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Skansen Kennel


Puppy Mill

Complaint Rating:  42 % with 132 votes
42% 132
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Skansen Kennel
Sabastapol, California
United States
DO NOT BUY A PUPPY FROM SKANSEN KENNEL. I purchased 2 mini Schnauzers from Skansens, the first was 3 years old paid $800.00 the second was 4 months, paid $800.00. Both dogs were very sick. The Old Lady that owns the place gave me back the money for the 3 year old after I wrote her a letter saying the dog had to have 18 rotten teeth pulled and a number of other issues! But that was nothing, the puppy which I have had for just over a year has cost me over $6000.00! She stopped making tears at 6 months old, the Old Lady blew me off this time because she knew what it cost to take care of a sick dog. I had to have a tube from her saliva glands into her eyes so she didn't go blind and she will have to be medicated two to three times every day for the rest of her life. The Old Lady will take no responsiability for her bad breeding. Why she is still in business I'll never understand. I hope everyone reading this that cares about animals will pass on the word and put her out of business and save the lives of so many sick dogs. Two out of two isn't very good odds and speakes volumes about her breeding ability! TRUST ME WHEN I SAY SHE IS NOTHING BUT A PUPPY FARMER.
I have attached a photo of my puppy Diva when I brought her home and now. See for yourself!!!

Skansen KennelSkansen Kennel

Complaint comments Comments (130) Complaint country United States Complaint category Business & Finances


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D  16th of Aug, 2010 by    +3 Votes
My name is Patricia Vanlier and I live in Modesto, California. I have two Giant Schnauzers from Skansen's Kennels and I am blessed with two beautiful dogs. One is an American Black Schnauzer and one is a Pepper and Salt. Before I became their best friend and owner, I made surprise visits to the kennels. I also went on line to check out their breeding records. And anyone who has purchased or adopted a dog from this kennel recieves breeding history for their dog. Each time I visited the kennels, and you are right it is a very large and self supported kennel, it was in great condition. I really expected it to be filled with doggie ordors but it wasn't. I am sure through the years they have had their flea problems, dogs with other problems, but there is not a breeder around this great country of ours that has not had an unhealthy dog born in a litter and a dog or two that the problems did not show up until the dogs were older.

The Skansen track record speaks for itself. And I would recommend buying a dog from Skansen's Kennels, and I do at least once or twice a month. I bike with my dogs, I am always stopped and asked what kind of dogs are they, and people remark on how beautiful they are. And how healthy they are. One gentleman evan inspected their teeth and remarked how beautiful and clean they were. Asked me how they were kept that way. And I replied the natural diet and raw bones.

Now on the other hand I own a 4 pound toy fox terrior that has had more than half of his teeth pulled. He lacts the emzeme that protects his teeth from decaying. Do you think I should go after the breeder like you have attack Sckansen Kennels? He is 6 years old and has had the teeth pulled within the last year. I think not. Your dog like mine is lucky to have you as their owner. most people would drop them off at the pound!

I hope this has given you another way for you to look at your situation.


D  8th of Sep, 2010 by    +2 Votes
I have had 3 of Skansen's mini's, , different animal for sure from the giants, but all beautiful. My sister has 2 mini's, one purchased, one adopted off the ranch. The adoption of her female, attached with rules and lots of questions. Everything spelled out, what to expect and no rose colored glasses. This is NO PUPPY MILL!! I can remember not having to make an appt and seeing Sylvia down at the barns and ready to answer any and all questions...and boy did we have a lot. And she asked you a ton too. Your environment, kids?? If she didn't think you would be suitable for a giant or one to you, the answer was, "no". Her guidance in the last 15 years, via email or phone (yes she answer her own phone, when she can) has been a blessing. The one comments about Sylvia not taking phones calls from the little guy...well she doesn't know who's on the other end when she answers the phone. When my little female was in her finale days to a vet mess up with another, she spent up to an hour with me on just one call., very kind. I follow her advise, feeding values and common sense principles. Our kids are healthy and beautiful. We are believers and will continue to be a fan and a buyer, small one not a professional. Skansen's is the best!!! And that includes all the staff from managers, office and ranch hands!

