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Meet the breeder: Ken Sinclair (Araki)

asks the all important questions

Photo by Will Moores
Ch Araki Fabulous Willy, bred by the 2005 Pedigree/OUR DOGS overall Top Breeder Mr Ken Sinclair and owned by Messrs Smith & Cocozza, pictured at Crufts 2004 where he took the Utility group under judge Mrs Brenda Banbury, seen here with AKC Chairman Mr Ron Menecker.

Our Dogs: When did you first become involved in dogs?
Ken Sinclair: At the age of 15 years approximately, as a young lanky school boy 35 years ago, and I have been involved with dogs ever since. (P.S. I know it’s hard to believe I am 50!).

OD: When did you encounter Tibetan Terriers?
KS: When I went to work for Mrs Anne Matthews (Hardacre) at the age of 18 as full time kennel lad in Sussex.

od: Did you research before purchasing your first puppy?
KS: As I was already working with Tibetan Terriers and learning about them from Anne and her “TT” visitors, my research was easy and most enjoyable.

od: How did you establish your lines?
KS: I wanted to work with the Bloodlines I had known, and wanted a puppy from either Hardacre Dorce Duzzit, who I loved dearly, or Hardacre Dilys, who was now owned by Dr Mike Tempest and Pat Tempest of the Alilah kennels, so my first three Tibetan Terriers came from the Alilah Kennels, Alilah Isadora, Alilah Holly, and my first Champion in Ch.Alilah Kon Kerah of Araki

OD: What are the origins of your prefix, and what year was it registered?
KS: “Araki” is the first initial of the family as Anne, Robert, Alan, Ken, Ian, this word was used when sending Postcards etc to Grandparents etc.

OD: Did show ring success come quickly?
ks: I had been showing Afghans for several years with very moderate success, in the days when entries sometimes reached 400-500 at Championship shows. When I joined the novice ranks of the Tibetan Terrier exhibitors, I already knew a thing or two about presentation, but although I could win classes, my first big win of the ResCC from Mrs Anne Wynyard was one of my most exciting wins ever.

OD: Have you attempted to breed to a particular type?
KS: I have always tried to breed a certain look in my dogs, and maybe not a particular type as such. My dogs have to be square, but with short backs and good neck length, and then I want well angulated quarters which gives my dogs the movement associated with my kennel. Coming from Afghans, I could not understand how the standard required these good angulated quarters, and yet none were to be seen in the ring. Most Tibetan Terriers were straight in front and straight behind, and moved like Charlie Chaplin!

OD: What new blood have you introduced over the years?
KS: Having visited Westminster in New York, I was really impressed with the Tibetan Terriers. I felt they were at least 10 years ahead of British stock in coats, presentation, and length and quality of coat. This together with the way the exhibitors ran around the ring with their dogs, was unheard of in Britain, but the USA dogs were just so much freer and better movers that ours. I had to buy one, and I have now imported many dogs from America, and a dog from Finland, and a dog from Holland. My newest import arrives this April from Belgium. I am always on the lookout for new and exciting blood!

OD: How do you select a stud dog?
KS: I tend to watch the puppy classes at championship shows, this allows me to see some very exciting pups with prospects. If several are sired by the same dog I then consider whether the look of these youngsters will blend with what I already have. He would definitely have to have a good hip score, and clear eyes, and the temperament of his offspring be sound and happy. It would not worry me if the stud dog had ever been shown or not.

OD: Has any particular dog impressed you over the years?
KS: I don’t think so. Many dogs have impressed me, some for a particular show point, some for their stud work, but not really any single animal in particular. Several breeders/kennels have, but mainly in the stock they manage to bring out that is impressive.

OD: Which has been your own favourite?
KS: Ch Araki Fabulous Willy, - he is just as close to perfection that I have achieved. His head is just beautiful, and the best I have ever seen! He is so loyal and friendly, and a real sweetheart to live with. I doubt I will ever have another of his character again.

OD: How do you select a puppy?
KS: Style, shape and charisma, I spend hours watching my puppies play in our orchard, where they can run and play. Here you see the attitude, the power of true movement, and which puppy thinks they are definitely above the rest. I definitely think this tells you so much more than stacking a puppy on the table as most people seem to do. I say just stand and watch.

OD: What do you feed to your puppies and adults?
KS: I tend to feed complete foods, yes I know I am lazy but I do think they are well balanced and nutritional. I do add lots of chicken, tripe, and eggs. I definitely feed lots in quantity, but my dogs have complete freedom all day in large grass runs and they need a lot of food as they definitely use a lot of energy each day.

OD: What are your opinions about type and movement in the breed today?
KS: The type in Tibetan Terriers has improved vastly. They no longer look like scruffy mongrels, or large Lhasa Apso. Tibetan Terriers should be instantly recognisable as the breed they are. Movement.. well....there are still not enough free flowing dogs in our breed, a Tibetan Terrier should stride out fore and aft for my liking. Some owners still walk up and down slowly as if they are going around Tesco, and yes we still have some narrow exhibits that are strung up like Terriers with German Shepherd toplines.

OD: Do you think we can learn from our fellow breeders abroad?
KS: Yes, definitely !

OD: What has been your biggest thrill?
KS: I’ve been very lucky - We have owned or bred over 50 UK Champions, won several Best In Show’s at all breed championship shows, - judged many times- each one has been a great thrill, but the answer must truly be breeding Ch. Araki Fabulous Willy, who is many generations of Araki breeding.

OD: What has been your biggest disappointment?
KS: When other Tibetan Terrier exhibitors and breeders are not totally honest about their own dogs in the facts of pedigrees and genetic faults. I was bitterly disappointed when Ch.Serbalcieroo Izar of Araki, a dog I imported from Finland, was made into a UK Champion, taking BIS at the TT breed club, also won the group at Southern Counties in just five shows. I had judged him as a puppy in Finland, I raved about him. Eventually I agreed to borrow the dog for two years. I felt he would blend in with my Araki lines which by now incorporated several American bloodlines. I got it wrong!! Although he did produce a couple of UK Champions his puppies were disappointing, mainly being far too big with horrible frizzy coats. I did use him on several bitches, but after only one year I sent him home. I only ever kept one puppy sired by him.

OD: With the UK’s most dominant and successful kennel in the history of the breed, how do you see the future development of Tibetan Terriers ?
KS: I feel Tibetan Terriers are now well established with many quality dogs and bitches being able to win groups and Best In Show awards. We are now in the Utility group as a challenge to other breeds, - a far cry from the past. There were obviously a couple who did very well before, but they really were the exception. The temperament on Tibetan Terriers is also really good now and they do make fabulous family pets

OD: Have you any advice to pass on?
KS: My only advice I could pass on to other Tibetan Terrier enthusiasts is to be honest about the quality of your own dogs, and try to see some virtues in other kennel exhibits.

OD: How would you like to be remembered?
KS: Although I judge several breeds, group, and Best In Show at all breed Championship shows, I would most like to be remembered as a breeder who was really passionate about Tibetan Terriers, and for people to say I did breed some truly great dogs.

OD: Finally Ken when not involved with dogs, what other hobbies or pastimes do you have?
KS: My other hobbies are horses. I still have seven that I breed from regularly, with my own homebred for several generations of Araki stallions. I also judge horses, when dog showing allows. I like Budgies, good food (obviously), good wine and most of all, good company. I would also like to thank my mother and Neil Smith my partner, for all their help in making Araki so successful.