Interview – Radosław Gac – Gacówka kennel – Polish Tatra Shepherd

Polish Tatra Shepherd - Tatra Love

How long have you been involved with Polish Tatra Shepherd Dogs?

I’ve been involved with Polish Tatra Shepherds since 2006 when I bought my first breeding female Śliwowica – Gorzałka Filos.

Why Polish Tatra Shepherd Dogs?

I had Berneese before then, but I got bored with their character. I didn’t like the fact that they were friendly towards everyone. A thief could as well steal a dog. After my experience with them I knew I wanted a dog who is not as enthusiastic towards everyone. I was on number of different shows including those in Tatra mountains as I love them so much. I was impressed with Tatras and the fact that it’s a dog that not everyone can come and stroke.

Secondly – I was always in love with a mountain type of large dogs like Berneese. But due to the fact that I wasn’t a big fan of their character I decided to buy a Tatra Shepherd Dog. Another thing is a strong feeling of patriotism that I grew up with so I decided a Polish breed will be best for me. I wanted to spend my time for cultivating my own culture rather than somebody else’s and breeding Tatra Shepherd Dogs is a part of it. Last aspect that was decisive was the feeling of love towards Podhale and tatra mountains. My fascination for mountains could be spred in two phases – sports phase so I could reach the top of the mountain in a set time and fascination with the culture. I wanted to have part of this culture at home, and this part was a Polish Tatra Shepherd Dog.

Do you have a stud dog available?

Currently I don’t have a stud but I’m planning to have one. I have 2 breeding females at the moment – E-Sniezka Gacówka and Aga z Dobieszowic.

What are the characteristics that you are looking for in a Tatra Shepherd Dog?

Favourite question!
Most of all i’m, looking for a dog that suits the breed standard. The standard contains of a type of a typical mountain dog from where it originates. These type of dogs need to be strong and agile. It doesn’t have to be a runner and have a good trot. They didn’t heard the sheep but rather they need to be strong to be able to protect the flock.

It has to be strong, stocky with strong paws, deep chest, not huge and not too small – exactly how it’s stated by a standard 65-70cm for males and 60-65cm for females. They have to have long, thick and straight coat with a clear difference between undercoat and outer coat to protect them from rain or snow. Another thing that differentiates a Tatra Shepherd Dog from other white breeds is the ear. The closest Tatra Shepherd relatives are Cuvac and Kuvasz and the main difference is the ear placement and its size. Tatra Shepherd Dogs have it large and thick, placed at the height of an eye.

Movement – it’s not an athlete type that has to run like a Husky but coordination and consistency of the movement is crucial at their work as they are working dogs. They have to move with a smooth and well coordinated movement. Their body has to form a solid shape and moves have to be synchronized as supposed to the dogs that move separately with their front, back limbs and have a weak back that doesn’t add to the speed as well.

What are the characteristics that you don’t like most in a Tatra Shepherd Dog?

High on feet, weak chest, short coat, and bad top line – which is the thing I don’t like the most but there’s less of it than let’s say 10 years ago. Before it was sunken and weak, now it’s stronger and better in general with a clearly seen withers.

I was going to ask this question next 😉

What characteristics have improved since 2006?

Top line – by far. When I started with this breed it was the weakest point for the whole population – weak and sunken top line. As a breeder switching from Berneese to Tatra Shepherds where it was on a lot higher level I remember that very well. It was my main goal – improve the top line in next generations. When I look at it now this trait has improved a lot since then.

How about the weakest points in a current population?

The tendency to breed them too big, too high on feet as well. That’s the weakest point in my opinion. Also, the population is uneven, so many dogs are different. There are very large dogs and some are too small as well. And there’s only few of the once that are in the middle. One more thing – the character. It’s very often different to what it should be and what we would expect from one based on the standard. Some are not stable in character and are over aggressive , which could be down to them being scared. Those can be hidden easily on the shows by experienced breeders but unfortunately this is the case.

