Claudia Wolf-Meixner (daughter of the founder, Xaver Meixner)
The Rottweiler Chronicle (TRC): Thank you for taking time out to do this interview. I am sure that the Rottweiler world has a lot of questions that they would want to ask of Vom Schwaiger Rottweilers. I am glad that we have this opportunity to ask at least some of those questions. Where do we even start? Perhaps you can start by telling us about the beginnings of Vom Schwaiger Wappen Rottweilers?
Claudia Wolf-Meixner (CWM): Before my father (Xaver Meixner) had Rottweilers he owned a Doberman Pinscher. This dog was very nervous, so he decided to get a dog with a better temperament. He purchased his first Rottweiler in 1972. Her name was Anka vom Lohauserholz. When he bought her as a puppy he did not know that she would end up being one of the best females of that time. She was a very good dog in
Schutzhund work and in show. She was HD-, SchH 3, Gekort Bis Eza, FH, Klubsiegerin 1974, Europasiegerin 1974, Bundessiegerin 1975, German Champion and International Champion. I know at least one of her offspring, Eiko vom Schwaiger Wappen, went to the United States. (Editors note: The dog mentioned is American Champion Eiko vom Schwaiger Wappen CDX, SchH 3, sired by Igor vom Kastanienbaum SchH 3, FH. Eiko, owned by Bruce and Karen Billings, was an ARC Gold Sire.)
TRC: So, she was his foundation bitch?
CWM: Yes, he decided to breed her because of her show and working qualities. She is the female that all of our dogs come from.
TRC: When did you develop your passion for Rottweilers?
CWM: Well, I was born in 1972, the year my parents purchased their first Rottweiler, Anka. I grew up with them. Since I was a baby I ďhad toĒ go to the shows and trials. So, I was involved with them from a very early age. When I was somewhere between six and eight years I began taking care of the puppies, feeding them, playing with them in the garden. I learned just about everything I know about Rottweilers from my father.
TRC: When did you get your first Rottweiler that you could call your own?
CWM: Well, when I was 12 years old I participated in my first Schutzhund trial with Aki von der Hembachbrucke SchH 3. After that I got my own dog, Vicky vom Schwaiger Wappen. Vicky was Schutzhund 3, FH, AD, Ztp. She is the mother of Danjo vom Schwaiger Wappen, Ken vom Schwaiger Wappen and Rena vom Schwaiger Wappen.
TRC: And now you are the owner of vom Schwaiger Wappen Rottweilers. How did you come to be the owner and continue your fatherís breeding program?
CWM: I became the co-owner of the Schwaiger Wappen kennel in 1984, the same year I got Vicky. We trained the dogs together and went to the shows together along with my mother. In 1996 my father had his first litter under the kennel name vom Schwaiger Rathaus. He said that I should continue the Schwaiger Wappen kennel name alone. Since then I have been continuing my fatherís life passion with the support of my husband, Peter Wolf.
TRC: Why did he want you to ďtake overĒ vom Schwaiger Wappen if he is still breeding anyway?
CWM: He was getting older and wanted to reduce his work with the dogs. Also the ADRK (German Rottweiler Club) made a rule that a kennel should have no more than three breeding females. So I took over vom Schwaiger Wappen in 1995 and he started anew, on a smaller scale with my mother, Leni, under the vom Schwaiger Rathaus kennel name. But he is 66 years old now and he does the same work with the dogs just like he did 10 to 15 years ago (laughs). He canít reduce his work with the dogs. Rottweilers are his life.
TRC: So, now you and your fatherís breeding programs are totally separate?
CWM: Well, we could never be totally separate since we our family. We give each other advice, tell each other when we see a good dog. We are both breed wardens so we tell each other about good litters that we have seen. For certain things, like when people call me about breeding to King (vom Schwaiger Wappen) I tell then they have to talk directly to my father. And many times we have different opinions about training. Schutzhund is different than it was 15 years ago.
TRC: In what ways is it different?
CWM: Today we are seeing more precision, dogs are more perfect in obedience. Back then ďoutingĒ fast was not as important. Now the dog must be very good in bite work but alert in obedience and fast ďoutsĒ.
TRC: Wow! So your life has been Rottweilers since between 6 and 8 years old! I am sure that you have seen some incredible dogs. Is there a dog that you would you consider to be the most beautiful you have seen?
