Breeders Forum: Stina Jalkanen, Aziz Salukis, Finland
Q: How did you start in dogs? When and how did you fall in love with your breed (or breeds), and how did you go about founding your current breeding program? Briefly outline the most important breeding decisions you made and identify the most successful dogs you have bred. Do you believe in linebreeding or outcrossing?
A: I started breeding Salukis in 1988. Since 2011 my daughter Janette Jalkanen and I have bred Aziz Salukis together. My husband Eko and I live in a little village called Venekoski in central Finland. Janette lives in Jyväskylä, a city of 140,000 situated 50 kilometers (a little more than 30 miles) west of Venekoski.
I spent my childhood in Helsinki. My family had a Cocker Spaniel and later we also had a Whippet. My first memory of Salukis is from the 1960s. When I looked out of the window I often saw a lady cycling by with her two Salukis. I used to step out on the balcony when I knew to expect her; I admired the grace and elegance of these Salukis and I think I fell in love with the breed from that moment.
I bought my first Saluki, Goldman, in 1981, and soon after this Int. Ch. Aramika’s Azimuth, another male. My third Saluki was my foundation bitch, Ch. Maleke, Azimuth’s daughter.
Our current breeding program focuses on health, temperament and looks. A beautiful Saluki needs to be well built and well balanced, combining strength and elegance. Its movement needs to be sound coming and going, and moreover the sidegait should be powerful and effortless. Very selective breeding and thorough background work is vital in this respect.
Of course we believe in both linebreeding and outcrossing. Since 2008 we have mainly engaged in outcrossing and hopefully we will do successful linebreeding again in the next few years. One reason why our outcrossing has been so successful is probably that we have had, and still have, such a strong line of bitches in our breeding.
SBIS Int. Ch. Aziz Mavaddat. Photo: Raija Lundström.
Some of the most successful Salukis we have bred are listed here below.
The following four that have already passed away: Int. Ch. Aziz Mavaddat, Int. Ch. Aziz Xanom, Int Ch. Aziz Cane Zadan and Int. Ch. Aziz Fazel.
A few that are still active in the show ring: Int. Ch. Aziz Jalila, Int. Ch. Aziz Karim, SBIS Int. Ch. Aziz Palmira, her litter brother Int. Ch. Aziz Pacifico, Int. Ch. Aziz Qismah and her litter sister SBIS Int. Ch. Aziz Qitarah.
The outcrossing of the latter six required a lot of planning; maybe the key to success is the fact that we have found Salukis that are very similar in type compared to our own lines.
Furthermore, I want to mention that Xanom herself and her two granddaughters, Qismah (our own black & silver bitch) and Qitarah (owned by Kennel Qirmizi in Sweden), are World Winners, all three of them! (The World Winner title is awarded at the FCI World Dog Show, an annual event that is held in a different FCI member country each year. The FCI World Dog Shows in Europe can have more than 20,000 dogs entered. - Ed.)
Last but not least, the tremendously successful American multiple winner Ch. Aziz Reatha Allihan (yet another of Xanom’s granddaughters) also deserves to be mentioned in this context.
Int. Ch. Aziz Fazilat, Int. Ch. Aziz Jadugar, his litter brother Int. Ch. Aziz Jalil and the previously mentioned Int. Ch. Aziz Jalila have all left their very strong mark in our breeding. Additionally we have several field champions and even some triple champions from show, field and track racing. Aziz Qaside was legendary and by far the most successful one on this list!
SBIS Int. Ch. & World Winner-09 Aziz Xanom winning Best In Show at the Finnish Saluki Specialty 2009 under Meike Dehaney, Kennel Irminsul, Germany. Photo: Pasi Soininen.
Q: How many dogs do you keep at home? Approximately how many litters do you breed per year? Are you planning on maintaining this level of activity?
A: Currently Eko and I have seven Salukis living with us in our home, and Janette has one. We have bred approximately one or two litters per year, depending on the number of puppies born. Hopefully we will be able to maintain this level of activity in the next few decades. We are very excited about our future plans and we feel that we have a lot to offer as Saluki breeders.
