How we became Big Bear Akitas: Growing up in central Arkansas I have been around dogs all my life. My dad was a hunter and raised Beagles. My uncles and Grandfather raised Walkers. My very first dog was a Lab mix named Blackie. My dad and I drove through a tornado one night to pick him up. I loved that dog but unfortunately he got hit by a car when he was a year old. To cheer me up my mom bought me a full blooded German Shepherd that I named Rambo. Rambo was a great dog. After many years of great companionship, Rambo passed away at 9 years of age. A few years later during my senior year in High School I decided it was time to get another dog. I wanted something similar to a German Shepherd only bigger. I researched several dogs and stumbled across the Akita. A breeder located about 10 miles from me had a litter of Akita puppies and several adults on site for me to view. We drove down and visited with them and their dogs several times before deciding on a fawn colored male we later named Jake. Jake was incredible! He was a very sweet and loyal companion. The best dog I had ever had thus far in my life. Jake developed a rare skin condition that my vet at the time could not diagnose. We tried several treatments but none seemed to work and Jake's quality of life was not great. I decided to put Jake out of his misery and had him put to sleep. It was a hard decision but he was miserable. Several months later I got the itch to get another Akita. This time I would spare no expense and get a better quality pup from a more well known breeder. I saw an advertisement for a breeder in SD who had some of the most beautiful dogs I had ever seen. I purchased a male show pup from that kennel and he got me hooked! I decided I wanted to breed and show these beautiful dogs so I contacted a few other 'Top Breeders' and purchased another show quality pup. We will return to this story in a few minutes.
What turned Me into We: In 1995 I got a job working fulltime for an airline. I was going to follow in my Father's footsteps. My father worked for an airline for 30 years. I met Tria through a blind date set up by a co-worker. We hit it off great. She loved animals as much or more than I did and this was her first time seeing an Akita and she loved them. About 2 weeks after our first date, my Grandfather passed away of liver failure. While that was very upsetting to me, that very same morning we found out that my Father had terminal Lung Cancer and was given 6 months to live. My world was turned upside down in an instant. Tria was there for me when life punched me in the gut. Without her there, I am not sure where I would be today. Once the shock wore off and treatments started things got back to somewhat normal. I knew then that Tria was going to be my wife one day. In October '97 she officially became my better half. Tria loves the dogs and puppies but she is not a student of pedigrees. She doesn't try to figure which breeding would be better, she just takes care of the momma's and puppies and loves them all. We now have children and they love playing with the puppies. That's how we socialize the puppies. We put the kids in there and magic happens.
As Paul Harvey used to say, Here's The Rest of the Story: After purchasing several "show quality" puppies that never turned out quite right, I began to realize that I would have better luck if I bred my own dogs. This way I could guarantee myself pick of the litter instead of buying what I thought was pick puppy, only later to find out it was 3rd or 4th pick. That's a whole nother story, a touchy one at that. Words of wisdom to puppy buyers: If you purchase a male pup and he only drops one testicle, it is not your fault! If you purchase a puppy and their tail doesn't curl all the way over their back, unless you closed it in a car door it is not your fault! If your puppy has a bad bite (scissors preferred but even is ok) it is not your fault! If your puppy has one ear to go up and the other just won't stand, it is not your fault! If your puppy develops Juvenile cataracts at 12 months of age, it is not your fault! As you might have guessed these are all conditions that have happened to us that the 'Breeders' claimed were environmental and claimed no responsibility and failed to honor their contract with a replacement. That will not happen with us!
We are a Christian family. We have 3 children who are everything to us. We tell our children that "If they don't have anything nice to say about someone, then don't say anything at all." We live by this same phrase when asked about other breeders. Some people could learn alot from that little phrase. That's all I'm gonna say about that.
