Interview with Taylor & Renae Blankenship, Breeders of Sunkissed Manchesters
Where do we live? How many years in dogs? How many years as breeders?
Taylor & Renae Blankenship: We are located in a small town in Alabama, about an hour west of Birmingham. We began with dogs in 2014; however, we have only been breeding since 2016.
What is our kennel name? How many dogs do we currently keep?
Which show dogs from the past have been our noteworthy winners?
Taylor & Renae Blankenship: We have had the privilege of breeding two Royal Canin Best of Breed Winners, a Westminster Breed winner, multiple Best in Show winners, and multiple Group-winning dogs. The two that stand out to us would be “Simon,”MBIS MRBIS GCHG Passport Sunkissed It’s A Yes From Me, AMTC HOF (co-bred with Passport) and “Oakley,” Group-winning & placing MOHBIS MOHRBIS GCHB Sunkissed Wild & Free CGC, AMTC HOF.
Which have been our most influential sires and dams?
Taylor & Renae Blankenship: Our most influential sire would be “Ricky,” GCHS Darksides Walker Stalker FCAT. Our most influential dam would be “Airy,” MRBIS MOHBIS Multiple Group-winning and placing GCHS Passport Sea Air, AMTC HOF.
Can we talk a bit about our facilities? Where are our puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Taylor & Renae Blankenship: Where a puppy is raised plays a huge factor in puppy development. Our puppies are whelped and raised inside a room, separate from the other dogs. We believe in Puppy Culture from day one. With this breed, the key to success is socialization and interaction.
What is our “process” for selecting Show Puppies? Performance Puppies?
Taylor & Renae Blankenship: Choosing a puppy is the hardest thing to do as a breeder. Not every dog is a show dog, and not every dog will add into your program. We grade our puppies starting young and make our final decisions at eight weeks of age. When placing puppies, it is the breeder’s job to make sure the right pick is made. Sometimes you need longer to decide, which is why it is common for breeders to grow puppies out to see how they turn out.
How important are Breed Specialties to us? How important are Group Shows?
Taylor & Renae Blankenship: While both are huge honors, a Breed Specialty will always hold a bigger part in a breeder’s life. Nothing brings more joy to the breeders showcasing their dogs in a breed-designated event. Group Shows are important as well. Each breed is represented by a representation from the Breed Standard itself.
What are our priorities when it comes to breeding? What are the drawbacks?
Taylor & Renae Blankenship: Health is the most important thing to strive for in a breeding program. A healthy, well-bred dog will always take priority in a breeding program. Success in the ring begins in the whelping box. A beautiful dog has no enjoyment or quality of life without being healthy. Being a breeder is way more than breeding dogs.
How would we define “conditioning” as it relates to our breed? How important is coat care?
Taylor & Renae Blankenship: Conditioning is defined as the process of training or accustoming a person or animal to behave in a certain way or to accept certain circumstances. However, it goes way deeper than that. Everything you do with your dog is a step towards conditioning. Exercise, socialization, training, nutrition etc., all play a huge role in conditioning a dog. It’s not just stacking your dog when you feel like it, or going for a jog every now and then.
Are there any health-related concerns in our breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Taylor & Renae Blankenship: Our main health issues consist of Juvenile Dilated Cardiomyopathy (JDCM) and Xanthinuria. Legg-Calve- Perthes (LCP) and Von Willebrand Disease (VWD) are sadly common in Toy Breeds, so we also recommend performing these tests. We are fortunate to have genetic tests that guide us away from most issues. However, like all breeds, not everything is avoidable. Manchesters are very active dogs. We recommend joint supplements along with skin and coat supplements.
Do we think our breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Taylor & Renae Blankenship: The Manchester Terrier is considered a rare breed. They are truly a hidden gem. With that being said, there are breeders out there, including us, Sunkissed Manchesters, working hard to preserve, educate, and expand our breed. Our breed community should be very proud of the dedication and work we put in—a very small but strong breed community.
Is our breed well suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own our breed?
Taylor & Renae Blankenship: Manchesters are best-suited with a person or family that understands the breed. They are tough and very smart. However, they require extensive socialization and stimulation. They excel in sports due to the drive and loyalty they have for their owners. Before adding a Manchester to your family, please do research on this amazing breed.
What is the biggest misconception about our breed? What is our breed’s best-kept secret?
Taylor & Renae Blankenship: Many people do not understand that both varieties of the Manchester Terrier still have terrier in them. Meaning, they are stubborn and require devoted training and a good strong hand. They are wickedly smart and know how to play the game.
If we could share a comment or two with judges of our breed, what would we like to say to them?
Taylor & Renae Blankenship: Manchesters are one-of-a-kind. They are judging you while you are judging them.
Do we have any words of wisdom to pass along to newer breeders?
Taylor & Renae Blankenship: Being a breeder is never easy, but in the end, when you see a smile on a puppy buyer’s face or your dog enjoying being in the ring, it is all so worth it.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing we’ve ever experienced with a Toy Dog?
Taylor & Renae Blankenship: Toy Dogs are like clowns, and when you breed them you start your own circus.