Category Archives: Breed Index

Tollers: Interview with an Owner

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever – big name, big character?

Marlene wanted an active dog who would fit in with holidays and hiking. She says Ludo is that and much, much more.  I never thought I could ever love a dog as much as this.  He makes me laugh every day.” How lovely is that!


The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, known as a Toller, is described by the Kennel Club as a powerful, handsome, web-footed swimmer from Canada. They are one of the Retrievers, within the Gundog group, but are quite different in appearance to Labradors, being more like a Border Collie in size and coat. Their character and temperament is as ‘retriever’ as you could hope for and the ‘buff’ or ‘red’ colouring is very distinctive.


Tollers are relatively new to the UK, having been brought over from Canada in 1988. The Kennel Club describes Tollers as follows “His method of work may appear strange to many; his task is to lure wildfowl to within range of the guns. It is reputed that he uses his vigorous tail action to achieve this. He lives up to his name as a good retriever, especially from water, where his webbed feet, a breed feature, enable him to swim powerfully.

“The Toller has been selected over the generations for his intelligence and trainability. As a result he makes an ideal and enthusiastic family companion for the active household, performing well in a variety of activities such as agility, flyball, tracking and obedience.

Getting ready for the challenge

Ludo was Marlene’s first dog, so she read up on the breed, talking to breeders and vets. She also met a few at Crufts, so she was somewhat prepared.


The best thing about Ludo is that he is a loving, gentle boy who just wants to play but loves the praise he gets from working with me too.  He understands things very quickly and is extremely perceptive which may or may not be just a breed thing, as I know of a lot of other clever dogs too. 

“Because he is quite clever, he can also be opportunistic so prepare yourself to be in charge.  (I taught 5 year olds in my old life so I had great training for being consistent and in charge.)  As a breed, I have heard some can be aloof but most Tollers I know will choose their time and people for showing affection.

The Toller scream

Marlene says that Tollers have a famous ‘scream’ when they get excited, which can put people off the breed. She finds it quite funny to hear! She says Ludo will only resort to this if he thinks someone is on the property that shouldn’t be there. Marlene is training him to calm down with hand gestures and rewards.


Health issues?

Like other retrievers, they need to have their hips scored and low scores are desirable, to reduce the risk of dysplasia. They also require eye tests, similar to those needed for Border Collies.

Marlene says there she has had no experiences with health issues. She recommends talking to the breeder to check health records and details of issues. As Marlene says “Good breeders will avail their track records and will be very honest.

Exercise and training needs

As with any dog, it is essential to make sure that they have the opportunity to get out and about every day. Marlene says We walk every day but the walks vary in length and purpose.  Some walks are feral rambles – I love these! Some walks include safety training, manners, basic skills, tricks, play.  Some walks are led by my dog walker who offers pack walks.  She carefully handpicks about 3-4 dogs who work well together, so that they learn manners and responding to her calls, not just mine.”


Tollers are not suitable for inactive homes. You will need to be prepared to get out and about. Like Springer Spaniels, they love to sniff and search and should not be walked on lead. Tollers will suit an active family or people who can spend a lot of time with them.

Marlene retired to make space in her life for Ludo. She says “I have a very active lifestyle i.e. I am a rower so fitness is essential. Long off-walk rambles and short on-lead walks are part of our routine.  I see  each activity as a learning opportunity for Ludo and me.

Thank you Marlene for telling us about your gorgeous boy.


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5 Myths about Border Collies

Border Collies are one of the most popular breeds of dog in the UK. Yet they are often misunderstood and can have a bad reputation. People think that Border Collies are nervous, obsessive and snappy – that’s not a myth, they can be like that! But there is more to the breed than this. Hopefully, the ‘farm collie’ that you had as a child is NOT the same as the responsibly bred Border Collie you buy from an KC Assured Breeder.

Let’s look in more detail at a few of the biggest myths around the breed:

1. Border Collies are black and white

A ‘typical’ Border Collie?

Let’s start with the physical attributes – do we think all Border Collies look like Bonnie (above)? According to the Kennel Club’s breed standard, there are quite a few variables. For example, “the nose should be black, except in brown or chocolate colour when it may be brown. In blues the nose should be slate colour.” And the eyes should be “brown in colour, except in merles, where one or both or part of one or both may be blue.” It goes on to describe variability in size, in the set of the ears, in the length of coat and so on.

