Welcome to Pure Dog Talk. Chris and Tom Levy are joining me today, we’re going to be talking about the Foundation Stock service provided by The American Kennel Club. And this particular area is something is one that not very many of us know a whole lot about. And, basically what happens, The American Kennel Club provides the service to allow pure bred breeds to continue to develop, while providing them with security of a reliable and reputable avenue to maintain their registration records. And Chris and Tom are great guests for us to talk to, because they’ve just been through this process with the Pumi, yes? I said that correctly?
CL: That’s right!
Yeah, I did it right! Ok, so one of our brand-new breeds that’s just been recognized The American Kennel Club this year, I think they are so incredibly adorable, they look like little koala bears, I can’t stand it! So, Chris and Tom, welcome, thank you so much for joining us, and let’s talk about Pumi, and let’s talk about The Foundation Stock Service.
CL: Ok. Well, just a clarification, Pumik, which is P-U-M-I-K is the Hungarian plural for the actual name of the breed, which is Pumi, P-U-M-I. They are a Hungarian herding breed, very closely related to the Puli, which also has a plural of Pulik.
Correct, and so does Komondor and Komondorak if I remember correctly.
CL: That’s correct. And, Kuvasz and Kuvaszak.
Exactly, and so tell me just really briefly, what got you started with Pumi?
CL: I had Miniature Schnauzers at the time, and I went to the World Dog Show in Helsinki Finland to watch the Miniature Schnauzers. And I saw three Pumik’s coming down the hall towards me, and it was truly love at 1st sight. We had some preferred cattle at the time and had been looking for a herding breed. And so, I went home and told Tom, and it was about a year later that we had our 1st Pumi puppy.
Ok, and what year was that?
CL: That was 1999 when we got the puppy
TL: 1998 when you went to the World Show
Very cool. So, have you used your Pumik as a herding dog with your cattle?
TL: Yes, I did. That was the original reason to get one. And I was using 2 of them, but they taught me how they herd. But what was very interesting was, it was 2000, the night before I was leaving for the World Dog Show, the cattle got out. So, I took the dogs, got them back in, and after going through the brush, I spent the entire night de-burring and bathing the dogs before I flew out.
Oh my God, I can’t even imagine
CL: But, we’re using them on sheep now. They were developed for cattle, sheep and swine. They’ve also been used totally, informally trained on chicken, rabbits, and even cats.
Wow, well there you go. Herding dogs herd things.
CL: That’s right, and children too!
Yes! Definitely children. Ok, talk to me then, so you found this fabulously cool breed, and at the time you acquired yours in 1999, how many were in The United States at that time?
CL 2 or 3.
CL: There were not very many. There was a breeder who had had a litter maybe 10 years previously, but she had only had that one litter. And we know there were some in the country that were brought in by the Hungarians, you know, just as their pets. But, 2 were imported about the time of that 1998 World Show, and then later, we got ours. But, it was basically free at that time.
That’s just amazing. 3 of them in the whole country, and so I noticed when I looked, I saw that you’re the President of The Pumik Club of American, is that correct?
CL: That’s correct
So, you have been through this entire process, 17 years of developing this breed in this country, and creating a national club, and creating American Kennel Club recognition for this breed, and I think there’s a lot of people out there that are working with new and rare breeds who would really like to hear your story, and how that process went.
CL: Well, it took us a while to get organized. Obviously with only 3 people we weren’t too interested in organizing, but it was about 2005 where there were enough people, a few more had been imported, we had had a littler by that time, that people were talking about forming a club. And, at the time my argument was we didn’t have enough people to form a board of directors, much less have a club. But the point was made and well taken, that we needed a point of contact for AKC, and that would allow us to do some education. But, let me step back for just a minute. I believe it was 2002 where we had our 1st littler, and we concerned about be able to show those puppies in Europe. We didn’t have a registry at that time, and so it was about 2002 that we applied to AKC to come into the foundation stock service. And I think there was like about that time, maybe 20 that we registered, maybe 15, I can’t remember for sure. But, any dog can be registered with the foundation stock service, even if it has died of old age, so we wanted to have those dogs registered. So, the lady that had the litter 10 years to our finding about the breed, did register her puppies with the foundation stock service too, but that was just to get started. It was either that, or us do our own registrations, and I knew who would end up doing that, and I didn’t want to. So, it was much, much easier to have AKC do it, and then it would be very, very simple once we got regular status, to just move those dogs over into AKC’s registry. So, they provide everything as far as registration is concerned. It’ similar to AKC registration, you have a litter application, and you have individual registrations, and registration forms for registering imported dogs, it’s very similar, but not the same as the AKC’s process. So, that was our 1st more as a rec. So, we did that for a while, I’m not sure, there were a few more dogs that were imported at that time, but it wasn’t until 2005, which is 6 years after we got ours, that we decided to form the club.
