Sacraal Hart - CanineSquad Sacraal Hart Kennel Sacraal Hart - CanineSquad
Eclipse van de Duvetorre in FCI 2010 Finland - Long Attack
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Felix Ho with Eclipse van de Duvetorre in FCI 2010 Finland - Heeling

Maggie with Magic

Eclipse van de Duvetorre with Edden Puppies

Felix Ho with Karel du Triangle Magique

Felix with Eclipse van de Duvetorre after Winning the 2009 Belgian Special CAC Gerpinnes

Sacraal Hart Puppies (Edden x Eclipse van de Duvetorre)

Felix Playing with Jack

Sacraal Hart Puppies (Edden x Eclipse)

Felix with "Corvette"

Felix with Eclipse as a Young Pup

Felix Doing Clicker Training with Kia van Arne's Hoeve

"Corvette" in 2006 FMBB Hungary

Sacraal Hart Puppies (Edden x Eclipse)

Felix Ho Heeling with Eclipse van de Duvetorre

Felix Working Sacraal Hart Jade (Edden x Eclipse) Handled by Hans Bian 邊海江

Felix with "Corvette" & Eclipse van de Duvetorre

Felix Working Sacraal Hart Jasper (Edden x Eclipse)

Felix with Eclipse van de Duvetorre in August 2006

Sacraal Hart Jana (Edden x Eclipse)

Genghis Jumping over Hurdle

Felix Working Edden

Sacraal Hart Puppies (Edden x Eclipse)

Felix Working Edden

Genghis Biting on Christoph

Felix with Songul

Sacraal Hart Kennel:

Welcome to Sacraal Hart Kennel - Breeder of Working Malinois, German Shepherd, and Rottweiler. I'm Felix Ho. I was born in Hong Kong and I've spent most of my teenage and 20's in Australia for my high school and university education. In 2005 I moved permanently to Belgium in pursuit of my career in the world of working dogs. Together with my wife Maggie, we live and manage our kennel in Pays des Collines, Belgium.

From a very young age, I've developed a great interest for animals especially dogs, but it was not until my university years studying Biological Science in Australia that I started seriously involving with dog training and Schutzhund/IPO. It didn't take me long to realized I have a natural gift and feeling working with dogs. Eventually, the pursuit of understanding canine behaviour, psychology, and genetics has become my lifestyle and chosen profession.

Since 2004, I've competed in 9 IPO World Championships by FCI, FMBB, and IFR with 3 dogs that I've raised, trained, and titled from puppyhood. I'm a 2-Times Winner of the Belgian CAC Selection including winning the 2009 Belgian Special CAC Championship Selection in Gerpinnes by 13 points against some of Belgium's Finest. In 2008, I successfully completed my Judge's Program and I've been a licensed IPO judge since then.

In addition to competing in the highest level of IPO, I also train regularly with some of the best trainers in Belgian Ring and Mondio Ring. Being versatile has enabled me to have many opportunities working with personnel from defense force, law enforcement, and security dog units. Because of the demanding nature in the highest level of dogsports and my exceptionally high standard of selection, it has become more and more difficult for me to find the type of dogs that can meet my criteria. So the only natural thing left to do was starting my own breeding program while working closely together with several other like-minded breeders and trainers.

The breeds I have a great passion for are Malinois, German Shepherd, and Rottweiler. My breeding goal is to consistently produce dogs with working abilities essential for sports, defense force, law enforcement units, and personal protection duties. In order to reach any objective at all in life, one has to be completely clear about what he wants, which direction he wants to go, how far he wants to go in that direction, and then work meticulously towards that specific goal. For that reason, I've categorized all the genetic components that I feel are absolutely vital in contributing to a dog's working abilities. My hands-on experience with working dogs combined with my academic background in Biological Science has made it possible for me to convey my ideas and experiences into a methodical manner, which can be easily understood by most people. I've categorized working abilities in the following 20 components:

Working Abilities
Character Stability 1. Self-Assurance
2. Environmental Soundness
Hardness 3. Physical Robustness
4. Emotional Resilience
5. Mental Persistence
Rank 6. Dominance/Competitiveness
7. Focus/Presence
8. Maturity & Composure
Temperament 9. Drive
10. Courage
11. Expression & Recovery Speed
Trainability 12. Willingness & Flexibility
13. Problem Solving Skill & Learning Speed
14. Mental Clarity under Excitement & Pressure
Physical Attributes 15. Health & Longevity
16. Functional Structure & Strength
17. Agility & Speed
18. Endurance & Heat Tolerance
19. Olfaction
Grip 20. Behaviour in Biting

Interpretations of the 20 Genetic Working Abilities

Because of the possibility of various interpretations by different individuals referring my view of working abilities, here I'll describe the meaning of my criteria to ensure the clarity of the topics. The 20 genetic components I've set out can be easily measured by observing a dog's behaviour in a pre-arranged situation. Some of these components have interlinked relationships with one another. The keyword of my selection is Balance. Every genetic component has to fit well together and complement each other.

