Hausmekon German Shepherds
Where show dogs work and working dogs show…
Anja Heibloem-Stroud is the owner of Hausmekon German Shepherds. She was very gracious in agreeing to this interview. Please enjoy!
Martin: How long have you been a breeder of German Shepherds?
Anja: Well, I was five (in Holland) when I really saw my first German Shepherd. I immediately fell in love with them! Naturally my parents turned me down when I asked for one. We ended up with a little mutt instead. So I’m 12 years old and finally getting close to getting my parents convinced that I’m serious, and at long last we go to the Tacoma Humane Society. There I met my first GSD, who I named Wolf. First day I had him home he bit me. I promptly bit him back and our pecking order was established! I trained this dog, in so many different ways, each time going back, trying to figure out what I did wrong. I’m surprised he turned out so well! He was a great dog, everything a German Shepherd should be! I, of course thought he was perfect! Then I found a Specialty show, boy was I confused now. I had to have a real German Shepherd! I did succeed in getting my Wolf’s ILP number from AKC so I could compete in obedience and that started a even bigger love for the breed. I was hooked! As time went along, things happened to our family, and we moved back to Alberta, Canada, and then from there to Vancouver, BC. In BC I was finally able to get another GSD, a female on breeders terms. This gal was smart as all get out but not the nicest temperament. She did go on to title to her UDT and SchH2. At nine she learned to herd dairy cows. Celta was one of those GSD’s that you could show her something, and months later she would still remember how to do it. During my time in Auburn Wash I also met Alice Likens and Sharon Earl of Clayfield Kennels. Once I started driving I had the opportunity to meet many other breeders. I bought my first “breeding bitch” from Bonnie Smith. All of my breeding stock originated from this gal. I currently have 6-9 generations of my own breeding. I use outside stud dogs and have bought some complimentary males to combine with my girls. I guess I’ll have GSD’s until I die of old age.
Martin: Why have you selected the German Shepherd Dog breed as your choice of breeding dog?
Anja: I love their looks, the movement and most of all the temperament. That look they give you as they try to out smart you! How the same dog can baby sit your kid and bring in the cows. The dog can be a service dog, or a couch potato. I love how they can lay at your feet, sound asleep yet be up as quick as lightning when it looks like you are going somewhere (even if it’s only to the toilet!). They make me laugh!
Martin: How do you select your breeding stock from among your dogs?
Anja: Well first of all I must like the personality and temperament. Then I judge them on the structure and movement. Later as they get older then we do the xrays to make sure there isn’t any problems that way. Sometimes I will eliminate a line because I don’t like what they produce. That could be health problems or the temperament or structure of the pups. It’s a on going process.
Martin: Of those dogs active in your breeding program, do you have multiple sires and dams, or just one pair?
Anja: I have different lines and more than one pair. I do a breeding and plan on the future generations years in advance. So a puppy girl born this year has already been promised to a potential partner in two years time, considering of course that both pass all the health checks. All my lines are complimentary to each other as well.
Martin: How many German Shepherds do you currently have at your kennel, and are there more bitches than males?
Anja: I usually have between eight to thirteen dogs that could be bred when the time is right. Mind you, sometimes I have more older ones or up and coming youngsters. Most of the girls get bred between their 2nd and 3rd birthdays, sometimes later depending on the timing again. I usually have one litter at a time, so I can play with, and socialize the babies. Yes I usually have more girls than boys. I personally like the girls better, just something special about them. They are definitely sneakier! The males are bigger and more impressive but it’s fun to watch the girls out smart them!
Martin: Are your dogs kenneled, or are they “free roaming”?
Anja: When I’m home most of the dogs are loose with me. When I leave for any reason, I kennel or crate certain ones, depending on where they like to be. That way I know they will be safe, not able to get into trouble or start something stupid. Some do have a larger play kennel area than others, a lot depends on their ages. I do leave one or two loose on the property as guard dogs, as we have had break ins around the neighborhood. I’ve had someone try to get in, but the dogs stopped them.
Martin: What’s feeding time like at your kennel? Do the dogs get fed at intervals, or is there a mass feeding?
Anja: Ah, a zoo! Well not quite, each one eats out of their own dish, but some get fed in crates or their kennels so they can eat in peace. I have a few food hogs that will calmly pick up a bowl from under someones nose and just walk off with the whole thing. So I watch to make sure everyone gets their own meal. They are usually fed in the evening but some do get a small morning snack. Pups get fed at least twice a day until they go to their new homes. I like the BARF diet, that’s bones, and raw meat but also use dog food. My dogs are great eaters with cast iron stomachs!