Genetics are often a hard thing to figure out sometimes. You can do every test known to man and 2 recessive genes connect and some issue comes up out of nowhere. Just about every kennel in America goes back to one of two lines of Akitas. The old O'Bj and/or Pharfossa. Or they come from dogs who are brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles etc. to these lines. Sure, every kennel has put their own spin or crosses into their lines. Focused on one or two specific dogs and bred in that direction, but no specific line can be 100% problem free. Atleast from the 20 years of pedigree research I have done that is what I came up with.
All of our breeding stock are evaluated before being bred. The males that we offer at public stud get the Official OFA certification. OFA is a panel of veterinarians who rate (give their professional opinion) the x-ray and the final conclusion is the best 2 out of 3. When we have an x-ray done our vet has pretty much told us the result that OFA will give before we ever send it off. We rely on our Veterinarians professional opinion. We guarantee the hips, knees, and elbows on all of our puppies, companion and show/breeding. We also guarantee against PRA. In all our years of breeding Akitas we have never produced a puppy diagnosed with PRA. We have had 1 dog go blind, but we didn't breed him he was purchased from a top breeder in Minnesota. We are not in the business of replacing puppies so we are not interested in breeding dogs who have a known health problem. However, if we do produce a pup with hip dysplasia we will honor our contract and work out a replacement in a timely manner. We do not require you to euthanize your original pup like alot of other breeders do, only to sterilize it. We do not breed our girls before their second heat cycle, or before they are 16 months old. We have a long list of people waiting for our puppies so very few are left looking for their forever homes. We do not breed a dog that exhibits any aggression towards people in our presence. Most of our dogs are third generation so we know their temperaments. Saying that, we cannot guarantee the adult temperament since we have no control over how it is raised once it leaves our hands and what type of discipline (if any) it is given throughout its lifetime.
Why we aren’t big on showing: In the mid to late 90's we tried showing our dogs (admittedly our dogs are much nicer now). We attended dog shows regularly and entered our dogs into several dog shows. We learned rather quickly that we weren't cut out for the pure hatred that several breeders exhibited. It was just not something we wanted to be around, and certainly didn't want our kids to be around it. I was an All-State QB, All-State Track performer, and a Power Lifter in high school. Needless to say I was a very competive young man. I am too laid back these days to want to get in there and duke it out with a bunch of middle aged women people who's lives depend on a win, or better yet the dogs lives depend on a win today. That's another story too.
I have been around this breed for a long time. I've gotten to know alot of breeders in that time. I have heard great things about many of them and then I have heard things that would make your skin crawl about others. Those things I will take to the grave with me because I don't believe in saying something behind someones back that I didn't have the marbles to say to their face. I have too much to do between work, helping my kids with their homework, helping with dinner, helping care for my mother now that she is alone because my dad finally lost his battle with cancer on Feb. 17, 2012 and doing daily dog chores to sit behind a computer on a message board trashing someone who has done absolutely nothing to me personally.
We love our dogs, we love our puppies and we want our puppies to go to good homes. We don't just throw 2 dogs together to get puppies. We look at the pedigrees and match common ancestors from several generations back. Our breeding philosophy is to never double on a fault. We always make sure the two dogs that we breed together compliment one another. We do linebreed our dogs. All the best breeders linebreed. That is how we ensure we get what we want out of each breeding. You throw 2 unrelated dogs together you really have no idea who the puppies are going to look like. We do not inbreed!
I will not tell you that I have the best dogs in the world. There have been alot of great Akitas through the years that were just amazing. What I can tell you is that you are getting a large, beautiful, well tempered Akita with a guarantee that you can trust from a breeder who will be here to answer any questions you may have. The true measuring stick for a breeder isn't always how many champions they have produced. Or how many health checks they have done, or how many litters they have produced. The true measuring stick is honesty and integrity. Is this breeder telling me the truth? If there is an issue with my puppy, will the breeder stand behind his word? If I have questions later, will this breeder listen to my concerns and give me honest answers? I am not perfect! I have made mistakes in my life and I have learned from each of them. Thank you for reading about us and Thank you for your interest in our dogs.