THE BREEDER: Renato Paco Zanoia
Interviewed by Milla Kanninen & Mihaela Kosic

Firstly can You give us some background on yourself? How old were you and how did it all come about?

My name is Paco, Renato Paco Zanoia. I was born in the 1959. Since 1973 my passion is dogs, I am the only owner, founder and curator of the De Paco’s X-Z Line, the first and the only A.K.C. Exclusive Am Staf bloodline outside the United States of America. My bred-by dog "Ice", BIS/BISS Ch. De Paco XZ Gold Number won the Best of Breed and Best in Show award - at the A.K.C. Staffordshire Terrier Club of America (S.T.C.A.) 2001 National Specialty in Texas. Since 1936, he was the first Am Staf, bred outside the U.S.A. to win the Nationals. In 2009, always as breeder/owner I won again the Best of Breed and Best in Specialty Show with a female named "Goody", BIS/BISS Ch. De Paco XZ Hollywood Gold Bolt at the historical Montgomery County and S.T.C.A. National Specialty in Philadelphia, PA., and still today she’s the only one, non-American female, bred outside the U.S.A. to win the Nationals. De Paco’s Am Stafs won the S.T.C.A. National Specialty Best of Opposite title in 2011, Best of Winners titles at the S.T.C.A. National Specialty in 1999, 2000, 2005 and 2011. Award of Merit titles at the S.T.C.A. National Specialty in 2001, 2006, 2009, 2013 and 2017. Also won the A.K.C. Montgomery and Westminster Shows' B.O.B., B.O.S. & A.O.M., and on several occasions, in different years and Countries, De Paco’s males and females, became F.C.I. World Show’s Best of Breed and B.O.S. Winners.

By the way, the precise motivation for which I have decided to breed this Dog was the consequence of the study of more then ten years and my attendance in the late 80s in the USA. Attending the exhibition of AKC and in particular seeing some Am Stafs presented by John McCartney at that time, ignited something inside me, something important and ambitious which brought me, after 10 years, to breed my first litter alone. Only after having evaluated my breeding program, guided by the mentors like my dear friend John. So I decided to take care of the modern American Staffordshire Terrier, the „All-american Dog” or „The Grand Old Breed”. You can’t have any solid success if you don’t know where your dogs are from...

Can you tell us something about your kennel name?

My kennel name is “DE PACO X-Z”, In ancient Italian-Latin "DE" means “OF”; “PACO” is my first name; “X” it is my tribute to my favorite breeder of all time and his Stafs, Mr. Clifford Ormsby of X-PERT Knl; and "Z" is the beginning of my last name Zanoia. In other words “DE PACO X-Z” it is a kind of acronym.

Did you have any big influences or mentors in the breed?

Yes, and all American men. Three in a particular way and for several reasons: Fred Sindelar, JohnMcCartney and Bill Peterson.

How about collaborating with other breeders?

I have great relationships with the best breeders in the world.

Do you prefer keeping your stud dogs for your own breeding program or do you also give them for outside service?

Am Staf is well-breed only by 10% of the breeders, and I consider only 10% of the dogs in the whole world as good Am Stafs for my breeding program. So collaborations and exchange of stud service, take place only in this selected micro cosmos. I rarely meet good Am Staf breeders around the world, the rest is a consequence. For me knowledge and transparency are very important. Detailed information about genetic tests of reproducers should be the base for all the reputable breeding programs.

Would you say that a brood bitch is the backbone of a breed?

As for the most part of the successful breeders that I have known, I too agree on the decisive importance of the female. In reality the female is dominant in the descent of the phenotype of open pairing. But only some outstanding males have given as much contribution to the offspring in the open pairing. See Tryarr Diamondback Redbolt, Patton Red Rock Skillet and White Rock Lone Star Dallas, to mention some of the most famous.

How would you rate type, temperament and soundness in order of importance?

Temperament, type and soundness. TEMPERAMENT COMES FIRST – because the most beautiful dog - the world winner and the more prized one is worthless if its temperament is bad! In other words, I think that the most important thing is to maintain gameness, of course. Some of us know that this trait has nothing to do with conformation and everything to do with temperament! The backbone of gameness includes extreme confidence. It also includes a desire to please the human master. Our breed is like no other. It is the most versatile of them all. No other comes close. We have a challenge, it is to carry on and maintain in our Am Stafs the confidence, stability, reliability, and above all, reluctance to bite or threaten people without a damn „good reason” MUST BE MAINTAINED.

On the health front there is good work going on to address health problems. Many breeders test their dogs on hips, elbows, heart, ataxia... Is there more work to be done? How would you rate the health in the breed?

The test for Ataxia should be made compulsory for all breeding dogs, it's a shame continue to pretend that the problem does not exist, just to register more puppies. I think that testing for ataxia, hips, elbows and heart, the completely stock of reproducers is a duty for every serious breeder, but we kwon that only 10% of “Breeders” do so officially.