TL: One thing I’d like to add too on the FSS, AKC does not call it a registration, they call it a listing. And because of this, some countries do not recognize it, and it may be necessary to register dogs in an FCI country, or if a breed is recognized in Canada, register it there. But, typical most dogs that are FSS can be registered in Puerto Rico.
CL: So, one of the things I did early on, was write to probably 15 or 20 countries to the kennel clubs in those countries, and ask if they would recognized a foundation stock service pedigree. And I think 2 or 3 replied that they would. We knew that Puerto Rico would, I think it was Sweden that would, and then we went down to show in Mexico. Because, when you have a rare breed, there’s no place to show locally except for a rare breed show. At that time, they didn’t have some of the other international kennel clubs that they do now, so we showed in Mexico and they recognized the pedigree, so once he had a Mexican FCI pedigree, then we could show them elsewhere. As far as the rare breed shows, our concern, they don’t care as much. But FCI in the majority of cases is looking for an AKC registered dog.
TL: Or an FCI registered dog, and that is either Mexico or Puerto Rico. In Mexico, you have to go to Mexico. I believe you can do it by mail with Puerto Rico.
CL: So, it’s made it interesting to us, because we wanted to be able take dogs that we had bred, and show them in Europe, because that’s where we went to learn about the breed and import more dogs. And I think eventually, Hungary, which were the Pumi is from, recognized, our foundation service pedigrees too.
OK, so you’ve imported more dogs, you’ve bred a litter. How many Pumik do you have now?
CL: We have, as of last October when I checked with AKC, there were 365 registered puppies.
Oh my gosh, that’s pretty impressive in 15 years!
CL: Well, we’ve had over 15 years, a number of litters. And, I figured about a year ago, that we had contributed approximately 90 of them.
Oh, my goodness, that’s a lot of work!
CL: Well, that’s over a lot of years too. But, start with, it was very difficult to even find homes for puppies. Nobody knew about the breed, you know our very 1st litter, I think there were 5. Tom’s business partner took 1, we kept 2, a lady in Colorado got 1, and then we kept one around for about 6 months, and then of a friend decided they wanted one. But, it was very, very difficult to place a puppy because nobody knew to ask.
Right? Exactly. And so, this is a breed, from my understanding of what you’re saying, this is a breed that’s pretty old in Hungary, correct?
CL: Yes. It’s been around as an Hungarian Herding dog for several hundred years. The Pumi is from Western Hungary, the Puli is from Eastern Hungary, and then there’s a third Hungarian Herding breed, the Mudi which is from Southern Hungary.
And haven’t I seen that the Mudi is now also in FSS, did I see that coming up through the pipeline?
CL: They are in FSS, they’re working, they’re progressing. But I think they have 50 or 60 dogs in the country so it’s gonna be a little while.
TL: But, the interesting thing is, is the Mudi is recognized in Canada, where the Pumi is not.
CL: It just depends on who supports the breed.
Fascinating. And so, give me some basic outline. I mean, how many dogs do you have to have? How many generation pedigrees? How many, you know what’s your process through AKC?
CL: Well, there’s quite a process. They actually have the process listed on the AKC website.
Ok, great, so we’ll provide a link for that in our show notes for sure.
CL: Oh perfect, perfect. So, there’s really two tracks that are going on. One is getting the breed recognized, and the other is getting the club recognized. So, in the list of things that you have to do, AKC kinda mixes up all of the club stuff and the breed stuff, but kinda please understand that there’s really two tracks. Because you want to get the breed recognized by doing things, but you also want to get the club recognized so it can eventually hold AKC shows or other events.