Stability

A dog's tolerance against real or perceived pressure and threat. The threshold for a dog to feel anxious, stressed, or afraid in a given situation. The less easily rattled the dog, the more stable he is. There are 2 types of stability, the stability towards living beings and the stability towards environments. A dog that is not easily startled with various environments doesn't necessarily mean he feels as much as ease with people or vice versa.

Self-Assurance

The confidence and sureness of a dog with humans, other dogs, and all other living beings.

Environmental Soundness

How comfortable a dog is while exposed to different environments such as places, surfaces, objects, heights, lights, noises, and smells.

Hardness

There are 3 types of hardness against different types of pressure: Physical Robustness, Emotional Resilience, and Mental Persistence.

Physical Robustness

Hardness against physical force, basically the pain tolerance of a dog.

Emotional Resilience

Hardness against emotions such as handler's mood and voice. I prefer dogs that are carefree and won't cower when his handler is upset or raises his voice, however, a degree of sensibility is important for a dog to respond to his handler.

Mental Persistence

Hardness against mental strain, or determination in a difficult task without wanting to quit. For example the will to keep going on a very difficult track, drilling on the same obedience routine day after day without any reward, doing object guarding with a muzzle on as the last exercise of a Belgian Ring trial on a hot summer day. This genetic component is interlinked with Temperament but they are not exactly the same. Mental Persistence is the dog's sheer pleasure for the work just for the sake of working. The will to persevere is essential for a working dog.

Rank

A dog's sense of self.

Dominance/Competitiveness

The will to win and to be more superior than one's opponent. Although a dog in Rank Drive can also display certain behaviours that resemble signs of Dominance, what separates the two is the dog's perception to his own rank. Rank Drive is the rank that the dog wants to be, while Dominance is the dog's true birth rank. Just because a dog wants to be dominant, doesn't mean he is. This situation can be encountered all the time with pet dogs that are spoiled by inexperienced owners.

Focus/Presence

The ability to concentrate, and the awareness of self and one's surrounding.

Maturity & Composure

Knowing when to act appropriately according to the situation, having self-control, and a serious demeanor. Some people call this trait "Being Clear in the Head". This can be easily observed when 2 dogs are interacting with each other, especially a grown dog playing with a puppy. Dogs that lack maturity and show a lot of juvenile behaviours usually progress slower in bitework training.

Drive

A drive is an instinctual compulsive energy directed towards survival. I've categorized 10 Primary Drives in dogs:

Drive

Behaviour

Goal

Food Drive

Eating and drinking

To relieve hunger and thirst for growth, metabolism, and recuperation

Hunt/Prey Drive

Chasing, capturing, killing, holding, and tearing a prey object

To catch food, satisfy hunting instinct, practice hunting skill

Protection Drive

Driving out an opponent, protecting oneself, one’s possession, territory, offspring, and pack member

To keep safe, expel opponent, and defend resources

Rank Drive

To dominate and avoid being dominated

To heighten position in ranking to make decisions, receive better resources, the right to mate, preserve energy

Pack Drive

Seeking attention from and socialization with pack members, interaction, play, greeting ritual, cooperating with pack members

To obtain companionship, partnership, and acceptance to increase chances for survival

Exploring Drive

Roaming, using one’s senses to discover surrounding

To gain information around one’s environment

Freedom Drive

To do as one pleases

To achieve physical and mental liberty

Avoidance Drive

Avoidance of discomfort, pressure, confrontation, pain, and danger, etc, in order to reach comfort and safety. Avoidance Drive makes negative reinforcement learning possible

To maintain a state of equilibrium and be in peace

Sex Drive

Mating

To pass on one’s gene

Parental Drive

Caring for young

To preserve one’s gene

I utilize all of the above Primary Drives in different areas and stages of my training except Sex Drive and Parental Drive. Some drives are used in a more specific manner than the others. For example I use Rank Drive only in Protection towards the decoy and never in Tracking and Obedience. I use Exploring Drive only in Tracking in combination with Food Drive. The balance of the above drives is much more important than their amount. If too much out of proportion, these drives can actually work against a handler. I prefer a very high level of Food, Hunt/Prey, Protection, and Pack Drives, a high level of Rank, Exploring, Sex (for breeding purpose), and Parental Drives, a medium level of Freedom Drive, and a low level (but not a lack of) Avoidance Drive to have a dog that can understand negative reinforcement without being too sensitive.

