Interview with Patty Bartley Shonts, Breeder of NAISSUR Black Russian Terriers
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Patty Bartley Shonts: I currently live in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I have been in dogs for well over 50 years. My first job was working in a show kennel at 15 years old, and started to learn to groom and went to my first dog show.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Patty Bartley Shonts: I breed under the name NAISSUR (Russian spelled backwards). I currently have four Black Russian Terriers and five Toy Dogs. This can change if there is that one that has to stay.
Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy winners?
Patty Bartley Shonts: Noteworthy winners include “Flea,” GCH Filmon RBK Iz Galuckih Zemel and GCHG Windmill Run-Naissur Demeter, “Demi,” multiple Group-winning and placing, and multiple NOHS BIS. All shown by a Junior Handler, including being her Junior Showmanship dog. GCHB Naissur Trip To The Candy Store, “Trip,” winning Groups before two years old. He replaced Demi as a Junior ‘s dog, including winning Best Junior at the AKC National Championship.
Which have been my most influential sires and dams?
Patty Bartley Shonts: “Flea,” Filmon RBK Iz Galickih Zemel. Flea has produced more BIS winners than any in our breed. One of the most influential BRTs to date.
Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Patty Bartley Shonts: All of my dogs live in my home. Currently, four Black Russians sleep in my bedroom and a Toy Dog or two in my bed. Puppies are whelped in my spare bedroom. I sleep in the room with mom and puppies for the first couple of weeks. Then, they move out to our patio room where there are lots of toys and they learn to use a dog door to an outside area. I do have indoor/outdoor runs that open to a large yard, but don’t really use them as the dogs all come inside. We live on a cattle ranch, so they ride out to run the pasture while we check fence.
What is my “process” for selecting Show Puppies? Performance Puppies?
Patty Bartley Shonts: All puppies are temperament tested to determine the best match for family and function. I also start stacking and taking pictures and videos to really look at conformation and movement. We get a few people together to get different opinions and for setting them up.
Do I compete in Performance Events? In Parent Club Tests & Trials?
Patty Bartley Shonts: I always worked my Working Dogs and showed my Toy Dogs. I have titled two Doberman Pinschers and a German Shepherd Dog to a Schutzhund 3. That is Tracking, Obedience, and Protection; passing at one Trial 3 is the highest level. I saw a BRT and thought I wanted to know more about how they worked. I got one to work with and loved him; he never left my home. He was the first BRT to get a BH and BST on the SchH field in the US.
Is “performance” part of my decision-making when it comes to breeding?
Patty Bartley Shonts: Performance is only part of a decision when it comes to breeding. Without good conformation, a dog will not stay sound to do Performance. It starts with good form.
How would I define “conditioning” as it relates to my breed?
Patty Bartley Shonts: I have a large play area. I let puppies determine their play with very basic training. I do not do any road work or hard training until they’re about 18 months old. This is a slow-growing breed, and the growth plates need to close before I push them. Stretching and using balance balls and exercises are great.
Are there any health-related concerns in my breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Patty Bartley Shonts: Because we have a large breed and want them to grow slowly, not feeding too high a protein is essential. Our breed has a high rate of hip and elbow dysplasia. We start with testing, but the best genetics is only part. It also includes environment and nutrition.
Do I think my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Patty Bartley Shonts: I think we have a good amount of breeders who really care about our breed, but there are still too many out to just make money and don’t care about testing or temperament.
Is my breed well suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Patty Bartley Shonts: Overall, the breed can be very good with their family. However, you have to know what they are bred to do. They want to be where you are. They want to protect you. They are a strong Working Breed and one should know how to work with Working Breeds and be the leader.
What is the biggest misconception about my breed? What is my breed’s best-kept secret?
Patty Bartley Shonts: As big and strong as BRTs are, they are very sensitive to their owner’s feelings. They are extremely smart. If you show them, they “get it.” They do not do well with harsh correction. They feel it is very unfair. They are big huggers. They get in bed for a little time to hug, then they’re off to the floor for the night.
If I could share a comment or two with judges of my breed, what would I like to say to them?
Patty Bartley Shonts: Bigger is not better. It’s about balance. They should have bone and substance, and still be light on their feet to move.
Do I have any words of wisdom to pass along to newer breeders?
Patty Bartley Shonts: I spend a lot of my time now mentoring. I enjoy helping with grooming. Find a mentor to help you. Our new people are our future.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with a Working Dog?
Patty Bartley Shonts: After doing such hard training in Protection, Obedience, and Tracking, the most fun was taking a class in Trick Dog with a puppy. That was a lot of fun.