As for colours, what a choice we have! I have written about this in more detail elsewhere, but Border Collies come in all sorts of colours!

2. Easy to train

I have to talk about this one next. Everyone knows that Border Collies are extremely intelligent, right? So that must mean they are easy to train, right? Wrong. Well, actually it is true, but they don’t train themselves! Oh no wait, that’s not true either, they DO train themselves, and that’s why you have to watch them carefully. They will also train YOU!

ball games

Pictured here we can see Aura, making me throw the ball for her. She does love her ball! Aura will demand that I throw it, again and again – she’s relentless! However, it is Sunny who has always been able to persuade anyone and everyone to throw a ball for her.

Border Collies want to learn, to do, to keep busy. Many people struggle to get them to stop and settle and if they are poorly managed they can become neurotic and obsessive. They need owners who can keep them focused and doing what is required. And no more.

3. Need lots of exercise

border collies
Constantly on the go

Border Collies are designed to work. They should ‘normally’ be out on the hills, with the shepherd, moving the sheep from one place to another. This might take a long time and involve being on the go for hours on end. But they don’t do this all day every day. I often think the breed is one of the closest to wild dogs (if you get a Heinz 57 dog it will often look a bit like a collie). This means they are built for stamina and speed, stealth and strength.

However, the shepherd also needs them to be able to cope with doing nothing much, for long periods as well. Fortunately for us, because not many people these days require a dog to be on the go all day long.

So yes, Border Collies, can exercise all day. Do they need to? No. I always tell my puppy owners “You can exercise your Border Collie for 3 hours a day or more. All you will get is a fit dog! The more you do with them, the more they will need you to do. You will NOT succeed in tiring them out.” Be warned!

4. Good with children

A well-bred, well raised Border Collie should be a super family pet. But they are certainly not the ‘obvious’ breed when it comes to spending time with children. Their tendency to herd can make them nippy. Our childhood collies used to try desperately to round us up if we were out on a walk, or running around a field. They would nip at our heels as we went to leave the house.

Border Collie puppies
Good with children?

My second Border Collie, Buzz, loved being part of our family. But he tended to guard and was a bit ‘sharp’ if things got a bit too exciting. I feel that Border Collies can easily become anxious if children are noisy, or lively. They do not like being chased, or grabbed. Other breeds, particularly Labradors, are far more tolerant, although all dogs should be managed sensibly around children.

5. Make great pets

border collie myths
They certainly know how to pose!

Yes they do. If they are well-bred, well-trained and well cared for, they make absolutely fantastic pets. Find a responsible breeder, go to training classes, practise and praise. Then enjoy!

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Labrador: Interview with an owner

Labrador – the perfect dog for beginners?

The Kennel Club describes the breed as follows: the Labrador is the most popular of all pedigree breeds and his popularity comes from his versatility as family companion, service dog, guide dog as well as a working gundog.


The Labrador (Lab) comes in three main types – yellow, black and chocolate, although there is now an increase in the ‘fox red’ Labrador.  In fact they are classified as being one of six breeds of Retriever, which also includes:

  • Golden Retriever
  • Curly Coated Retriever
  • Flat coated Retriever
  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever
  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

These breeds have similar characteristics and make fantastic family pets, although Golder Retrievers and Labradors are the two breeds that have been extremely popular for centuries.

Labrador characteristics

Mel tells us that Labradors are great companions.  They love to snuggle on the sofa and want to be where you are. They love to be physically active, but also can sleep for hours at your feet.  She says:


“My Labradors love to swim, in rivers, in streams, in the sea, and they are very strong swimmers. They are enthusiastic about everything. They are medium to large sized, well muscled and very strong.”

Mel says that she chose her first dog, Bryn (aged 8) as she knew the breeder and her bitch had a wonderful temperament.  Flint is a rescue dog that she had from 10 months old (now aged 2) as a companion dog to train up to take over from Bryn when he is ready to retire as a Pets As Therapy dog.   They are both described as ‘working Labs’ rather than being from show lines.