Martin: Are the puppies separated from the other dogs? And when are they integrated into your “pack”?
Anja: Pups are born in the house, so as soon as mom leaves the babies all the other dogs sneak in to take a peek at the babies. Once they are a couple of weeks old the moms aren’t quite so nervous about the other dogs checking them out and you’ll see the other dogs getting much nosier. Once the babies are starting to eat on their own all the dogs are able to play and get used each other. As the pups grow they are moved outside in a large pen, so they see the older dogs all the time. Once I’m home, I’ll turn them out to play too. the big dogs love to play with the pups. Even some of the males are really good with the babies.
Martin: What do you feed your dogs and why?
Anja: I love the raw fed diet, but don’t always have time, or can find as much as I need. So, currently I feed Nutra Nuggets lamb and rice. During the winter I’ll also cook a big pot of dog soup for them. Occasionally I’ll mix in pedigree (dry or wet) just to give them a change. I’ve been fortunate that they have excellent appetites and seem to have cast iron stomachs! They do love their raw bones and it sure helps keep their teeth clean.
Martin: How often do you introduce “new bloodlines” into your stock?
Anja: I occasionally will purchase a new stud dog, or a new girl. I also watch the trials and shows for dogs that have what I want in a male. When I find a dog like that I will contact the owner for a pedigree and more information. Then I will see which of my girls would be a good match for that male. I do not breed to closely normally.
Martin: Do you specialize in “working lines”, “show lines”, or both?
Anja: Ah, my pet peeve! I really think the same dog should be able to show and work at the same time. That being said, when I breed it is always with the goal in mind that the dog is first a working dog, BUT must be GOOD looking too. I have been fortunate that my dogs have been able to work livestock on a daily basis, proving to me that my dogs do have what it takes. I do have the occasional dud who would rather lay on the couch, but I guess you can’t win them all! I enjoy many aspects of training and have titled many dogs in a lot of different fields. I’ve even hitched them up to a dog sled, that was a blast, the dogs loved it! In any case, ALL German Shepherds must be trained to bring out their full potential.
Martin: What is your interview process like for perspective new dog buyers?
Anja: Oh, it varies. Some people never get to the interview stage. I’ve had some real “interesting” people contact me about German Shepherds. The best way of describing the process is to let them tell you what they want, and sort of listen between the lines, so to speak. If I have any concerns, I’ve found the best way to discourage them is to triple the price of a dog or pup. The idiots usually do something stupid enough that you just thank them for calling and tell them good bye! I don’t sell many dogs or pups as breeding dogs. Most are family companions that are eventually spayed or neutered. Before I sell a GSD as a breeding dog I want to know how and what you know, the problems that may happen, the responsibility to the litter of pups! I absolutely hate people who “get rid of their pups” (like) you get rid of trash! You sell or place pups with new owners. If people come to see my pups and I don’t like them I send them away. Most good breeders I know will do the same thing. I’d rather keep a pup than have it end up with some moron.
Martin: What is, in your professional experience, the most demanding part of being a GSD breeder?
Anja: Finding the right people for the right puppy. You don’t sell the potential police dog to a 80 year old grandma. I don’t give people the right to pick of the litter as most of the time they don’t have a clue what they are looking for. I have a lot of brand new, never owned a GSD before, or sometimes even a dog, owners. I strongly suggest training and more training, crates and more training. We stay in touch and try to guide them in the right direction if there are problems occurring. Sometimes you have to be willing to keep a pup longer or take back a pup or dog that didn’t work out.
Martin: Do you ship your dogs domestically, internationally, both, or not at all?
Anja: I have shipped from Germany, dogs I have imported. But only domestically for dogs I have sold. I really like to meet the people in person and have met them 1/2 way, or even had them drive to me from a long way away.
Martin: Why do you breed German Shepherd Dogs?
Anja: A good question, I wonder myself sometimes! I guess for myself first off, to get another pup to further my lines, another show/working prospect. Mostly because I love to see to see new people fall in love with my pups and the breed! I get a lot of referrals from puppy buyers that have one of my dogs. They come back for another pup or send their family members or friends who want dogs.
Martin: On behalf of myself, GermanShepherd-Breed.org, and our readers…Thanks Anja!
Anja Heibloem-Stroud, Hausmekon German Shepherds