Welcome to this highly informative and exclusive interview we conducted with Joanne D. Wolff of Von Wolff Kennel Miniature Dachshunds (VWK).
Thanks for doing this interview, can you tell us who you are and where you are based?
I am Joanne D. Wolff, Michigan City Indiana. I breed and show under the name of Von Wolff Kennel Miniature Dachshunds (VWK).
I am retired and “do Dachshunds” full time, competing in AKC Conformation events, and in the growing sport of Barn Hunt.
What inspired you to become a breeder and did you start with Dachshunds?
I have been involved with breeding dogs my entire life. My parents owned toy Pekingese, and a Peke “ChiChi” was my first dog…a gift for me on my 5th birthday. As an adult, I have owned and bred Pekingese, German Shepherd Dogs, Saint Bernards, Dobermans, Great Danes and Miniature Dachshunds. I began showing my Dachshunds in AKC Conformation events in 2006.
There are a number of variations within the Dachshund breed, perhaps you could explain which type(s) you breed and why?
I own only Smooth and Longhair Miniature Dachshunds. I have developed a breeding program of Cream Smooth Miniatures, which is now in its 5th-7th generation down from the original Cream Longhairs. I decided to develop the Cream Smooths while cross-coat breeding is still unrestricted in the AKC.
In many countries, and under other systems, like FCI, creating Cream Smooths is impossible due to restrictions that prohibit breeders from breeding a Smooth to a Longhair. Since the Cream gene was only bred for in the Longhair gene pool, it was necessary to breed “across the coats” to bring Cream into the Smooth lines.
Once established, two Cream Smooths will breed “true to type”…in other words, produce offspring that looks like themselves. This is a lengthy process, one that I have been working on since 2009. Brindle is the pattern I specialize in, producing Cream Brindles in both Smooth and Longhair coats. I also own Solid (Reds) and 2 Colored dogs (Black/Tans, Black/Creams) and Dapple patterned dogs. I like the fact that all these choices are available in Miniature Dachshunds, and for the most part, only Red and Black/Tan in the Standard size dogs.
What types of people are buying Dachshunds and why do you think people choose the Dachshund over all the other choices they have available?
My puppies are placed into a variety of homes. Many live in large condo buildings in downtown Chicago, where they ride elevators to the ground floor and walk to the dog parks. Many families with children purchase Dachshund pups, with a great many parents having grown up with Dachshunds themselves, and now they want to share the joy of doxie ownership with their own kids!
Dachshunds thrive in rural or farm settings, often mingling with cats, goats, cattle and horses. To put it simply, Dachshunds are versatile dogs that can adapt to whatever lifestyle their owners have. I think they are chosen as family companions because of their intense loyalty and devotion to their owners. You don’t own and love a Dachshund, you are owned by and loved by a Dachshund!
Can you offer advice to people looking to buy a Dachshund and how much should they be spending?
Price in the USA varies quite a lot from region to region. Both East and West coasts are a bit higher priced than in the Midwest or South. In any area, it is wise for a buyer to check out the breeder thoroughly. Ask to speak with satisfied families who own their pups. Do they have the parents of your prospective puppy available so you can meet them and judge their temperaments?
Will they set an appointment for you to come to the home or facility to meet the parents, or do they want to meet you in a parking lot or alongside the freeway? To me, that is a red flag. If breeders are fearful of strangers in their home, then they simply need to have another family member or friend present while the prospective owners visit.
My dogs all live inside my home, in rooms designed especially for them. So when I invite prospective owners for a visit, they are coming into my home. We chat and play with the adults and pups, get to know each other and often develop friendships that center around our Dachshunds. Not every breeder uses my methods, there are many “right” ways to breed and raise dogs. Just be sure the breeder you buy from is committed to breeding happy, healthy pups and making you, that essential new owner, pleased and proud to have obtained a Dachshund puppy from them.
What is the typical temperament of a Dachshund, so people know what to expect from their new pet?
The Breed Standard states “Bold, to the point of rashness!” Simply translated, a Dachshund should be outgoing, friendly, though reserved with strangers at first is not considered a bad thing, and able to quickly adjust to situations. It doesn’t mean aggressive or threatening. It doesn’t mean nippy or snappy or excessively barky.
Dachshunds should be bright, alert and reasoning. Having raised Dobermans, I know what REALLY smart dogs are…and Dachshunds can hold their own intellectually with any other breed!
Being head strong, desiring to do things “their way” is also a trait of a Dachshund, and it’s not so much bad behavior as a truly innate sense of who they are that drives them to come up with ways to counter act you! So be prepared for your Dachshund to play a few “mind games” with you.
