Questions Most Frequently Asked

 Reprinted with permission from the Shiloh Shepherds (Kennel) 1986-87 Stockbook

1) How long have you had Shepherds?

All my life! I grew up with the family guard dogs! My grandmother had Shepherds to protect their coal business and stables and I always had dogs around me in Germany. We had a small terrier as a house dog and the rest were all Shepherds (working Shepherds!).

2) How did you start in Shepherds?

I got my first bitch when I was 14 years old. She came out of THORNOAKS KENNELS in Illinois and I found her through Dog World. Her name was Lady, and she was a snap to
train.. .she was doing her Schutzhund routine by the time she was a year old!!

3) When did you decide to train dogs?

I grew up with it as a child, and really don’t know how I learned to train anymore than I can remember how I learned to walk!

4) What really started you in competition?

By 1962 I managed to start a team of 4 dogs: Lady, Shadow, Kim, and Val. Two were black and two were black and tan and during the 60’s I demonstrated my team of dogs at shows, carnivals, fairs, anyplace people would let me show off.

This brought in a lot of requests from people for me to train their dogs. I only took in German Shepherds.

5) When did your kennel actually start?

Back in the 60’s I was known as KONIGAN Kennels and did mostly training. I learned  a lot about the various temperaments and problems that run in the Shepherd breed so I started to breed hoping to improve those problems.

6)  How did you get the name Shiloh?

On February 26th, 1974, I got SAVED. Since I was just getting over a divorce and wanted to start on the right foot, I made a commitment to the Lord. Up until then I was producing some lousy dogs with a lot of faults. I wanted to do my best for the Shepherd breed and realized that luck alone won’t do it. I needed help. So I changed the name to SHILOH (from the Bible) and became partners with my Savior. Only through his mercy have I been able to produce the dogs I want!

7) How important is the knowledge of Genetics in breeding dogs?

I never studied complicated genetics about peas and corn! I studied the results that my breedings produced and tried to analyze why we got long coats from short coat parents, etc. I started keeping records on all the littermates in each breeding and have based my entire program on the results of those littermates!

8) Why do you breed so many litters?

The more pups I produce, the more I learn about my lines. But actually if you consider that I have 58 adults in my kennel and last year produced only 14 litters of pups, that’s not much.

9) Why do you breed oversized dogs?

Because I love them! I think that a big, massive, powerful Shepherd is the most beautiful animal you can get!! Besides I never liked to reach down, or bend over when I train a dog (you have to with pups) but I like to be able to pet my dog standing up without having to bend over to reach him. A customer, who happened to be a “Shrink,” once told me it was psychological.

Since the dogs were so big when I was so small, now that I’m grown I want them to match me (or something like that!).

10) What type of temperament do you like best?

Personally I like a hard dog for myself because they are a challenge to train. But for the kennel I like the med-soft dogs. I like to take out 20 dogs and go for a trail ride through the woods. You can’t do that when all the dogs want to fight with each other (especially the girls!). There is always a “pecking” order but if you have some easy-going dogs they would rather mind their own business then start a fight, and you have a lot more fun!! Temperament is a personal choice, it all depends on what type of dog suits your needs! l breed mostly med-soft because that’s what people need. If you’re living in the suburbs and don’t happen to be a professional trainer, you’re going to have trouble with a hard dog!

11) What is the lifespan of your dogs?

That’s hard to tell but the better the hips the longer the dog will last. I’ve received calls and letters from people that had Shiloh dogs for over 13 years! Old Gunsmoke is 16 now and still alive and well! I think the lifespan potential of these lines is excellent with proper care they can live a long, fruitful life!

12) Why do you breed long coats?

I personally think the long coats are pretty, but I never have more than 2 at the kennel (just to show people what they look like). The long coats don’t shed as much, but need more brushing, especially after they’ve run through the woods! Some people actually prefer them because they have bigger, “more lion-like” necks! I use a lot of coat factor in my stock because these lines produce the best hips! They originate from herding dogs that had to run for their living; the dogs with weaker hips couldn’t do the job and were eliminated.

13) How can you tell what color a pup will be?

