Interview with Melissa Robison, Breeder of Alexis Maltese
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Melissa Robison: We live in Northern California (Sacramento) and have been breeding, showing, and exhibiting Maltese for about 16 years.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Melissa Robison: Alexis Maltese is our name and we currently have six dogs at home.
Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy winners?
- Alexis I Love You I Know, “Solo,” (our first special-quality breeding);
- Alexis One Fin, Two Fin, Red Fin, Blue Fin, “Toro,” (No. 1 Maltese Breed, All-Breed, 2022);
- Alexis California Roll, “Roller,” (BOW at the 2022 National Specialty, first weekend out as a special this year; and last week, two G1s and a G2).
Which have been my most influential sires and dams?
- CH Marcris Smarty Pants
- CH Alexis Khaleesi
- Shinemore’s Gangnam Style
- CH Shinemore’s Attraction
Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Melissa Robison: We breed on a very small scale, maybe two litters per year. Our puppies are whelped in our master bedroom next to our bed. When they are old enough and ready, we introduce them to the other dogs in our home so they can be well socialized.
What is my “process” for selecting Show Puppies? Performance Puppies?
Melissa Robison: We watch them play to identify the ones that move properly and have ideal temperaments. Of those, we then select for coat and pigment. The rest are for loving pets and we find the right homes for each one.
How important are Breed Specialties to me? How important are Group Shows?
Melissa Robison: Very important. We strive to produce the best we can. Competing and being with other breeders keeps us sharing and moving forward in our breed with our dogs. Local shows seem to have a certain amount of “randomness” in judges’ choices, but the best dogs are usually recognized at Specialties.
What are my priorities when it comes to breeding? What are the drawbacks?
Melissa Robison: Healthy, sound body and stable temperaments are our foundation for all the other attributes that make a Maltese. Beautiful coat and balanced face come after.
How would I define “conditioning” as it relates to my breed? How important is coat care?
Melissa Robison: Coat care and grooming make the package whole and this breed requires a lot of that. We groom every day, wrapping and spending hours before showing to share the beauty of our breed. Given a quality dog, the time put into maintaining coat is the difference between a Champion and a Special.
Are there any health-related concerns in my breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Melissa Robison: We have a very healthy breed and strive to keep it healthy. Feeding high-quality dog food is vital. There are some health concerns in the breed such as GME or liver shunt, but responsible breeding helps keep these manageable.
Do I think my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Melissa Robison: Unfortunately, no. Our show entries continue to decline as do our puppy registrations. It is important to bring in new breeders, but this is not as simple as one may think given the time requirements to show Maltese.
Is my breed well suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Melissa Robison: Our breed IS the perfect companion dog. It is their sole purpose to love and adore you. The best candidates are people who want to have a devoted companion.
What is the biggest misconception about my breed? What is my breed’s best-kept secret?
Melissa Robison: The biggest misconception is more of a Toy perception than a Maltese one—that they are “yappy,” high-strung dogs, which is not true. I will not reveal our best-kept secret, as it will no longer be a secret.
If I could share a comment or two with judges of my breed, what would I like to say to them?
Melissa Robison: This breed is a beautiful companion dog that also needs to move. Maltese should be balanced in the face and body. And remember that they are a Toy Breed—larger dogs may look elegant in the Group ring, but the 4-6 pounds is preferred.
Do I have any words of wisdom to pass along to newer breeders?
Melissa Robison: Learn your Breed Standard and know the difference between it and FCI. We are importing and losing our AKC Standard.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with a Toy Dog?
Melissa Robison: It is common for people to see them and be shocked that they are real and not a toy!