TL: One thing about these two tracks, then you are working with two different departments at AKC as well.
CL: Ya, that’s kind towards the end of the process. So, what you have to do to start with is let AKC know that you’ve got a club formed. I mean obviously we had already done that, which is you apply for the breed to get foundation stock service recognition. And then, once a club is formed, you let them know you have formed and that you would be the point of contact. Occasionally you’ll get breeds that have more than one parent club formed, and AKC will allow that to continue up to a point where they will select one parent club. Cuz there can only be one parent club in the United States for a breed. So, you need to submit paperwork to the AKC with your constitution and bylaws, and your membership list, and show that you are doing activities. Most of what our club with to start with was a lot of meet the breeds. Because what we were doing was trying to introduce the breed to people in The United States. So, we did the major meet the breeds in Long Beach at the time, and the New York meet the breeds, and we did several in the Pacific Northwest, and just got our dogs out there as much as we could.
Ok. So, as you were going through this process, I remember, ok I’m from the Northwest, I remember you watching you guys bring these cute little dogs around, and like wow, those are fascinating. What in the world? Did you get a lot of reaction from the dog show community or more from the general public?
CL: Both. To start with, when we had our 1st dog, we had to convince our friends that this was actually pure bred, cuz they’re so cute, they look like Teddy Bears. So, we were thrilled when we had our litter, because then we actually had more than 1 that looked alike, and we could really prove to people that they were a pure bred dog. But, what we also found, that if you went to a dog show and you needed to go somewhere with your dog, to allow 3 to 4 times as much time as you would normally allow to do that, because every 20 feet you were stopped by somebody wanting to know about the breed.
Right. I’m sure I was one of those people, cuz I just think they’re freaking adorable.
CL: And it happens in the public too. We also go take the dogs to the Farmer’s Market and there’s a lot of interest in the breed. But one of the things that we learned is, this is more specific to the Pumi, but if you say, oh this is a Pumi, their 1st reaction is, oh, Poodle and what? So, our response that we have all the time is, this is a Pumi, a Hungarian Herding Dog.
Before they can say Poodle!
CL: That’s right. And every single who has ever gotten a puppy from us, has had that little lecture and they learn very quickly that they have to say, this is a Pumi, a Hungarian Herding Dog.
Right, all in 1 breath
CL: Yes, absolutely. So, what did a lot of was just grow the club for a number of years. And grow the breed and educate more people, and this was well, it took us 11 years from the time we formed the club in 2005, and then we were recognized finally, got full status in 2016. But, a lot of that time is just spent in selling puppies, and selling people on the breed and getting the dogs out there. Now, one of the things that happened about 2011 I think it was, AKC changed their rules so that if there was a foundation stock service breed parent club, they would be allowed to hold performance and companion events. AKC licensed performance and companion events, and that was new to everybody. So, the 1st thing we did was hold AKC licensed herding tests at our national, we didn’t go as far as having a herding trial, but just an instinct test. We later held obedience and rally trials just before we were AKC, and we’re not added regular herding trials and agility trials, but you could hold any of those while the club is still, you know, in a provisional foundation stock service status.
Ok, and so the process with FSS, Tom, maybe you could help me with this. You go from FSS to miscellaneous, to AKC. What is that? How does that work?
TL: Ok in FSS you can only hold open shows, which are shows specifically for the new breeds, and they only allow FSS and miscellaneous breeds. And just to make it easier to the novice, professional handlers are only allowed to show dogs that they own. But, once you get into miscellaneous, they do hold miscellaneous classes at the regular AKC as this is a way to educate the judges as well as educate the public.
Ok, so I thought that was important that you need distinguish that there’s FSS, but that’s not the same as miscellaneous. No. FSS is the 1st step. Before you can apply for miscellaneous, you have to have 150 dogs registered with the foundation stock service, and you have to have a breed standard that is an AKC format. When you’re at an open show, the FSS breeds are allowed to use the FSI, which is the international canine organization standard.
