Interview with Robin Henderson, Breeder of SpiceRack Giant Schnauzers
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Robin Henderson: I am located in Ocala, Florida. I am a second-generation Giant Schnauzer breeder. My mother, originally a Miniature Schnauzer breeder, started in Giants in 1972. I started helping her and started showing when I was about 12 years old, so I’ve been around Giants since 1972! My mother and I co-bred a very successful litter in 2006, and I bred my first litter on my own in 2010. I don’t breed often, about a litter every two years.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Robin Henderson: My Kennel name is SpiceRack, which was my mother’s kennel name. When my mother stopped breeding, she asked me to continue her kennel name. I currently have five Giants, one male and four females.
Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy winners?
Robin Henderson: There are four.
My mother bred a bitch, CH SpiceRack’s Hot Gossip, who became a Group winning bitch in the 1980s. In 2011, there were two top Giant bitches, one I owned and one I co-bred with my mother.
GCHS Kenro’s Fleeting Moment, which I owned, was a Best in Show, Best in Specialty Show, and multiple Group winning bitch. “Enya” finished 2011 as No. 1 All-Breed and No. 2 Breed.
GCHG Spicerack She’s All That RN CAA RATO was out of our 2006 litter. She was owned by Melisa Clardy and was a Best in Show and multiple Group winning bitch that won a specialty Best of Breed at nine years old! “Kiera” finished 2011 as No. 3 all-systems and was ranked for several years.
Currently, there’s GCHS Spicerack’s Shotgun Rider CGCA TKN. Bred and owned by me, “Flint” is a young dog (two years old) and is a multiple Best in Show, Reserve Best in Show, and multiple Group winning/Group Placing Giant at just four months into his campaign. He is also a multiple Owner-Handled Best in Show winner and was the Reserve Best in Show winner at the NOHS Finals in December 2021!
Which have been my most influential sires and dams?
Robin Henderson: Since I’ve mostly kept bitches, I’d have to say that they have been the most influential to the program in more recent years. CH Ruster’s Diva At SpiceRack was the dam of our successful 2006 litter. Of six in the litter, five became champions in a nine-month timespan and were all shown by me. “Diva” was awarded Top Producing Dam by the GSCA for 2006. Her daughter, Kiera, went on to produce lovely, successful puppies, one of which was a Best in Show winner.
GCH Happy Trails Dancin The Knight Away At SpiceRack, only bred one time, produced a lovely litter that resulted in five (of eight) champions, most notably, her daughter GCH Ramahill’s Gloriana At SpiceRack.
“Gloriana,” is currently making her mark on the breed. She has produced four beautiful puppies, two who are currently Grand Champions: (MBIS, MBISOH GCHS Spicerack’s Shotgun Rider; and GCH Spiceracks Not Gonna Letem Catch The Midnite Rider, and her young daughter, Spicerack’s & Ramahill’s Comin In Hot, who is currently working toward her Championship. Gloriana started herabbreviated show career at an older age. This year, in two month’s time, she earned her Championship and Grand Championship, and became ranked in the Top 10 Breed! For the month of June, she and both of her sons are Top 10 Giants!
Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Robin Henderson: My husband and I live in the middle of a horse farm community, with a little bit of acreage that gives our dogs room to run. They get great exercise when the (rare) car comes by and they get to race one down the fence line! All puppies are whelped in our home, in a spare bedroom, and remain in that room until they leave for their new homes. I raise them using Puppy Culture. They are exposed to many sights and sounds during their time with me. I spend all of my spare time with them, observing, handling, and molding their little minds.
What is my “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do I make my decisions?
Robin Henderson: When puppies are born, I look at them closely when they are wet to see their initial bone structure. I note my birth pick. When they start standing I start stacking them , and take weekly stack photos of them to watch their development. I watch their movement at free-play and continue to watch them on the ground to see if what I see in their stack pictures translates on the ground. At 8 weeks, I put them back on the grooming table, evaluate their structure, take photos of them, and make my picks. All my “wet” picks have been my pick puppies at 8 weeks! My pick puppy stays with me!
How do I prepare my pups for the show ring? Does my breed require any special preparation?
