Spotlight Dalmatians | Connie Wagner

Spotlight Dalmatians | Connie Wagner

Interview with Connie Wagner | Spotlight Dalmatians – AKC 2021 Breeder of the Year Non-Sporting group Honoree.

1. The Dalmatian is an iconic breed that is widely known throughout the world. What is it about the breed that has sustained your interest for so long?
Dalmatians are a breed that you can do anything with. They are very easy to live with, requiring minimal grooming, and they are very adaptive to most lifestyles. They are, overall, a healthy breed with a pretty long lifespan… generally from 13 to 15 years. Each Dalmatian is so unique that it would be very hard to get tired of them!!
2. Breeding dogs requires the vision of an artist, the curiosity of a scientist, and the commitment of a philosopher. As a breeder, do you view yourself as an artist, a scientist or a philosopher? Maybe you’re a combination of all three?
Oh, definitely a combination! I have had the breed for almost 40 years. After that amount of time, you have a pretty good idea how each litter will turn out. No dog is perfect, but I certainly enjoy the challenge of trying.
3. In dogs, selection is key. How do you select your sire and dam combinations? How do you select which puppies will trot with ease in the show ring?
I start with healthy champion dogs that have solid structure and temperaments. There is always something that needs improvement, and you pick a dog/bitch that will complement the strengths, and hopefully, help with any shortcomings.
There is nothing like time, years of watching dogs go from puppy to adult, to help you when you go to selecting which puppy you will keep and show. We have a very hard breed to get perfect! Good structure also has to be “spotted” well, with full pigment on eyes and nose. They have to be sound enough to run all day beside a horse, but also to hear. I wonder what it would be like to have a breed that you can just pick the best structure out of an all-black or yellow litter! I’ll probably never know because Dalmatians have my heart!!
4. The Breed Standard is the preservation breeder’s most essential tool. What are your thoughts on the importance of breeding to the standard and presenting the breed in the ring accordingly?
Everything… the breed standard is everything! It is the blueprint of our breed. If I could give one piece of advice, it would be to know your standard and breed to it. If you don’t like the standard, choose another breed. It is worth the effort! Also, judges, when someone brings you a good, typey Dalmatian, reward that dog. You are responsible for the future of our breeds too.
5. Today’s breeders have found themselves on the defensive from public criticism and from legislative proposals that would restrict breeding practices. In your opinion, what can preservation breeders do to counter the anti-purebred rhetoric that has taken hold in this country?
We can make sure that we are not part of the problem. We will have to continue to strive to produce the best puppies that we can—and stand behind them. Sadly, the general public seems to lump all breeders under the same umbrella. We will just have to keep educating people about our breeds.

Connie Wagner | Spotlight Dalmatians – AKC 2021 Breeder of the Year Non-Sporting group Honoree – Featured image from AKC.

  • I bought my first show Dalmatian in 1982 as a young mom with two kids. I finished her championship and bred my first litter in 1986. Since that first litter I have bred and finished around 60 Champion Dalmatians including the top winning Dalmatian in the history of the breed. Ch Spotlight’s Spectacular was a Top 10 All Breed Dog two years in a row (1995 and 1996) and finished her career with 66 Best In Shows, 286 Group 1’s and two Group 1’s at Westminster. She won 4 National Specialties and many regional specialties. I am also the breeder of the #1 Dalmatian in 2011 and 2012. GCH Spotlights Ruffian finished his career with 10 All Breed Best in Shows and 12 or more specialty wins including Best of Breed at the 2013 Dalmatian Club of America National Specialty. He is also a Dalmatian Club of America Best in Futurity and Top 20 Winner with me handling him. Ian is the sire of GCH Spotlight Storm Chaser who was the 2012 Dalmatian Club of America stud dog of the year. In total, I have produced three All Breed Best In Show winners and three Best In Futurity winners at the national specialty. In addition, I have won BOB, WD, WB, Select Dog and Bitch at the National, too. I am very proud of the dogs I have produced and they have been consistent winners for me through the years. In addition to my breeding and showing, I am employed by Nestle Purina as the Senior Manager of the Breeder Enthusiast Group/Conformation. This is a dream job for me and I love every minute of it! I am married to my childhood sweetheart and we have together raised three fabulous children who are all college graduates. Both of my boys have their masters degrees and my youngest is still in school pursuing a doctorate degree

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