Kathy Clayton lives on 867 acres of wooded land in South West City, MO, at the corners of Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas. She is an AKC Breeder of Merit – Gold and has bred Chitawee French Bulldogs for 28 years. She was recently nominated by the National French Bulldog Club of America for the AKC Sportsmanship Award.
She grew up in Cayuga, NY, on the old Erie Canal and moved to Oklahoma in 1983 where she met and married Ellis Clayton. They moved to Missouri in 1997 where they lived and raised dogs together until Ellis passed away from Covid19 complications in December 2020.
AKC: How did you get started in breeding dogs?
Kathy: In 1984, I obtained a male and female Miniature Schnauzer whose first litter started my career in hobby breeding. I received my first French Bulldog in 1994, fell in love with the breed and have been professionally showing and breeding them exclusively since.
AKC: What is the most important thing to know about French Bulldogs?
Kathy: Frenchies are loving, playful, hilarious clowns and make wonderful companions if they are carefully bred with focus on health being at the forefront. Careless breeding will most likely result in expensive, endless veterinary bills and tremendous heartache.
AKC: How has AKC Marketplace helped you find puppy buyers?
Kathy: The AKC Marketplace helps find the type of owner I want for my puppies who will provide the care, training and love I want each puppy I produce to receive. People who seek breeders through the AKC Marketplace are trying to do the right thing and I find they are more educated because the Marketplace provides them with information that they need to learn all in one place.
AKC: What is your favorite question to ask of potential puppy buyers?
Kathy: My first question is “What color are you looking for?” If a potential new owner mentions a color that isn’t accepted by the Breed Standard, it provides me an opportunity to mentor and educate them why this is not a good choice. Other favorite questions are “Have you ever owned a French Bulldog before? If not, have you done your homework?”; “What type of habitat do you live in?”; and “What type of activities would you like to do with your Frenchie?”
AKC: What are the main qualities you look for in potential owners?
Kathy: I am looking for people who ask questions and are willing to listen, who demonstrate they have done their homework about the breed and are concerned foremost about providing the best home possible for their potential new family member.
AKC: What is the best advice you would give to novice breeders?
Kathy: Research experienced breeders and develop an established mentorship with them. Purchase the best female you possibly can who has cleared her health testing (both DNA and OFA), research stud dogs and their health clearances, and then develop a tough skin because breeding is not for the faint of heart.
AKC: Do your dogs participate in AKC sports?
Kathy: While we participate mostly in conformation competitions, I have earned obedience and rally titles on some of my own homebred dogs. Several titles in obedience, rally, and scent work have also been earned by owners and their dogs bred by us.
AKC: What do you like best about breeding dogs?
Kathy: I love seeing happy people with their new Chitawee baby and I enjoy my couch covered with my own Chitawee four-legged kids.
AKC: Do you have a favorite breeding story?
Kathy: Back a few years ago I traded a handmade French Bulldog patterned Afghan blanket and went over the limit on my credit card to pay for a stud service to the Number 1 male show dog at that time. This resulted in a positive pregnancy test (I saved the test results for years as a memento) that produced my male, Jester aka Jessy, who was the sweetest dog on the earth. Jessy sired my Platinum Grand Champion specials and provided me with many years of love and companionship.