Del Manto Kennels: Shaping the ADBA Show Scene

It would be hard to argue that any kennel has had a bigger impact on the ADBA show scene over the last ten years than Del Manto Kennels of Brazil. Del Manto's G/C Valhalla was the top ranked ADBA conformation dog in 2022. Del Manto's G/C Whisperwind was the top ranked female champion in back to back years ('22 & '23) while Del Manto's CH Batman became the first ADBA Champion in South America last year.

I had the pleasure of visiting them in September 2023 and I was impressed by their passion and dedication to their breeding program. It's obvious that their popularity and successes are not by accident. They have invested and sacrificed heavily to get to where they are today and are they are leaving their mark on the breed across the world.

Thiago and Marchelly DelmantoThiago and Marcelly of Del Manto kennels with ADBA Champion Batman.

Please tell us about Del Manto Kennel and how Del Manto first got introduced to the American Pit Bull Terrier.

The story of Del Manto Kennel (DMD) is the story of the relationship with my wife Marcelly. Her family had been breeding dogs for decades and started with American Pit Bull Terrier in the 90s when they arrived in Brazil. I was a sport horse breeder and was a client of her family's dog kennel. When we started dating, she took the dogs to our stud farm and we started breeding dogs together over 20 years ago.

How did you get your start breeding dogs?

We inherited dog breeding from Marcelly's family. However, when we decided to continue the breeding program together, we began to take a new direction. We understood that to advance dog breeding and achieve our goals, we would need to work in a professional manner. Every breeding plan with the goal of constant improvement consists of breeding, selection, and monitoring evolution. To do this, we would need to have a sustainable destination for our production (especially the surplus of our picks). Our improvement plan consisted of outcrossing over many generations, and this generates many offspring. We developed a method to send these puppies to the right people. People who see the potential in our dogs for sports and conformation competitions. This mainly consists of communicating and publicizing our work. It requires a high level of honesty so that people trust in purchasing our dogs so we can move forward with the project.

What were your breeding goals when you first started? Have they changed over the years?

As I have always been an animal breeder of sport, I was interested in breeding American Pit Bull Terrier's (APBT). What we did was use our experience with jumping horses to develop competition for dogs, with rules and a championship structure. When we began to see mixed bred dogs that had advantages over some purebreds, we began to understand the importance of maintaining the original conformation of the breed and its genealogy to preserve the APBT. We then began to do work in allied sports and conformation. At that time we only had conformation shows to the UKC standard in Brazil. About 10 years ago we started having non-sanctioned conformation shows to the ADBA standard. We've found the ADBA standard produces a dog that is much better at
sports too.

delmanto kennel batmanMel Del Manto with ADBA CH Batman.

Were there any ‘key moments’ that stand out in the early stages of your breeding program?

As an APBT lover, I always knew the capabilities and skills of the APBT, even if we didn't use that potential to its fullest. When I started to see the number of mixed-breed dogs that clearly lost those skills, I understood the importance of maintaining the original characteristics of the breed. Whether in its morphology/conformation, genealogy or behavior. And there is only one way to preserve it, and that is by putting it to the test in competitions and seriously maintaining a genealogical record.

What defines a breeder? What separates a breeder from a hobbyist or a ‘puppy peddler’?

The breeder preserves the achievements of history and creates his breeding program to improve his breeding stock; always thinking about how he can improve at each crossing. And because he has excellence, he ends up selling the surplus of his selections. Generally this type of breeder is campaigning their dogs, making decisions based on their results. The purely commercial breeder makes crosses thinking solely and exclusively about sales. In other words, he doesn't worry about selecting to improve his work. Generally he does not invest or campaign his dogs. These type of breeders have no commitment to preservation.

Some have said that if a breeder is selecting and keeping what in their opinion are the BEST puppies from each litter, then their customers are investing in their ‘leftovers’. What would you say to this?

When you are in an advanced breeding plan, you often choose the puppy that you hope will improve a certain long-term trait in your breeding stock. Furthermore, our choice is not always the right one. In many cases the litter level is so good that excellent dogs are destined for our customers. That's why our dogs have been able to compete at a high level all around the world. The important thing is to be honest to meet the expectations of anyone purchasing a puppy from us. If the puppy does not meet customer demands, we will not ship it.

What have been your key successes in your breeding career?

You need to study and focus on your goal; without caring what others think about it. Many listen to everyone and get lost. But the main thing is to have dedication and know how to choose the people to work with. In dog breeding you need people. Whether that is kennel help or to compete and promote a dog from your breeding. If we have any recognition, it is due to partners around the world who believed in us, in our work, and put our dogs to the test. As there are so many, I would be unable to mention all of their names here, but they are always highlighted in our communications. It’s important to be honest about what you breed to get credibility.

The recipe that generated our ADBA CH BATMAN was putting together a plan to build a dog through references that we believed. We added two important dogs such as POE Sniper and POE Sliver to our breeding program, which already contained some titled dogs. We chose the right dog and since then we have allocated its production to people who followed the same line of thought as us. A dog with an extreme aptitude for sports, impeccable conformation, temperament and behavior.

