Q&A with Joy Bayliss, breeder of Champions, from Tianshan Shar-Pei

Tiashan Shar Pei's Champion!

There are breeders and there are special breeders. When I asked Joy Bayliss from Tianshan Shar-Pei to answer our questions, I wasn’t aware of everything she accomplished—it’s remarkable!

Simply introduce yourself and your dog breeding business to our readers.

Joy Bayliss of the Tiahansh Shar-Pei Kennel in the United Kingdom. I live in a small village near Louth Lincolnshire.

I breed and own The Crufts Best Of Breed Winner 2013 CH Tianshan Shine Rocco Baby, the only Horse Coat to win Best Of Breed at Crufts since Challenge Certificates were established. I also bred his sire CH Tianshan Funky Red Rocco and his dam Tianshan Shining Dawn.

What made you want to be a dog breeder in the first place?

We first fell in love with this breed in 1995 when we got our first Shar-Pei. Our love for him was overwhelming, we both had dogs in our lives and I myself was from a family where we grew up with all kinds of animals. My mum was a small time breeder, but I had never encountered such love and devotion which came from this fabulous breed, almost human like and so funny in their ways. I went for the Shar-Pei because of the look of the breed but the more I read up on them, the more I knew they where the dogs for us.

Joy at Crufts with her Shar-Pei dog
Joy with CH Tianshan Shine Roccos Baby Malcolm

We started to show as we just could not get enough of them, we travelled all over the UK and went to Ireland too. We were not over competitive but we did set our own little goals, it is fair to say its just fun.

Then we started to breed our own Sharp-Pei dogs as we learnt more about the breed and we started to win at a higher level. We then bred our first two Champions:

  • CH Tianshan Say It With Flowers For Ashowai: she won 8 Challenge Certificates and 4 Best Of Breeds for her owners
  • CH Tianshan Vanilla Sky For Bullpei: she was the first Cream Champion in the United Kingdom so yet again, she made her owners very happy too!

Is it your only source of income or do you have another job?

I could never think of breeding as a business, I only have one carefully planned litter a year, sometimes two. We breed for health and temperament to the breed standard, as we want well-bred healthy dogs that love to show and will pass the health checks they now have to have at shows.

I do not get an income from my dogs, I work evening & weekends so there is always someone at home with them. It’s just myself and my husband looking after our dogs.

How are you dealing with the short longevity Shar Peis are the victims of?

The Shar-Pei Club Of Great Britain is running a health testing scheme, with a list of breeders awarded with the “Breeder of Merit” title.

What are the biggest misjudgments other owners and breeders may have about Shar Peis?

Cleaning the folded skin—everyone says they need their folded skin cleaned every day, in 20 years I’ve never had to do this!

Superb Sire from Tianshan Shar-Pei
Superb Sire from Tianshan Shar-Pei!

Any medical conditions affecting Shar Peis that you would like owners to be careful about?

Entropion is an abnormal rolling inward of the eyelids and eyelashes. The eyelid has a fibrous band of tissue, the tarsal plate or tarsus, which provides rigidity and support to the eyelid edge just behind the eyelashes. The tarsus is well-developed in humans. In dogs, it is poorly developed and lacks rigidity. You can feel the thick tarsal plate in your own upper eyelid.

Shar-Pei are prone to allergies and superficial infections. This can lead to conjunctivitis, blepharospasm (squinting), and secondary spastic entropion. This creates a vicious cycle of pain for conformationally predisposed dogs. Read more about this on VetSuite.

How much exercise would you say a Shar Pei needs to stay healthy?

A puppy should only have two very short walks a day, an adult about half an hour, twice a day.

What improvements do you want to bring to the breed with your breeding programme?

We have much improved eyes but I would like to see bigger ear canals. We are also working towards a longer longevity for the breed.

How many dogs did you start with and how did you choose your founding stock?

I started with two pets, Hector & Horace, and learnt with them. I then got my foundation bitch from a top show kennel, she was 9 months old, she was called Mini. We got her at that age to ensure she was healthy and of the good type.

How do you differentiate your dogs and your business from the other Shar Pei breeders?

We really breed on a small-scale and breed for quality rather than quantity.

Baby Wave at 4 months!
Wave, 4 months, is too cute… I know…

Do you do anything special, on a daily or weekly basis, to give extra care to you dogs?

Our dogs follow the Biologically Appropriate Raw Feeding (BARF) Diet, designed by Ian Billinghurst, which means we only ever feed our dogs with raw and natural food, i.e. raw minced meat with bone, fruits and vegetables, and also herbs.

Do you control your expenses a lot?

My dogs do cost me a lot of money as they get the best of everything, I have to work hard to look after them. I don’t try to control my expenses, if they need something, they simply get it. I rather restrain myself.

What would you tell to those who say dog breeding should cease or become ultra-regulated as there are too many dogs in rescue/rehoming centres?

Go to people who breed only a few carefully planned litters, dog show people are the best as they don’t breed for money. However, with them, you may have to wait on a list and they will put the right puppies in the right homes. Their reputation is on the line.

Many shelters warn people about dogs with such a distinctive appearance as they say it increases the risk of medical conditions – what would you say to them?

Again if they are from show breeders they are bred for health and good temperaments. Pet breeders who only breed for fashion colours and over done Shar Pei wrinkles are only here to sell for big money.

How and where do you find most of your clients?

Principally from my website and people who come to dog shows and meet the breed. I also make sure I keep in touch with everyone who has one of my puppies and also provide a lifetime backup; I am always here to help if ever needed.

Are you active on online communities and/or message boards?

I am on Facebook and obviously on my website, it’s enough for me but it is extremely important as just about everyone wants to do things online. However, I do make sure I talk to everyone on the phone before they come to visit our kennels.

What about online promotion?

For us, the breed comes first, so it’s about making them better and promoting the Shar Pei before promoting our affix.

We only advertise on the Kennel club site as I am an Assured Breeder which is a Kennel Club scheme, but also member of the Shar Pei Club of Great Britain as a Breeder Of Merit.

If you had to start afresh with another breed, which one would it be?

If I could not have Shar-Peis to bred, I would not have any other breed.

What has been your most memorable sale? And client?

James Beattie, the football player, had two puppies from me and I did not sleep for a week: I was so worried his life style would mean they may get passed on. But it turned out it was a fabulous home, him and his wife give them such a good life even when their children came along.

James Beattie with his two shar-pei dogs.
James Beattie, footballer, with his two Tianshan Shar-Pei dogs!

Do you remember your first sale?

My first sale was so sad, I did not realise how hard it would be to let our dogs go. That’s why I am so fussy on where my babies go I need to be able to sleep and I have to stay in touch.

Any advice you would give to newcomers in this industry?

Only ever breed from dogs with good a health and temperament. Vet all the home your puppies go to, use a contract and put breeding restriction on your puppies until you can be sure of the health. Stop the owners from breeding them under mature adult age.

Other people can undo years of good breeding, so if they go for breeding, always give help and advise to newcomers. Always breed with your dog breed at heart, not how much money you can make.

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