Interview with Hound Group Breeders – Nancy & Karmen Lange – OHeavens Otterhounds
OHeavens Otterhounds, owned by Nancy and Karmen Lange, are collaborative breeders. Mother and daughter have worked hard over the years, learning together to improve the family’s breeding program which focuses on the health and temperament of the Otterhound. Nancy Lange has been a registered nurse since 1977; health for both humans and canines is a serious concern for her. Karmen has been involved with her mom and had her first Otterhound at the age of five. Through the years, some breeding results, both for themselves and for others, have caused them to notice signs of deteriorating health in the Otterhound. This concern led Karmen Lange to her interest in genetics as her college major, to better understand what could boost the OHeavens breeding program. OHeavens is owner-handled.
Where do we live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
My home is in Marshall, Michigan, and is the place where Karmen grew up. It is a quaint small town in Mid-Michigan. Initially in Mastiffs at age 21, we turned to Otterhounds in 2001. Our first few years in the breed were difficult, but in 2004 we had our first litter.
What is our kennel name? How many dogs do we currently keep?
OHeavens is our kennel name. This came from my reaction to the antics of things the dogs did as they cavorted about the house, when they did something funny. The name also made sense because of my love of angels. We currently keep four Otterhounds, including one that will stay with us from our present litter of thirteen.
Which show dogs from the past have been our noteworthy winners?
OHeavens’ noteworthy show dogs include: CH UKC CH Scentasia’s Bedazzled in Diamonds CGC(Dazzle), multiple Group placements including Group One, Best of Breed-winning; GCH UKC CH Kalevala Knockin’ On OHeavens Door CGC (Gabriel), multiple Group-winning, No. 4 Otterhound in 2016 All-Breed Standings, AKC NOHS Best in Show; GCHB UKC CH OHeavens I Believe in Miracles (Miracle), multiple Group-winning/placing NOHS Best in Show; and CH UKC CH OHeavens Worth Repeating CGC (Echo), multiple UKC Best in Show-winning and AKC Group-placing.
Which have been our most influential sires and dams?
Our most recent breeding of CH Conestoga Doin It For OHeavens Sake (Raphael) and CH OHeavens Blinded By Science (Beaker), as well as our previous litter, has shown regenerative trends with bigger litters and regularly ovulating bitches that has led us to be optimistic about the future. Some of our previous breedings resulted in small litters, lower survival rates, and sometimes failure to produce.
Can we talk a bit about our facilities? Where are our puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Puppies are whelped in our home in our dedicated office area. We are influenced by, and grateful to, our various mentors over the years. We are close followers of Dr. Marty Greer, DVM, JD and we use her book, Canine Reproduction and Neonatology. We study Puppy Culture and also use Early Neurologic Stimulation (ENS).
What is our “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do we make our decisions?
The age when we make decisions about puppies is from 7.5 to 8 weeks. We believe it “takes a village.” We make choices based on the Otterhound Breed Standard and we include temperament testing prior to placing any of our puppies.
How do we prepare our pups for the show ring? Does our breed require any special preparation?
Preparing a puppy for a show career takes exposure to lots of people, classes, and having a variety of people go over them as well as socializing with them. We use UKC as a springboard to AKC and take our puppies to B matches. Our breed is wash & wear. Bathing and grooming are completed at home, with quite simple preparations on-site before the show.
Can we share our thoughts on how our breed is currently presented in the show ring?
We believe that in some cases there is a trend of more grooming done on show dogs than the Standard suggests. We are seeing more “managed” coat types rather than the functional coat of the working dog.
Are there any health-related concerns within our breed? Any special nutritional needs?
The more serious health issues in the Otterhound are hip dysplasia and seizures, as these can affect both the owner and the dog’s life. We are seeing an increase in cancer in our breed, but not to the extent seen in other breeds. We also believe that probiotics are essential for healthy GI function along with a well-considered, balanced diet.
In our opinion, is your breed in good condition overall? Any trends that warrant concern?
Improvements in hip dysplasia have been seen since the early years of Otterhounds in the US. Improvements in diet, consideration of exercise appropriate for young dogs, as well as breeding for improvement have been effective. Though Glanzmann’s Thrombasthenia (GT) was a genetic disorder in the past, genetic testing has virtually eliminated affected dogs in the breed. We believe it is imperative to provide openness and communication on health issues. Constant consideration of past breedings informs the future for OHeavens.
Is our breed well-suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own our breed?
Selecting owners for puppies is important to us. We believe it is critical for puppy owners to understand the nature of a Hound whose nose is most important to them. We recommend that the Otterhound is not a breed for the first-time dog owner. Best candidates are folks who have owned Hounds previously, families with older kids, active people who might enjoy Performance Sports, Tracking, and other scent-based activities. Active, older adults or those retired with more free time are also great choices of people to own Otterhounds. We encourage participation in
Do we feel that our breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Because this is a rare breed with approximately 25 to 30 active breeders worldwide, we encourage our puppy buyers to do their part. Even if the owners of males are not interested in providing stud services, we ask them to participate with the Otterhound Club of America Reproduction Bank, Inc. and have their dog collected; to contribute to the gene pool for use in the future. This innovative non-profit was started by the Otterhound Club of America Inc. and was used as a model for the AKC’s own Purebred Preservation Bank.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing we’ve ever experienced with a Hound?
Our Otterhound, Gabriel, loved to run. We’d heard of some Otterhounds trying out Lure Coursing around the country and thought that it might be great for him. At a show we attended there was an opportunity to give it a try during a lull in our events, so we signed him up. He enthusiastically lined up for the start and headed “pell-mell” for the lure for about one hundred feet. Then, the lure switched directions and headed left. Gabriel kept going straight ahead, with Karmen trailing after him for another five hundred feet. He’d still be going if he hadn’t decided to stop and take a leak on the bright yellow porta-potty at the end of the field. Needless to say, the run in “show clothes” was not a happy feat!