Seven Secrets of Show Dog Success
Part 6: Be a Kennel
Michael and Cathy Dugan
Why do your co-owners really matter?
We sell all of our dogs on contracts whether for show homes, pet homes or to fellow breeders. As a responsible dog breeder this should be a required part of the process and is required by most national and regional clubs. Since Mike is a lawyer, he has worked hard to fine-tune our contracts adjusting to new conditions and people as they arise.
If a new buyer is reluctant to sign a contract, that should be a big “red flag” for a breeder. The best way to get rid of a “friend” is to do business without a contract. With a well-written contract everyone knows what the requirements and expectations are for owning a purebred dog.
Co-ownership is the best means as a breeder of ensuring that the owner will do what we want with the dog. Once a pet has been spayed or neutered or a show dog has finished its career, then the breeder can sign off AKC registration solely to the owner.
More important, having co-owners creates partners in the show dog world. If you have done your job as a dog breeder and worked fairly and supportively with new owners you will build a cadre of people who love their dogs and support their breeders as well.
The only way we can grow and survive as a sport is to recruit, train and mentor new purebred dog owners. Co-ownership is a great vehicle for that. We also stay in touch with our owners, show or pet, even after we’ve signed off on their papers. They are our best friends in the dog world and our best sales people for Aviator Kennel. Most of our sales come from referrals from past owners. More than once, we’ve received a call from a new buyer who has met an Aviator dog taking a walk. There is no better advertising.
How do you create a winning tradition for your kennel; a “buzz” for your brand?
First, you must have enough dogs year after year competing successfully in dog shows. Having one or two dogs is fine, but that won’t build longevity and consistency that displays your breeding program.
We’ve had many judges and competitors talk about the fact that they can recognize an “Aviator” dog in the ring. Cathy breeds for consistency that displays the best attributes, movement and type of PWDs. It is our goal to create a certain “look” for our dogs that keeps them competitive and desirable.
Second, you have to be willing to use multiple marketing tools to make people aware of your kennel. You have to think about yourself as a “brand” and not just a breeder. We use advertising, our website, emails and mailings, going to dog shows and seminars, being active in dog clubs, and working as an AKC judge and as a ring steward. In all of these situations you have the chance to network and interact with other people in the dog world.
Does it pay off? We have placed dogs in China, Australia, France, Brazil, South Africa and Germany, the US and Canada. Why would we do that? It’s a lot of extra work, but it expands the footprint of our brand immeasurably. For example, when the international standards for PWDs began to restrict the amount of white that can be exhibited on a PWD, we got inquiries from Australia, where they have a lot of white dogs.
An established dog breeder there purchased a male and female from different litters and breeding lines so she could start her new program there. We kept the dogs here until they were almost a year old, trained them and finished their AKC championships, then sent them to Australia where they both have achieved their championships. We do this in an effort to enhance the quality and consistency of PWDs with our own special imprint. As a breeder what else is there to strive for?
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