Nekmar American Akitas
Interview with Mr. Marin Nekic • Interviewed by Mihaela Kosic
Published in Best in Show Summer 2016
BIS: First of all thank you for taking the time to do this interview! Akitas is one of the most popular and attractive dog breeds lately. Can you please tell us about your beginnings in the breed and about your first Akita?
M.N.: I would first like to say hi to all readers of Best in Show Magazine and thank you for making us a part of this issue. Behind the NEKMAR affix stand two people, my whife Ivana & myself.Both of us have been doglovers and animal lovers from early childhood.
Ivana grew up on a farm in Karlovac and her father was a hunter who also bred dogs like Labradors , Bavarian Bloodhounds & German Wirehaired Terriers.To this day I have not met a person that has more love towards all animals in itself than Ivana. As for myself, I tried to breed every single pet I got from the day I was born no matter was it a dog, cat, paraqueet, rabbit, goose, guinneapig or a hamster.I was literally driving my parents mad as many times they would just see one day that adult pet got offspring and me with angelface explaining how I have nothing to do with it.
As you can imagine when the two of us started dating it was just a matter of time before we started towards this direction. While visiting a dogshow with Ivana we saw a dog that made every single hair on my body go up. It was a mature akita male, and it was a good one too. I will never forget that feeling as long as I live. We got back home, did some research on the breed and the decision was made that we would buy an Akita (back than their registered name was Great Japanese Dog).We wanted a show dog of course. Since there were no Akitas in Croatia at the time we got our first Akita from Austria(bred in Poland). She wasn’t really a showdog but she had a lovely pedigree, great temperament and she was a healthy dog.
BIS: When and why did you decide to breed Akita`s? How did you come up with your Kennel name? And what are your foundation dogs.
M.N.: As explained in previous answer I was a breeder by birth so very soon after Ivana & I got our first Akita we started thinking about having a litter although the first litter didn’t come until couple years later. At the time of registering our kennel I owned a company called Nekmar which is basically first three letters of my surname and name so we tought it would be great to register the kennel under same name. Our real foundation bitch is Ch.Redwitch Dramma Queen and today she stands in pedigrees among the worldís most succesfull Akitas. We owe her a lot of Nekmar Akitaís fame.
BIS: How many dogs do you have? Do you prefer to keep your dogs with you, or place them in families and co-ownerships?
M.N.: We currently have in Rijeka 7 adults and 2 youngsters(one five months old and one 9 months old) but we have couple more dogs in coownership with our dear friends.
BIS: Do you work with other kennels? Are collaborations between kennels in your opinion necessary for the betterment of the breed?
M.N.: It is impossible to go forward in breeding without collaboration with other breeders, those that are in it for the betterment of the breed and know what they are doing.
BIS: Do you have a role model in the breed? Who do you admire the most in the breed? Did you have a mentor at your beginnings?
M.N.: I donít have a role model as I strongly believe everyone is unique and has its own way but I surely have and still do admire a number of kennels in Europe and USA as well as in other continents. There is however one kennel that I admire the most for what they have achieved and that have mentored me from the very beginning until today, I will occasionally need that phone call to pick their brains. They are Redwitch Akitas kennel.The amount of time and patience Jenny Killilea had for me and my numerous questions over the years is just incredible.
BIS: What makes one a great breeder? What is the most important thing that a breeder should never ever forget or ignore? What makes the biggest difference between a great breeder and a ìhobbyî breeder?
M.N.: A ìgreat breederî in my opinion is a quality stockman. To become one, takes a person with that special talent called ìEYE FOR THE DOGî.Without that one can have all the passion , determination and devotion in the world but still wont be able to become a great breeder. The most important thing a breeder should never forget is breeding healthy animals, without health you canít go very far.The biggest diference between a great breeder and a hobby breeder would probably be consistency. A great breeder will find a way to produce quality generation after generation while a hobby breeder will produce quality in the first generation and get stuck there.
BIS: How many litters do you have per year? How long do you plan your breedings?
M.N.: We average only two litters a year because of our work commitments and the fact that we will never compromise on quality rearing of the litter. We plan our litter sometimes months and sometimes even years ahead
BIS: Do you prefer linebreeding, inbreeding or outcrossing?
M.N.: We prefer linebreeding and most our pedigrees if not all are linebred. Sometimes we use outcross studs but they will than be linebred in their own line and strong in features we are going for both with their pedigree and looks.
BIS: Do you remember your first Champion? Do you know how many Champions you have so far? Who is your biggest winner ?
M.N.: Our first Champion was a bitch, Ch.Susquehanna Akima , I donít count champions and will mostly not even aply for issuing a title certificate if a dog already has one for entering Ch classes but we have bred many.
The biggest winner we have bred would have to be BISS/BISCh.Int.ChNEKMAR NO FEAR GO FAITER . This dog is probably the biggest winner of todays Akita world being a current WORLD & EUROPEAN champion especially if we mentioned he became a World Champion on WDS 2016 in Moscow that had biggest entry in breed history.
BIS: What is your most memorable win?
M.N.: My most memorable win is winning Best In Show & Best In Show Junior in my home town Rijeka. We had to beat a World Champion bitch handled by a top winning handler to go through the breed. To go both junior and adult Best In Show and OWNER/HANDLED was a great feeling.
