Amstel and Don


Interview with Cyriel the Meulenaer kept in the autumn of 2006.
It was the last that he gave. Cyriel died on 29 May 2007.

1. First of all I would like to congratulate you with more than seventy world titles. When and with which race did you start breeding?

I don't know exact how many world titles I obtained because I have stopped counting them. But it must be more than seventy. The last title was on the world dog show in Poznan: a pepper and salt bitch has won the veteran class there.

In 1951, I started with boxers. I did that up to approximately 1960. Meanwhile in 1956, I had my first dwarfschnauzer. It came from a cousin of prince Rainier of Monaco, who bred these dogs at that time. This bitch was everything except beautiful: long and with light eyes. I bred her with a French male, which was in 1957, or 58. This resulted in several beautiful dogs, such as the male Eros van de Havenstad. I sold him to Ria Harmsen in the Netherlands and he became champion there.

A bitch from the second nest, Fina, won the first large price: the Winner. In 1960, I stopped temporarily with dwarfschnauzers because they were very nervous. At lowest or smallest they started barking. Afterwards I have bred horses for sixteen years. At the end of the seventies I went on with schnauzers again. This time pepper and salt Riesen. From the first nest Adonis came; he became three times world champion.

With a bitch from United Kingdom I bred further. She was according to the standards not beautiful at all and nobody understood why I chose her. But I knew simply: I must have her. Faust and Favorit were offspring of her. Faust became also three times world champion. Someone In America wanted to buy him for 23 thousand euro. I didn’t want that. Instead I gave him to the American kennel Skansen with which I had good contacts and obtained many dogs from.

Beginning of the eighties I started with dwarfschnauzers. From America I obtained a black bitch of thirteen months: Jebema's Black Debutant. Her covered I with Black emigrant, a Finnish male. That was the beginning of the success of my kennel with dwarfschnauzers. Ocus Pocus was one of the most beautiful dogs from this line.

2. Why is the name of your kennel "Havenstad" (port city)?

I have long lived in Antwerp, this is an important port city and one of largest of Europe. When I moved from Antwerp to my current place of residence, I chose the name Havenstad as a memory to Antwerp.

3. You also founded a second kennel: Stad of Haven (City or port). Why?

I am amateur breeder and in Belgium these can only have two nests per year. For this reason I have registered Stad of Haven on the name of my daughter Carine.

4. What is it secret of your success?

Luck! And my holy water of course (laughing). In the garden we have a puddle. When I had horses, I let them jump over this puddle as an exercise. For this reason this puddle still is in the garden. The dogs drink water from it. As a joke I have ever said that this is holy water is and that by drinking from it, the dogs have much success. A German judge really thought this was true and wanted a bottle of this water. This of course is only a nice anecdote. The real secret of my success is ‘Fingerspitzengefuhl' (German expression for ‘feeling in the finger tops’). I find a pedigree important, however, much more important is the dog itself. The pedigree is only a piece of paper. Sometimes they say that a good dog breeder must have experience with horses. If you can analyse these animals well, then you succeed with dogs too. As with horses the pace work is important for dogs: the way they walk.

Important is also to put much effort in searching good dogs. I for example travelled amongst others to United Kingdom and America. You see that Russia produces a lot of topdogs at the moment and that is because they invest much in the breed. They travel everywhere to find interesting dogs to breed with.

5. Do you have also interest in other races?

Only still in the Bruxelles Griffons. For me this breed is a challenge this because it is so difficult. Birth complications for example frequently appear. In the fifteen years which I am busy with this race, I won at least sixteen world titles. Last was in Poznan (2006). In former days I also bred dachshunds successfully. The male Cactus became then world champion from 160 participants. Those dachshunds were especially a favourite of my wife Denise. I personally don’t like short legged dogs. They are dogs for under the ground.

6. If you look at to the black schnauzer, to which important properties do you pay attention?

For me everything is important: the overall picture of a dog. If that is right, the angular and shoulders are automatically right too. Of course dogs which are 100% perfect doesn’t exist. I find it thus ridiculous to disapprove a dog on details as tail or ears. Though some things I find important, such as a good head, teeth and hair. Short legs are absolutely taboo for me. And I like to see a long and slim neck and the head wedge-shaped and not stretched like at terrier. Short forelegs and steep shoulders I also don’t like.

7. You used American lines. Which properties did you want to obtain from them and which not. Do you think there must be one type of schnauzer instead of a European and American type?

In the years 1950-1960 it was necessary to use American dogs. The European dogs of that time were small monsters. They had no body, no head and protruding eyes. Moreover they had a bad character and barked all day. Only their fur was good and hard. In America on the other hand, they had reached already much improvements, both with regard to appearance and character. With pepper and salt Riesen I went to America those days and saw then also that the dwarfs were very beautiful. So I did not want to leave without taking along a dog. That was a bitch, the earlier-mentioned Jebema's Black debutant. She won everywhere, except in Germany because they didn’t want an American dog to win there. There was no comment on her nevertheless. She became third in Germany, whereas the number one and two had many lacks and deficits.

Disadvantages of the American dogs are the fur, too much angular behind and in the front too much terrier.
My opinion is that there is one type of schnauzers. But nowadays there are many dogs which are half terrier and half schnauzer. For me that is not good.

8. Your dogs have spread over the globe: from America to Japan. Almost all good black dwarfschnauzers have Havenstad-blood. You saw a lot of schnauzers in your life. Which important deficits do you see in the exterior of these dogs?

That is very differing, but generally the deficits are in the udder and the length of the legs. You see more and more short legged schnauzers, especially at pepper-and-salt dwarfs and the middle size dogs. That is a large problem. If the dogs have long legs, the breast automatically improves. And that works through positively in the way the dogs walk.

