Interview with Herding Group Breeders Gina & KayCee Klang
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
I live in Thousand Palms, California, about two hours east of Los Angeles and 10 miles east of Palm Springs. I have been involved in dogs for about 28 years; 27 years breeding.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Gina & KayCee Klang: Our registered kennel name is Mon Amie Briards. We currently have eight dogs. We are constantly trying to keep our numbers down and don’t like to keep more than ten.
Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy winners?
Gina & KayCee Klang: We have been fortunate to have had many beautiful dogs over the years. However, Multiple BIS RBIS National Specialty Winner, GCH Mon Amies Georgie Porgie Puddin and Pie, and his son, Multiple BIS RBIS GCH Mon Amies Last Man Standing, are special dogs to us. Not only were they beautiful representations of the breed, they both had exemplary temperaments. I must also mention GCH Mon Amies Oh So Charming, 2021 Westminster BOB winner. Although he did not have the specials careers the other dogs mentioned did, he is a breeder’s dream. He has so much to offer our breeding program; a well-constructed, moderate, upstanding dog.
Which have been my most influential sires and dams?
Gina & KayCee Klang: Hands-down, the dam who influenced our dogs in so many ways was CH Mon Amies BellBottom Blues. She was Top Dam in 2015, has an ROM for her get, and her pedigree runs through almost all of our top dogs and bitches. She was not the best bitch we had ever produced, but she consistently produced better than herself; sound, beautiful outlines, heads, pigment, tails, and sweet, biddable temperaments on her get. The sire who had the most influence and is responsible for improving the temperaments of our dogs is CH Dior Mon Amie Simply Irresistible, “Newman.” We bred Newman to all of our bitches and consistently got lovely, stable temperaments. Our foundation dogs were much tougher than our dogs of today and we have, in large part, Newman to thank for the lovely temperaments that we have continued on with, moving forward generation after generation.
Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Gina & KayCee Klang: We have no formal kennel or outbuildings. We do have a dog room where we have runs and crates. We groom in there and can put all the dogs “up” if necessary. All of our dogs live in our home. We have beautiful grass yards that the dogs have access to for most of the day. Our puppies are whelped in my office. It works well; I can get some work done and have the puppies right there with me to keep an eye on them. While the puppies are with their mother, they stay in my office, and once they are weaned, they move into our living room. Doesn’t everyone have puppies in their living room? LOL. We like them to be in the hub of our home where they are exposed to the noises and sounds of a normal household and can be exposed to the other dogs. They also get a lot of attention because anyone coming over gets to interact with them.
What is my “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do I make my decisions?
Gina & KayCee Klang: We like to watch the puppies moving freely in the yard. Often, what my eyes see is backed up by what my hands feel when going over the puppies. The saying, “form follows function,” is true and comes into play. When a puppy is well-constructed, the movement and carriage follow. I like to make final decisions about show puppies right around 8-10 weeks. Usually, what we see at 8 weeks is pretty close to what we are going to get in adulthood. There are always exceptions to this, but we have been relatively successful with choosing at that age. I feel like at eight weeks they have pretty good coordination and balance.
How do I prepare my pups for the show ring? Does my breed require any special preparation?
Gina & KayCee Klang: I am fortunate that I have my very talented daughter, KayCee, as my partner. She takes the puppies, teaches them to walk on lead, stack, and basically be show dogs. Our puppies must tolerate grooming, as they will spend a lot of time being groomed. We teach them early on to lay on their sides on a grooming table. They must learn to tolerate weekly bathing and nail trimming. Briards require a lot of socializing. It takes time exposing the puppies to as much as possible; other dogs, sounds, places, etc. Even the best of temperaments can be ruined by not properly socializing. So, show puppies require a lot of work to make them ring-ready by six months.
Is my breed hand-stacked or free-stacked in the show ring?
Briards can be trained to beautifully and skillfully free-stack themselves, but our breed is hand-stacked for examination. It’s important for Briards to have their weight over their fronts and their feet four-square to properly show outline and topline.
Are Performance and Companion titles important to me as a breeder? Are parent club titles?
Gina & KayCee Klang: Most of our puppies go to companion home, so we are thrilled to have our dogs successfully acquiring performance and companion titles. I feel that in our breed, the Hall of Fame and Record of Merit for Dams and Sires are very important. These are a permanent record for generations to see the dogs and bitches that have had influence and have contributed to the breed in a positive way.
In my opinion, is my breed in good condition overall? Any trends that warrant concern?
Gina & KayCee Klang: I believe that some breeders and their dogs are moving in the right direction more than others. I do worry about our breed and the direction it is going. I feel breeders do not have enough mentorship or a good understanding of the standard and the finer points of the breed. Breeders need to be mindful of size. Our standard has a size range and no disqualification for over the size range. However, Briards are a medium-sized Herding Dog. Some of the dogs are getting too big. Proportions are also of concern. Briards are a square or slightly off-square breed. A lot of dogs are too long and low on leg. I also feel too much importance is being put on coat and coat color, and the integrity of the dog underneath is being overlooked.
Is my breed well-suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Gina & KayCee Klang: Yes, to the right families. Briards are the best companions and love their people, if they are placed into homes where there are clear boundaries and the owners establish that they are alpha. Owners must take the time to socialize properly, and basic puppy and obedience classes are helpful.
Do I feel that my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Gina & KayCee Klang: I believe that we have a few responsible preservation breeders who are trying to keep our breed not only thriving, but improving.