Interestingly, Mel feels that her two are both more lively than she had expected, having previously owned Golden Retrievers.  She says she found they were much more exuberant and not so laid back as the Goldies.

An active lifestyle is essential

If you want to consider owning a Labrador, you will need a lifestyle that is quite active so it suits your dog.  Mel says she loves to be outdoors gardening or walking.  She also tries to keep her dogs’ minds active by giving them a job to do.

The best home would have access to open spaces for free running, water for swimming nearby and plenty of attention and company from the owners.  Mel says:

“I live in the country so we enjoy long walks and they accompany me wherever I go as much as possible. We enjoy going on holiday together to the seaside and they have accompanied me to several restaurants. Mine travel well.”


They are great companions for children, but need introducing responsibly, due to their exuberance, although Mel says she has found them to be very gentle around children. They need training and stimulation to get the best out of them.  Definitely not the dog for a flat!

Jobs to do

Bryn is a Pets as Therapy dog and goes into a local primary school to listen to the children read.  He was also in a Flyball team competing in Open competitions winning many rosettes.  Flint is currently taking part in the KC Good Citizen Dog Training Scheme. Both Mel’s dogs are Pet Blood Bank donors.


“I walk my dogs daily for an hour’s free off lead run over the fields and a half hour walk/training on lead later in the day. They receive an hours formal training weekly.”

Hair, hair, everywhere!

One of the downsides of Labradors is that, even though they are not a long-haired breed, they shed hair constantly – lots of it! That is why we have had the introduction of crossbreeds, to try and reduce this issue.  Labradors have been crossed with Poodles to create the Labradoodle.

As they are a strong dog, obedience training is very important. They require some stimulation to prevent them becoming bored, which may cause them to be destructive. They need company as they are very social dogs and don’t like to be left for too long on their own, but they can be left for several hours occasionally without any problem.

Health issues

The main issue for a Labrador is hips. Please ensure you check the breeder has had the dog and bitch hip and eye scored before you purchase.  Mel says the scores from Bryn were very good but with the rescue dog she had no information.  This means there may be a risk of hip dysplasia in future, which is painful and life-limiting.  The only problem Mel has encountered has been with them catching or ripping their dew claws due to them being so active. Labradors are also prone to fatty lumps.


Final advice

“My advice would be if you put in the work it will be worth it and you will have a wonderful faithful companion. Buying a puppy is just the start of the journey.


“What I love about their characters is that they are still puppies at heart and are full of joy at life.  They are very loving and affectionate and want to please.  They are such faithful pals to me and each other.  I can’t imagine being without them.”

Thank you so much Mel, for your lovely information about this No 1 breed!


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Spanish Water Dog: Interview with an owner

Spanish Water Dog – A hypoallergenic delight!

Have you ever seen a Spanish Water Dog?  Well if you have, you probably (rudely) just thought it was a cockerpoo! They are part of the Gundog group of dog breeds, like Spaniels, so do have some similarities with those breeds.  Sarah says:

“We had never heard of this breed until my daughter included it on a presentation of the breeds she thought we could consider, as my husband was very allergic to dogs. As a result we went to visit breeders and spent time with the dogs, both to test my husband’s allergy and to see if this was going to be a breed we could live with.

Spanish Water Dog“Our criteria was for a family pet, an active dog and one that didn’t need a lot of time both in terms of exercising and maintenance. We liked the relatively compact size and the fact they are very intelligent and easily trainable.”

Grooming requirements

The Spanish Water Dog has an unusual coat, which would have kept him warm in Winter and cool in summer when he was herding sheep on the Spanish mountains.  The coat doesn’t moult at all, but needs to be clipped regularly.  Murray also doesn’t need grooming – in fact you are not allowed to brush his fur.  As a result, Sarah says he does need regular bathing, especially if he is swimming often.

The Kennel Club description of the Spanish Water Dog says:

“Although the Spanish Water Dog was primarily a retriever of wildfowl, he has also traditionally been used as a herder of sheep. His thick coat, a feature of the breed, requires clipping once or twice each year.”