What’s the most predictable stud dog in the breed?

The most predicatble? Fuck!
Ok, let’s get to it based on certain characteristics. There are certain studs that pass certain characteristics to their offspring. Let’s see FILO Duży Biały Pies – i’m certain that this dog gives very good characters and he proved it many times already so it’s sure he does it. It’s predicatble because I know his children will have a good character and type. On the other hand, you can expect FAGOT Poniatowskie Piaski to give very even and slightly smaller in type Tatra Shepherd Dogs. It’s hard to say – the breed is very uneven. I’d like to mention here the dog that’s dead already. Maybe not in a typical Tatra Shepherd type – AMIGO du Printemps des Olivets. He has improved a hip dysplasia scores and that was predicatble from him too that he leaves good hips behind. We need to emphasise that.

What’s the most valuable female breeding line in the breed?

There’s no one. All have their advantages and disadvantages. There’s no ideal one. There are certain desirable traits in one or the other, but there’s no one that we can say ‘this one is the best’.

How about male lines?

These are the lines that pass through the characteristics of the most typical dogs in old days like Hajduk Chluba Liliowej Przełęczy, Nil spod Brzyska. We have to mention Hardy z Butorowego Wierchu who gave a very good and desirable type.

How often do you have Polish Tatra Shepherd puppies?

It depends of what time period we take into consideration. I had a break. On average we can say a litter or two a year. And this is how it will probably be in next years as well.

How do you feed your adult dogs and puppies?

It’s a mixture of BARF and a dry food which I produce myself based on natural ingredients. If it comes to BARF the base is offals, pork and poultry.

What are your short and long term plans?

In long term I’d like to work a predictability of type based on the standard. That’s my long term plan so dogs from my kennel are of the average size, are well angulated, have long thick coat and well placed ear, are of stocky construction and are at rather lower than upper size based on the standard. Of course above all there’s health so high emphasise placed on choosing the breeding pairs, which are good on hip dysplasia in family history and the character is very important too. These are very important criteria for me and long term I’d like to be able to say that a dog from my kennel has a stable character and not too happy towards strangers but not aggressive or shy and is friendly towards my family, but protective at the same time.

In terms of next years plans – I’d like to breed both Śnieżka and Inka. I haven’t yet decided for a male, I’m waiting for your Ikar but he is still a baby. There will definitely be something in my preferable type.

Recently we can observe a rise in popularity of the breed. What will be an outcome on development of Polish Tatra Shepherd Dogs?

There’s advantages and disadvantages associated with it. In terms of advantages – the higher population the more to choose from in terms of stud dogs and difference in gene pool is better as well. On the other hand, some dogs will get to an inexperienced owners. Some people have not enough experience and knowledge to own a Tatra Shepherd Dog – some people perceive them as a white ball of fluff but they don’t seem to understand that these dogs need a training and special treatment. They don’t know that they are not as friendly and easy as Bernees or Golden Retrievers. This causes some people to express their lack of satisfaction of owning a Tatra to the outside world and creating a bad opinion around the breed.

The biggest threats around the breed taking a breed as a whole?

Hip dysplasia, too big in size, some loose their type and are too delicate, light and too high on their feet. Let’s call it a sporty type. They moved away from a mountain type already. And the character.

What’s the best Tatra Shepherd Dog you have ever seen in your life?

Oh my, i’m surprised with this question. Can there be a few?

Yes, they don’t have to be alive now by the way.

Definitely Singer Nutrena, Halny z Butorowego Wierchu. We need to pay a tribute to Janosik Chluba Liliowej Przełęczy, he was a very good Tatra Shepherd Dog. In general I like females more in our breed and they are better. I will not be very modest but I will mention my sorely missed CHLUBA Gacówka. And GRUSZKA Tatra Love – best female I have seen in the last 10 years.

Thank you very much Radek

Thank you, it was a pleasure.

Gacówka Kennel website

Interview – Radosław Gac – Gacówka kennel – Polish Tatra Shepherd

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