Clara Brown of Santa Rosa, California, has been involved in showing and breeding purebred dogs for more than 50 years. She has bred and shown many champions and obedience-titled dogs, starting with Belgian Tervuren and Golden Retrievers. She has bred and shown Australian Shepherds since 1993. In 2008, she became enchanted with the Tibetan Spaniel and began her quest for outstanding quality Tibbies. She shares her home and life with her five Tibetan Spaniels and several Australian Shepherds and also breeds and shows Windrift Llamas. She is a retired veterinary pharmacist.
AKC: How did you get started in breeding dogs?
Clara: My aunt gave me AKC’s Complete Dog Book for my sixth birthday. From then on, I was immersed in all things dog. I started by researching the breeds thoroughly, studying bloodlines and learning as much about the breed as possible by talking to various breeders. My first purchase was a show quality Belgian Tervuren puppy from a well-known kennel (Hi Time) in Michigan. At the time I was a teenager living in Goleta, California, and I arranged for the pup to be shipped to LAX. I contacted the local kennel club, Channel City Kennel Club, learned how to show my own dog, and attained the first of many breed championships. I was hooked on the sport of showing and eventually breeding dogs!
It wasn’t until 2019 that I found the first two Tibbies, who became the foundation for Windrift. I did not start breeding dogs until I felt that I had proven myself and my dogs “worthy” of producing quality offspring. To me, proving worth is by being an active member of my breeds’ parent clubs, the Tibetan Spaniel Club of America and the U.S. Australian Shepherd Association, attending and exhibiting at national specialties, showing in conformation and attaining titles. Of utmost importance are health clearances and conforming to the AKC Breed Standard. Breeding should not be taken lightly; it involves passion and dedication. I consider myself to be a steward for the breeds I chose.
AKC: What is the most important thing to know about Tibetan Spaniels?
Clara: Tibetan Spaniels (Tibbies) are a delightful breed! They are a healthy, long-lived breed that can live happily in an apartment or country home. Tibbies are sturdy, compact dogs who are confident and simply love life! They are easy to live with, very clean and require minimal grooming. Tibbies are natural alert dogs and love to perch on a wall or the back of a couch to survey their territory; however, they are not nuisance barkers. In the show ring, they are an excellent breed for the newcomer as most are owner-handled, low maintenance and require no special grooming.
AKC: What is your favorite question to ask of potential puppy buyers?
Clara: What qualities are you looking for in your companion? What is your experience with the breed? What qualities do you appreciate about the breed? I believe dogs are an amazing gift and endeavor to match people with the right breed and dog for them.
AKC: What are the main qualities you look for in potential owners?
Clara: A strong desire to make the puppy or dog an integral family member. I look for people who are committed to lifetime ownership and are willing to put in the time and work to make this a wonderful human-dog relationship and partnership.
AKC: What is the best advice you would give to novice breeders?
Clara: Start with the very best representative of the breed you can find. Have a plan. You should have in your mind’s eye your ideal male and female. Get all health clearances and only breed quality dogs who conform to the breed standard. Participate fully in the activities of the breed club. Find a mentor; their knowledge and love for the breed is invaluable. Breeding good dogs is part art and part science. Work tirelessly in creating the masterpiece!
AKC: Do your dogs participate in AKC sports?
Clara: Yes, primarily in conformation with the Tibetan Spaniels. I have participated and excelled in various other venues in addition to conformation with my Australian Shepherds.
AKC: What do you like best about breeding dogs?
Clara: The people I have met and the many long-lasting relationships that have resulted. There are many wonderful people with varied backgrounds and experiences who I would never have met without this common interest.
AKC: Do you have a favorite breeding story?
Clara: I once sold three littermate puppies to neighbors: three individual families on the same street!