Interview with Vicky Jones, Breeder of Vykon Alaskan Malamutes
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Vicky Jones: I live in Sharpsburg, Georgia. I’ve been in dogs my whole life. My parents showed German Shepherd Dogs in Oklahoma and Japan.
I started showing in the late 1960s in Obedience. I bred a few litters in the ‘70s but didn’t become a serious breeder until the mid-80s. Since then, I’ve bred 111 champions from an average of less than one litter per year.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy winners?
Other than my current top winner, my past most noteworthy winners were:
- CH Kiwalik’s Vykon Indiana Jones CD ROM—“Indy” earned close to 30 Group placements and was nationally ranked;
- MBIS MBISS AM/CAN CH Vykon Jarva’s True Colours ROM—“Sherman” earned 100 Group placements, and multiple Best in Show and Specialty BISS wins. He was also a Group winner in Canada. He was No. 1 Alaskan Malamute in 1990 and ranked in other years;
- MBISS GCHB Vykon’s Kumata Heart’s On Fire RE CGC—“Elvira” was a multiple Specialty BOB winner and a great Rally competitor.
Which have been my most influential sires and dams?
- MBIS MBISS AM/CAN CH Vykon Jarva’s True Colours ROM (17 CHs)
- CH Kiwalik’s Vykon Indiana Jones CD ROM (20 CHs)
- CH Vykon’s Hit N Run ROM (12 CHs); CH Vykon’s Matanusha Mak ROM (16 CHs)
- CH Aluk Building A Dream ROM RE CGC (17 CHs)
- GCH Vykon’s Burn Notice ROM (14 CHs);
- CH Vykon’s Hallucination ROM (10 CHs);
- CH Vykon’s Manhattan Transfer ROM (10 CHs);
- CH Cheysuli Vykon’s You Go Girl ROM (10 CHs);
- Numerous other bitches with 5-7 champions.
- Five of my bitches earned their ROMs from just one litter.
Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Vicky Jones: We have a kennel building with large, covered indoor/outdoor runs, so rain never touches the dogs. We have two large exercise yards, heavily shaded by many trees including a 200-year-old oak.
Puppies are whelped indoors in our very large laundry room, which is just steps from the kitchen and sunroom areas. We use baby gates to keep the cats and our house male out of mom’s way. This way our mother dogs have the isolation they need, but we are still able to see and hear everything that’s going on in that room.
We have a Jonart whelping box, complete with the 6 ft. add-on playpen, so we are able to keep the puppies indoors until they’re about five weeks old. They become familiar with all the household sounds and get handled daily by my great-grandkids. From about four weeks of age on, we let them out in the exercise yards for most of the day; they then come back in at night.
When they are finally moved to the kennel building, they are installed next to their mother, whom theyplay with every day. We start feeding puppy food at 3 weeks of age, but we let our mothers decide when they want to stop nursing (usually around 7-8 weeks). We feel it’s extremely important for puppies to interact daily with their mother so that they learn how to behave from her.
What is my “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do I make my decisions?
Vicky Jones: I watch my puppies every day, just sitting in the yard observing their actions and movement. I keep mental (and sometimes written) notes on how they move, their attitudes and confidence levels, etc. Usually by 6-8 weeks I know which puppies are standing out as top show prospects. Structure and movement are extremely important to me, so I pay close attention. Obviously, we check bites and testicles, look for signs of future “too tight” tails, and determine correct coats and lots of other traits that separate show prospects from pets. Pets go to their new homes at 8 weeks, after receiving their second set of shots.
How do I prepare my pups for the show ring? Does my breed require any special preparation?
Vicky Jones: I start show training at 8-9 weeks of age; walking/gaiting on a lightweight show lead or martingale and lots of bait training. As with any puppies, Malamute pups should be well-socialized with people and other dogs. We like taking them to stores where they can become familiar with loud speakers and other noises. I teach Obedience classes, so I take my puppies with me so that they get used to the rubber matting used at the dog shows.
Can I share my thoughts on how my breed is currently presented in the show ring?
