Interview with Tiina Rantanen, Strongline's

1. Tell us a bit about your kennel - how many dogs do you have?
Do you have kennels or your dogs live in the house with you? What is your "daily schedule"?

I don't have many at home at the moment, only 5 and it is more than enough. I do co own something like 15 dogs on breeding terms. I don't want to keep too many as they all stay in the house when we are at home and while we are working they are kenneled. I do exercise all the dogs everyday in the woods (even if I don't look like I do exercise) and I do some hunting/field trial test training every week, so don't want to keep too many dogs at home. Just don't have time for too many as I work full time in my own business. Daily schedule - everyone will be fed in the morning, then they will go out in a fenced area by themselves. Then we go to work for the day and when I come back they will get their food, exercise and training and in the evening they just hang around with us.

2. What do you look for in a labrador?? What is your idea of a perfect labrador? Who are your ideal labradors of the past, and of today?

I think they should be strong but still capable to work, I do like my own dual champion Stronglines Piggywiggy, she has a lot of what I appreciate in labradors. Of course there have been many others but she is my "one in a lifetime" dog, one reason for that is because we have done so much together towards the field trial champion title and I am so proud that she is as well a show champion and had so many very nice wins in her career.

3. What faults of your first dogs, if there were any, you were able to eliminate in the next generations, and what features you might have lost?

Oh now do they have some faults??? Yes they all have faults nobody is perfect, I think my major problem in the beginning was short legs but it disappeared in a few generations (my foundation bitch had short legs).

4. What faults do you consider the most serious in a labrador? Which of them are the most difficult to get rid of?

Now me saying this everyone will laugh, because I do have straight fronts (i mean short upper arms), of course it is the front because the most of the weight is over the front legs. It is hard to fix because here in my country there are not many really good fronts to fix the problems....

5. How do you choose a stud dog for a bitch, do you look at his pedigree, his looks or something else? Do you prefer to use linebreeding or outcross?

I do look at faults which the bitch has and try to fix and find the stud which will be suitable to fix these things. I do look at the pedigree but it is not that important to me, even though i do a lot of linebreedings and have got best litters with high inbreeding percent.

6. What do you look for in a puppy when you choose your "pick of the litter"? Do you think it's possible to see a future "show-star" at the age of 8 weeks?

I do look for the structure and overall balance and believe me I will always pick the wrong one. For the structure i do look at the front and rear angles, topline, also at the coat, bone, head and length of the neck and all those are never good in the same puppy, never in the same time, but if I could build a perfect puppy from few pups then it could work. Show stars...yes some pups are striking in some ways they catch your eye, but it would be hard to say....

7. Which health issue (hip&elbow dysplasia, eye diseases, allergies, etc) is the biggest problem in the breed, in your opinion?

Hips are not a big problem, but OCD in each joint is a problem as labrador is a heavy breed which grows very fast. It would be great to find that gene and test everyone against it so after that we could get only healthy dogs. Eyes don't feel a problem especially now with a gene test, EIC I don't think that it is a problem in this breed at all, allergies mostly can be handled with changing the food.

8. What food do you feed your dogs, especially puppies? Do you give any supplements (glucosamine, vitamin C, etc)?

I do feed pups and juniors for the first year with eukanuba and later they can be fed with some quality food from special shop, they never eat grocery market food (as I know how to read ingredients and they are not what I want to feed to my dogs). Older dogs will get glucosamine and it would be a good idea to give it to growing juniors too.

9. What would you advise to novice breeders?

Be open minded, learn something new everyday and after years and years you will realize that dog breeding is not that black and white, and be flexible.