Spotti - got me hooked on the breed
What to say? My name is Klara Simonardottir and I am the owner of the prefix "Hrímnis". I live in a small town just outside Reykjavik and have been in the Chihuahua breed for almost 14 years. I am a very small scale breeder but every once in a while I have some litters. In 2007 I imported the first white miniature schnauzers to Iceland in co-operation with kennel Svarthöfða and own two of those today.
I work at the Icelandic Kennel Club handling breeding and health matters. I am the president of the standards and breeding commission and I also sit on the editorial committee for the kennel club magazine.
I have served as the president of the Icelandic Chihuahua Club and I was on the clubs board for several years.
I believe in breeding with a purpose and a plan (and some backup plans as well :)).
In January I was interviewed for the Finish Chihuahua Club Magazine and here are the questions and my answers in English for those interested in the status of the Chihuahua in Iceland.
1- What kind of a dog-country is Island? Are there any limitations or specialities?
Iceland is quite a young dog country, the Icelandic Kennel is just over 40 years old and the Icelandic Chihuahua Club was founded in 2005. Dogs were only owned as sheepdogs until just a few decades ago. Dogs are quite new to the city (the city concept itself is also quite new) and many people believe dogs should only stay out in the country. Dogs are not allowed in any public buildings, they are not allowed either in private establishments where any sort of food is served, they are not allowed on any public transportation and until just recently they were banned altogether at the city centre. People think it is ok to walk up to a strange dog and start to pet him which thankfully is changing. Dogs are not allowed at apartment buildings unless you get a licence from 2/3 of your neighbours who share a common space (stairwell, entrance etc).Importation of dogs is banned but you can apply for an import permit to the food and veterinary authority and then the dog must stay in 4 week quarantine. (The import cost is usually around 1500 Euros for the tax; quarantine and import permit not including the price of the dog). That makes it impossible for us to travel with our dogs abroad and makes it very costly and difficult to import dogs.
2- What kind of dogs you mostly have there in your country?
The purebreds have not been so long in Iceland so a great number of dogs are mixed breeds, most often some sort of sheepdog mix. Of the purebreds the Icelandic Sheepdog, Labrador retriever, Cavalier, Siberian husky and Miniature Schnauzer are the biggest breeds. Chihuahuas have been one of the top 10 breeds but have gone down in popularity recently. I think I registered around 1200 puppies at the Icelandic Kennel Club last year and a record low Chihuahuas, 18 puppies in 6 litters where we are used to registering around 50 +/- puppies a year for the past years.
3 -What about Chihuahua - how many Chihuahuas there is in Island?
Since the first Chihuahuas were imported from Scandinavia in 1993 and 1994 there have been registered around 550 Chihuahuas in total. The last few years the average amount of puppies has been around 50 per year except for last year. This year will be back to normal. Also there are 2-3 imported a year.
4 -What about breeders? Is there several?
There is quite a number that have bred a Chihuahua litter or a few but very few serious breeders. There are very few real kennels in Iceland so no breeders breed on a big scale. Almost all of us keep just a few dogs at home (under 10) and the breeding and the show dogs are the same dogs, today there might be up to 10 breeders in Chihuahuas, with varied lines, dogs and emphasis.
5.-How you can get more Chihuahuas from other countries?
Most of the imports are from Scandinavia, the dog must go through 4 week quarantine but thankfully the staff at the stations does their job wonderfully and the quarantine hasn’t had much lasting effect of the dogs and they are as happy as they can be while staying there and the owner gets plenty of updates. There have also been sent here a few leasing dogs which I hope is something that will be done more of as I believe that is a great option for small rather closed countries so that dogs won’t get overused.
6- You have some kind of quarantine..?
Yes, there is a 4 weeks quarantine which is a must for all imported dogs and the pet pass is not accepted. There is a pending legislation before congress to allow the pet pass but I do not think it will pass on the first try but I am hopeful it will go through in the coming years. Then we can show our dogs abroad and it would also be possible to travel to Iceland for shows which aren’t really an option now.
7 -Have you many shows? Is there many Chihuahuas taking part?
We have 3 International and 1 national all breed shows at the kennel club a year. Then we have a club specialty every few years and are sometimes invited to other breeds club shows. The shows are not many so each show is quite an event. After each show the Chihuahua club organizes a dinner at some local restaurant where owners can discuss their day and go over each other’s critiques. At the all breed shows the total entry is from 6-800 dogs of around 80 breeds. Usually there are around 10-15 smooth’s entered and 15-25 longs. The long coated have almost always higher entries at the shows. When we have a specialty there are maybe around 50-60 entries of both coats combined. I do recommend travelling here to see a show even if you can’t bring your dog.