You might ask why I don't have Fight Drive in my list. This is because in my view Fight Drive is not actually a Primary Drive but a state of mind and behaviour displaying a flowing fusion of Hunt/Prey Drive, Protection Drive, and Rank Drive by the dog. Since this is a behaviour that can only be developed through experience by blending the 3 Primary Drives, it is not categorized as a Primary Drive itself.

Another big word that has always been a popular topic of discussion among dog trainers is Aggression. In my view, aggression is also a behaviour, not a drive, because aggression itself is not a motive. Think about it, no dog shows aggression for the sake of just being aggressive. There are different motivations behind a particular aggressive behaviour and that's why there are different types of aggression. When that specific goal is reached, the display of aggression stops. The drives behind aggression are Protection Drive (showing aggression to drive out an opponent, to protect oneself, one’s possession, territory, offspring, and pack member), Rank Drive (showing aggression to dominate and to avoid being dominated), and Comfort Drive (showing aggression to stop discomfort, pressure, confrontation, pain, and danger, etc, in order to seek comfort and safety). In this case, when the display of aggression fails to stop the pressure, the dog might choose to avoid or simply run away from the source.

Courage

While Stability is a dog's tolerance threshold against real or perceived danger, Courage is the dog's instinct to go forward when he actually feels threatened. I've had many experiences with dogs that are usually stable but lack Courage and would go into avoidance when they actually feel threatened, and then there are dogs that are usually very nervous but have a lot of Courage and would engage in confrontations when challenged every time. Naturally, a very high level of both Stability and Courage is the most desirable for a working dog.

Expression & Recovery Speed

Looking happy in general and at work, forgiving and forgetting bad experiences quickly.

Willingness & Flexibility

This trait is associated with Pack Drive. It is the ability to cooperate and work with the handler as a team and this has nothing to do with being submissive. A dog can be willing towards his handler and dominant towards other people at the same time. It simply means the dog can be led. In nature no wolf pack is led by an Alpha pup but this same pup grows up to lead the pack after understanding how to be led. Some people justify a dog's inability to be led by associating this inability with Dominance. This is something I strongly disagree with. A good leader should be capable to lead and also be led (by another good leader, of course). Being flexible means having the aptitude to understand compromise within the pack.

Problem Solving Skill & Learning Speed

Having insight and being a fast learner makes a dog a pleasure to train with.

Mental Clarity under Excitement & Pressure

It is the capacity to stay in the Functioning Zone (the right balance between motivation and concentration) in Tracking, Obedience, and Protection. A dog has to be able to register his handlers' command in order to perform any given task effectively.

Health & Longevity

Long living and free of genetic diseases such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, arthritis, joint and ligament weakness, epilepsy, pancreas diseases, digestive problems, and eye problems, etc.

Functional Structure & Posture

A structure that is built for function and not fashion. A working dog should also have a natural firmness and alertness in his posture and shouldn't sit sloppily nor floppily.

Agility & Speed

Coordination, reflex, and the ability to jump high and far. The movement of a working dog should be smooth, flexible, and effortless.

Endurance & Heat Tolerance

Being able to work continuously in hot weather is an important factor for a working dog.

Olfaction

A strong sense of smell for tracking and searching.

Grip

The power, fullness, calmness, attitude, commitment, conviction, and intensity in biting. Although Grip is an interlinked component with some of the other criteria, in my view it is still an independent trait because I've seen many dogs with a lot of character and temperament naturally bite badly, On the other hand I've also seen many dogs that are nervous and erratic with a naturally super Grip. The only explanation is that Grip is a separate element of its own.

The Sacraal Hart Selection Process

Usually, I select my dogs at the age of between 7 weeks to 9 weeks. At this time, I base my decision making on several scientific evaluations for Working Abilities, but equally important, my feeling about the puppy. Once I've made my selection, the rest is growing up and preparing to bring out the full genetic potential of the puppy. I spend a lot of time working with each of my own dog (usually at least 2 years) in one of the Schutzhund/IPO, Belgian Ring, or Mondio Ring programs before I decide if I will breed with him/her. This includes a lot of training and competing. For me, the training and trialing process is essential to find out what kind of dog I really have. Selecting a breeding animal is a lot more than just looking at his/her performance in a trial or in training for a few minutes and then base your judgment solely on that. Surely, a person with a deep understanding for dog behaviour can see a lot in those few minutes, but it is still not enough to know all the finest details about the dog, and when all those little details are put together, knowing them or not can make a great difference in a breeding program.

For more information about our planned breeding and available puppies, please feel free to Contact Us.

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