BIS: How do dog shows reflect on the breed? Are they good or bad?
M.N.: Dog shows are a good thing. We must have a place to show, compare and evaluate breeding stock and dogshows should be just that, no more or less.
BIS: Do you think the breed changed and evolved in a good or bad way in the past years?
M.N.: The breed has both evolved and changed over the last decade. The numbers have gone up a lot and that means more competition and more options which is always a good thing. Looking back to Akitas 10-15 years ago I would say that we have more quality dogs in terms of construction, dogs are more ìneatî and generally more sound. I donít believe there has been much progress in type and I believe that breed type is not always understood well today.
BIS: Do show trends change the breed and if so in what way?
M.N.: No, I donít think show trends changed the breed as there are some smart breeders in this breed that are quite immune to fashion of a big winning dog with an even bigger winning handler with owner who can pay for it all. These things can be dangerous for newcomers in the breed and to less experienced judges who can be mislead by trends.
BIS: Do you think we have enough Akita breed specialist judges judging at shows in Europa and World Wide?
M.N.: There are many breed specialists in Europe and abroad but unfortunately they almost never get invited to judge at allbreed shows.
BIS: What qualities do you admire in breed specialist judges?
M.N.: Breed specialist judges will get in the ring and he or she will choose breeding stock regardless whether the dog was running three meters in front of a handler or not. That is what I like and I believe that dogs should be awarded in the ring according to their potential to contribute to the next generation.
BIS: Do you think the Standard is a good one?
M.N.: Yes .I think that the Standard is good. It could have a more detailed part about general appearance but more or less its OK.
BIS: Can ìall roundî judges change the breed and the breed ìtrendsî if they don`t understand the Standard correctly?
M.N.: All-round judges together with profesionall handlers make and change trends.That is surely todays reality on allbreed dosghows.I donít know weather it has anything to do with understanding the standard or not. However I think this breed has some smart breeders and I am sure they will be able to preserve the breed and even win at dosghows!
BIS: What can be done to improve the judging?
M.N.: To improve judging organizers would first need to have a bigger budget to be able to invite more specialist judges. This could only be achieved by having a larger number of dogs entered and this will only happen if there is less shows and by concentrating on making quality events rather than series of small events.
BIS: What are your long-term goals in breeding?
M.N.: To be able to consistently, generation after generation produce quality dogs that can not only win a dogshow but can also produce quality.
BIS: What is the most important thing you would never compromise in your breeding program?
M.N.: I will never compromise on health. I believe only healthy vigorous animals should reproduce.
BIS: Do you feel that you have established a distinguishable line? Would you say you have a recognisable kennel type?
M.N.: Yes ,I believe that we have a recognizable kennel type and style of dogs.
BIS: A huge part of Akita`s popularity is their temperament. In your own words how would you describe a perfect Akita temperament?
M.N.: Perfect akita temperament will be a gentle giant with no need to show or prove his strength but if challenged will act without hesitation.
BIS: Who would you say is a perfect Akita owner?
M.N.: Ideally an Akita owner will be a calm person with some experience in owning a dog. While the Akita is a very gentle and silent dog it does have dominance factor towards other dogs and because of their size and strength this should be taken into consideration.
BIS: Does the breed have certain problems or any genetic diseases? Can you tell us a little bit about breed problems in your opinion?
M.N.: The Akita is a very healthy breed and doesnít really have many breed specific disorders. However we can say that VKH(Vogt-Koyanagi_Harady) has been identified in Akitas, there have been a few cases of entropion &ectropion and very few cases of hip dysplasia.
BIS: Do you health test your dogs?
M.N.: We health test all our dogs for dysplasia and we do eye checks.
BIS: What do you think about the trend of breeding to ìpopularî Champion studs?
M.N.: As with anything sometimes it works and sometimes it doesnít. If a dog is really proven to constantly produce quality and breed type I donít have a problem if breeders use him often. If a dog is being used a lot just because he is winning on shows it can lead to a mistake.
BIS: How do you choose the studs you use? And how important is a pedigree in your breeding program?
M.N.: Our breeding plan starts with a bitch, we will carefully study our female both in pedigree and looks and then we will choose a dog that compliments her and is hopefuly strong in producing features that we want to improve. Nowadays with all available techniques of Artificial insemination you really have whole world to choose from if needed.
As for the importance of pedigree, it is in first place, no construction of any sort can last without quality foundations, it can look good but you will not be able to build on from it.
BIS: What in your opinion are the best producers and the most important dogs in your Kennel?
M.N.: The most important producers from our kennel would surely be BISS/BISCH.Int.Ch NEKMAR EXPRESS YOURSELF & BISS/BIS Ch.Int.Ch NEKMAR EVITA PERON . Theese two are littermates brother and sister and they both produced World Champions. I would say that qualifies them.
The most important one, though thatís a hard one. Since we are always concentrated on the future I will say that the most important dog in our kennel now is BIS JCh.NEKMAR GAME ON. This youngster had an incredible run winning some big shows under fabulous panel of judges and he already added a Best In Show title to his name at 16 months of age. His looks and pedigree might give a lot to the breed over next couple years.
BIS: Last but certainly not the least what advice would you give to new generations, first time owners, one day possible Akita breeders?
M.N.: My advice would be to always ask questions..