Interview with Randy Ham, Breeder of Peachtree Kuvasz
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Randy Ham: I currently live in Rio Medina, Texas, which is nestled at the base of the Hill Country near San Antonio. I got my first pedigreed dog, an Australian Shepherd female, around 1975 while in junior high. I raised a couple of litters that went to various working ranches outside of Uvalde, Texas, where I was born and raised. My first Kuvasz came to me in 1979, and I began breeding them in 1984, primarily for livestock guardians.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Randy Ham: My kennel name is Peachtree Kuvasz, a name coined after one of my puppies’ proclivity for gnawing on my father’s freshly planted saplings. I currently house six adult Kuvasz, with several more under co-ownership across the country.
Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy winners?
Randy Ham: My most noteworthy show winner was BISS Ch. Rocky MTN Whale of a Deal, known as “Jonah,” winner of the 2002 National Specialty.
Which have been my most influential sires and dams?
Randy Ham: Jonah was the most influential sire of the Peachtree Kuvasz, having sired multiple Westminster Breed Winners. He is an important component in the pedigree of Ch. Ederra Glacier the Power of Mo’ne, the top-winning Kuvasz bitch in history. Ch. Peachtree’s Tin Lizzie was the dam who produced several top winners for us.
Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Randy Ham: I have an eight-dog kennel behind my home where the Kuvasz are housed. During my waking hours, the dogs are split between two separate one-acre yards to patrol and exercise. Expectant mothers are moved into a whelping area in my workshop. Puppies are brought out at around 4 weeks of age for supervised visits with their aunts and uncles at the yards’ fenceline.
What is my “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do I make my decisions?
Randy Ham: My process for selecting show puppies begins at that 4-week interval, with outings with the dam. While walking around the yard, exploring the surroundings, different confidence levels become apparent. Notes are taken regarding their reactions to discovering the new environment and sounds. This is a good time to start looking at tail carriage as well.
Hands-on evaluations are done at 8 weeks of age. I usually have one of my breeding partners with me, and my wife, Dawn, takes pictures and documents our findings. I like to wet the puppies’ toplines to look for soundness in toplines and shoulders. Our decisions are generally made by committee after lengthy discussions that include my day-to-day observations on individual behaviors.
How do I prepare my pups for the show ring? Does my breed require any special preparation?
Randy Ham: My training preparation for the show ring starts with early table training and short outings in the van. I try to keep all outings positive and fun. I will not push them into a situation they are not ready for. Lead training is done while exploring new grounds. Kuvasz have an amazing ability to remember both positive and negative experiences, so patience is of the utmost importance.
Can I share my thoughts on how my breed is currently presented in the show ring?
Randy Ham: The presentation of our breed in the ring is, unfortunately, taking a backseat to the fact that there are not nearly enough dogs being presented!
In my opinion, is my breed in good condition overall? Any trends that warrant concern?
Randy Ham: Our breed has made remarkable progress from my first dog to today’s dogs, both in health and temperament. Orthopedic issues have improved the most. Unfortunately, with our small gene pool, diseases such as degenerative myelopathy and progressive retinal atrophy have to be monitored closely but can be easily avoided.
Is my breed well-suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Randy Ham: The Kuvasz breed is a great family dog, especially with children. However, it must be the right family that can generate the patience and thoughtfulness that a dog who thinks for himself needs to develop to its full potential.
Do I feel that my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Randy Ham: The Kuvasz breed is in crisis, with very few preservation breeders and a newer generation being swayed (and shamed) from purpose-bred dogs in favor of rescues. I know some breeders are currently encouraging their pet owners to join in the cause and become our future breeders, along with encouraging junior handlers’ involvement.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with my breed?
Randy Ham: My first Kuvasz, “Chivas,” had the ability to turn the doorknob and enter the house without being detected. I came home from school one afternoon right before Christmas to find my mom standing at the door with broken ornaments in her hand and a none-too-pleased look on her face. Chivas had snuck in, grabbed the string of lights on the Christmas tree from the bottom, and took off running, full-speed, pulling the lights off the tree and sending all the ornaments flying.
Peachtree Kuvasz – Randy Ham
Featured photo courtesy of the American Kennel Club (AKC)
Are you looking for a Kuvasz puppy?
The best way to ensure a long and happy relationship with a purebred dog is to purchase one from a responsible breeder. Not sure where to begin finding a breeder? Contact the National Parent Club’s Breeder Referral person, which you can find on the AKC Breeder Referral Contacts page.
Want to help rescue and re-home a Kuvasz dog?
Did you know nearly every recognized AKC purebred has a dedicated rescue group? Find your new best friend on the AKC Rescue Network Listing.
Kuvasz Dog Breed Magazine
Read and learn more about the loyal Kuvasz dog breed with articles and information in our Kuvasz Dog Breed Magazine.
Kuvasz Breed Magazine - Showsight