It’s often said that Smooths are the sharp ones, Longhairs are the laid back ones and Wires are the clowns. I can’t speak to the difference with Wirehaired dogs, but I do know there is a difference in the personalities of Smooths and Longs. Smooths are tireless, ambitious and quick-witted little devils. Longhairs are dreamy, relaxed and poised. A Smooth will snatch your sock as you’re putting it on your foot and run around the house 3 times with it before you get up out of your chair! The Longhair would be satisfied to lay its muzzle on your wrist and gaze into your eyes as you attempt to put your sock on. That is not to say that I haven’t had wild Longhair pups or sweet snuggler Smooths. Your breeder will know the personality of the pups being offered, and can make sure you get one to suit YOUR temperament.
Do you have any special feeding routines or diet?
I feed a high quality dry kibble formulated for all life stages of a dog. I use a website called Dog Food Advisor as a helpful tool in choosing what food to use. If a breeder uses a very expensive or hard to get dog food, you can be certain the new puppy owner will switch it pretty quickly after the pup goes home anyway. So, I try to use a food that is at least a 4 star for quality and is readily available. Then recommend it to my new owners, and tell them how or where to buy it.
For my own showing and breeding dogs, I supplement with products designed to increase the health, stamina and breeding capability. For bitches that are to be bred, I begin increasing the amount of food they are given twice a day at the 30th day of gestation. By whelping time, they are getting 2-2.5 times a normal ration. I continue this while they raise the pups. I have found that by doing this, my bitches don’t drop weight significantly while nursing and raising pups, the amount of coat loss is less and they “spring back” more quickly. .
What colors and sizes are most popular?
I get more requests for Red Smooth Female pups than for any other coat/color/pattern by 3-1! My Smooth waiting list is always at least half Red Smooth Female requests! Sometimes, I can turn one or 2 around to the joys of owning a male dog, or convince them that a Longhair doesn’t mean hours of grooming and detangling weekly.
Many folks simply have a mental picture of a Dachshund and it is a Red Smooth. Most prefer a female as they as being cautious about marking and aggression. Myself, I tend to favor my males, though I dearly love my little bitchy girls. They are just that, sometimes divas, sometimes bossy queens…the little females will rule a bunch of much larger house companions as if it is their “due”. Boys want to please, want to be with you and want to learn.
I think the Miniature Variety is more sought after by city and suburb dwellers because they “fit”…under the size limits of rental agreements, in the lounge chair beside you and on your pillow in bed. Standard Variety Dachshunds are sought after by hunters and trackers, outdoors people and hikers as they have stamina to work all day in the field, size to tackle most small prey and a great robust joy for being out “doing things” with their owners.
As a breed expert, are there any ‘essential’ tips you would like to share with new owners?
Although many families want to include their new puppy in all the family activities, it is important to remember that the new Dachshund puppy is really just a baby. They need plenty of sleep, a safe place to run off to if they get a sudden fright, and time to recover and adjust from the excitement and stress of new people and situations. They also need to be contained when you are not at home. Running freely through the house can end in disastrous situations, hazard to the pups’ health and possible damage to your nice things!
I always recommend that new owners buy a small crate that can fit inside an exercise pen, leaving room for a food and water dish, potty pad and play area. I like the square plastic pens for this, and suggest they put it in an area just off the high traffic places in the house…a corner of the kitchen, dining room, family room is perfect. Now the puppy can be contained, but still feel like it is part of the “action”. The crate inside should have bedding to encourage naps and during the day, the crate door is left open, allowing the puppy to come out, play, eat and potty. When the family is home, open the pen door so the pup can come out and explore, play with the family and interact. When you leave the house, tell the puppy to go to its “house”, and shut the pen door, leaving the crate door open. Now the pup is safe while you are gone.
Unless you are planning to have your pup in bed with you from the start, the pen and crate is where the puppy goes at bedtime. The pen door is closed, and a treat, like a small dog biscuit is used to entice the puppy into the crate. Close the crate door, say good night and go to bed.
Quiet, unstressed crate time is something every dog can benefit from. Soon, the pup comes to know its crate is the “safe place” and where to go for naps and rest. Once the pup is older, the expen can be removed and just the crate left, normally with door open all day, providing a safe place to take a nap and relax. Many of the owners of VWK Dachshunds have used this method, and dogs as old as 8 years go and lay, half in and half out of their crates, just for relaxation. Providing a place of comfort that they can call their own is essential to your Dachshunds’ mental health and well being.
Joanne D. Wolff of Von Wolff Kennel Miniature Dachshunds (VWK)
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