Interview with Kaye Shipley & Layne Shipley Townsend, Breeders of ZolaRoza Black Russian Terriers
Where do we live? How many years in dogs? How many years as breeders?
Kaye Shipley & Layne Shipley Townsend: We reside in Georgia. We have always had dogs and horses; however, our first Black Russian Terrier (BRT) was our first show dog and she is now seven. We have been breeders for five years.
What is our kennel name? How many dogs do we currently keep?
Kaye Shipley & Layne Shipley Townsend: Our kennel name is ZolaRoza Black Russian Terriers. Never ask, “How many dogs?” of a BRT breeder or owner. It is difficult to have only one under any circumstances
Which show dogs from the past have been our noteworthy winners?
Our foundation dam, “Sipsey,” was our first noteworthy winner. She completed her AKC championship early and earned her CGC title before two years of age. We soon learned that her greatest gift to us and to the future of the Black Russian Terrier breed would be her achievements in the whelping box.
Sipsey has produced six AKC champions or grand champions. Seven of her progeny have passed all health testing to date. She was awarded Best Brood Bitch at our 2019 Specialty. Sipsey is a two-time recipient of the BRTCA Register of Merit for producing AKC champions. Last year, she was awarded the BRTCA Register of Merit Excellent, the prestigious Red Star Register of Merit, and was named BRTCA Top Dam.
The Black Russian Terriers behind her on her dam’s side are from spectacular, healthy lines that are now quite rare. Her grandsire, sire, and dam were all Breed winners at Westminster. They were top conformation show dogs, attaining Platinum, Gold, and Silver levels of achievement.
Sipsey is a typical, aloof, and reliable example of our BRT breed. She is a proven producer of healthy AKC champions and prefers to be at home with her humans, just waiting for any opportunity to surprise visitors.
Which have been our most influential sires and dams?
The Setextra lines are very influential within ZolaRoza Black Russian Terriers. Two wonderful breed examples were imported from France years ago and they are a major influence in what we have produced so far. As preservation breeders, the influence of this kennel exemplifies the type of working movement that we prefer in Black Russian Terriers—a long, forward, and effortless ground-covering stride.
Our GCHB ZolaRoza’s That’s a Rendezvous with Ms. Pavlichenko, call name “Freyja,” is our first ZolaRoza-bred Bronze Grand Champion. She loves to show and is always breeder/owner-handled by Layne Shipley Townsend.
GCHG Valkyrie’s Funny Girl, call name “Zoe,” was the Black Russian that convinced our family that the Black Russian Terrier was the breed for us. We grew up with horses, and Zoe’s spectacular movement caught my eye at a show in Atlanta. Zoe was the first bitch to attain Gold Status and was the 2012 Breed winner at Westminster. She was bred to GCHP Zilya’s Chicago Blues Fusion at Runes, call name “Zil,” in 2014, and we were fortunate enough to be added to the wait list for Zoe’s first litter.
The sire of Sipsey’s first litter is a fabulous male that has a special place in our heart and lines, GCHS That’s What’s In A Name, call name “Varias.” Our first litter, Varias x Sipsey, was a one-of-a-kind linebreeding that produced spectacular puppies.
Last, but certainly not least, we recently bred a complete outcross to a beautiful male who has great size, heavy bone, substance, health, great movement, and a solid temperament, GCH Ermak Grozniy Zver Ederlezi TT. “Ermak” was the Breed winner a couple years ago at the Beverly Hills KC dog show at a young age and, in our view, is simply majestic. We are very pleased with the results of this breeding!
Can we talk a bit about our facilities? Where are our puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Kaye Shipley & Layne Shipley Townsend: We are preservation breeders and do not breed often—only when we have completed extensive pedigree and health research, and feel that we can add something to improve and preserve our beloved breed. All ZolaRoza-bred puppies are whelped, socialized, and raised in our home. Black Russian Terriers do not thrive in a kennel setting. They were bred to be working partners with humans and should be included as household members. We engage in a variety of measures to produce sound temperaments and we prepare pups for living inside homes with new families.
What is our “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do we make my decisions?
Kaye Shipley & Layne Shipley Townsend: With show prospects, we keep in mind that we are, or will be, presenting potential breeding stock in the conformation ring. Therefore, we always start by pairing healthy dams and sires, though we recognize that there are no guarantees in breeding. Movement and attitude are the first indicators for selecting a show pup. Overall balance, stable temperament, and consistency in movement are all indicators of a show prospect; all with correct structure as the cornerstone. We know what we like and decision-making follows.