Delmanto CH BatmanMarchelly Del Manto and ADBA sanctioned judge Andy Seguss with Del Manto's ADBA Champion Batman. South America's first ADBA Champion.

What bloodlines have you focused on, and why did you choose them? Has this changed over the years?

Our work over the last 20 years has consisted of contributions from some of the most famous bloodlines in the world. In our dogs you will find a little of each of them, and this helped us to understand the characteristics that each line contributes. The Boudreaux bloodline is present in some way in everything we have done over the last 20 years. You will also find Boyles, RBJBT, OFRN, Jeep, Chinaman, among others, in the most varied percentages in our work. Each line has its own particularity and I see qualities in all of them. In fact, my ideal dog would have a little of each of them.

What makes a quality brood female?

Certainly the ability to give birth and care for puppies. But also her ability to pass on good genetics and good qualities, is essential.

We primarily look for a temperament and behavior that we believe is ideal for the breed. Intelligence, prey drive, affection for people, stability and ideal conformation. The ability to adapt to difficult situations and environments without losing confidence is also important.

What qualities do you look for in a stud dog?

What we most expect from a stud dog is that it passes on its characteristics to its offspring. It's something that gives the breeder peace of mind to produce what is expected. Much of what I said for females applies to males too.  We are looking for an ideal type of dog.

Delmantos CH Batman and Honeybunch winning best of show and best of opposite.

Best of Show and Best of Opposite sex winners in Braganca Paulista, Brazil.

Do you place more importance on the brood female or the stud dog?

I believe in the importance of both, as they complement each other. One is nothing without the other. However, it is certainly easier to find a good male than a yard of good females.

If you are looking at a group of pups, is it easy to make a selection? How much can you see in a puppy?

The breeder's most difficult task is selecting his puppy from the litter. And we always make a lot of mistakes. The most important issue is behavior and it is certainly the point that most attracts our attention. Based on conformation, I believe there is an age window, between 45-90 days, in which we can perform an analysis close to the real thing.

What are the top three attributes that you look for, when searching for pup?

Attitude in general. Dominance, prey drive, possession. In its conformation we look at proportions, lines and angles that fit the ADBA standard.

Are genetics or environment a more important factor to result in a “good” dog?

Both have an influence on the final result, however; you can manipulate the environment. Genetics you cannot. So I think that most important is genetics.

What does the future look like for Del Manto Kennel? Short term and long term.

Our short-term goal is to find the right people to send our dogs to. We have excellent partners and we are looking for more people with this level of commitment. Also, to provide them with more and more competitive dogs. The best people deserve the best dogs. In the long term, I believe it is about leaving a solid example of this work and commitment to dogs. Dogs bring people together. Good dogs bring good people together.

Marcelly Delmanto

Marcelly Del Manto and ADBA Champion Batman.

Do you have any words of wisdom for people looking to start their own breeding program?

Focus on what you believe in, define your field, look for references in that field and work with the best resource possible. Listen and read everything, but apply only what you believe in your heart.

Before breeding dogs, ask yourself if this breeding will improve something. Is there is no one making something better that you can purchase? Don't put puppies into the world without first knowing if there is a destiny for them.

Congratulations on your upcoming judging assignment in Holland. This will be your first judging international judging assignment. What are you most looking forward to about the trip?

Through the internet and social media we have been able to follow many people doing excellent work in Europe and it will be a pleasure to make my contribution to their work. I hope to contribute to everyone with my work as an ADBA sanctioned conformation judge. Like I said, dogs bring people together and it will be great to meet everyone in person.

What qualities make a good conformation judge?

I believe a judge's greatest attribute is their passion for studying the breed, its behavior and its conformation. Many find it a boring subject, but those who like it become experts on the subject.

In order to be a good judge, you must know the standard very well and you must be free from bias. Leave personal preferences out of the ring.

Last fall I witnessed how strong dog sports are in Brazil. Are there any plans for a sanctioned ADBA Top Dog event in Brazil in the near future?

The Brazilians love Top Dog sports and has been hosting sporting events for over 20 years. However, some of the Brazilian rules and modalities are different from the ADBA, and there has been a certain resistance to adapting. But I believe that in the long term it will be possible to reconcile the differences and host sanctioned events.

Imperio Kennels of Brazil LourdesAndy Seguss with Imperio Kennels of Brazil Lourdes after winning the Wall Climb event. He climbed 4.10 meters to win the competition.

What importance do breed registries play in the preservation of the American Pit Bull Terrier?

I do not believe it is possible to preserve the breed without registering the genealogy. It is especially important as we add activities such as Top Dog.

Thank you for taking the time to do this interview for us. Is there anything else you’d like to say or leave us with a few words of wisdom from your experience with the breed?

Be honest with yourself in what you expect from the dogs and what you want to breed. Think about what kind of dog you want beside you and go after that. Be loyal to the breed, its history and achievements. Find good people to send your dogs.

Andrew Seguss
Andrew Seguss

2 Responses

Paulo Ferraz de Mesquita filho
Paulo Ferraz de Mesquita filho

February 17, 2024

… os cavalos, sempre os cavalos. São um bom começo de tudo!

Shannon Bell
Shannon Bell

February 15, 2024

Great interview. Doing it right. I wish them well.

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