I'm Cheryl Riggs and I became involved with Irish Wolfhounds in 1976 and a breeder of merit with the AKC (American Kennel Club). When I saw my first wolfhound and it was love at first sight. This was my first wolfhound and I then became involved with Irish Wolfhound rescue and met Pat Huntley. I had a total of 5 rescue hounds in those first few years. In 1985 I received my first show dog and finished his many Championships. He was the dog that really educated me to this wonderful breed. I studied many bloodlines and eventually decided to combine the best wolfhounds that I could find. These wolfhounds could be easily traced back to their parentage insuring the excellent characteristics of their respective bloodlines - longevity, good health, and sound temperament. I based my line on these old bloodlines and then worked on the phenotype that I was looking for. I believe that I have been able to breed dogs that I can be proud of with lots of quality and soundness. Soundness in Body and Temperament is what the Irish Wolfhound is and always should be!
My dogs are my kids and I love them dearly. I spend many hours a day living with them, observing them, learning from them, training them, grooming them, or just having fun and playing with them. They really are the love of my life.
When it comes to breeding, I always try to select just the perfect boy for my girls, no matter how far we have to travel to find him. I'll spend many hours going over pedigrees to find the perfect match. Then if all goes well and my girl becomes a mom, we'll spend a good month sleeping with her and her babies insuring everybody's safety and comfort. All of the puppies are raised in the house for approximately 4 to 6 weeks or until weaning. During this time and then later when they live outside of the house, I try to get the puppies all the socialization that they can take before they go to their new homes. Being Irish Wolfhounds that is something they really enjoy! I take every measure to ensure that our dogs are free from congenital health problems prior to breeding, including heart, hip and eye exams. Puppies are vet-checked and vaccinated before they leave our home, and I offer a guarantee against any congenital health defects. When I sell a puppy, I assume the responsibility of following that placement for the life of the animal, regardless of whether it is the top show prospect or a loving family companion. I feel that owning an Irish Wolfhound is a great responsibility, and if you are chosen to be a companion to one of our Hounds, then you are forever a member of the Rysheron Family. I carefully screen each potential adoptive puppy parent to ensure that each of our puppies is going to a happy, healthy, loving and capable home. In keeping with my kennel policy, potential buyers must fill out an application form, be properly educated about the breed, and be able to provide the time and proper facilities to care for an Irish Wolfhound. I also have a spay/neuter contract on all "pet-quality" puppies.
What is it like being a dog breeder? Well, below is a reprint of an email that was posted by Dr. Sophia Kaluzniacki, and it pretty much sums up my thoughts and views as a breeder. She took the words right out of my mouth!
If you have more questions about Irish Wolfhounds, feel free to contact me. I'll be more than happy to answer any further questions you have about this magnificent breed. You can also learn more at the Irish Wolfhound Club of America.
10 Rules of Ethical Breeding
The only reason to be breeding purebred dogs is to preserve the best qualities of the breed. Breeding to supply any market is not a justification.
You need to do all of your breeding with the best interests of the breed in mind. Never your pocket book.
For this you need to be a serious student of the breed and devote years of your life to it. No "in one day, out the other".
As a beginner you need to engross yourself in the breed as much as possible and ideally find a suitable mentor.
In order to be a serious breeder, you must show and compete.
You need to keep track of all puppies you produce, whether pet or show, to know how your breeding program is working.
All pet dogs need to go on a spay/neuter contract.
All show puppies need to go on a contract that will not allow breeding unless the dog lives up to the quality intended and passes all health checks and certification necessary for that breed. If a prospective breeder does not want to do this, then I am sorry but they will have to mess with someone else's dogs not mine!!
Co-ownerships allow you a certain amount of control in this regard because they require your signature in order that puppies be registered. The latest news from the AKC is that there is a pending change to the rules that will not allow registration unless all papers are properly signed. If you have a difference with your co-owner it will need to be settled in court before the AKC will register litters or puppies. This is new and still pending, but a step in the right direction.
Every breeder owes to the breed and to themselves to be involved with rescue.
Every breeder should be prepared to take any dog back for whatever reason. If they do not have the space, then they need to be prepared to make other arrangements. But take back they must!
In my ideal world one could not sell dogs. They would only be able to be given as cherished gifts to deserving individuals. This would eliminate the whole pet mill and back-yard breeding industry as they could not make any money. Of course since this world is not the way I envision it as regards to dogs, we have to work within the system. So I do charge for puppies and I charge what I think is fair for the time and effort I have put into it. It is certainly not enough to cover all of the expenses. If someone cannot or will not pay my price then let them go somewhere else or take on a rescue. There is nothing wrong with paying a lower price and certainly very noble to rescue.
Well I will now get off of my soap box :) Dr. Sophia