N  23rd of Oct, 2010 by    0 Votes

Could anyone tell me if they have had a Giant SP Schnauzer with CDD or IDD? We got our Giant "Bear" about 5yrs ago-from Sylvia and she has been very healthy and very active-as she lives with a Deerhound and 2 avid hikers. A few days ago-while on s hike-she just collapsed-and could not walk-her hind legs just stopped functioning-no warning-just like that. My boyfriend-bless his heart-had to carry her(95lbs)-on his back(in his backpack) for about 8 miles(4hrs)-down a steep and rocky trail-which may have saved her from further damage. The vet says it's a bulging disc-and put her on steroids and bed rest-no hiking for a month. We got a harness and belly sling to get her up togo to the bathroom-however-now she seems to have trouble controlling her potty and bowel movements-she is lacking muscle control-so everything just falls out. She does try to let us know when she needs to go though. I am very worried that she might be leaning towards paralysis-but the vet says to give it a few days. I have read many things about this canine degenerative disc disease-and her symptoms seem to match-but I'm not a vet. It says that these episodes come out of nowhere-one minute the dog is walking around normal-and then in a blink of an eye-they're down-can't walk. It says that this is genetic -and this is where my concern comes in. When we got "Bear"-or I should say-even before we got her-she was sick-we were supposed to pick her up one weekend-and got a call that she was too sick to fly-so we had to wait a few weeks for her to get better before we even got her. She has been healthy ever since-but now this. If this is CDD or IDD-and is genetic-wouldn't the breeder know about this?-wouldn't there be some history with the parents or something? I'm just wondering if it is possible that someone knew something and failed to inform us of this potential ticking time bomb. We told Sylvia that we wanted a Pet-and that we were very active people-and she said she would sell us a dog that would be compatible with our lifestyle. It would break my heart if I knew that something was known-and we were not told-thus putting her at risk with our active lifestyle. To think that we may be responsible for her injury-is almost too much to bear. Our dog was the most enthusiastic of all of us-to go get exercise-she was always the first one recovered and ready to go again-we couldn't give her enough exercise-and wondered why she always wanted more-we sometimes were exhausted and she would seem raring to go in fairly short order. So, this is devastating for her-and for us.

If anyone on this board has any experience with this sort of thing-please share-we are very concerned-and not very experienced with dealing with a handicapped animal. Any information or advice would be much appreciated-while we wait this out until we see the vet again-in a few days. Thank you.


Lisa & Ruben
D  26th of Oct, 2010 by    +2 Votes
We had two giants from Skansen, (one of them is still with us), and both were wonderful healthy dogs. The first one we picked up ourselves at the kennel. The kennel looked quite fine, and the dogs healthy and happy. Sylvia gave an impression as a wonderful person who really loves her dogs...
A  30th of Oct, 2010 by    -2 Votes
I have had experiences with Skansens and will discuss if needed. Two sad stories. I agree! I will never purchase a dog from that place again. I miss my Sam who I had to return to her and hope and pray he was rescued to a good owner who can help him. My second little white mini when blind at age two. After $5, 000 operation he can now see but requires drops daily and follow up. He has other skin issues and has been on special diets etc. The vaccinations did not CAUSE any of this. ETC. ETC. I am upset with my experiences and will discuss in detail if needed. Sylvia knows me from E-mails and phone conversations. It was a horrible experience for my children and myself.
N  31st of Oct, 2010 by    -3 Votes
As a point of interest - Sylvia has produced some beautiful dogs - and some dogs with serious problems - all honest breeders do - and that is nothing to be ashamed of . What truly matters is what happens when something goes wrong. I have seen Sylvia at her 'best' and at her 'worst' dealing with people. If they are happy with her - she is happy and co-operative with them. If they voice a complaint - her attitude changes - and I have also witnessed her be unspeakably poorly mannered to her own clients. Note that she doesn't belong to the National breed club for mini schnauzers - in fact, she deliberately breeds dogs with disqualifying faults - and is unapologetic. I have no personal bones to pick with the lady - but I do disagree with her theories, and I have seen her be cruel to people who had problems so I am more inclined to believe she was not helpful when Lorrie had issues with Diva. People should bear in mind that you can get a dog that turns out ok every once in a while from a puppy mill, and a dog that has issues from a good breeder. How a breeder handles the problems is far more telling than how they deal with people who are happy.