Robin Henderson: I start preparing show puppies by playing short focus games with them, then work on foot placement. I start walking them all on leads before anyone leaves, so they get used to it—plus, they grow so fast that, as they get close to 8 weeks, they aren’t easily carried… so they need to walk! The puppy that stays goes to some conformation training classes and practices being a show dog in my driveway!
Giant Schnauzers require extensive grooming for the show ring. Coats are hand-stripped, some areas are clippered, and their legs are scissored. They learn to spend lots of time on the grooming table, so I always make it a happy place for them. A week prior to the show, they get a full body bath, blow dry, and legs trimmed. Every show day, prior to the ring, I wash legs, beard, and belly and blow them dry. I do touch-up trims at the show.
Can I share my thoughts on how my breed is currently presented in the show ring?
Robin Henderson: I feel there are some different styles of Giant Schnauzers that have been presented over the past several years. We must remember that they are Working Dogs and that while “flashy” is pretty and eye-catching, it is not a term used in our breed standard.
Are there any health-related concerns within my breed? Any special nutritional needs? As with any large breed, hip and elbow dysplasia is a concern. There is also an issue with hypothyroidism in Giants. Our health testing includes OFA Hips, Elbows, and Thyroid. We have them checked for Cardiac and CERF. There are genetic tests for PRA-prcd and DCM.
I feed my dogs a good quality kibble dog food, and add some toppings to give them a little variety. They all get a probiotic.
In my opinion, is my breed in good condition overall? Any trends that warrant concern?
Robin Henderson: I feel that Giant Schnauzers are suffering from some of the same structure-related issues that most breeds are experiencing—straight/upright fronts, over-angulated rears, and sickle hocks. Giants are a Working Breed and originally bred for herding, guarding livestock, and helping onthe farm. They are not intended as an elegant, flashy breed.
Our breed standard states that it is a robust, strongly built breed with well-laid-back shoulders that are nearly a right angle. The rear is in balance with the forequarters, and hocks are straight and perpendicular to the ground. The coat is hard, wiry, and dense. Therefore, those upright shoulders, over-angulated rears, and sickle hocks are incorrect. The properly built Giant will be able to work on the farm and their joints will be able to withstand the work.
Is my breed well-suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Robin Henderson: Giant Schnauzers are a wonderful breed. Their working mentality makes them harder for families to raise as they require constant training and socialization. Owners who are prepared to obedience train, exercise, and give their Giant a job have an easier time getting themthrough their puppy stages. They have a humanlike mind and tend to think that they can run the house, so a strong-willed owner is a must! It also helps to have a sense of humor as they certainly keep life interesting!
Do I feel that my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Robin Henderson: I feel that there are several preservation breeders within the breed. Years of late, Giants have been recognized more by the public and there have been many people looking to purchase puppies. The preservation breeders can’t keep up with the demand, so I’ve noticed many puppy producers who seem to be trying to capitalize on the demand. As a preservation breeder, I work hard to try to educate the public so that new owners can succeed in ownership, and puppies don’t endup in rescue.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with your breed?
Robin Henderson: My Giants have been a constant source of entertainment throughout my lifetime. Watching them use their brains is always fun and amazing, from taking off and replacing the lid on the cooler to removing my socks from my feet to play with them. I think the most amusing one must be one of my bitches creating her own exercise program. The ultimate show dog, she would run left-hand circles around objects in the yard.
She had two areas, her most favorite was a bush in the corner of the yard. Daily, she would go out there and run, and she had a sand path with banks built up around it. One time, she had puppies that were about four months old. Two were in the yard with her and, as she ran her course, the two puppies were fascinated with what mom was doing. They wandered over near her path, at first watching. She started with a slow run and gradually got faster. The puppies tried following her but couldn’t keep up. As she circled around, she ran right into them and they went rolling off to the side, got back up, and as she came close they dove into the dirt! Fortunately, I was recording and that video resurfaces every year—still providing laughs!
Are you looking for a Giant Schnauzer 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 Giant Schnauzer 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.
Giant Schnauzer Dog Breed Magazine
Read and learn more about the alert Giant Schnauzer breed with articles and information in our Giant Schnauzer Dog Breed Magazine.
Giant Schnauzer Breed Magazine - Showsight