Interview with Michelle Herod, Breeder of H&H Chihuahuas
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Michelle Herod: We live in Prescott, Arizona. I have had dogs since I was a child. My mother loved animals and her interest taught me the love of animals. I have been breeding dogs since the 1990s. My first love was Pomeranians, so I bred a few. I started breeding Chihuahuas in 2003.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Michelle Herod: Our kennel name is H&H and it derives from my husband’s and my last names: Herod and Harris. We keep approximately 20 breeding females and 10 breeding males.
Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy winners?
Michelle Herod: Well, my most noteworthy dog is MBIS MBISS GCHP H&H Hotrod. “Hotrod” was the No. 1 Long Coat (LC) for three years in a row and No. 1 Owner-Handled for three years. He won the Top 20, the American National, the Breed at the World Dog Show in LC Chihuahuas, three All-Breed Bests in Show, three All-Breed Reserve Bests, Multiple Owner-Handled Bests in Show, and the Westminister Variety twice.
Which have been my most influential sires and dams?
Michelle Herod: We must give credit to Hotrod’s sire, GCHP BK’s Wild About Harry. His breeder, Kathy Smith, was most gracious in allowing us to use him. Hotrod himself has sired 18 Champions and his son, GCH Hotrod Lincoln, has sired six Champions.
Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Michelle Herod: Our dogs are kept in our home during the day. They have full in & out access to a grassy yard. Our puppies are whelped in our room; we have special Midwest Pens and they whelp in a box. Our puppies are brought into our living room starting around 2 weeks. We like them to start getting used to being picked up and moved and touched at a very early age. We start litterbox training at about 4 weeks. And they are allowed to roam at about 6 weeks, outside on our patio (weather permitting).
What is my “process” for selecting Show Puppies? Performance Puppies?
Michelle Herod: I like to watch the puppies grow and I start picking between 8 and 12 weeks. I look at the angulation, their tail sets, their heads, bites, ear set, and their personalities. I start to make some cuts at about 12 weeks and sometimes as late as six months. Many of our pets are placed at the 6-month age, and those puppies are very well adjusted.
How important are Breed Specialties to me? How important are Group Shows?
Michelle Herod: The Breed Specialities are, to me, the most important to attend. You get to meet other fellow breeders, see their dogs, and visit with other like-minded fanciers. Group Shows are, to me, only important in the ranking process.
What are my priorities when it comes to breeding? What are the drawbacks?
Michelle Herod: My priorities are to raise healthy and happy, well-socialized Chihuahuas. Drawbacks of breeding are the loss of puppies and even, sometimes, the dams.
How would I define “conditioning” as it relates to my breed? How important is coat care?
Michelle Herod: Conditioning comes from everyday male preening, aka showing off in front of the girls. I like my dogs to be mostly natural and consider Chihuahuas as “wash ‘n go!”
Are there any health-related concerns in my breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Michelle Herod: I think one of the biggest health concerns is the overweight Chihuahua. This happens more often in the pet homes, but it leads to heart disease, patella problems, and even liver and kidney issues. Another problem is poor dental health, which also causes heart issues. I believe Chihuahuas need “small bite” foods to keep their teeth in better condition.
Do I think my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Michelle Herod: Yes, I think we have many in our breed who are dedicated to this wonderful breed and who strive to improve the dogs with each breeding.
Is my breed well suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Michelle Herod: I think this depends on the dog’s personality and the child’s temperament. I have had many successful families with Chihuahuas, but if the personalities are not considered I could see this as a fail. The best candidate offers the Chihuahua a home to be a dog; that means his own safe yard to roam (doesn’t have to be big, just safe). I also feel most Chihuahuas enjoy the company of another Chihuahua or at least another companion dog.
What is the biggest misconception about my breed? What is my breed’s best-kept secret?
Michelle Herod: That they always bark! Now, that being said, if you are a stranger, my dogs will bark at you. But we live with many dogs that generally aren’t barking. The best-kept secret: They are the most awesome watch dogs! Ninjas couldn’t sneak in our home!!! Another secret: Agility!
If I could share a comment or two with judges of my breed, what would I like to say to them?
Michelle Herod: Please move us around before choosing your winner. Chihuahuas are agile, and good movement is important as we can be very long-lived!
Do I have any words of wisdom to pass along to newer breeders?
Michelle Herod: Don’t give up! Find a good mentor and ask lots and lots of questions! You are not a bother to us! And if your dog meets the Breed Standard, and you want to show it, please do not let anyone tell you not too! And have fun!!!
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with a Toy Dog?
Michelle Herod: My Chihuahua, Champion H&H Adele, was playing around the kiddie pool with my grandsons when the one-year-old grandson dropped a strawberry in the water. Adele jumped in the pool and dove her head to the bottom (about 6 or 7 inches) and grabbed that strawberry!