with the Toy Dogs of the past?

Nancy Smith Hafner: I think, today, we have more in type than in the 1970s.

Why do I think Toy Dogs can become outstanding Show Dogs?

Nancy Smith Hafner: They love to please… love the attention… and they love being special, away from home.

If I could share my life with only one Toy Breed, which would it be and why?

Nancy Smith Hafner: I am a Poodle breeder for nearing fifty years… Poodles make one laugh every day! They are great entertainers. But seriously, they can also be your best friend; great guard dogs… they bark!

They love to please… love the attention… and they love being special, away from home.