Lots of easy tricks! At birth you look at the markings, if the toes are dark, the pup will stay dark; if the toes are light, the pup will get lighter. You can also look under the tail and behind the ears to pick a true silver, or a solid black. If the pup looks black but has tan under his tail, he will be a bi-color. There are a lot of tricks you learn with experience! Shepherds always change color! The sables get darker, the black and tans get lighter, etc. Seeing hundreds of pups from birth to adult helps make it easy to figure out!

14) How do you select the pups?

Each person that has purchased a pup has a card made up with their requirements. I look at the pups, watch them at play, temperament test them, and try to fit the pup that best meets the specific requirements with the person that bought him. If I feel there are no pups in this litter that fully meet the person’s needs. We then talk it over: whether or not they will make a few exceptions or wait for the next litter. I never make a decision without talking it over with the new owner.

15) What is the average waiting period?

That all depends on time of year and the person’s requirements. Some people have waited up to a year for exactly the right pup!! Most of the time it takes between 5 and 6 months. A lot also depends on pre-payment, people with just a deposit in can be bumped several times before they get the pup they want. I feel that a person that really wants a dog will pre­pay. I have found that in many cases people that send in deposits, will either be unable to pay the balance when the pup is ready, or will send a bad check, or ask to be put in another litter so they have more time to get the payment together. This causes a lot of last minute confusion and people that really wanted that pup get turned away. So since 1986 we give priority to pre-paid orders!

16) Do your children get involved with the dogs?

My boys used to love to play with the pups and even the trained adults! John got his first show trophy when he was 4 years old, showing Mitzi in conformation (we still have it on my desk!). John showed a lot up until a few years ago. As the boys became teenagers they lost interest. Now Lisa does all the dog stuff.

Lisa has been cleaning puppy kennels since she could walk, The boys did the adults with me and Lisa did the pups. Lisa now has her very own Shelties that she has obedience and protection trained (at 8 years of age) and she also co-owns 2 Shepherds with me!!

17) Where do you get your business from?

The Lord! We get about 40% of our customers through Dog World magazine, about 10% from other advertisement, about 30% from repeat customers, and the last 20% from referrals! If it wasn’t for our satisfied customers telling people about Shiloh Shepherds and buying more dogs for themselves, their relatives, etc., we wouldn’t be sold out 6 months before a litter is born!!

18) How can you remember all the people you sell dogs to personally?

I can’t!! Honestly I can say that about 30% of our Shiloh dog owners have become VERY close personal friends and are in touch on a regular basis! Another 40% have been faithful, sending letters, pictures, and calling and they are very well known to me, mostly by first names! Another 20% only get in touch rarely and sometimes it takes a moment before I totally “flash back” in my mind to recall exactly who they are. And the last 10% only contact me once or twice after they get their pup. I have to cheat a little and look up their card to recall exactly who they are and what pup they have, Each person who contacts me gets a card made up, listing their name, address, phone number and basic requirements. On the back of each card I list the date and info concerning each time they called or wrote; on the front I list the pup they got. So the card really carries the complete history of each customer and dog and helps me recall all the details.

19)  Do you prefer phone calls or letters?

Well, I usually get about 20 letters a day and I love it! I just hate having to answer all of them! So my paperwork always seems to falling behind, It cuts into the time I want to spend with my dogs. That’s why I send out a NEWSLETTER twice per year. I get to say everything I want without repeating it (by hand) many times per week! It’s my way of staying in touch with the Shiloh family! I also get 4-7 hours worth of phone calls daily and it helps to be able to solve a problem by phone than to write back and forth. It’s quicker and simpler when dealing with specific questions! So if you’re in a hurry for an answer--call, if not, write and I’ll get back to you an soon as I can!!

 

Publication History:

Article written by Tina M. Barber in the Shiloh Shepherds Kennel Newsletter: 1986
Reprinted with the exclusive permission of Tina M. Barber in the Shiloh Shepherd Learning Center: June 2005.

Update 10/2010

I just reread this - FOR FUN - and laughed over many of the answers!! Talk about deja vue!

#14 and 15 sound familiar? We STILL do it!

#16 How true!! Richard chose to race dirt bikes but Lisa has kept right on going!! People often wonder HOW she knows so much! Just think of HOW LONG she has been doing it!!

#17 was written 25 years ago and folks wonder WHY the slivers use my name?? They are just out to benefit from a reputation that I spent a lifetime to create!

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