Vikki McConnell, owner of Ali’I AK Inu Kennels, started showing dogs in Alaska about 20 years ago. A few years later, with the help of her breeder/mentor, she began breeding her own dogs. She started with Longhaired Dachshunds and Akitas at about the same time.
Vikki had been introduced to Akitas while living in Hawaii and was impressed with them. “Dachshunds were more of a happenstance; I rescued one that had a rare form of canine leukemia, and it broke my heart when she passed at only 3 years of age, so I had to have another,” she said.
AKC: How did you get started in breeding dogs?
Vikki: Due to the lack of availability of show quality, health tested Akitas and Dachshunds in my state, I was encouraged by my mentor breeders to start co-breeding.
AKC: What are the most important things to know about your breeds?
Vikki: Dachshunds do not genetically have as many health issues as some other breeds, but a major one, IVDD (Intervertebral Disc Disease), has no test. Therefore, it’s critical to know your pedigrees and talk to breeders.
Akitas have many genetic issues, possibly due to a smaller gene pool, so it is important to do the recommended genetic OFA tests on breeding pairs. Akitas can also be dog aggressive, and they have a high prey drive, so finding a reputable breeder who socializes puppies early and offers to let you meet at least the dam and observe kennel conditions is key.
AKC: How has AKC Marketplace helped you find puppy buyers?
Vikki: AKC Marketplace offers a public platform for me to share my kennel and breeding information.
AKC: What is your favorite question to ask of potential puppy buyers?
Vikki: My favorite question to ask of potential puppy owners is what research they’ve done on the breed; this opens up several talking points.
AKC: What are the main qualities you look for in potential owners?
Vikki: Potential owners who ask questions, are wanting to learn, wish to visit me/my dogs, and are willing to be placed on a waitlist are qualities I look for.
AKC: What is the best advice you would give to novice breeders?
Vikki: Work with a reputable mentor – it doesn’t have to be in your own breed. Don’t be in a hurry to breed; there’s a lot to learn. It can be expensive and painful, but also rewarding. Be prepared financially and mentally.
AKC: Do your dogs participate in AKC sports?
Vikki: Yes, besides conformation we do agility and obedience.
AKC: What do you like best about breeding dogs?
Vikki: I like to see the results of pedigree research come to fruition in puppies, and how they transform into adults. I love to see happy and satisfied puppy owners. I have bred more than 20 champions of record. And everyone loves puppies!
AKC: Do you have a favorite breeding story?
Vikki: Not having had much success shipping semen, I flew a bitch down to a stud owner. Of course, she stopped her heat cycle after getting there and had to stay a month before coming in again. In the end it was just as costly as shipping semen, BUT I ended up with one of my larger litters, seven puppies, six of which were finished champions within a year.