If you are intending to buy a dog - do your due diligence - and live with the consequences of your decisions.
N  7th of Nov, 2010 by    -3 Votes
My friends we looking for a puppy for me because I had just lost one of my dogs to a brain tumor. My male was so crushed I couldn't leave him home alone because he screamed as if he were in pain, my neighbors call me at work to come home. We were both very sad to have lose our sweet Gracey.
My loving friends thought they did a good thing, there hearts were in the right place they just didn't do any homework. So everything was set up in advance as a surprise for me!! And that it was! The two females I ended up going home with were very sick indeed, but after $7000.00 of vet bills and being in my care they are doing well. They are part of my family and they were the day I brought them home. My 3 year old has come a long way (without a whisperer as suggested by Sylvia) My friends said she would never come around, but the power of love is a strong drug!! My baby Diva, will always need her eyes washed out three times a day so the saliva won't eat her eye balls up! But as long as she has constant care she will not lose her eye sight.
I'm tired of all the people Sylvia has writting in for her and I just don't want someone else to have to deal with these kind of issues. Thank God I had the money, there are so many people that wouldn't have and then what? Return the dog so it can be killed, you know Slyvia wouldn't spend that kind of money on a dog she couldn't sell. So what happens to the dogs that get returned, we all know the answer and it makes me so very sad. If I could I would take them all home before I would let even one go back there.
Thanks and have a great day.
Pic is a few days after I brought them home, my 14 yr old male on left, Diva center and Darcy on right. I'm showing you the before pic's.

D  19th of Dec, 2010 by    +1 Votes
Because of a couple of internet sites alleging unprofessional Skansen practices, I flew to NorCal and went to Skansen Kennel, to see what the disgruntle was all about. Earlier in the year I was considering one of the Skansen dogs to show and to enjoy as a pet, I chose not to follow through before seeing the kennel and the breeder stock. When I arrived, I was very impressed, with the staff and the dogs. Sure they don't use concrete runs, but the Skansen lines, their maintenance and operations that was occurring upon my arrival was very impressive. There were a lot of beautiful dogs, well cared for, well fed and well maintained! And after questioning and speaking with the staff and looking around, it put my mind to rest about Skansen. The thing about the internet is that everybody has an opinion, and every bodies feeling are important, but not everybody perspective is on the same plain. It took me about a year to select my first champion boxer, and an additional year to find a suitable boxer champion mate. Breeders with great lines, yada, yada, yada... Which included long drives to volunteer at the rescue, attending shows, speaking to breeders and doing a lot of reading. I appreciated the materials Skansen sent to me with the perspective canine pedigree and even found Sylvia Hammarstrom’s book on Amazon. I didn't get to meet Sylvia but I was very impressed with her ability to build this business and influence the breed around the world. I did get to speak with her on the phone and again was very impressed. If your looking for perfection on earth or are unfamiliar with canine responsibilities you might not be a suitable animal owner, I don't care how fluffy the dog bed you purchased is or what kind of food you purchase for your canine. I'm sure it is all with the best intentions. That being said, I don't wish you discomfort with the challenge set before you with your dogs, that is never pleasant. But occasionally in life circumstances happen, don't blame the breeder, buck up and deal with it. Pay more for a top quality dog! Look I'm well aware of the expenses and maintenance and their have been times it was tough. But I entered into being a dog owner and decided to be the best that I could be and dealt with the things that come up over their lifetime. They become part of the family and require love, maintenance and are an expense.
D  23rd of Dec, 2010 by    +3 Votes
I have been to Skansen on four occasions just to visit. I was greeted with respect and all of my questions were answered. All of the dogs that I saw from Mini's to Giants were kept very well. I was impressed with the kennel and only wished that I could have 1/10 of the establishment that they have in place. I now own a Skansen Giant London St.Pierre. He is a great addition to our family. Lorrie its sad that you have nothing better to do than to slander good people.

Alex Lark
N  18th of Jan, 2011 by    +2 Votes
I have had Schnauzers from Skansen's in my life for over forty years. I grew up with them as a child, and as an adult I have had the fortune of being able to own them. Sylvia breeds quality dogs in a quality environment. This is NO puppy mill, it is a beautiful 100 acre farm in Northen California's wine country. It is the healthiest way to breed and raise young dogs. You will never see such a clean and peaceful (well except for when you drive in and all the pups bark to greet you) place. The staff are the BEST and everyone there REALLY cares! Sylvia is exceptional!
N  22nd of Jan, 2011 by    +3 Votes
My Skansen Giant are Great!!! They are healthy, smart and are absolutely beautiful!

