Interview with Victoria Chedygov, Breeder of Vellavica Maltese
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Victoria Chedygov: I live near the beautiful city of Portland, Oregon. I have been a dog lover all my life. Seventeen years ago, I bought my first Maltese and fell in love with the breed. I had my first litter 14 years ago.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Victoria Chedygov: My Maltese kennel name is Vellavica Maltese. I only keep a few dogs at my house, the rest of my dogs I co-own with other breeders.
Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy winners?
Victoria Chedygov: Through the years, I have finished many Champions and Grand Champions. I have specialed many of my dogs who have been awarded multiple Group placements, but the noteworthy ones are:
- GCH Vellavica’s Shooting Star, “LeeLoo,” who took Best of Winners and Best of Opposite Sex from the Bred-By Exhibitor Class at the National Specialty in 2016.
- GCH Vellavica’s Masteries Maximus who won Best of Breed at the AMA National Specialty in 2018.
- GCH Vellavica’s Midnight Luna who took me to a very exciting level by winning multiple Bests in Show this year.
Which have been my most influential sires and dams?
Victoria Chedygov: The most influential sire in my breeding program has been GCH Vellavica’s Masteries Maximus, and the most influential dam was GCH Vellavica’s Sweet Isobella.
Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Victoria Chedygov: Since I do not have a lot of dogs, they live with me in my home as part of my family. When it is time for puppies, I have a room in the house that has a setup for newborn puppies and their mom until the puppies are 4 weeks old. At that age, I slowly introduced them to the rest of the dogs, and they spend most of the days under my feet or in a big playpen in the middle of the living room where they can become accustomed to daily house activities. Every single puppy, from the day they are born, is loved, trained, and treated as if they are going to be my next show star.
What is my “process” for selecting Show Puppies? Performance Puppies?
Victoria Chedygov: I constantly watch puppies play. I observe their reaction to loud and sudden noises and their ability to free-stack themselves. At two months of age, a good sign for me is when I see a puppy holding a big toy in his mouth, moving straight with a wagging tail and his head up. At 9 weeks, I stack my puppies on the table and evaluate their topline, tail set, and front and rear angulations. One of the most important parts of selection is to make sure that there is a connection between that puppy and me.
How important are Breed Specialties to me? How important are Group Shows?
Victoria Chedygov: Both Breed Specialties and Group Shows are very important to me. There is much to learn at the National Specialty. It is an opportunity to not only show off your dog but also to learn what other breeders have. Winning at the National Specialty is a huge reward and recognition of your hard work as a breeder.
Group Shows are an absolute must for me. Any placement in Groups, Group wins, Reserve Bests in Show, and Bests in Show are not only a recognition of your dog and your breeding program but a recognition of your breed, which is especially important now since the Maltese is becoming a “low entry” breed.
What are my priorities when it comes to breeding? What are the drawbacks?
Victoria Chedygov: When it comes to breeding, my priorities are always health, temperament, type, and overall balance.
The drawback for me is that with such a small Maltese gene pool, we are bringing many dogs from overseas where they have different Breed Standards, which in some cases leads to loss of the true type of Maltese with the correct head and correct body proportions for our Standard.
How would I define “conditioning” as it relates to my breed? How important is coat care?
Victoria Chedygov: The condition of the Maltese coat is crucial. Maltese have a luxurious, silky, white coat. To keep it long and white with no tearstains, it has to be brushed, wrapped, and the face washed daily. A weekly bath followed by blow drying while brushing is a must, which could take up to three hours. Maintaining a Maltese in a long-to-the-ground coat takes a lot of time and dedication.
Are there any health-related concerns in my breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Victoria Chedygov: Every breed has health-related concerns and Maltese are not an exception. Some of the most common health problems Maltese are prone to are allergies, dental disease, cardiovascular disease, luxating patella, and collapsing trachea. Because Maltese are prone to tear staining, filtered water and good-quality food are a priority.
Do I think my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Victoria Chedygov: Unfortunately, our breed is not supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders. The Maltese is a beautiful breed, but it is difficult to keep a breeding program thriving due to the small number of puppies, frequent C-sections, and not many breeder-friendly veterinarians. Maintaining Maltese in a long coat for a show is very hard work, with many hours of grooming that not many people want to commit to.
Is my breed well suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Victoria Chedygov: Absolutely! Maltese are great companion dogs and could be a good fit for any family with or without children. However, I would not recommend getting a Maltese for a family with very small children or people who have very limited time for a dog.
What is the biggest misconception about my breed? What is my breed’s best-kept secret?
Victoria Chedygov: Many people think that Maltese are fragile, and because of their white coat should be kept in the house. But did you know that Maltese can be great adventurers? They love to travel, hike, and some even like to swim. Also, when looking for a Maltese companion dog, people often inquire for girls. But not many people know that boys are much more loving and loyal to everyone in a family.
If I could share a comment or two with judges of my breed, what would I like to say to them?
Victoria Chedygov: If I could share a comment to a judge, I would say that Maltese are one of the hardest breeds to maintain and get ready for ringtime. So, when you see a lovely, balanced Maltese in the ring, please don’t hesitate to reward it.
Do I have any words of wisdom to pass along to newer breeders?
Victoria Chedygov: To newer breeders, my advice would be don’t give up! Surround yourself with people you can work with and never stop learning. Respect your peers and judges. Celebrate your wins. Learn from your losses and move on. It will make you more successful.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with a Toy Dog?
Victoria Chedygov: The most amusing thing was when I showed my girl Luna in the Best in Show ring in Colorado. We walked into the ring last. Everyone stacked their dogs, including me. While the judge was slowly walking toward us, looking at each dog, my girl discovered a flying fly above her head. She came out of the stack and started jumping! She was determined to catch it. I was able to control her right before the judge looked at her. That day, Luna won Reserve Best in Show.