A perfect pet

Sarah says that Murray has fitted into the family extremely well.  He is more of a lap dog than they expected, as he is quite small for the breed (like his father).   He has been easy to train and care for.  Sarah feels that he prefers people to other dogs, possibly because he is not often with other dogs.  In my view, some ‘only dogs’ are desperate for the company and interaction of other dogs, to the point of being a real pain about rushing up to other dogs when out.  Full credit to Sarah if Murray is not like that!

Spanish Water DogSarah says,

“I think his sociability, his calmness and his love of people and especially children are his best characteristics. He isn’t a jumpy, lively dog, not even as a puppy, much more calm and gentle. He is a perfect family pet.”

Spanish Water Dogs are intelligent enough to be trained as gundogs or to herd and they are able to learn activities such as agility.  Sarah has taught Murray a string of tricks he loves to do.

Hairy ears

The Spanish Water Dog, as with many other breeds, can be prone to hip issues, so breeding should be managed to minimise this.  The only other health issue they have is that their hair can grow and block their ears.  Sarah says she was encouraged to pull out the hair, but Murray really doesn’t like that and she found that grass seeds find their way into his ears without that hair to provide a barrier.  They have had experience of grass seeds, but of course this is not peculiar to Spanish Water Dogs.

Spanish Water DogWater for the Spanish Water Dog!

The clue is in the name! Sarah takes Murray for two walks a day, one longer walk  for 45-60 minutes and one shorter walk 15-30 mins. In total he has about 60-90 minutes a day. Murray also loves swimming and she says they try to let him have a swim every week, except for in the middle of winter. They don’t have a particular training regime any more, but Sarah says they do give him the opportunity to do his tricks on a regular basis.

Spanish Water DogPerfect for..

Sarah’s Spanish Water Dog loves people and children, so she feels they can live anywhere where they aren’t going to be spending too much time on their own and has people to love and fuss him.  Murray is very fussy and loves nothing more than a cuddle, which not every dog does like.

Thanks Sarah, for introducing us to this unusual, but delightful breed.

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Dalmatian – Interview with an owner

Dalmatian – it’s spotty dog!

The Dalmatian is from the utility group of dog breeds; this group is for dogs that do not easily fit into one of the other groups!  The Kennel Club describes the breed as follows:

“In the Regency period 1795-1837 the Dalmatian breed became a status symbol, trotting alongside the horse-drawn carriages and those with decorative spotting were highly prized. For this reason he earned the epithet ‘the Spotted Coach Dog’. The dogs would also guard the stables at night. The breed was also used to run ahead of horse-drawn fire engines clearing the route for the vehicles.”


Of course most of us know them from the famous Dodie Smith book ‘101 Dalmatians’ and the films based on the book.  Certainly they are a very distinctive breed, but what are they like to own?  Sarah tells us how she came to own her first one:

“We wanted a medium-sized dog, that was active, fun-loving, family orientated, but also could be independent of us. Our first  shortlist of possible dogs did not include the Dalmatian.  Then I saw one walking through our village and thought it a handsome dog.  We repeated our research and added the Dalmatian to the list.  The next weekend there were Dalmatian puppies advertised in the local paper and we found a wonderful dog.”

Active, loyal and affectionate

Sarah says that their Dalmatians have exceeded their expectations. They were a little concerned about the breed’s reputation for being a bit mad and uncontrollable, but quickly found that with adequate exercise, the Dalmatian is a relatively calm dog, who is fun-loving and loves to play.


Sarah’s dogs, Dice and Lola are very affectionate and happy to see her, greeting her with that Dalmatian smile!  They are more than happy to be an oversized lap dog and love human contact,  sitting touching her legs and feet.

Great stamina

Dalmatian dogs love to walk and are great if you want to keep up an active lifestyle. Sarah found with an hour plus walk in the morning, a half hour walk with a dog walker at lunch time and a hour plus walk in the evening, together with a bit of play time, Dice and Lola have been independent enough to be left during the day.

The Dalmatian loves active holidays, long walks in the country, paddling in the sea and exploring the beach.  Sarah often takes them out on car journeys as they love being with her.  They also loved doing dog agility and dog training.


