State your name, kennel name, and location.
Diana L. Updike, Von Tasz, Livonia, Michigan U.S.A.
How did you come to be involved in White Swiss Shepherd breed?
When I was very young, my parents took us cross country, towing a travel trailer, to California (Disneyland!). On the trip back, we stayed at a campground near Fenton, Missouri. A few campsites away, there was a couple with 2 whites shepherds so I asked if I could play with them. They were so beautiful and the memory makes me smile, even today.
In 1980, I started looking for a dog (I couldn’t have one as a kid due to family allergies). I came across an ad in the Flint Journal, a local newspaper, and it listed white shepherd puppies for sale. It triggered my childhood memory and I bought a puppy the very next day. Then, when I started learning of the discrimination against the white coated shepherds, it drove me to do my best to dispel the mistruths and give them the recognition they so deserved.
From the beginning, I OFA certified my dogs and trialed/titled them in AKC/CKC obedience and tracking. I also started showing my foundation bitch, TASZ, in the White German Shepherd Club International shows. I was subsequently elected as the Club’s Corresponding Secretary and have served in many other related clubs and organizations throughout the decades.
In the early 1990’s, my male, BISS WGSDCI CH MOSES LACSAR VON TASZ, CDX, TD, TT, Can.CD, CGC, OFA (H&E) (a.k.a. “Moses”) sired a male puppy named Shadowvalley's Loftboy of USA who was exported to the Czech Republic. “Andy” was one of the first foundation White Swiss Shepherds produced directly from my lines.
In the early 2000’s, #1 Ranked Best of Breed, #1 Best In Top Ten, Premier Total Dog, Multi-BISS, BIMBS, UKC Grand Champion, AWSA Champion, WSCC Champion, U-CDX, ROYAL VON TASZ CLASSIC, CDX, HC, OFA (H&E) (a.k.a. “Polo”) and #1 Ranked Stud Dog, UKC Grand Champion, AWSA Champion, WSCC Champion ROYAL VON TASZ CLASSIC COMBO, CGC, HC, OFA (H&E) (a.k.a. “Hugo”) each sired litters/puppies that were either born in and exported to Europe to further enrich the White Swiss Shepherd foundation stock.
In latter 2000’s, my breeding program gifted me with Multi-BEST IN SHOW Winner, Multi-#1 AWSA Best of Breed, UKC Top Ten Best of Breed, Multi-National Specialty Best of Breed, UKC Grand Champion, AWSA Champion, WSCC Champion, #2 Best In Top Ten, Premier Total Dog, UKC National Best of Breed NBOB URO1 GRCH VON TASZ BORN TO WIN, SPOT ON, HC, CGC, TT-25-WHS, OFA (H&E) (a.k.a. “Ramsey”). I consider him to be one of my best dogs produced to date and am very thankful for his sons and daughters. His legacy fills me with pride.
What is your favorite thing about White Swiss Shepherds?
Their intelligence, beauty, versatility, loyalty – they are a total package! They have enabled me to dabble in obedience, tracking, sheep herding, precision coursing, agility, rally, and, most recently, Nosework with my girl - AN SV MI EC PTE RGCH ROYAL VON TASZ CLASSIC MARTINI SPOT-ON, RUNN, RUNO, CW-SP, CW-SD, CW-ScR1, CW-SI, CW-SSS, RATI, OFA (“Olive”).
Aside from the dogs you own, who are some of your favorite representatives of the breed?
I have to say, one of my all-time favorites was DAPPER DAN VON FINN - owned by Terri Ruuska (Scofield). Dapper was born in 1984 and he inspired me to model my dogs after him. If you google his name, he will show up in the Pedigree Database – check him out!!
What type of food do your dogs eat, and how do you keep them in shape?
Over the years, I have always cooked a homemade mix to add to a premium dry kibble. I start with an organci protein (chicken, pork or beef), add a large can of pumpkin, organic apples and organic spinach – cover with water and low boil until meat shreds easily. I finish it with a little instant rice if it’s a little too watery. I add a cup of this mix to Fromm dry kibble. I also use Primal Frozen Beef Patties or a limited ingredient canned food such as KOHA, RAWBBLE or HOUNDS & GATOS when cooking isn’t convenient.
To keep them in shape, we love to go for walks, swim or just play in the yard.
What activities do you participate in with your dogs?
In years past, we did a lot of obedience, tracking and sheep herding. Currently, we are actively doing a lot of Nosework training. All of the dogs love it! We also enjoy swimming together at the lake house as well as going for golf carts rides to visit our neighbors. At our primary home, the dogs love playing in their fenced yard (we have almost 2 acres). However, the downside to playing in the yard at home that is I am usually the one that gets the biggest workout bathing them after they find some good smelly critter “stuff” to roll in – LOL!