CWM: It is hard to say which dog is the most beautiful because over the years I have seen so many dogs and every dog makes his own impression. Santo vom Schwaiger Wappen comes to mind as a dog that I think was very, very beautiful and I dog that we wonít forget.
TRC: Okay, how about if I narrow it down? What about the best dog that vom Schwaiger Wappen has bred or owned?
CWM: It is still hard to say. It depends on how you define ďthe bestĒ. For example, Ken vom Schwaiger Wappen was the only one who won the four biggest titles: Klubsieger, Bundessieger, Europasieger and Weltsieger, but he did not produce many outstanding dogs. In my opinion, not only the dog and the titles are important, but also his sons and daughters. Dingo vom Schwaiger Wappen was a very important Rottweiler in the history the breed in Germany. He was a very nice show dog but he made his contribution more as a producer. He is the father of Santo vom Schwaiger Wappen, who is the father of Benno von der Schwarzen Heide. And so many other great dogs in the world trace themselves to Dingo.
TRC: Are there any dogs outside of Germany that you especially like?
CWM: Too be honest, I have not had the chance to see many dogs outside of Germany. I met Eckhart Salquist when we were in Richmond, California for a show. I remember him having some nice dogs.
TRC: The Vom Schwaiger Wappen dogs are in high demand around the world. We have seen some very nice ones that have come here to the United States, like Santo, Danjo. Do you ever regret selling any of the dogs that you have sold?
CWM: It is never easy to sell a dog that we have won titles with. Dogs like Santo, Danjo, Ken, Onex. The reason why we sold them was never a fault of the dog. I would not say we regret selling them but all were very good dogs and for our breeding program it would have been better if they stayed here. We really missed Santo but we had litters by him when he left.
TRC: What is it that makes vom Schwaiger Wappen Rottweilers unique?
CWM: Are our dogs really that unique (laughs)?
TRC: Well I would say so. Vom Schwaiger Wappen is one of the best known and one of the most respected kennels in the world.
CWM: I guess some kennels have one or two quality dogs and then many others not so good. We, like every breeder, have some bad dogs, but we are very consistent in producing quality dogs.
TRC: What do you strive for in your breeding program?
CWM: We strive for an overall quality dog, well-structured with strong bones and a nice, typey head. I donít like to see light markings. I like to see rust brown markings with dark eyes.
TRC: What effect do you think the ban on docking tails will have on the Rottweiler in Germany and on an international level?
CWM: It is still too early to tell. A good thing is that non-Rottweiler people like the dog with a tail. Rottweilers with tails look friendlier. They donít look as aggressive. In Germany it will not have that big of an effect on the dogs overall conformation or temperament There is no change in the standard as far as structure, topline, etc. Some dogs are having tails that roll up over the back, which judges donít like. We will begin to see more consistency with the tail and how it is carried.
TRC: As we bring this to a close, what advice would you give to the novice breeder?
CWM: First, start with the very best female you can. You canít build a good foundation with a poor quality dog. Second, totally honest with yourself. You have to know what faults your female has and what you want to improve. Some people think their female is perfect. Then, when looking for a stud dog, donít look to a male just because he has a lot of titles or because he is not far from your home. You have to look at your female and what she needs, what your lines need to be improved. Then you look for the male that best matches her. Breeding Rottweilers though is not easy.
TRC: What about advice for Schutzhund trainers?
CWM: Make sure you start with a good dog. Once you have a good dog much of it is what the person does with the dog. I see a lot of dogs that are poorly trained and out of shape, too fat. In Schutzhund you canít train alone. You must have knowledgeable people to help. Maybe tracking you can do alone. But you have people who will watch you and give advice on your obedience and you also must have a very good helper for protection. I donít know what opportunities are in United States for clubs, but it is very important to find a very good trainer and a very good helper if you want a good
Schutzhund dog. I also understand that there are many people in the US who will train and title the dog for you.
TRC: Well, it has been a pleasure. I know that we have only been able to touch on some very basic questions. But I do appreciate your time and I believe there is a lot here that the reader can benefit from knowing. I look forward to speaking with you again sometime in the future.
CWM: Yes, thank you for interviewing me. It is an honor.