They are very strong dogs and have the stamina to walk for miles, but will still play in the evenings.  Despite being well-built dogs, their appearance is elegant.  Sarah has noticed that Lola has a stronger tendency to guard than Dice.  She can be over-protective of them, which can be tricky if nervous people are visiting.

Easy care dogs

The Dalmatian is not a fussy eater, although as they are prone to forming urate stones they need a low purine diet. They are smooth-coated, they are easily cared for on a day-to-day basis.  However, although they have a smooth, short coat, they do shed hair continuously.  The fur is about the size of an eyebrow hair which Sarah says sticks to everything!  Dalmatians will also eat anything, so you do have to be careful about unattended food.

“The Dalmatian dog is also moderately difficult to train, having an independent streak to their characters.  A sufficient supply of treats can overcome this.”

Deafness is common in the Dalmatian

Although they are generally robust physically, Dalmatians are notoriously prone to deafness and breeders should have their hearing checked.  The deafness is caused by a link to the white ear gene.  (Incidentally, Border Collies can also suffer deafness as a breed, so all my puppies to date have been BAER tested.)  For more information, go to the Animal Health Trust’s pages, including Deafness in Dalmatians.


Lola is deaf in one ear, but this has never made any difference to her, so Sarah feels it does not matter much.  It is quite common to have a deaf dog, as many dogs lose their hearing in old age.  Dogs and owners usually manage perfectly well.  However, like everything else to do with owning a dog, it does take awareness and effort to ensure you have a healthy, happy animal.

Active families required

Sarah feels that a Dalmatian would fit well with people and families who have a commitment to the dog and its exercise requirements.  A Dalmatian would probably not be suitable for a family with very young children, as they can be boisterous and time-consuming in their exercise requirements (they are not small, delicate dogs!)  They would be suitable for a family that has older children or teenagers.


Sarah’s advice before buying one:

“Research the breed on the internet, read books and information from the Kennel Club.  Talk to owners of the breed and the breeders.”

Thank you Sarah for this fascinating insight into this adorable breed!


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Border Collie: Interview with an owner

Border Collie – what are they like to own?

Today I am interviewing myself.  I was in an agility class on Saturday morning with five other people and Busy was the only Border Collie in the class.  This is fairly unusual, although increasingly agility is being done by all sorts of people and dogs, as people realise just how much fun it can be!

Border CollieI said to Busy “now behave, you are representing Border Collies here!”  I was struck by just how much she is typical of her breed, and how different that looks compared with the Cocker Spaniels, Labrador, German Shepherd and Terrier that were in the class with us.  So what exactly does make this breed different?  And why would you choose it, or NOT choose it?  I have had a page on Border Collie Breed Information which talks about what makes them so special since I first started this website, but I thought I would try and offer a more direct comparison with other breeds.

Intelligence – the No 1 trait

Everyone knows that Border Collies are intelligent.  According to the Stanley Coren Intelligence of Dogs list they are the most intelligent breed.  But what does that mean?  Everyone believes that being really intelligent means:

“Border Collies are easy to train”

To some extent that is true.  They have a fantastic desire to work and to please.   That means they will try really hard to figure out what you want and will then do it for you.  However, it also means they can easily outsmart you!  If you don’t believe me, try visiting my house.  If you go outside with my dogs, you will discover after about 30 seconds that you are throwing a ball!  No matter who you are or what you think you wanted to do, you will be THROWING A BALL!  Sunny will train you to do this instantly.  This is what happens:

  • Sunny finds a ball
  • Sunny brings it to you
  • She looks at you with pleading eyes, quite obviously saying “throw the ball”
  • If you fail to pay attention to this instruction, she will pick the ball up and throw it at you, then do a bit of ‘woo wooing’ to get your attention
  • You throw the ball

Seriously, she is relentless.  I have seen her do this with toddlers who can barely walk, never mind throw a ball.  She will insist that everyone, of any age, throws the ball.

Border Collies train you.  They are so smart, they figure out how to get you to do what they want.  Then they never let up.

Border CollieFitting into family life

I have had seven Border Collies and I personally have never owned another breed.  So you could say my experience is limited, but I certainly do know about this breed.  I have written about my life in dogs up until the point of getting Sunny, who is definitely my dog of a lifetime.  Re-reading these posts, it seems clear to me that I never chose to have Border Collies, they were chosen for me.  I never considered how well they fitted into my lifestyle, or whether there were other alternatives.  This is the breed for me and no dog I have ever met has made me think differently.

