Interview with Jennifer Able-Jones, Breeder of J Bar Papillons
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Jennifer Able-Jones: I live in Roswell, New Mexico. I have been in dogs and breeding for 23 years.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Jennifer Able-Jones: J Bar Papillons is my kennel name. The number of dogs fluctuates depending on how many puppies I’m growing out and how many “soon to be retiring” adults I’ll be replacing.
Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy winners?
Jennifer Able-Jones: “Anabelle Beautiful” is, of course, my most noteworthy winner, having just won Best of Breed at Westminster. Before her, I hadn’t ventured into the world of campaigning a dog.
Which have been my most influential sires and dams?
Jennifer Able-Jones: I haven’t campaigned any before Anabelle, but her one son has sired some really nice puppies so far.
Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Jennifer Able-Jones: I have a nursery in my home where puppies are born and raised. Puppies are raised underfoot, but they are allowed to be puppies with minimal expectations.
What is my “process” for selecting Show Puppies? Performance Puppies?
Jennifer Able-Jones: I select by a process of elimination, where puppies with disqualifying faults and obvious flaws go to pet homes first and the others are watched for a few more months. I look for their natural stack and posture and I watch their temperaments and personalities, and how they take to new things like the bath, grooming, and walking on-lead as well as how they interact with strangers.
How important are Breed Specialties to me? How important are Group Shows?
Jennifer Able-Jones: Where I live, shows are few and far between. So, I don’t get picky about which shows I enter. I enter whatever is available within a 5-7-hour drive. I do try to make an effort to attend our National Specialty.
What are my priorities when it comes to breeding? What are the drawbacks?
Jennifer Able-Jones: Since health has already been achieved, my priorities in breeding are maintaining correct breed type. When breed type is lost, there’s not much point to the rest of it. And I’m working toward consistency in size.
The drawback to breeding is competing with the “adopt don’t shop” mentality. I don’t think we have enough outreach, letting the public know that adopting is shopping and there are other options than the numerous pit bull mixes in the shelters.
How would I define “conditioning” as it relates to my breed? How important is coat care?
Jennifer Able-Jones: In our breed, conditioning really just relates to their coats because they’re a lap dog. Coat care is most important, which is pretty challenging in my extremely dry climate. A “desert fried coat” isn’t real competitive, so I go through a lot of heavy conditioner and have to keep them inside… which they aren’t always happy about.
Are there any health-related concerns in my breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Jennifer Able-Jones: We test Papillons for PRA, NAD, VWD and CFVII, but the issues are, thankfully, not very common. We also do the OFA exams for patellas, eyes, and hearts. Luxating patellas is probably the most common issue we encounter. My vet tells me that I’m the only breeder he sees who can bring in a carload of dogs and not find any luxating patellas. When asked how I accomplish that, I tell him I cull hard and do not keep any dogs with luxating patellas of any grade for breeding, even though he does not recommend “petting them out” over just a grade 1 or 2.
As for nutrition, I feed a high-fat diet to aid in coat care and milk production. Fat is what milk is made of and momma dogs should produce plenty of it.
Do I think my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Jennifer Able-Jones: Actually, no. Preservation Papillon breeders are so outnumbered by backyard breeders, who don’t care about quality, that I run into some people in the public who can’t believe what a Papillon is actually supposed to look like. We are badly outnumbered by breeders who accomplish nothing with their dogs except producing mediocre puppies.
Is my breed well suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Jennifer Able-Jones: Papillons are excellent family dogs. The males are very loving and attentive. The females can be judgmental snobs but they provide endless entertainment. Active families make the best homes for Papillons. They love the walking, hiking, and backpacking outdoors activities.
What is the biggest misconception about my breed? What is my breed’s best-kept secret?
Jennifer Able-Jones: They are highly intelligent! I have one client who has taught the puppy she bought from me how to communicate with words using talking push-bottoms. He tells her when he needs to go outside to potty, which of their other dogs needs to potty, when he wants a treat, which treat, when he’s ready for bed, etc.
If I could share a comment or two with judges of my breed, what would I like to say to them?
Jennifer Able-Jones: “Slightly longer than tall.” The Papillon is not a “long and low” breed. Also, a hackney gait or “throwing the front” is incorrect, as is “peddling a bicycle” in the back. These are faults that ruin the image that breed type should provide.
Do I have any words of wisdom to pass along to newer breeders?
Jennifer Able-Jones: My good friend started with a mentor from the AKC New Exhibitor Mentor program and I did not. She found success much faster than I did. I mentor as best I can through email, phone, and Messenger, but I do tell everyone about the Mentor Program because I can’t attend a show with someone who lives 15 hours away, and that is where the difference is made!
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with a Toy Dog?
Jennifer Able-Jones: I once had a female that would climb her 5-foot kennel and walk across the top rail, then jump down into the kennel with whichever male she wanted her next puppies to be sired by. She presented quite a challenge and I had to build a roof for her run.
I had another girl who wouldn’t be touched unless someone had something she wanted. She would sit at the end of the couch or on the stool of my recliner and, if I’d reach for her, she’d move. She was definitely not a hugger (not unlike myself, lol). It became a bit of a game with her where she’d tease us like she wanted petting, then playfully dart away when we’d reach out for her. She could play this game all day. The females can definitely have a mind of their own.