Vicky Jones: Our breed is presented SO much better now than in the early days. Most are groomed to perfection (some are overgroomed, though) and are well-show-trained. Exhibitors no longer tolerate their dogs misbehaving by growling and snarling at each other like they did 50 years ago. I think both handlers and owner-handlers are presenting dogs on a more professional level.
Are there any health-related concerns within my breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Vicky Jones: The Alaskan Malamute should be tested for hip dysplasia, eye disease, PN and PCD. If a breeder cannot supply a buyer with written PROOF of these clearances, then assume the dogs are not clear! There is no excuse for breeding animals that have not been cleared or tested. Malamutes seem to thrive on a variety of foods. Dogs used in heavy sledding or working may require a diet higher in protein and fat than a dog that lives a more sedentary life. I always advise my buyers to feed a very high-quality diet from a reputable manufacturer.
In my opinion, is my breed in good condition overall? Any trends that warrant concern?
Vicky Jones: I think our breed is doing fairly well and there are excellent representatives of most bloodlines being bred and shown. A disturbing trend, however, is the number of dogs I’m seeing that are “long and low”—in other words, too long in back and too short on leg. These dogs cannot function properly in working conditions. Straight fronts are likewise a common occurrence, resulting in poor reach. Judges need to remember that it’s not about who’s the flashiest, biggest, or fastest, but about which dog has the athletic ability to work ALL DAY and is physically and mentally equipped to get you home in an arctic storm.
Is my breed well-suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Vicky Jones: The Alaskan Malamute can make a great family dog but only when well-socialized and trained from puppyhood. He is a true pack animal, with the tendency to lead or be led, so he must have a family that is willing to show authority in a firm but fair manner. Malamutes thrive in homes that keep them active, whether it be showing, obedience, agility, sledding or hiking.
Malamutes thrive in homes that keep them active, whether it be showing, obedience, agility, sledding, or hiking.
Do I feel that my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Vicky Jones: I do not think we have enough preservation breeders, nor do we have enough well-educated newcomers. You can’t call yourself a preservation breeder when you’re using dogs for breeding that have no hip clearances, or have cataracts, or have never been tested for other health concerns. Preservation is a lot more than running around a show ring—it’s producing dogs that have the capability, through structure, health, and temperament, to do what they were originally bred to do. Newcomers who are using pet-quality dogs as breeding animals or whose mentors are not adhering to the code of ethics are hurting, not helping, the future of our breed.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with my breed?
Vicky Jones: Having had three Champion CDX Malamutes, my funniest experience was in the Open Obedience ring with my “Butch” (CH Vykon’s Bad Bad Leroy Brown CDX). It was at the Chattanooga KC show that I was trying for my second X leg. I had literally been holding my breath through all the exercises as Butch skated through, and then it was time for the broad jump. I was REALLY nervous and he knew it. He cleared the jump with ease, then proceeded to gallop around the perimeter of the ring while my face turned white. He came back around in front of me, jumped up and kissed my face, then sat perfectly straight in front of me and let out a “wooooo” that could be heard throughout the building! By then my face had gone from white to red. Butch passed, but it wasn’t his best score.
Another time, in Montgomery, Alabama, I was showing my “Karl” in Rally Excellent. He was doing great, and the final sign was the dreaded “back-up” (which Malamutes just don’t seem to like). I gave the order and we both went back, then proceeded through the “finish” sign. The crowd (including everyone in the Breed ring next door) erupted in hysterical laughter, and judge Jim Hamm was in tears from laughing. What I didn’t realize was that Karl had gone up on his two hind legs and took his three steps backwards on two legs! I remember Jim saying, “Well, there’s nothing in the rules that says it has to be done on four legs!” Karl took first in his RE class that day—the icing on the cake.
Are you looking for an Alaskan Malamute 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 an Alaskan Malamute 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.
Alaskan Malamute Dog Breed Magazine
Read and learn more about the loyal Alaskan Malamute breed with articles and information in our Alaskan Malamute Dog Breed Magazine.
Alaskan Malamute Breed Magazine - Showsight