Over the past 12 years, since owning Sunny, my experiences of Border Collies have changed my views of the breed and their suitability for family life.  I think they are great in a family, provided they have been well bred, well raised and are well managed!  Which is a challenge in itself, isn’t it?

I think if you take on this breed on purpose, after full consideration, you might just be able to cope.  They are potentially fun to have, as you can certainly train them to do a myriad of different tricks, sports and activities.  But that is the key – you must do something.

Difficult characteristics

A Border Collie who is left to its own devices can be:

  • neurotic
  • snappy
  • reactive to children, other dogs, cats, cars, etc
  • obsessive
  • manic
  • demanding

I am so used to the tendency towards these characteristics that I don’t always recognise these things in my own dogs.  Generally, I believe my dogs to be calm, well trained, well behaved and super friendly.  However, they are definitely demanding and their behaviour can be ‘full on’ if I do not pay attention.

Border CollieOunce demands that I play with her at various intervals throughout the day and gets really cross and shouty if I don’t do as she wants.  Aura gets really worked up over kitchen noises and when people arrive.  Busy struggles to control her excitement and then cannot listen to instructions.  Sunny is as I have already explained ;-).  (Luna is lovely.)

I often tell people that Border Collies are the most commonly re-homed breed.  I think this is not entirely true, but very often they are just too much for people.

How much exercise?

I have talked about how much exercise  dogs should have in general.  A Border Collie will basically have as much as you want to give it.  My 79 year-old mum potters along the shoreline with hers, (Luna’s sister) and that’s fine.  Mine have an hour off lead, plus training and play.  Most people do way more than that.  It doesn’t really matter.  What is really important is that they have a routine and a consistent amount of exercise so that they are not over-exerted suddenly.  Of course if they are fit, they will easily cope with the odd mountain walk on holiday.

Unlike some breeds, Border Collies are designed to go all day, every day.

A word of caution here; do not let your dog tell you how much exercise they want and DO NOT THINK YOU CAN TIRE IT OUT!  That would be a big mistake.  Border Collies do not tire.  Sunny did the Three Peaks with my sons a few years ago.  She would walk up and down a mountain for 6 or 7 hours, sit in the pub for a bit and then play frisbee with the kids in the campsites.  NB: You MUST let your dog rest properly, so that they learn to be calm.  If you let it, your Border Collie will just keep going.  The Duracell Bunny has nothing on a Border Collie!

Border CollieHealth issues

Border Collies are really tough, resilient dogs.  They have few health issues, the most notable being epilepsy.  Sadly, there is currently no test for this, so we try to prevent it through careful, responsible breeding.  Other health issues, such as Collie Eye Anomaly and Hip Dysplasia are tested for prior to breeding.

Collies to have a tendency towards sensitivity with their digestion.  They are not a foraging breed, not being particularly food driven, but can have issues with sickness and are inclined to be fussy eaters.

They may also be injured through a tendency to tear around, as well as taking part in more dog sports than most breeds.  They are known for hiding injuries though, as they would rather just keep going.

Best advice?

Get a Border Collie if you like a challenge!  They are not a breed for lazy people.  Not just because they definitely, absolutely, categorically should be exercised, but because they demand stimulation.  This can be play, or training, or tricks, or just cuddles and conversation.  Anything will do, just DO IT! (throw the ball :p)

Border CollieFundraising for Canine Concern

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Please CONTACT ME if you want to know more about me and my dogs?  And feel free to COMMENT if you want to tell me what you think.  If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME?  Then you will receive an email when there is a new post.

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WSD vs BC: Which is better?

WSD – What is it and why do you want one?

Working Sheepdog (WSD) is generally the name given to a non-pedigree Border Collie.  They can also be called just ‘sheepdogs’ or just ‘collies’.  Basically, if it looks a bit like a Border Collie (BC) but isn’t registered with the Kennel Club, it’s called a WSD.  With me so far?

