Interview with Lindsay Halbach, Breeder of Riverdale Farm Rat Terriers
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Lindsay Halbach: I was from Wisconsin, but three years ago I packed up seven dogs and moved down to Marana, Arizona, to escape the polar vortexes! It was quite the adventure and everyone has adapted to desert life very well. I have been breeding for 10 years, starting out in Great Danes; now with Rat Terriers.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Lindsay Halbach: I breed as RDF, Riverdale Farm, which has been my family farm’s name since 1898. It is a great privilege and responsibility for me to be able to carry on that name and tradition. I continue to raise poultry as my family has always done. My dogs are raised around chickens, ducks, guineas, and even goats. Exposing puppies to flapping, crowing, and quacking, and the general shenanigans of farm life, has greatly benefited their mental development.
Which breeders have provided the greatest influence on my decision to breed dogs?
Lindsay Halbach: I have two amazing mentors who have helped me in my selection of my breeding foundation, showing, and evaluating puppies. Jackie Bauknecht has been invaluable as a Great Dane mentor, helping me with not only breeding and handling but also helping me to gain more confidence in the ring and in decision-making. While showing my first Rat Terrier last year, Christina Martinez began mentoring me and then allowed me to start showing one of her puppies that we are very excited about.
Can I talk a bit about my foundation dogs? How have they influenced my breeding program?
Lindsay Halbach: I am just starting out in Rat Terriers. While I have decided not to breed one of my foundation bitches, I have learned a LOT about Terriers and how to show a table dog. I am very excited about my new puppy bitch (Butter) who will be hitting the fall show circuit here in Arizona. She has been to one show and won BOB/BOBOH both days of the show and an OH Group 2 her first show out.
What about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Lindsay Halbach: My dogs have a kennel room where they eat and sleep. I also have an adjoining room that is my whelping room. I believe that crate training is especially important for the dogs’ safety and relaxation. They know the routine around here; should I be late with dinner, they will kennel themselves in preparation. Having a separate room for whelping allows “mom” to feel secure, but the puppies are also exposed to house noises and routines. The puppy room has a door to a deck and a separate outdoor puppy play yard.
Do I have a “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do I make my decisions?
Lindsay Halbach: YES, asking for help and input from those more experienced than me! It can be hard not to fall in love with certain puppies along the way, so I am always sure to do video chats, send pics,and discuss puppies with breeders who are willing to evaluate them. It’s even better to be able to have them put hands on those puppies for temperament evaluations.
How do I choose the homes for my puppies? Is puppy placement important to me as a breeder?
Lindsay Halbach: I prefer to get to know my puppy families, as I will be there to support them for the life of their puppy. It starts with an application and then an interview to better understand their goals and expectations for their puppy. Great homes are a priority for me and I often have a waiting list.
Can I share my thoughts on how my breed is currently presented in the show ring?
Lindsay Halbach: Rat Terriers are shown on the table, with an emphasis on correct movement. Ratties are to be compact, tough, and elegant packages. There are minimal color restrictions, other than they cannot be a “solid” color, brindle, or merle. There are many colors and patterns that are accepted, though some are preferred over others. The Rat Terrier standard and RTCA do a very good job explaining this in more detail.
Are there any health-related concerns within my breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Lindsay Halbach: For a Rat Terrier to be OFA CHIC certified, they need to have (minimally) a basic Cardiac Exam, Hip Xrays/Penn Hip, Patellar Luxation, Legg-Calve-Perthes, and Primary Lens Luxation. Overall, I think the Rat Terrier is a healthy breed. Like all breeds, there are some concerns; however, Ratties have a life expectancy of 12-18 years.
In my opinion, is my breed in good condition overall? Any trends that warrant concern?
Lindsay Halbach: I would love to see more consistency in the breed and more people showing and competing with their Rat Terriers. I am glad to see that the parent club focuses on a dog that still works and has a job to do, and there is a focus on function and health rather than only on appearance.
Is my breed well-suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Lindsay Halbach: Rat Terriers are an EXCELLENT family dog. They are snugglers and love to lay on you and be a part of whatever the family is doing. They do great with kids and they love to play and perform for treats. Their size makes them easy to travel with and they love car rides and going shopping. Early socialization is key to developing a good family dog. Rat Terriers are still Terriers and do need some activity and space to play. They enjoy activity just as much as cuddling up for a movie on the couch. Prey drive is a consideration with Rat Terriers. They are designed to hunt and will give chase, so a secure yard is important. They are playful and entertaining (see below), which is breeder-speak for “they can be naughty.”
Do I feel that my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Lindsay Halbach: NO! Please consider the Rat Terrier as a breed that you can get into and help to preserve. There are many breeders who are willing to support and mentor new exhibitors.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with my breed?
Lindsay Halbach: “Butter,” my puppy, just brought a LIVE lizard into the house and promptly let it go when I said, “What do you have?” Two Rat Terriers began the chase, and three Great Danes headed for the safety of the couches. The lizard, which was unaware that it was not supposed to run up the side of the couch because that was the Dane’s safe zone, set them scrambling for other safe places, all while the Ratties gave chase. Chaos ensued for a good 15 minutes while I tried to catch the lizard in a bucket. The lizard was eventually rescued and safely relocated outside.
Are you looking for a Rat 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 Rat 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.
Rat Terrier Dog Breed Magazine
Read and learn more about the friendly Rat Terrier dog breed with articles and information in our Rat Terrier Dog Breed Magazine.
Rat Terrier Breed Magazine - Showsight