Breeder spotlight #4 – Togarashi Akitas

A heartfelt thank you to the owner of Togarashi Akitas for agreeing to be our 4th Breeder Spotlight! We love these and think they can be great inspiration to young and aspiring breeders!

What first sparked your passion for purebred dogs? 

At the age of 12, we had our first dog, a pedigreed Pomeranian. My mother wanted to breed her but didn’t succeed at that time. Then, she imported a Pomeranian female and a male from the UK but the male was cryptorchid so no luck with those either.  Later, we had a big grey Keeshond and we couldn’t get her pregnant.

My dad and I also bred horses and me Abyssinian cats.

What is your breed(s)?  When did you start breeding?

Japanese Akita Inu, we started in 2003.

What made you select your breed?

A former partner wanted a Rottweiler and I wanted pricked ears and a curly tail and more hair. So he pointed out the Akita. Then I started to examine and look at the breed…15 years later we had our 1st Japanese Akita.

Who was your mentor(s)?

At first it was the breeder where we got our first JAI. Later on some other breeders from Germany and The Netherlands who were very helpful and had/have a lot of knowledge. Even with questions you have when birth starts, I could call either of them for help and this was very valuable!

We all grow and change as we learn more as breeders.  When you first began your program, what was your goal?

The first time we had a litter we were not real breeders yet. I did the health tests that were necessary which were Hips, PL and ECVO (eyes). We wanted to keep one male from this litter. This was 15 years ago and my goal at that time was to breed a nice pet JAI for the people who were looking for one.

What might you say is your focus for your breeding program now? How has your goal changed, and if it has, why has it?

The focus is now a healthy, diverse good looking type JAI with a good temperament.

Would you like to tell us anything in particular about your breeding program that you think is special?

As a breeder I take pride in picking good homes for my pups. I have learned that a good website and answering the emails I get through my website is the best thing to get serious puppy buyers. I am on both breeder lists of the 2 breed clubs in The Netherlands I also get a lot of inquiries from visitors from those websites. I invite people who want to have a JAI-pup and see if they are a match with my dogs. I take them out for a walk and see if they are the material to get a pup of mine.

Pup buyers are welcome to visit from the time the pups are 2 weeks old, the first time they all come apart and then we pick one day and time a week for visiting hours, mostly on Sunday afternoon.

Instead of a vaccination program we titer our pups starting at the age of 6 weeks. Titering is taking a drop of blood and see if they have antibodies against distemper, hepatitis and parvovirus. We only vaccinate when necessary. We don’t vaccinate L4 and only rabies if we go abroad.

After the first visit to the vet and knowing how protected our pups are, we start our socialization program by taking all the pups at the age of 6.5 weeks to the center of our village with their future owners and start educating the owners as well as the pups. When the pups are 9 weeks old they leave our home if they are to stay in The Netherlands. If the new owners live in another country where the Rabies vaccination is mandatory than they get their Rabies shot at 12 weeks and leave when they are 15 weeks old.

Next to breeding, I’m a board member of one of the Dutch breed clubs with the name Nippon Inu. This breed club represents the following (Japanese) breeds: Japanese Akita, American Akita, Shikoku, Shiba Inu and the Kishu. As a breed club, we have breeding rules and if one of our members breeds without following the rules they get a penalty point(s), depending on the severity of the violation. If they are a club breeder they get kicked off the list. We also help to replace pedigree dogs we represent.

As a board member, I introduced the diversity test as a tool to breed more diverse Akitas, American Akitas and we enrolled with help the Shiba Inu and we also just started to enroll the Shikoku! As we have a club magazine 4 times a year, I also write and search for articles to fill this magazine as I am also one of the editors. We organize one club match every year and try to invite interesting breed specialists, a coursing day, a family day with litter presentation and work shops and a walk all over the Netherlands. We are working together with the Japanese Akita Club of America and the Japanese Akita Inu Club in the UK to get swabs from Japanese Akitas for the all genome research of the Animal Health trust in the UK. I also ask the owners of the sick dogs to give DNA for the Akita diversity test of UC Davis to get as much information about autoimmune disorders in Akitas and hopefully to avoid those in other Japanese breeds.

Those of us who have bred awhile know it can be a rocky road full of challenges.  Has there been a time in breeding you considered quitting?

After our first litter 15 years ago we quit because we had a hard time selling them at that time. After the death of the male we kept (mom was still alive) we looked for another pup and he was the start of our show career. Because of him, we thought of starting to breed again and we got our girl.

What was one of your high points as a breeder?

That our pick of our first litter had 5 junior show titles in 3 countries and her first litter.

In the years to come, when someone is writing the history of your breed, how would you like to be remembered?

As a reputable, ethical breeder who tried to bring all JAI breeders together and worked with them to better the breed in health, diversity and looks.

 

We, obviously, are a company that empowers breeders to be conservators of their breed’s long term diversity and viability.  How do you use this in your breeding program?

At first I never use one stud more than once on the same girl. I try to pick that stud that is not used very often but has a surplus of what my girls lack. I ask the owner to do the diversity test of VGL and see if it is a match with my girl.

Togarashi Maiko go San with Inge

Since using BetterBred, have you had any exciting keepers you would like to brag about?

Yes, I want to brag about my latest keeper who already has 3 youth titles and is a promise for the future!

 

Do you have plans you’d like to share about your breeding program.

Yes, my plans are breeding Japanese Akita Inus that everybody will recognize as Togarashi JAIs in health, movement and looks and that they will be the beginning for new breeders and an enrichment for established breeders in their program.

 

And finally, do you have words of wisdom to impart on those who have not been in the breed for long?  Something you might have liked to have heard, or maybe should have heard?

Never start gossiping or get mixed up drama. Try to be open minded, learn from the good things and also mistakes that are made by every breeder who has bred longer than you.

 

 

Rebekah

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