Farm collies are usually WSDs, because they are not designed to be pets, but working dogs.  WSDs who work sheep are registered with the International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS).  This prestigious organisation registers and monitors Working Sheepdogs in the UK and Ireland.

wsdRegistration of WSD

If you have a litter of puppies with WSD parents who are ISDS registered, no problem!  You can register these on the ISDS register and they will be assigned a registration number – usually 6 digits.

Once registered as an ISDS WSD, you can register your dog as a KC Border Collie.  That’s because in order to be a ISDS registered WSD you must meet stringent breeding and health requirements.  They must have known heritage, in other words their parents must both be ISDS registered.  And they must have had all the relevant eye testing.  (Still with me?)

If your WSD is not from ISDS lines, but you would like it to be ISDS registered, you can do so, by meeting the society’s requirements.  They can transfer based on competition success.  Alternatively,  they can be put through a ‘working test’ as follows:

The dog must pass a test of skill in Outrun, Lift, Fetch and Driving and general farm duties on a packet of sheep at a test location nominated by the Society or Associate Club and assessed by two Examiners.

In other words, in order to become ISDS registered, a WSD must actually be a ‘working sheepdog’.

wsdRegistration of a BC

In order to register as Border Collie with the Kennel Club, you must have parents who are pedigree Border Collies.  Or you can have an ISDS registered WSD parent or parents, as above.

If you want to have a dog with an unregistered parent or parents (ie neither pedigree nor ISDS) put onto the Border Collie pedigree register, you have to apply for a breed transfer.  This is a long and arduous exercise, that involves:

  • an application process, with accompanying documentation
  • preliminary approval
  • two breed judges examining the dog to confirm that it meet the breed standard
  • a DNA profile to confirm the breed
  • all relevant health testing required for the breed – eye testing and hip scores as a minimum
  • judgement passed by the KC panel.

Once this has been done, a pedigree certificate will be issued, with a pedigree registration number.  The dog’s pedigree name will have three asterisks after its name – Dentbros Busy the Imp***.  Their progeny will have two asterisks – Dentbros Lilac Wine**.  And so on, until Ounce’s grandchildren will be FULL PEDIGREE BORDER COLLIES!

Busy’s sire was an unregistered but nevertheless pedigree Border Collie.  Her great grandmother had not been registered and has some WSD in her pedigree, but after that her family were all from BC stock.  This process recognised and registered her heritage.

Still following all this?

wsdWhat is the point?

You may well ask.  Does it matter AT ALL if they are ISDS registered WSDs or KC registered BCs, or both? Or not?  It’s a complicated question, but the answer is quite simple.

What do you want your dog to do?

This is at the heart of almost all the posts I write on this site.  What is the point of having a pedigree dog?  Why do I need to think about a particular breed?  I have been doing the breed blog to encourage you, my readers, to think properly about what makes dogs different from each other.  As this article about breeds found in shelters says:

“A large proportion of the dogs that end up in rehoming centres are there because their original owners simply found themselves unable to manage the dog that they took on, or had not done enough research about the specific needs and issues surrounding their breed of choice.”

The list of breeds given in the article is as follows:

Mixed breeds are obviously the most commonly re-homed dogs, because there are more mongrels than any pedigree dogs.  And because Designer Dogs are an unknown quantity!

Talking about the BC, the article says:

“One half hour walk once a day is unlikely to keep a Border Collie happy and healthy, and many first-time Collie owners find that they have grossly underestimated the needs of their new pet.”

Qualities of a WSD

In my opinion, a puppy from WSD stock will be more likely to be:

  • nervous
  • snappy
  • obsessive
  • herding

A puppy from pedigree Border Collie stock is more likely to be:

  • cuddly
  • adaptable
  • relaxed
  • sociable

So again I ask you, what do you want from your dog?  The moral of this rather convoluted post is:

“Don’t buy a WSD if you want a family pet”

wsdAsk for help?

You are very welcome to CONTACT ME to ask for my advice.  I can help you with a variety of issues and problems around getting a dog and suggestions for tackling training issues.  Go to the What Dog? page for more information on my service.

Please let me know if you have found this post helpful?


Please CONTACT ME if you want to know more about me and my dogs?  And feel free to COMMENT if you want to tell me what you think.  If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME?  Then you will receive an email when there is a new post.

