Kekkapään Kennel

"With Chihuahuas, I am fascinated by their small size
(they also have a small carbon footprint)
and their lively sense of humour."

Kennel Kekkapään

I am a 48-year-old architect, mother, horse owner, and owner of seven Chihuahuas living at home in Espoo. I breed long coated & short coated Chihuahuas under the kennel name “Kekkapää”. Prior to breeding Chihuahuas, my previous dog experience includes Golden Retrievers and a Jack Russell Terrier.

I ended up with a Chihuahua because of a silly thought I had: that a Chihuahua is such a little dog, my family won’t even notice if I got one as a small addition to the herd.

At that time in 2007, finding a Chihuahua bitch was not easy. I got my first Chihuahua under a leasing contract, and on the condition that I then take it to shows. I had had a twenty-year break from the shows when I first took Kerttu (FI Ch Spunky’s Kertrud) to the show ring. I didn’t even know they had to be presented on the table. Kerttu was BOS in her first show, and she became champion easily.

Thanks to Kerttu, I got very excited about the shows (thank you also Jenita Harjula!) As I toured the shows, one beautiful Chihuahua really caught my attention. She always beat Kerttu wherever we met. She was Multi CH Helmiäisen Lois Lane. Little by little, the thought came to my mind that if I could ever get a puppy from her, I would be ecstatic.
I wrote to Leeni Ahola, Loisku’s owner, with a long email and presented my dream. I also went to the ring to introduce myself and praised Loisku from Heaven to Earth. Time passed and Leeni then wrote to me in the spring of 2009, asking if I would like to have one of Loisku’s litter. Without seeing pictures or hearing more about Pirkko (C.I.B, ​​Ee, RU, RO & FI Ch Kimberling’s Bubbles) I replied immediately “Of course!”.

I didn't intend to become a breeder, but Leeni strongly encouraged me to make a litter with Pirkko. This little lucky one still lives at home, and I now have the fourth generation of Pirkko growing up with us.

My first litter was born in 2012.

With Chihuahuas, I am fascinated by their small size (they also have a small carbon footprint by the way), and their lively sense of humour. How a cranky man’s knees can bend, and speech starts to change when he meets a Chihuahua. Raising a Chihuahua is not easy and that also keeps a spark in me too. I have so much Finnish perseverance that I don't give up easily.

"I think we have a good, honest and positive atmosphere in Finland, we exchange male dogs for breeding and work together to achieve a common goal."

The perfect chihuahua - what is it like for you?

Very self-supporting, good moving, lively, brave, happy and typical.

If I have to think about specific chihuahuas that have impressed me, then I have always come to see this dog live, of course. The most beautiful part of a Chihuahua is in its nature. A confident, self-sufficient, brave, cheerful and alert Chihuahua shines from far away, and from afar, no small issues matter anymore.

Such a dog that affects me, may not always be a show star or a breeding dog, but the existence of such dogs maintains the hope that sometimes such a perfect package could be found. I could mention, for example, the first litter of my own puppy, which I sold as a first dog in a pet home. Kekkapää Kimberlings Meridoc, namely Pekka, is more handsome than caramel (one testicle though) but the character is absolutely super! Pekka grabbed the high scores from the character test and went to the bear barking test to bark at the best scores of the day. One such small pepper that I had the pleasure and honour of staying with me for a while was Multi CH Lookum Porter (breeder Alona Siehan). Porter is a happy and confident little male who shines in the ring. He left this character and essence to a litter that was successful in every way. Fi Ch, HeJW-18 JV-18 HeW-19 V-19 (Best long coated Chihuahua puppy of the year 2018 & long coated Chihuahua of the year 2019) Kekkapää’s Varma Sointu is from this litter. His brothers are also handsome and have done well in shows.

Varma is my own breeding in the second generation, and Varma's grandmother is bred by Tuula Lehtinen-Cochetti from Misty Meadows kennel. Surely, I now have a litter growing at home, from which my expectations are also high. The longer I have been doing this breeding work, the more appreciation I have for those who have been doing this for decades! Such a knowledge of history and lines, and the ability to bring about remarkable Chihuahuas decade after decade.

I was once on a dog show trip abroad with my friend Virve Loukiainen. The male she owned, Multi CH Rix Chix IQ, made a big impression on me in the group ring. Keijo just stood in the spotlight and looked around as if thinking “Look at me, how handsome I am!” Keijo moves wonderfully and has an awesome character. It was clear to me that he would be a fine match for one of my own dogs.

How have your opinions and thoughts about the breed changed during your breeding career?

I was very critical with what to start breeding, I just wanted to breed with the perfect Chihuahua and have the perfect combination. I had a cryptic Excel spreadsheet where I considered the pros and cons of the first combination. I don’t know how Leeni was even capable of handling me and my Excel, as the cycling of my thoughts just went on and on. It’s not easy these days, but a certain amount of relaxation and confidence in intuition has also gained a foothold.

“Seeing the forest through the trees” is difficult without clinging too much to the small details, being able to see the strengths and weaknesses of the whole and being able to decide what to emphasise at any given time. Everything cannot be improved at once, but the starting point must be good enough. I imagine a balanced scale, where I add the pros and cons. If a dog accumulates too many cons, I will not use it. However, genetic lottery and nature’s own whims are always such a phenomenon that no matter how great the parents are, everything can go a million different ways.
Pedigrees have begun to open up in a new way through experience and as they have become more familiar with dogs in pedigrees, either by owning or otherwise following their lives. Knowing the siblings and offspring of dogs in pedigrees is also a good thing. Great names or title lines alone don’t always tell you everything. I have only gained this experience over time. Preferably, I would see the dogs in person, so that I could put my hands on them before I would form opinions about them. Today’s social media culture is based too much on static, fancy images of dogs and the number of “likes” they get. This is a superficial value system that does not accurately reflect the character beneath the surface. Every time you use a new male (or female), you bring a lot of the unknown with you. No matter how you know your own bloodlines and the lines you use, the end result can always be surprising.

Do you think the breed itself has changed during your breeding career? If so, how?

In Finland, the level has improved, but there are a few things in Finland that could still improve: toplines, tails, temperaments.

Dog hobbies and breeding should be nice, and you should have a spark for it. All work must have a red thread and some logic and aim. There are always step backs. In order to get up from the backwaters and pits, it is always good to have support. I think we have a good, honest and positive atmosphere in Finland. We exchange dogs for breeding and work together to achieve a common goal. The competition must not become too fierce, and ambition or jealousy must not jeopardize the good spirit that I think prevails. The well-being of dogs and owners is far more important than titles or show success. I, myself, am extremely grateful to all those who have entrusted me with one of their bred dogs, who have given a home to one of my bred dogs, who have given me the use of their males, and with whom I have worked and have known over the years. Co-operation with other breeders is extremely important. We can’t live with dogs alone, interacting with people is essential too, and this is where social skills come to the fore. What’s better than having a coffee break with friends, balling around the puppies and wondering which of these should be the one to stay at home. It’s also awesome that I can always, if needed, call on a friend and sigh my deepest or most superficial current movements or dilemmas related to these wonderful Chihuahuas.

Published 3/2020 Chihuaha Association Journal - Interviewer and text by Johanna Kangas