What are your thoughts about breeding. Do you prefer inbreeding, linebreeding or outcrossing?

Depends on what I want and the aims that I have fixed in a certain phase of my breeding program. Each genetic treaty explains how to use in the best way the various selection techniques in blood relationship, it is not the theoretic answer that will bring to success in breeding Am Staf, our breed is a strain in the strain and all that normally works for instance for the Doberman we cannot obtain a satisfactory result with Am Staf. I believe that it is fundamental for us to have a deep knowledge in our re-producers’ phenotype blood-line progeny. However, linebreeding always pays!

Some would say that special characteristics in the breed have been taken too far. There are breeders claiming we are on the way (if not there) on having type and conformation problems. What is your opinion on that issue?

The main Am Staf winners of the dog shows in the last years are real "Flatcatchers". They are very flashy Am Stafs that mask the defects with their spectacularity. Consequently they have, necks too long when, our breed should have neck of medium length, straight shoulders when our breed does not require it and flat toplines; when they should have a slight sloping from withers to rump with gentle short slope at rump to base of low set tail. Why the hyper-rear angulations and extravagant movements are fashionable in the today Am Staf’s dog shows?! These “Flatcacher’s Am Stafs” are dogs that wins more with the spectacularity than with the true and well-deserved qualities required by the Standard.

What conformation faults bother you the most?

Dudley nose, nose not definitely black, light eyes, pink eyelids and flat topline.

How would you describe a perfect Amstaff?

I believe that my ideal Am Staf is reflected fully in the “moderate-type” of Am Staf that the seminar of STCA recommends to all the breeders to pursue, both as how it is represented in its designed tables, and also in the ideal description dictated in its comment for the standard. All the best Am Stafs that I have seen and bred in my life are moderate type. The male should be of moderate type “but, mannish” and the female should be moderate type “but, feminine” in no case in front of these specimens I have had the necessity of controlling the gender … under the tail ;-).

Would you say Amstaff Standard is a good one or should it be re-written?

Our A.K.C. Standard it's just perfect - since 1936.

Is there a general decline in the quality of Amstaffs after it`s pick in popularity? What is the biggest contributing factor for it in your opinion?

The lack of genuine enthusiastics and the taking of power by a generation of breeders, exhibitors and judges who only do it to make money.

How are dog shows shaping the breed?

The answer lies in the precious words of my mentor Bill Peterson: “The original primary purpose of dog shows was to provide a means of selecting the best specimens of a breed for breeding in order to preserve and improve the breed. That can still be done now by learning the breed standard and using the opportunity to see many dogs by attending the shows and finding the best ones yourself. Unfortunately, it can only contribute to the deterioration of the breed to breed to the show winners. The dog show is no more than that; a "show". The AKC-FCI claims nothing else. A breeder needs to decide between making the effort to learn what the dog is intended to be according to the standard and strive to breed the best specimens possible accordingly, or go with the corruption of the current (and long-time) dog show circus. Sadly, the worst thing that happens because of the corruption of the true purpose of dog shows is a novice can show a truly good one and not even place and be so discouraged that the dog is then lost to the breed as breeding stock. The key to preserve the breed and even improve it instead of allowing it to morph into a diverse hodgepodge of aberrations is knowledge, coupled with the desire to accomplish a truly commendable task.”

Please name 3 your all time favorite winners bred by you and 3 not owned nor bred by you?

Ch De Paco XZ Sindelar Buddy o’ Dickies
Ch De Paco XZ Hollywood Dream
Ch De Paco XZ Hollywood Gold Bolt
Ch Alpine’s Highwayman
Ch Patton’s Red Rock Skillet
Ch Fraja EC Winning Ticket

What are your future plans? And what achievements would you like to be remembered for?

I’m still trying to continuing a tradition. The tradition of “The Grand Old Breed”. Since 1936, we wanted to push “The Grand Old Breed” into a different direction, for the purpose of being the best companion. The stability behind the breed was its loyalty to its owners. We wanted to keep the reliability with children and their families that the breed possessed. The breed’s unswerving loyalty to master and household is sufficient within itself to gain the admiration of the most discerning. They will guard your home or protect your car, and do it with an air of authority that counts. The Am Staf craves their master’s attention, and asks for no better place than to be by his side. The Am Stafs are so tolerant with children that they would never harm a child no matter how rough a child played or handled them. An Am Staf would never bite the hand that feeds it, for it know who its family is, and protects them under all circumstances. The Am Staf's only desire is to please its family. In essence the American Staffordshire Terrier already possessed the temperament traits to be the best companion, and these were the traits that I carry on into my De Paco XZ Line. All of us from all the Continents, the entire dog fancy and all the others concerned need to make a concerted effort in this direction to really - take care of breed. Thank you. Your friend in the breed.