Ok good. Good distinction, that helps a lot. Ok, so where do you see Pumi’s going? Are you guys seeing like a huge boon in your population now that their adorable faces everywhere? I mean seriously, these are like the cutest things in the world!
CL: Well they certainly are everywhere, and AKC put out a press release last summer. We got regular status on July 1, and on June 22, they put out a press release and we were inundated with requests for information, and PR called, we did an interview with Sam. And then more people copied what other people had written, and it was all over the internet. What we learned really quickly is a lot of that information that was copied wasn’t entirely correct. And what came out in the end was, oh, this is this cute little lap dog, you know! And we just can’t emphasize enough that a Pumi is a working dog. They have a working temperament, they need a job, they’re very active, they’re very intelligent. But, this is not a dog that you just sit and watch TV with all day long. So, we’ve been trying to do some re-education of the public to have them understand that this is a very smart dog that needs both mental and physical stimulation. So, we’ve changed some of our brochures that we hand out at the meet the breeds and that sort of thing, to make sure that people understand that they want to get a Pumi, that they have the right family to match up with that Pumi temperament.
Mm-hmm, for sure. And I think this is something that a lot of us involved with pure bred dogs in The American Kennel Club, two things that I want to close out with; number 1, talking about just the preservation of a piece of world history. Ok, the Pumi is a piece of Hungarian history, this is a living, breathing piece of history, and I think it’s awesome. And I’d like to talk just a little bit about how you guys feel about being sort of the curators of that piece of history.
CL: I never really that about it. You know, we don’t have any other breeds now, we are totally, totally Pumi people. Everything we’ve done has been for the love of the breed, and for preserving that great Pumi temperament, and the ease of care, the intelligence, and it’s just a matter of preserving that for everybody else. And, one of the things why we wanted to sell the breed is cuz it’s such a great breed that we wanted other people to be able to appreciate what a great breed it was too.
TL: And, I think one important thing is we are trying to preserve it as the Hungarian breed it is, and not change it into an American breed.
CL: Absolutely. There’s some really important aspects of that. The temperament is one, but the unique coat of the Pumi is other, and they have a very curly coat that’s very easy care, and we want to make sure we maintain we that type of coat so that it doesn’t end up like a little puff ball, and make it hard to take care of.
Ok, so that I think is just an amazing piece of the conversation. I also think that it’s very, very interesting to me to watch over the course of probably the past 10 or 15 years that, you guys have been involved so you’ll have seen this. I’ve been really impressed with The American Kennel Club’s desire, or maybe it’s the public’s desire, I don’t know, what’s the driving force? We see a lot more dogs. We’ve added what, 20 or 30 breeds just in the last couple years. I see so many more new breeds coming in consistently that we did in the early days of my involvement in the sport. What’s your take on that?
CL: I think that people are traveling more than they used to. Certainly, if I hadn’t decided to go to The World Dog Show, I mean, that changed our life, you know. I’d never been to Europe before, if I had not gone, you know, I mean somebody else would have started importing them, but I think because people are traveling more and they’re seeing these breeds, and they want to support them. One of the other things that I think is really important, and we as breeders need to seriously look at this, is this breed is very, very healthy. Easy to breed, easy to whelp, puppies are healthy. Because, when this was a shepherd’s dog, they were whelped out in the barns and they had them on their own, and if the puppies didn’t survive, they didn’t survive. And if they didn’t herd well…
TL: They didn’t survive.
CL: They didn’t survive. And because of the way they took care of them, which in these days we would almost consider abuse, those dogs became easy to care of because they had to survive. And, I think it’s very, very important for us to maintain that breed ability and the healthiness, and the open pedigrees, meaning not closely line or in-breeding the dogs.
And do you have a significant gene pool in order to be able to do that? I just did a couple of interviews with other people, they’re talking about gene puddles. Betty Anne Stenmark talking about Dandie Dinmonts and they just don’t have anything to work with.
CL: That’s a good example
So, do you guys have that gene pool to work with?