How do we prepare my pups for the show ring? Does our breed require any special preparation?
Kaye Shipley & Layne Shipley Townsend: Our breed standard is very clear regarding dentition and scissors bites, so we pay close attention to the bite. This also helps to prepare the pups to proudly show their bite in the show ring with an open mouth.
Good nutrition is the foundation of a healthy coat and proper development, along with regular grooming. Black Russian Terriers require extensive grooming to stay in show coat. We start pups with treats on the grooming table and they always associate grooming with something good. Depending upon the coat type, some will mat easily and can be very high maintenance. A correct coat is a wavy, coarse topcoat with a softer undercoat.
We enjoy gently teaching young pups to accept the lead. Because Black Russian Terriers are so intelligent, they remember everything. We try to make each activity a game. Socialization is a must for a reliable BRT, and gentle training methods are always preferable to harsh aids and treatment. We are members of Conyers Kennel Club, our wonderful, local all-breed club. We rely on our fellow members for conformation handling, beginning obedience, and socialization; however, during the pandemic this has proven to be a challenge.
Is ours a cropped and/or docked breed? Can we share my thoughts on cropping and docking?
Kaye Shipley & Layne Shipley Townsend: The original Russian Standard was a docked tail. Either is now acceptable in the AKC and at some world shows. Our preference is docked tails, with dewclaws removed. We have these procedures performed by our veterinarian at only a couple days of age. We are becoming accustomed to seeing Black Russian Terriers with tails. Cropped ears are not germane to Black Russian Terriers.
Are Performance and Companion titles important to us as breeders? Are parent club titles?
Kaye Shipley & Layne Shipley Townsend: We always try to find the best match for puppies and families when we place pups. Because Black Russian Terriers mature very slowly, care must be taken with high impact activities to preserve joint health. Performance titles are terrific, but not something we have actively pursued. The versatility of our breed is incredible. If those titles are a priority for new owners, we always encourage them to engage in professional training at an age-appropriate pace.
Parent club titles are obviously important to us as a rare breed, and are something we strive for as preservation breeders and to improve the health of our beloved Black Russian Terriers.
In our opinion, is our breed in good condition overall. Any trends that warrant concern?
Kaye Shipley & Layne Shipley Townsend: Our breed condition is becoming better with time and with more breeders understanding the importance of health testing prior to breeding. We have made great strides in improving hips, elbows, and producing reliable temperaments.
Our breed is also becoming more popular, as more puppies are being bred in the United States. This is a double-edged sword. While we are happy that more people are finding our beloved breed and are considering them as family members, we are aware that not all breeders have the same philosophies around breeding, whelping, raising, and placing puppies that we do at ZolaRoza Black Russian Terriers. For this reason, we encourage all potential Black Russian Terriers owners to conduct their due diligence—about the breed and about their potential breeder.
Is our breed well-suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own our breed?
Kaye Shipley & Layne Shipley Townsend: We do believe that Black Russian Terriers can be excellent family dogs, with constant socialization for those who understand that this breed is a serious guardian breed developed as a military, Working Dog. Some lines and pedigrees are absolutely inappropriate as family dogs or for first-time dog owners.
Additionally, we at ZolaRoza believe that the Black Russian Terriers overall are not suitable as a Service Dogs—a process which takes years of training and dedication. We do not breed Service Dogs. We do, however, acknowledge that there are always exceptions, and we have known other breeders to produce and train BRTs that serve people in that important role.
The best candidates to own Black Russians are experienced Working Dog owners who have a lot of time to devote to a breed that wants to be at your side constantly.
Do we feel that our breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Kaye Shipley & Layne Shipley Townsend: Absolutely.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing we’ve ever experienced with a Working Dog?
Kaye Shipley & Layne Shipley Townsend: Recently, Nana (our 95-year-old mother and grandmother whom you may have seen around the show rings before COVID) helped to raise a puppy. She constantly cuddled the puppy and would wake up at night to make sure that we were checking on the puppy. She was an integral part of the socialization process.
Now, as a six-month-old, “Elvyra’s” fearless and confident nature has emerged. As a result of that early bonding, Elvyra constantly checks on Nana. She is very careful around her, and listens to Nana giving basic commands, just like everyone else in the house—two- and four-legged. The instinct of working with a preferred human has surfaced in Elvyra at a young age. And just like her older siblings and her mother, she is always keenly aware of who needs protecting and guarding.
Are you looking for a Black Russian Terrier 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 Black Russian Terrier 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.
Black Russian Terrier Dog Breed Magazine
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Black Russian Terrier Breed Magazine - Showsight