8 -How many Chihuahuas you have? (Long- or smooth?)
I own 7 Chihuahuas, and in addition to those I own a few more on breeding contracts. Almost all of these are long coated but the coat is not of much importance to me. At home I only have 3 females, 6 years old, 4 years old and 10 weeks old. I have placed the other ones with family as I do not have so much time these. I work at the Icelandic Kennel Club handling all pedigrees and health checks, also I am the chairman of the Chihuahua Club and I have been training to get my judges licence for the breed and a few others so I have not at all been active in breeding.
9 -Do you breed?
I breed on a very small scale, I have been very busy the past 2 years so I haven‘t been a very active breeder. I have a couple of litters planned next year and I also have planned many years ahead in breeding and have plans B and C‘s if needed. I believe a breeder must know where he wants to go and have plans on how he is going to get there. I do not want to breed a female if I haven’t got a clue as to proceed with her second and third generation etc. I like to have plans for my breeding as a whole and also for my dogs with a plan B and C etc. I know that in dog breeding things rarely go according to plan so it is best to have plenty of backup plans. I really like to research pedigrees and I use a database I compiled which contains every single Chihuahua in Iceland, I have traced my own dogs back to the 1960‘s as well as all the judges critiques for all shown Chihuahuas here. I use the database a lot when researching a mating as it contains show results, health results, pictures and pedigrees for all the dogs here...as well as quite a lot of Scandinavian and English dogs as the breed in Iceland is quite young.
10 -How did you get your first Chihuahua?
I got my first Chihuahua ten years ago at 18 years of age. I was looking for a small dog but I knew I wanted a breed with attitude, not a very soft temperament. I looked first at a litter of Silky terriers but none of the puppies were mine, I then heard of a Chihuahua litter where a puppy might be available. I agreed to see the puppies only because their father was one of the best Chihuahua‘s in Iceland, he really would have done well anywhere in the world and I remembered seeing him at a show some years before. When I got into the breeders house and saw the puppies my mind was made up in an instant, I knew that one of these 5 puppies was my dog. He was not the largest or the smallest or the furriest (these were the only things I knew how to look at the time) but he was and still is mine. He didn‘t develop to be BIS like his father but he has taught me so much about the breed. The breeder was a onetime only breeder but I got so much help and advice and just great friendship from the owner of my puppy’s father. She is a breeder, a dog trainer and was on the board of the Chihuahua Club which she dragged me into also.
11 -What about Chihuahua-association, how it is working, what are you doing together?
The Icelandic Chihuahua Club is under the Icelandic Kennel Club. All owners of the breed in HRFI that have paid their membership fee are also members of the Chihuahua Club and have rights to vote at meetings. The Chihuahua Club does not get any money from the Kennel Club or its members so we fundraise to pay for seminars, health checks and so on. We have show training for every show, dinners after each show, regular walks, and seminars and so on.
12 - What about registration of dogs? We have Finnish Kennelunion, do you have something like that?
The Icelandic Kennel Club (HRFI) is a member of NKU with the Finish Kennel Club and has very similar rules. HRFI registered all FCI litters if the parents have their mandatory health checks. Before breeding a Chihuahua in Iceland the female must be over 24 months of age. Both parents must be eye examined within the last 13 months and both must have been patella checked after the age of 2 years (or within the last 12 months if the male is less than 2 years of age). We also banned breeding and registration of merle in 2008 but there wasn‘t really need for that as we do not have merles.
13 -What do you do with your dogs? .-shows? agility? ...or...
My dogs are at every show, I haven‘t missed a show in about 6-7 years. The past 2 years I have not been able to show my own dogs as I have been in judges training so only one of my girls has been shown frequently as she can be handled by almost anyone. Thankfully that will change this spring when my training will be finished and I can finally start showing my own dogs again. With my dogs all dogs go through show training and all my dogs are shown at some point whether or not they are in the running for the CC. I believe all dogs should be shown at least once so that there is a written critique on them at the club for future reference. This I think is necessary for the club to see where breeding is at, the breeder to get an impartial evaluation on all the dogs he breeds, and future breeders who need the info as they might use someone related to the dog in breeding.
I have also taken agility classes and trained for obedience with my dogs although I always want to do a lot more.
14 Have you been in other countries for shows? Is it easy to travel with dogs to foreign countries?
I cannot take my dogs to shows abroad as we don’t have a pet pass. There is a pending legislation before congress to allow the pet pass but I do not think it will pass on the first try. Hopefully in not so many years a pet pass will be available to us so we can go abroad to shows. Today I can only go as an observer but not handling my own dogs and the next planned show for me to visit is World Winner in Finland.