Jillian Ward

Jillian Ward and her award winning pupper.
Kuranda visits with Jillian Ward an ASCA Hall Of Fame Excellent breeder and owner of Day of Show Products

"The first reason why everybody buys a Kuranda Bed is because they're pretty indestructible but being chew proof was not the reason that I originally was attracted to Kuranda Beds."

"Not one time have I had a dog get a callus and I attribute it to them being able to get up off of the ground [on Kuranda Beds]."

Kuranda: When did you first have an interest in Australian Shepherds?

Jillian: I became acquainted with the Australian Shepherd through my older sister. She had an Australian Shepherd and she used to train horses. I was always at the barn and fell in love with the breed early on. I started by just getting an Aussie. I had shown horses for a number of years so that easily translated into showing dogs. I started showing in conformation as a single mom. That was easy for me to do and have children.

Kuranda: When did you start breeding dogs?

Jillian: Probably about five or six years into showing, I had my first litter. I’ve bred Aussies for about 25, 26 years now.

Kuranda: How were you able to become so successful with your dogs?

Jillian: I think, there's some components that go into becoming a successful breeder. Number one, I was fortunate to start with a couple of very nice dogs that I purchased from breeders who were gracious enough to entrust me with some good quality stock. I think applying some of the techniques that I learned from the horse industry can apply to the dog industry. Firstly, you really ought to only breed quality dogs to quality dogs with healthy pedigrees. I think those two things give you your foundation. After that, a breeder has to really work on their own program. You cannot expect other people to hit the ground running, showing your stock. The breeder really needs to put the time and the effort into their own program.

“I have always bred a versatile Australian Shepherd. A dog that can compete in any program. A dog that can carry out whatever task his owner asks of him.”
Jill Wards Dog

Kuranda: Do you only breed for Conformation?

Jillian: I have always bred a versatile Australian Shepherd. A dog that can compete in any program. A dog that can carry out whatever task his owner asks of him. This approach is what really catapulted me to the top of the heap because you're dealing with folks that are totally invested in the raising and the training of their dogs. There are a lot of quality Australian Shepherd breeders. Those that I think are the most successful are those who are breeding good quality stock with healthy pedigrees that are exemplary examples of the breed standard. The dogs that are capable of performing at a very high level of excellence in all the venues.

Kuranda: It sounds like you're very selective about who you would sell one of your dogs to.

Jillian: Very much so. In fact, I always joke with the prospects over the phone. If you can get through the first conversation with me and you're willing to adhere to some of my policies, then you're likely a candidate to work with me.

Kuranda: Do you spend a lot of time placing your dogs? How do you manage?

Jillian: In terms of proper placements, a lot of that has to do with understanding the stock. I don't just breed pretty dogs to pretty dogs. It's much more than skin deep and it really goes into understanding pedigrees and being willing to listen and research. I breed a very high drive dog, these dogs need a home that matches their personality type.

Jill Ward at show
“Even though I've been in the breed for 25 plus years, I take cues from people that have been in the breed twice as long as me. I'm not necessarily trying to breed for a dog that just is going to win, but one that has longevity, not only in terms of health, but structure.”

Kuranda: Is all you have learned self taught?

Jillian: I have several mentors. Even though I've been in the breed for 25 plus years, I take cues from people that have been in the breed twice as long as me. I'm not necessarily trying to breed for a dog that just is going to win, but one that has longevity, not only in terms of health, but structure. An Australian Shepherd is literally one of the most versatile breeds that exists. If somebody wants to herd, if somebody wants to do agility, if somebody wants to do lure coursing or dock diving; these dogs have to be structurally correct in order to go the distance. You need to take it all into account. Not only is there a lot of research that goes into the breeding, but then you watch them in the whelping box and beyond. I have a litter right now. The puppies are six and a half weeks old. I'm watching them 24/7. I watch everything that they do because I want to know everything I can about their temperaments, the way they respond to things. I watch them move in all settings and evaluate their structure. I apply a lot of the puppy culture techniques which helps me to equip them for the forever homes. At the end of the day, they are all going to be a valued family member, it’s my job to set them all up for success.

Kuranda: What do you look for in the dogs that you keep?

Jillian: The dogs that stay with me are what I consider Aussies with a turn-off switch. Not every dog that I breed is going to be paired with a high-end performance home. Many of them are going to live in a full family situation. They need to be great all-around pets. When I consider my bloodline, they have a turn-off switch, they can go work all day but they can also turn it off at night or when I need them to turn it off. Anybody who knows me in the industry knows that I have a very intelligent, high-driven bloodline. They are not all for the faint of heart and can very often be very naughty (not unlike a very intelligent child), they need to be mentally and physically stimulated.

Kuranda: I see on your website that you are “ASCA Hall Of Fame Excellent #49” What does this mean?

Jillian: ASCA is the Australian Shepherd Club of America. It's the single largest single breed registry in the world. My dogs are all dual registered. They're registered with ASCA and AKC. In ASCA, we have a merit program for Hall of Fame sires, Hall of Fame dams and Hall of Fame kennels.