CL: We do, we do. And one of the things we had to do was assuage the feelings of the 1st person that we got our Pumi from in Hungary, when we did not go back to here for our 2nd dog or 3rd, because we had to get to front lines. And so, we’ve visited a number of breeders in Hungary and imported dogs from different kennels, so that we would have some diversity in the breeding. And the same thing, there’s quite a few Pumi’s in the Scandinavian countries and so, we’ve imported a dog from Sweden and we have frozen semen from Finland. So, it’s been really important to keep those pedigrees fairly open and not do too much close breeding.
TL: I think 1 think thing that is important for people who are looking at these new to us breeds, is do not just buy them. You need to be willing and able to travel so you can build relationships with the breeders around the world. And, this takes time. I think we’ve probably made at least 10 trips to Europe or more, and these days we’ve got to go to The World Dog Show’s so we can meet with all our Pumi friends from around the world. But, we have personal relationships with these people, and because of this, we were able to import good dogs.
Right. So, reaching out and building that network is a huge and important part of the puzzle of putting together healthy dogs for you guys.
CL: It is, absolutely
TL: It is. And it can’t be done completely over the internet or phone calls or that. It has to become personal.
Ya, well I think that’s the answer in a lot of things in dogs, frankly
CL: Right. Well, and Facebook certainly helps because we know of most of the litters that have been bred around the world. So, if there’s pedigrees we’re looking for, then we would know if something’s getting bred. So, Facebook, we have a lot of Facebook friends and almost all of them are Pumi people because we find out what’s going on world-wide in the breed.
TL: And the other one that’s funny, it’s that’s how we discovered Skype, was a way to talk to our friends all over the world that we could afford.
I know! I’m telling ya, Skype is like my favorite thing in the world.
Ok, so really quick, in closing you guys. On the podcast I talk a lot about, ok, so what’s sort of the future of pure bred dogs? Do you guys feel like introducing the new breeds, new to us as you said, new breeds to The United States, do you think that that’s really helping develop, and extend, and encourage the pure bred dog sports for future generations.
TL: I think it is, but I also what to say that I think the biggest key to the puzzle is we have to have to educate the AKC judges to know the breed so they know what they’re looking at.
CL: And we’ve spent a lot of time doing that. We’ve done probably over 20 judge’s seminars to educate the breed, and that’s something that’s really, really important for a parent club to do, and they’re not doing it. But, I would like to say that I think one of the reasons the Pumi is being very successful right not is not because of the shows, but because of agility. They are incredible agility dogs. And in fact, a Pumi won a 16″ class at the Eukanuba shows two years in a row, we’ve got one on the world team. I mean, they’re really good. And where the majority of the owners are in Pumi’s, are not in confirmation, they’re in performance. And I believe that the confirmation is probably going to stay where it is, but for people who love doing things with their dogs, that’s what’s gonna grow.
Some of the performance events, the barn hunt, the agility, and nose work, and stuff like that.
CL: Ya, they just introduced scent work, which I’ve been doing for 3 years now, and it’s a great sport.
TL: And the herding is, to watch the dogs what they were bred to, I’ve gotten hooked on it and I do quite a bit of herding too. But, still showing is my primary love.
CL: Right. So, we do confirmation, we do herding, lure coursing, we love that, nose work, a little bit of obedience. But, that’s what the Pumi needs is mental and physical activity.
Right. Keep their brains active
CL: Yes, absolutely
Well thank you Tom and Chris, I sure appreciate your time. This has been a wonderful a wonderful and very educational. I quite enjoyed it and I hope our listeners did as well.
CL: Well we did too!
And I hope our listeners will as well, and I look forward to talking to you guys more at the dogs shows!
TL: Yep. We’ll see you at the shows Laura, and thank you for taking the time to do these.
I love it, this is a good time. You guys have a great day, thanks so much
As always, if you have any questions or input, we’d love to hear from you. The show notes and links to resources on today’s topic are available at puredogtalk.com. Drop us a note in the comments or email to Laura at puredogtalk.com. Remember guys, this podcast if for you so if you want to know something, give me a holler, we’ll do podcast for you. If you wouldn’t mind, you could help me out here, take a couple minutes to visit iTunes and give us a review. This will help share the love with others out there in the sport. This has been Pure Dog Talk with your host, Laura Reeves. We hope you can join us next time as we continue the journey to success with your purebred dog.