N  7th of Feb, 2011 by    +2 Votes
i just happened to pull up this web site and read about this ignorant Lorrie person slamming Sylvia and her dogs. I've known Sylvia Hammerstrom for over 35 years. My wife and i purchased our first giant schnauzer in 1975 Skansens Tal Majal a beautiful black [censor] and another giant in 1978 a black male Skansen Baracka. This to fine animal were superb family friends not just pets. Both passed in the esrly nineties. After my for graduates fron college and i retired in 2006 I purchased another giant from skansens ...a pepper and salt male giant Skansens Mr. Monk. He is five now and is a great pet, friend companion excellent temperment and healthy. In 2008 we rescued a giant female. we live in stone Mountain Georgia. This dog was turned to rescue status because the previous owner did not have time needed to car for the animal...crated 10-12 hrs a day. Even with some seperation anxiety issues she made a complete recovery. After some research ...her origin was skansen kennels...wonderful companion for monk. Sylvia's dogs are treasures. Me and my life feel fortunate to have known Sylvia for all these years and to have her provide these beautiful loving animals for us. My 32 year old daughter purchased a giant two years ago and she loves it. we cannot imagine life without them. Lorrie h ...whoever you are get your facts straight before you start slamming good people and their reputation on the net. It appear we have a two legged problem here with brainless nutcase adamant about slandering Sylvia and Skansen Kennels. This is not a four legged problem. Your dog looks malnutritent...try feeding it...Or MAYBE THE POOR DOG IS JUST SICK OF YOU !!!
N  12th of May, 2011 by    +2 Votes
I've visited Skansens Kennel three times in the last few years. First when I bought my now 3.5 year black standard in December 2007, then again in December 2008 and last in September 2010 when I was considering picking up another black standard.
Although I only finally me Sylvia on my last visit I had corresponded or spoken with her numerous times and found her to be very patient and attentive to my questions and concerns every time.
There is absolutely nothing that would prompt me making a negative comment about the kennel, staff, dogs I saw, etc, etc. Quite the contrary, all seemed well and clean and happy!
So from my perspective, in the three times that I've been there in the last four years, there is certainly no reason to believe whatsoever something untoward is happening at this kennel. Anyone stating otherwise must be having a bad day!
My black, show quality, standard schnauzer purchased from this kennel is virtually perfect in temprament, build, gait, health etc. My slight complaint would be that he is only not as black-black as I would have hoped. But this is probably more a result of the dog not ever being stripped, spending time in the pool and in the LA sun, than Sylvia's breeding. In spite of this relatively minor flaw, Sylvia offered me a replacement standard while of course keeping mine(the purpose of my Sept. 2010 visit), which I decided to hold off on for now.
So all in all this is a great Kennel, and if I would be my dream to have a black giant, mini and and another standard from her! Peter, LA
N  15th of May, 2011 by    +2 Votes
I have had Skansen Dogs for the past thirty years...they have been beautiful...healthy...and the best companions one can ask for!!!
I understand that like in humans dogs are also individuals and genetic play a part in heath...so are other factors!
My experience with Sylvia have always been the best and she has ALWAYS been a responsible breeder!!!
Thank you Sylvia for breeding such outstanding dogs and the years of happiness you have brought into my life!
Rossana Castagnetto
N  2nd of Aug, 2011 by    -1 Votes
I can't comment on this kennel as I have no experience. What I can tell you is that I recently lost my giant ... My boy and am waiting to receive my new baby later this month. Both are classicgiant dogs. They are kept in the house, they are raised in the kitchen, they are loved from birth to death. The breeder Mary keeps in touch to check on her dogs and shares your tears when one passes. If you have a concern perhaps you would be more comfortable with a smaller breeder
N  10th of Aug, 2011 by    -2 Votes
The fact of the matter is that Skansen has some questionable practices and that Sylvia is a bit "eccentric" (I am a gentleman and trying very hard to use kind words). I first encountered Skansen at the Westminster Dog Show, the preponderance of the Giants were bred by Sylvia, if memory serves it was 7 or 8 out of 12, amazing! I was introduced to the breed by a colleague whose family had 3 Giants from Skansen over 12 years and were completely satisfied with Sylvia and her dogs. I entered into a contract with her and paid for a show quality Giant. Sylvia contacted me and said that there were two litters and that one of them had a problem with the paper work and would not be registered, since I wanted the Giant for a pet would I accept one of these pups and take half my money back - I agreed after being assured that there were no issues other than technical ones. I received my pup and he was great, except that he had a very bad case of worms, which I was willing to overlook. I was told by Sylvia that he had received NO vaccinations and that he should not get any! I disagree with no vaccinations and so he was given most of what a puppy would normally get, although I spaced them out a bit more. I later discovered in some of the paper work I was sent that he had in fact received ALL his shots and even some that I chosen to forgo, when I questioned Sylvia she said the paper work I was sent was wrong and that none of her dogs were vaccinated, very strange, but what was I to do? I also inquired as to where my refund was and was told that I wouldn't be receiving one because he was in fact "show quality" just not registered and since I wanted a pet and that is what I got I should be very pleased, SHOCKING. I had my dog, he was beautiful and I did not care about the money enough to try and sue her from out of state, so after a prolonged discussion with Sylvia and being worn down by her circular logic, I capitulated. Life goes on and all was good, until just before his 4th birthday when the grand mal seizures started - HORRIFYING. I immediately called Sylvia looking for guidance, she was very defensive and told me that in all her years of breeding she had NEVER had a dog from her Kennel have seizures. She started to attack my handling of the matter and everything my Vet had advised, she said it was environmental or diet related. She then went into some half baked story about curring diabetes and cancer with something called " acid water" and claimed to have saved her mailman with such... This post is already way too long and the story is way too strange, but it is true. Obviously there are people who fall on both sides of the argument - but we should all hear each other and acknowledge that just because someone has a bad experience doesn't mean someone else didn't have a good one. My heartbreak is that my Giant's seizures became clusters of seizures and despite all efforts to help his condition, I had to put him down - it was traumatic for my family and I wouldn't want anyone to have to go through that. I now have a new pup from a different Kennel. I hope for the best...
N  5th of Nov, 2011 by    +1 Votes
I find this all very interesting. I just returned from Salado, TX, where I happened to see a few Giants from Skansen's. All were in great shape as show dogs. This was a confirmation event sponsored by the Bell County Kennel Club. What I find so amazing is how many people are buying dogs, sight unseen, and expecting not to have challenges. "Skansen" is a brand, just as "Chevy" is a brand. EVERY product can have problems. Your individual purchase experiences will all be different. Please do not by anything that you cannot inspect IN PERSON before you give up your CASH, especially an animal. I agree with Messers. DeBerge and Towert, your rude behavior (and those of others) would turn anyone off. Heck, not all children will come without health challenges; do you think pets won't have some challenges? Get your refund or head to civil court. Buyer Beware! Being nasty is not needed!
D  9th of Nov, 2011 by    +2 Votes
I think anyone can have a bad "business deal" with a "business", and others may not have that same experience. And when you are dealing with Skansen- yes, it is a "business", and it is a "business deal"; however, that does NOT make her a "puppy farm". I have been a pet groomer for over 17 years and have groomed thousands of mini, standard, and giant schnauzers. I have not ever came accross a standard or giant with the dry eye condition (not to say it can't happen), but have seen many, many miniatures that have had the dry eye condition and a few who have even had the surgery to make use of a salivary gland for a lacrimal duct replacement. See, I am also a certified veterinary technican, so I know the condition well. The only breed we see more prevelant with this eye anomoly is Shih Tzus. The condition is not deemed as hereditary, but more conditional and when I say that it does not mean that Sylvia kept you rpup in conditions that caused this. Wind, dust, hair...environmental factors can cause this disease to set in. Many times groomers are blamed for it- letting hair get in the eyes, or a dryer pointed at the dogs face. It is understandable that you were/are upset, and you have the right as an American citizen to voice your opinion, but I think you have done that. And for every one person who has had a bad expereince with this kennel- there are 10-20 more that have had a very good experience. Enough said.
N  11th of Dec, 2011 by    +2 Votes
I grew up with Standards and Giants from Skansen Kennel, and currently have a 2 year old Giant from them...that's over 30 years of experience with Skansen bred Schnauzers. I remember fondly going to her ranch as a young child, and it hasn't changed a bit...it's puppy / dog heaven! The dogs are allowed to live outside to get plenty of exercise and fresh air.

ALL the dogs have been wonderful, excellent temperament and health! Sylvia breeds quality dogs that make excellent family pets! Her team is wonderful, and truly are interested in matching the dogs with the right situation. Laina is great and honest!

I will continue to return to Skansen as long as I can when I want to add to my family. The dogs are kind, smart, loyal and beautiful.
N  11th of Jul, 2012 by    +1 Votes
I just came across this site as I was looking for Schnauzer breeders closer to my current location. I lived in Sonoma County for many years before moving to the Atlanta area and purchased my Standard from Sylvia in 1999. She is now 13 and still going strong, although she has begun to develop cataracts. That doesn't seem to keep her from chasing the squirrels in the back yard. She has been nothing but a delight in all the years I have had her. I am sorry that some have had bad experiences with Skansen. However, that does not make Skansen a puppy mill. Animals are born with congenital problems that are not apparent immediately. Even the best blood lines can breed puppies with defects from time to time. I cannot speak to Sylvia's demeanor with people because I have never had to contact her about my dog. There has been no reason to do so. For Lorrie, I am sorry you had a bad experience. These things happen. However, I do find your responses to many of the people who have posted here to be rude and disrespectful. While I can understand your difficult experience, I do not find that a sufficient reason to discount the good experiences that others describe.

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