Elettra Grassi is one of the best Shiba breeders in the world, if not The One. It was with great pride that we received her agreement to tell us a little about her experience. This interview enriches our website. She combines scientific knowledge with practice and dedication, making her to deliver true living works of art to the world. As she says: “Step by step breeding is a fantastic adventure between art and science.”
Please introduce yourself: who are you?
Hello I am shiba show people from 2003 and breeder from 2006. I have degree in animal genetic and breeding management. I work sometime as expert in Italian court , I have many publications on magazine of breeding and dogs selection. I am teacher in many seminar for new generation of breeders
How can people find out more about you and make contact with you?
I have active Telegram , that I use as world newspaper, whatsapp and FB…all this is possible to find on our official web site www.japanse-shiba.com
How did you get interested in dogs, when was that?
I was interesting in purebreed animal from ever, from kid age! My family has a farm with many animals of quality: romagnola cow, padovana poultry , large white pigs…and of course dogs!! Very Italian maremma sheep dog and Italian hounting. After degree I had my first shiba, Sayuki, very important shiba, 22 titles winner and bob in European dog show in finland 2006, very special edition with The best shiba of that epoc
Why decide to study Animal Reproduction?
Animal breeding is the best way to work on an idea like artist and use culture as scintific people in onlyone way. And of course the competition too is also a big sprint to do better and better and find new ideas.
When did you start creating Shibas and why?
In that time my passion was greyhound and english tradition of breeding. But i had no lucky on that breed, I wished to start on old tradional italian roots…nothing to do. So in a dog show where I worked i meet shiba. I had starting my shiba way not seriuos and as a game….step by step it was become a big passion for life
What goals, objectives and purposes guided its creation?
My goal is simply: a great dog is a complete dog: in type in style in movement and in balance mind. The most big problems specially in females is to have often escellent females in type and style but low attitude in show. A great dog should have also show attitude: best dogs can become loser behind medium dogs for this lack of temperament. I prefer between 2 promising pups who has strong mind and spirit. In this I follow the idea of Federico Tesio, horse breeder of dormello blodline ( ribot, nearco and so on). Very important is the movement: how dog move can tell you the level of build and mind. Movement is a mix of mind and build. I am a bit out of old italian tradition of breeding and for sure far from some asian breed tradition here in europe: too much I have listen, the head is the type… the low quality of stud and breed bitch in many breeds have root in this bad way to think the selection. Breeder must follow the complete type as goal and cant keep in kennel breeding stcok very incomplete dogs. Good selection is to follow good qualties not avoid the faults. Dog could havent any faults but also any qualities. Good reproductor must have ehoungh quality in each part of type. Unfortunately the old european tradtion in asian breeds is to watch head and only the eyes, without understand the real meanings about eyes. Eyes in asian breeds are not only the shape and position but moreover the door of spirit. A dog with nothing in eyes has no spirit. Unfortunately too much often people in asian breeds not watch the complete type and not know the complete type because are interesting only about shape of eyes. But the question is a lot more complex than shape. And it’s need to think that shape is very changed from that eyes that people think. Modern eyes are fukuryu ‘s eyes, not close eyes , wide in shape…I had show in europe that kind of eyes , I was first in italy with magellan 3 time top dog and multi biss winner. I follow and I observe many time breeders in japan without prejudice in my mind only the type.
Are there any notable experiences you want to tell us about your experience?
Competition is very similar to triathlon , endurance sports. In rings there are dogs, but also human dinamics and sometime this are more imoprtant than dogs. When you put all your hopes and forces only on the dogs…sometime you have big disappoint. But nothing is happy and more great than win only with dogs!!!
Did you meet interesting people and places as a Shiba Breeder?
Yes many people are interesting, shiba is rich of traditions and so different traditions!! This is very lucky for breed. I am very close to sweden tradition and explorer’s style dogs, but I am always open to learn somenting of new from all people and moreover watching the dogs
What is the best experience in this successful career that you can remember?
Generale d’Argento won the reserve puppy best in show in european dog show in Wells. I not remember another shiba on BIS podium in european dog show. The first top dog of Magellan dog Tessaiga in 2017…the shiba in italy was a monopoly from 20 years of another kennel….we had broke that wall: Magellan with his movement was very very invincible that year
How many dogs do you own?
I am little kennel I have 10 dogs…4 males…so very little kennel
Are all Shibas?
Yes shiba, not wish to have others guests
Do you prefer a certain color?
I am shiba breeder of red. I study all colors but red is my color as breeder
As a scientist, authority in the field, what guidance would you give on the use of matrices for reproduction? When to start? Frequency of litters? Retirement age?
Shiba females are very strong…japanese tradtion is to start work very early in age….in europe the opposite. In my opinion female that start to work at 3 years is late and have more stress…15 months old is perfect age for start. One litter per year, and in kennel work only health dogs. Not more 8 yrs of age for female.
Now Nobana had last litter for age and she had big great quality work in breed in Japan and in italy. Nobana is for sure exceptional female and she has give many many important dogs in the shiba world. I am very sad to stop her…excellent females are the strongbox of breeder. But the time is the master of rules. So ethic means respect for breed and dogs. Ethic is the way to work well.
Does the phenotype outperform the breeding genotype?
Many differents genotype could give same phenotype. The basic work of breeder is about phenotype: the goal is to have more complete and balance phenotype possible. So first impact of choice is always on phenotype. Genotype are “back office” info about stud and bitch that you are using in your breeding program. Read well info about character frequency in pedigree study is the difference between who build with sand and who build with solid bricks
In what details in Shibas’s reproductive dynamics, do you believe that certain mistaken practices should be taken more carefully or avoided?
Common sense is always best way to follow. Shiba is a big breed with wide genetic pool. Shiba is a rich breed, this give many opportunity to work . The first rule : never never never use dogs with deseases affected. This is not so respected: in short or long time this will become a big problem for all breeders.
Do you believe purebred breeding is better than it was decades ago? Why?
I think that human activities are circle and re circles. I follow historic vision of Giambattista Vico , member of Enlightenment movement. Dog world is not different. I not belive in “eldorado age”. I belive that a breed has high quality of dogs when the middle level of breeders is high. It’s depends a lot from club kennel club and ring-judges. It is a chain of good work
What is the greatest kindness that canine clubs can do to handlers?
Handlers are very important professionists element in the chain of dogs selection. Today competitions are too much high as level of time busy: today is bit impossible to be breeder and handlers if you wish to do competition with frequency and level. So it is very impostan that show are organized with timetable of ring and grooming area and many other idea that can do smart and confortable the work of handler. It is important to rememer that handker ha salso the responsability of take care and health of dog show team : more smart is the ring more time the dog has to live well the day of competition. This is very important: not waste time in bad complication. Our common goal is to work well with our dogs.
Shiba is very clever and indipendent breed , and also very proud. So it is not easy to find handler that feel and understand this breed. Usually handlers like more easy breeds with more natural high cooperative will. Shiba can do great performance in ring if feeling is good. So we work from 6 years with Salvo Foti , pro handler with big experience in asian breeds, many patience with shiba and with capacity to work with my dogs without close mind of shiba in a box . i like that my shiba are natural and not robot that hide their REAL qualities behind an over-training that cancel each persoanlity. The real handler is like a coach in olimpic sport: can show the real spirit and top natural quality of dog.