Q: Is it easy to find good homes for the puppies? What are your requirements for a suitable home? What's the average litter size in your breed/s? Terms for sales, co-ownerships, etc.? Is there an average price in your breed/s for a pet vs. show quality puppy?
A: At the beginning of my career as a breeder it might have been a bit more of a challenge to find good homes for the puppies, but nowadays it is fairly easy. Many of our buyers have owned or still own many Salukis, so they know what to expect. A suitable home is one where the Saluki is well taken care of and loved as a family member. It is also self-evident that a good owner has to be able to provide the Saluki with enough exercise and opportunities to run.
The average litter size is four to 10 puppies, one to three in some cases when we have used frozen semen. Mostly the puppies are very even, so it is almost impossible to predict which of the puppies will be successful in the show ring. Consequently we charge the same price for all the puppies. We have not had any co-owned Salukis recently.
Q: What about health concerns in your breed? What do you test for?
A: Salukis do not usually have any major health issues. However, some heart problems and autoimmune diseases occur occasionally. We always have heart scans done before breeding and nowadays we also check that they are NCL free.
SBIS Int. Ch. Aziz Cane Zadan winning Best of Breed, and Int. Ch. Aziz Xanom as Best of Opposite Sex under Hans Lehtinen at the international show in Turku, Finland 2009. Photo: Pasi Soininen.
Q: If you have kennel facilities, please describe them. Do you have property where the dogs can run? What is your daily "kennel routine" — sleeping, feeding, exercise, grooming, socialization, etc.? Road exercise? Show training? Do you have kennel help?
A: We do not have "kennel help," neither do we have any so-called kennel facilities. We live in a rural area and our yard is surrounded by a fence, so our Salukis can basically run as much as they want in our yard. We have a separate room for our puppies next to our kitchen, and depending on the weather the puppies are also allowed to run and play in our yard. We also take our Salukis for walks in the village. Some of our Salukis sleep on a sofa in the kitchen and some of them actually sleep in our bed … Show training is done on a regular basis from an early age.
Q: Approximately how many shows do you go to per year? How do you select those you show at? Are you willing to travel some distance for certain judges? Do you have favorite shows you attend no matter who's judging?
A: We go to approximately 20 shows per year. Which ones we choose to enter our dogs at varies from year to year, depending on the judges and also on the geographical distance. Our favorite shows are naturally the yearly Saluki Specialty and the Saluki Show in the beginning of June; the Specialty is our official annual specialty and the latter is an unoffical club show the next day; there are always two judges, one for dogs and one for bitches, and they switch on the second day. Also, the Winner Shows in Helsinki, the capital of Finland, in December. I would say that they are the ones we attend regardless of who is judging.
Q: Roughly what percentage of the judges do you feel can offer a reliable assessment of your breed?
A: Most judges do a really good job and some all-rounders are excellent. However, Sighthound specialists and Saluki specialists generally offer the most reliable assessments. To estimate a percentage is quite difficult. Occasionally there have been judges who have not necessarily been able to see the difference between an average Saluki and an excellent one.
SBIS Int. Ch. Aziz Fazel. Photo: TEXTerri.
Q: You have bred to several different American (and Australian) stud dogs … How did that work out? Was it complicated? Frozen semen? How did you select the dogs you bred to and were you pleased with the result?
A: Yes, we have indeed bred to several different American stud dogs and one Australian/British stud dog:
The F- and G-litters in 2009 and the J-litter in 2010 were sired by Am. Ch. Khiva's Hot Stuff.
The K-litter in 2011 and the L-litter in 2012 were sired by Am. Ch. Khiva's Rami Rasil.
The P-litter in 2015 was sired by Am. Ch. Baklava's Rafi Rasil of Khiva (born in Sweden, owned by Khiva's).
The R-litter in 2017 was sired by UK Ch. Baghdad Karim (Australian).
The S-litter in 2018 was sired by Am. GCh. Z'Bee's Che Bellina Dante.
