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AKC Breeder Spotlight: Heather Stimson of Copper Kennel

AKC Breeder of Merit Heather Stimson, owner of Copper Kennel, breeds Spanish Water Dogs and Hungarian Pumik on a 100-acre farm where she enjoys a quiet country lifestyle. She has been involved with Spanish Water Dogs since 2009 and the Hungarian Pumi since 2014.

AKC: How did you get started in breeding dogs?

Heather: I did not expect to become a dog breeder, but in 2009, I went to Spain to pick up a Spanish Water Dog for showing, and my life was changed forever. I was gifted with my first Spanish Water Dogs, and the love affair began. From there, I was introduced to the Pumi and instantly fell in love with that breed.

AKC: What are the most important things to know about your breeds?

Heather: First, it is critical that you understand what your lifestyle is and what kind of temper you need to complement your family.

Spanish Water Dogs are incredibly bright, but they respond best when they follow an alpha. They need consistent and firm boundaries for the first couple of years. They are incredibly smart and thrive when they receive formal training. This breed thrives best with families that have consistency in their home. They are easy to groom and are hypoallergenic.

Hungarian Pumik are incredibly fun and lively, but they bark. So, it is important to understand they use their voice to communicate. They are easy to train, incredibly clever, and will fill your life with constant amusement. Those ears! There is some grooming needed, routine brushing and combing, as well as some scissor work about every three months.

AKC: How has AKC Marketplace helped you find puppy buyers?

Heather: The AKC Marketplace has been incredibly helpful in connecting with puppy buyers. The AKC helps buyers determine what breed will fit their home best. Families are then directed to those breeders. This helps to streamline the application process, saves time, and provides qualified leads. Also, the Breeder of Merit program has really helped to reassure buyers that they are working with a quality breeder.

AKC: What is your favorite question to ask of potential puppy buyers?

Heather: What is your family makeup? What is the function you want your dog to perform? These questions really help me to pinpoint the correct temper that will complement the buyer’s lifestyle best.

AKC: What are the main qualities you look for in potential owners?

Heather: I appreciate thoughtful questions. I especially appreciate it when it is obvious a buyer has reviewed material on the AKC website and my personal website.

I am most interested in working with owners who are willing to keep the lines of communication open and want to be guided in training their dog.

AKC: What is the best advice you would give to novice breeders?

Heather: Working with breeders of all breeds will help you to develop a breeding style that fits your needs.

Do not be afraid to ask questions or ask for help.

Working with the AKC will really help you to develop a quality breeding program. There are a lot of educational materials, networking opportunities, and opportunities to show off your dogs. The Breeder of Merit program will help you to elevate your program to a much more professional level; I strongly encourage everyone to participate in this program.

AKC: Do your dogs participate in AKC sports?

Heather: They sure do! Conformation, obedience, agility, dock diving, rally, and trick dog to name a few.

AKC: What do you like best about breeding dogs?

Heather: Working with families is by far my favorite! I appreciate hearing about how my dogs have touched lives. Those stories help me to stay motivated to keep breeding.

AKC: Do you have a favorite breeding story?

Heather: There are a lot of stories, but one Spanish Water Dog story always comes to mind. When I made the decision to start breeding, it was important to me to produce dogs that could perform therapy work. We have a family with a little girl with a very rare medical condition that has negatively impacted her life. She has struggled with self-esteem issues, depression, pain, and a slew of medical problems that would cripple anyone, let alone a young child. My dog has really helped her to come out of her shell, given her a purpose, helped her to gain confidence, and helped her get help quickly when she is in trouble. The family is incredibly grateful and fell in love with the breed so deeply, they got a second one.