What grooming tools do you think are must-haves for White Swiss Shepherd owners?
Over the years, I have come to love my customized grooming tables. What do I mean by customized? My hubby cuts off the legs (about 1 foot) which puts the dog at a perfect level for me to groom. I also love using Crown Royale Bodifier to further enhance coat texture if needed. Other than that, the first issue of the White Swiss World thoroughly captured all of the “must have” basics.
What advice would you give up and coming breeders?
First and foremost, minimally get health clearances on your breeding stock – hips, elbows and Embark’s “The Big Love Kit”. You must also ensure your breeding stock is solid with respect to their temperament, intelligence and biddability. You must also ensure your dogs are correct per the breed standard. Of course, there are no perfect dogs, however, the goal is to create that perfection. Are your dogs worthy? And, if your dog does have a fault, seek out advice on what can be done to correct it. I would highly recommend that they join a club and participate in dog related activities. My canine community family is something that I treasure!
I would also highly recommend utilizing the breeding/bitch care/whelping/post-whelping training videos, puppy prospect qualification process tips, sample contracts, etc., that are available through GOODDOG.COM.
Lastly, I would ensure you have a great veterinarian that can be on standby in case of pregnancy issues, whelping complications, etc. This last litter was a challenge during the COVID 19 shutdown. There wasn’t any emergency care available. If the virus ramps up again this Fall/Winter, it may impact my current breeding plans.
Who in the White Swiss Shepherd community do you look up to and why?
I have several people that come to mind across the World, however, I will limit it to two.
My first is Jean Reeves (ROYAL). She has been a long-time friend and we have both seen so much in the way of progress, or lack thereof, when it comes to our breed. Our passion for the breed drove us to co-author the “WHITE SHEPHERD” book. We have seen so many generations of whites throughout the years and we have both had some GREAT dogs.
My second is Monika Laneman (BORN TO WIN WHITE). Monika produced 3 lovely litters with my boy, POLO. In January 2008, she visited me in Livonia, Michigan (USA) and evaluated my litter of puppies. She liked Ramsey. And, I told her that if I kept him, he would be named after her – VON TASZ BORN TO WIN. And, keeping that boy was one of the best breeding decisions ever!
What are your main goals for your kennel for the remainder of 2021?
More Nosework related titles!!!! And, possibly a litter…
What does your ideal prospective puppy buyer look like?
An ideal puppy buyer is someone that aligns with the temperament of a puppy. Someone that can dedicate the time to allow the puppy to succeed and reach their best potential whether it’s related to show, performance, therapy or family companion. They are someone that can financially support the health of their dog throughout its life. They are someone that will understand how to be the best master for their dog (and not the reverse). And, hopefully, they will be someone that will not hesitate to ask me for advice and will actively provide puppy updates throughout the puppy’s life as I truly appreciate it.
Describe the future you would like to see for the White Swiss Shepherd breed in 10 years.
I would like AKC’s German Shepherd Club of America to release the White Shepherd/White Swiss Shepherd from the German Shepherd Dog breed. I would love a White Swiss Shepherd parent club established that supported the inclusion of ALL White Swiss Shepherds, Berger Blanc Suisse, White Shepherds and white-coated GSDs* (only if the owner of the GSD desired separation). It’s the same dream that I have supported and worked towards for the last 40 years.
What sets your kennel apart from others in the breed?
I have very few litters so each one produced receives my full attention. I ensure the pups are highly socialized, go through the Neurological Stimulation program, are seen by a breeder/veterinarian a minimum of 2 times. I qualify all potential puppy prospects and require new homes to drive here or fly here to pick up their puppy (must fly home in cabin if by plane which requires the carrier to be sent to me in advance to acclimate pup) – it’s not about the money, it’s all about the best possible future for each precious life.
I am also available for the puppy’s lifetime with respect to support, advice, training tips, etc. And, I truly love receiving updates and photos throughout the puppy’s life.
Additionally, I take extreme care in ensuring my males are only bred to females that are breed worthy *and* the owners of the females are of reputable kennels that take the upmost care of their dogs and their puppies. And, each breeding must offer unique and highly desirable shepherd qualities.
I have actively served as a club officer and/or newsletter editor of multiple White Shepherd clubs, attended canine related health seminars, assisted extensively with the White Shepherd Genetics Project, co-authored the “White Shepherd” book and have been a dog trainer/assistant at multiple dog training facilities. I believe all of this effort and experience have enabled me to be a reputable and responsible dog breeder.
What hobbies do you enjoy outside of the dog world?
Wow, that is a tough question! I spend every day with my dogs so I really had to think about it but I did come up with a list! I love swimming, riding wave runners, flower shopping for my garden beds, boating, meeting friends at a restaurant (food is a huge hobby – LOL), biking, golf cart cruising and listening to good music!