The T-litter in 2018 was sired by Am. Can. Ch. Borghan Crown Blue's Zaayed.
For the U-litter in 2019 we abandoned our usual policy of naming the litters alphabetically – our own very promising black-and-silver baby girl from this litter is named Aziz Magical Midnight in honor of her father, Am. Ch. Khiva’s Midnight Magic.
The V-litter in 2019 was sired by Am. GCh. Impala Red Headed Stranger — and at the end of December we are expecting Aziz X-litter again sired by Red Headed Stranger.
So, all in all we have bred to seven different American stud dogs and one Australian stud dog since 2009. So far there have been 27 national champions (of which 14 are also International Champions) from these litters, with more on the way: many are still puppies and in Finland a dog has to be over two years old to be a champion.
We basically selected these stud dogs by trying to find dogs as similar to our own lines as possible. Furthermore we were looking for healthy lines with lovely temperaments, well balanced bodies, glamorous outlines and excellent movement. In addition to the aforementioned American stud dogs we have also successfully used Swedish stud dogs in recent years.
Everything has worked out well and we are more than pleased with the results. We want to express our gratitude especially to Valerie Hamilton for the enormously successful input of seven Aziz litters sired by Khiva’s stud dogs. We also want to express our gratitude to Paula Bockman-Chato, Steve and Ann Ham, Deric Aube and Lois-Ann Snyder. The results have undoubtedly been awesome; however, it is awfully expensive to have frozen semen shipped over to Finland. It goes without saying that we do not breed Salukis for financial profit, we breed Salukis for the love of the breed!
SBIS & BIS Int. Ch. Aziz Jalila winning Best In Show under Joy McFarlane, Kennel Fleetwind, South Africa, at the Finnish Saluki Specialty 2014. Photo: Pasi Soininen.
Q: Please mention some dogs of your own breed, not currently being shown and not owned or bred by yourself, that you admire. Which is the best one you yourself have bred? Any favorites in the other Sighthound breeds?
A: I truly admired the Kirman K-litter (born in 1980), bred here in Finland by Hilkka Nousiainen. Int. Ch. Qirmizi Cartago, bred by Nicklas Eriksson, was also an exquisite Saluki. The best one we have bred is maybe a bit difficult to name, but I suppose both Janette and I would say Int. Ch. Aziz Xanom — our beloved "Queen Nippa," who passed away at the age of 14. We still miss her every day.
Q: You were at Westminster KC this year: What was the experience like? Have you been to any other shows in the U.S.? In England or any other countries? What did you think of the dog shows? The Salukis you saw?
A: Westminster 2019 was a fantastic experience for Janette. She was there for the second time with her good friend Sanja Ekblad. They decided to go to Westminster when we found out that Ch. Aziz Reatha Allihan, whom we had sent to the U.S. as a puppy, was entered to the show. It was really exciting, since it was the first time that an Aziz saluki was entered to Westminster. And it was even more fantastic when Reatha Allihan, a.k.a. Haney, was BOB!
Janette’s first experience of Westminster was in 2012. She was there as a professional handler’s assistant to Greg Strong.She went to numerous dog shows on the east coast of the U.S. that year. She was quite disappointed by the fact that there were very few Salukis entered at those shows, and since she was working she didn’t usually have time to take a closer look at them.
However, our first breakthrough in the U.S. was as early as 1993. Ch. Aziz Besmellah was Best in Show at the Saluki Club of America National Speciality in Lexington, Kentucky.
I went to Crufts with a couple of friends in the early 2000s and Ch. Aziz Qesas of Daxlore (owned by Helen and David Graham) was BOB at Crufts that year.
Moreover we have entered our dogs to many specialities in Sweden and to some World Winner shows in Europe. Naturally we have seen many excellent Salukis in many different countries in the last few decades.
SBIS & BIS Int. Ch. Aziz Karim winning Best In Show under Karin Hedberg, Kennel Kashmanis, Sweden, at the Finnish Saluki Specialty 2017. Photo: Pasi Soininen.