French Teacher’s Dog Named Grand Champion


Madame Richards poses with her grand champion dog.

Andrew Johnston, Staff Writer

A Miramonte teacher who spends many weekends at dog shows has campaigned her dog to earned the title of Grand Champion. The Belgian Malinois owned by French teacher Patricia Richards earned the distinction at the Sacramento Kennel Club on April 16. Richards, who trained her dog without a professional handler, estimates that her dog beat out more than 200 other Belgian Malinois to earn the Grand Champion title. Since March 2014, “I’ve been to about 40 dog shows. It’s been all-consuming,” Richards said.

“The point of showing a dog is to analyze how it compares to the AKC standard,” she explained. “You don’t want to breed dogs that are incorrect and don’t fit the standard.” Richards’ dog, now nearly two years old and named “Grand Champion Emerald’s Thibault le Beau,” weighs 58 pounds and stands 25 inches at the withers. The near equal lengths of his back and legs “makes him very square and makes him move very elegantly and beautifully,” Richards said. “He just glides.” Compared to most Grand Champions who take three to four years to earn the title, Richards’ dog became a Champion in just 13 weeks and a Grand Champion in less than a year.

Considered nearly anatomically correct for a Malinois, her dog will command an estimated $1,300 stud fee following tests for any genetic defects, Richards adds. Earning the Grand Champion title means that “your dog is fit to breed,” she explains. “That is the whole point.” Dogs with genetic defects too often end up in animal shelters, where many end up euthanized. “People are too unthinking,” Richards said of many “backyard” breeders. “They’re creating beings, these lives,” Richards says. “People breed dogs too casually.”

Richards’ is the breed of choice by the Navy Seals and  the Secret Service.  “The Belgian Malinois is a really, loyal, intense dog that is a fantastic working dog. They’re tough dogs,” Richards said. “They’re used as a tool, as a gun. They’re incredibly agile and they’re tough as nails, and they’re completely fearless.” Richards cautions, however, that owning such a breed entails a considerable commitment of time, since such dogs prefer constant activity. “They never relax.”