With a HOF kennel, you need to have bred dogs with 10 or more qualifying titles (champions and performance titles). In the case of a Hall of Fame excellent kennel, the qualifications are much more stringent with 20 or more qualifying titles at much higher levels.

From my perspective, the breeder of merit is only a small part of the equation. The dogs have to fit the bill, but the owners, the handlers and the trainers really deserve more credit than the breeder. But I am incredibly honored to have my name associated with all of their accomplishments.

Kuranda: What's the number 49 mean?

Jillian: I have the 49th Hall of Fame excellent kennel certificate ever issued through the Australian Shepherd Club of America.

"The notion of a raised bed just made sense to me. Dogs like to be up on top of things and the fact that there can be airflow around is also advantageous."
Australian Shepherd pups on kuranda beds

Kuranda: Do you mind if I pick your brains about our dog beds?

Absolutely. I think traditionally, the first reason why everybody buys them is because they're pretty indestructible but being chew proof was not the reason that I originally was attracted to them. First of all, Aussies like to be up and on top of something. If I were to put hard sided crate in a kennel, they would lay inside of it but they would actually prefer to lay on top of it. The notion of a raised bed just made sense to me. Dogs like to be up on top of things and the fact that there can be airflow around is also advantageous. I didn't realize all of the benefits up front. It's a little bit like if you went to La-Z-Boy and picked a chair, you can customize it to your liking and for your dog's needs. There are options in the construction, you can get a pretty bed for in the house with a choice of fabrics (and pads) and then you can get a sturdier bed for in the kennel. I have had my outdoor beds in my kennels in excess of 12 or 13 years now. I have used a variety of different fabrics for my dogs. I have used the mesh for kennels. I have used ballistic nylon for my geriatric dogs, they really like that. For outside I use the 40 ounce vinyl.

Aussie Puppies in Play Pen
“I have a pretty good kennel system where my runs are…the smallest one that I have is 18 by 24, fully concreted, fully covered.”

Kuranda: Tell us about your kennel

Jillian: I have a pretty good kennel system where my runs are…the smallest one that I have is 18 by 24, fully concreted, fully covered. But they do have the stall mats in the front and then they each have a bed. They're all individual runs. I don't believe in doubling dogs up. It's like putting two kids in a bedroom and leaving them together. If I can't supervise them, they're not together. Not one time have I had a dog get a callus and I attribute it to them being able to get up off of the ground.

Kuranda: How many dogs will you have inside at a time?

Jillian: I try not to have more than two inside of the house at a time. I rotate them in and out so I can spend more one on one time with them. I also have a dog room next to my outdoor kennels where I can have all of the dogs indoors at once. They love rainy day schedule!!!! I plan to try the Kuranda crate beds this year for the dog room!!!!

Kuranda: Have you ever tried our bunk beds?

Jillian: I still have two double deckers. I put the whole litter out in one of those big 20 by 30 runs for a couple of hours at a time. I put a double decker out there.

Kuranda Bunk Bed

The puppies are all sleeping on the bottom bunk and the mother is up on the top just to get away from them. I mean, I'll have those forever. I love them.

Day of show

Kuranda: Should we talk about the Day of Show products?

Jillian: So as I said, I showed in both AKC and ASCA. I have for a number of years. And it used to always frustrate me that in order to get good quality products, you had to go to an AKC show. There were never any vendors at ASCA shows. I asked one of my friends, I said, "Hey, do you wanna maybe start a little company and we'll just put a tent up and we'll sell a few things at ASCA shows?” So that's how we started. My former business partner, Diana Williams and I, we really did it on whim.

Kuranda: When did you start your Day of Show Company?

Jillian: About 12 years ago we formed the Day of Show company. It was just more for fun. You're gonna be at all these shows, God knows how much money, traveling, trialing, entry fees, lodging, so on. So we set up at our very first show, we sold $2,000 that weekend. At that time, we thought that was a lot of money LOL. We did that about a year, year and a half, and we started growing, started adding inventory. And then suppliers, big brand names, started somehow finding out about us. The first manufacturer that we contracted with was Chris Christiansen Systems, which is a very big brand in the pet industry. We became their single line distributor in Aa, NV & AZ. And within no time, we were their highest performing single line distributor for dog shows. We grew and grew and grew. Eventually we changed platforms, from a single line distributor, to a general distributor and added other product lines.

About a year ago, my business partner retired and moved to Florida with her husband. I am now the sole proprietor of Day Of Show Products. I always had a vision for what I wanted to do to grow the company, so now as a single proprietor, I am on that path for expansion. Currently I have a mobile store, we travel to the AKC shows and set up a 20’ x 30’ store. People come in, and shop from my trailer. I will continue with this sales model, however in 2024 , we are slated to add a retail store, partnering with a grooming salon. We have some really neat ideas that cater to our joint niche show dog clientele!!!


For more information about Jillian’s products, visit the Day of Show Products website.
To learn more about Jillian’s puppies, visit Testimony Aussies.