9. How does your ideal schnauzer looks like? And did you have had a dog which matched this ideal?

They must be square, no terrier, not short legged. Furthermore the legs must be right under the dog and not forward. Bad hair is not such a problem for me. With maintenance you can do a lot to improve this. For me Ocus Pocus was almost perfect. For that moment he was certainly a top dog and now undoubtedly still. He reached the age of 16 years and died in 2005.

10. In some countries dogs can be no longer cut. In Belgium as from 2006 also no longer. In Russia it is unclear what will happen. If you look at to the results of the world dog show in Poznan, you see that most black dwarfschnauzer that won, were cut. What do you think about this?

Cut dogs address much more. I am frightened that many races will disappear with more and more countries having forbidden to cut dogs. You see that already at the Riesenschnauzers. Many people stop with this race because they can no longer cut. I have stopped also because I don’t like the hanging ears and long tail. The type is no longer correct. Also that long tail is impractical. It’s almost a weapon. Everything that stands on tail altitude, must you put aside.

11. The prohibition to cut of the tail makes clear that there are problems with the form of the tail. What is the ideal form?

Germany has made a new standard in which stands that the tail must be carried in the length or as a sabre. For me it’s not a big problem if a tail lies on the back of the dog. Then it seems as if they have no tail. For the dwarf I find that no problem, but for the Riesen it is.

12. What do you think: must the judge him of herself keep and breed schnauzers so that he gets more knowledge about the race, but as a result is less independent. Or: does the judge not have to breed shnauzers so that he is more independent, but has a less broad knowledge about the race?

I don’t know what is better. It has both advantages and disadvantages. Normally a judge must have bred the race for a while with result. Because if they breed with result, you can see that they have a good knowledge. For 75% of the judges that is not the case. If they lack knowledge, you often see that they are very unpredictable judges.

Independence is, however, always a problem. They asked me if I would like to become judge. I have refused because I cannot be objective. It is in fact the person who counts. It is most important the honesty and the responsibility of the judge. There are judges who do not want to inspect their own dog, but there are also judges who have no problem with that and also don’t hesitate to let their dog win.

13. Some people say that you must not look at the fashion (or vogue) of the moment, but stick to the standards of the race. On the other hand you see that a certain fashionable type of dog is very successful at shows, however they don’t meet all standards. And someone who sticks to the standard, doesn’t win. What do you think about this dilemma?

You must look at the fashion of the moment, no doubt about. You also don’t use bicycles with wooden wheels anymore. The first schnauzers were totally other dogs then the dogs today. If you do not look at to the vogue, you remain standing still as is happening in Germany at the moment. You now see that good dogs of German races no longer come from Germany. I bread the best pepper and salt riesen of the world, such as Adonis. But if I had lived in Germany, he would never have been born. Because the mother was an English bitch that was much too small and not beautiful according to the German standard.

I crossed that English bitch with a male from the Netherlands, also no champion. This resulted in Adonis. He had everything what his mother didn’t have. When you breed you always have to look for counterparts. The best dogs do not necessarily give dogs which satisfy to the standards. You always have to look at what a dog needs, or what a dog has to offer. A good dog is always dominant over a bad dog. So if you two use two dominant, good dogs, you will have a fight. You need a weak dog to get the right balance.

I started with a European dog which wasn’t beautiful at all. In combination with an American dog it gave dogs which did satisfy the European standard. Everyone was surprised about this. In Germany they say: ‘thanks to you we still have schnauzers, you have taken risk with a good result’. In United Kingdom they say: ‘you are a gambler’. I say: if you never try anything you will never win!

14. Olga Selewerstowa is one of the first to use your dogs in Russia. She finds you a great talent and a genius. You can’t pass on talent, but do you have any good advice for people who breed with dwarfschnauzers?

Keep your eyes wide open (laughing). Go around, see a lot an look well, that’s my credo. If I had not been to America then I never could have achieved the same results. And you must be strict. Look at what your dog misses and go find a dog which can compensate this. Forget the good things of your dog, look at what isn’t good.

15. Angela Gorochowa, kennel s Taganiego Roga, has large admiration and respect for you. She has also three questions for you. The first: you have experience with breeding black and silver dogs which come from black dogs. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this?

It is nonsense that you can’t breed with black silver from black. It can result in a very good quality black dogs. Zazou vd. Havenstad (black) is a good example of this. She produces black-silver top dogs in Spain. The black colour of these dogs is even more beautiful than the colour of black dogs. But what the effect is on colour and quality after several generations, I don’t know. In fact it is a challenging and interesting task to look at what happens after a number of generations.

16. Second question of Angela: how can we can breed with dogs which are above the hight of 35-37 centimetres without getting even larger dogs?

Concerning height you can experiment and try things. As it is about the colour of the eyes, experiments are taboo. I have combined two large dogs: Traveller (37 cm) on a bitch of 38 cm. This resulted in good and not too large dogs. If you look too precise at these sort of features, you will never achieve anything. Because you can’t know everything about all the previous generations. But this is also a kind of dilemma: On the one hand it doesn’t seem wise to combine two large dogs, on the other hand: you never know to what good results this can lead. If the result is not well: no longer do!

17. Third question of Angela: Traveller has a good quality of the fur and a beautiful black colour. Do you have more dogs with these qualities?

First of all: maintenance is very important to a good quality of the fur. Nevertheless, the Traveller line the best concerning the fur. Traveller is a son of Ocus Pocus and Opium. Standing also originated from them. However, you can get a large male from this line from time to time. The bitches always have a good size.

18. How do you see the future?

If you look at to the black dwarfs, average quality is good. Especially in comparison with the other colours. In the top not much improvement is possible, I think. The number of top dogs is however too small. So I would like to see more dogs to be in this category so that we get a broader basis.

Text by Andrej Shmal
December 2006
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