Labradoodle – Interview with an owner

Labradoodle – a perfect combination?

I was delighted when Adam Delderfield, from Delders Dogs agreed to be interviewed about his two gorgeous Labradoodle boys, Buddy and Chester.  I started to write this post and then realised I needed to talk about Labradoodles, crossbreeds and designer dog breeds, so I wrote that post first.

LabradoodleAdam says he chose an Australian Labradoodle, but that whatever breed he has, he always looks for dogs that are bred for health and temperament, with plenty of stimulation provided early in life.  He wasn’t sure what to expect;

With a crossbreed the breed standards or stereotypes are vague, so I had no real expectations as to what I was getting. However I did get chance to meet the mother and aunt of the puppies, so had a rough idea of what the temperament was likely to be.”

Wet, muddy dogs!

Adam explains that an Australian Labradoodle is a mix of SIX different breeds:

  • Labrador
  • Poodle
  • English Cocker Spaniel
  • American Cocker Spaniel
  • Curly Coat Retriever
  • Irish Water Spaniel

LabradoodleMost of these dogs have quite high drive and also love water and mud. They may not leave any hair in your house, but they will take TWO DAYS to dry after getting wet!  They are basically Velcro for leaves, sticky balls, grass, mud and anything else they can find.  Most of the breeds are Gundog breeds so an Australian Labradoodle likes to retrieve.  This needs to be managed, or you can find them taking things to their bed they shouldn’t have!

That face

The best thing about having an Australian Labradoodle, (or better still two) is that funny face!

“Nothing beats the joyful look of a doodle in the morning, or after being called a good boy.  Its the floppy ears, tongue out, cheeky look they have.”

LabradoodleAdam says his boys fit his lifestyle perfectly; one is calm and loves to sleep all day, the other has the energy of six dogs!  They are both affectionate and loving.  One is independent and outgoing, while the other is reserved and loyal.

Health records

The Australian Labradoodle has potential issues with hip and elbow dysplasia, eye problems and heart conditions.  Neither of Adam’s boys has had any issues, which is not surprising because he has health certificates for their parents and grandparents.

Adam has great advice for a potential dog owner, to help assess the breed and lines for health issues:

“Ask for a list of the breed line and all of their ages.  If all the dogs before your pup got ill at 8 and died at 9, that’s a pretty good marker.  If the breeder doesn’t know this information, that’s even worse. Look for a breed line that is living well into its teenage years because chances are your pup will also live that long. “

How much exercise and training does a Labradoodle need?

Adam says:

“I tend to walk my dogs twice a day as a minimum. Once in the morning and a longer walk in the evening, as that is what fits with my life.  I always try and take the dogs on 1 adventure walk per week.  They go somewhere new or with some new people or dogs, just to keep life exciting.  My dogs tend to be a lot calmer and more settled afterwards.  I really do notice if I don’t take them on a longer adventure walk for a few weeks. “

labradoodleAs for training, although Adam is a dog trainer and is confident that he can teach his dogs anything, he tends to let their personality shine through.  They are pet dogs, not police dogs, so Adam makes sure training is fun for him and for them.  Little and often is the way to go, with any training; 5 minutes a day is perfect.

Are they recommended?

Interestingly, Adam says:

“Although I love my Labradoodles and would never change them, I would also like to try some other breeds out.  I have always loved Staffordshire Bull Terriers and would love to do a breed like that justice.” 

Adam also says that Labradoodles are by no means the easy option in any way.  He says that a good home for these dogs would be someone who likes grooming and definitely someone who wants to find games that will exercise their brain.

Final advice

As far as giving advice to others considering this breed, Adam says:

“Spend as much time with the Breeder as possible, ask them lots of questions and ask to meet all the dogs that would be related to your puppy. Ask them what the average lifespan of the dogs ancestors are, because you want your dog to live for a long time.” 

Thank you Adam, for your invaluable insights into this incredibly popular breed of dog.

LabradoodleAsk for help?

I hope you have enjoyed finding out about owning a Labradoodle?  Please comment and share your views and experiences?  What breed would you like to know about?  Or do you have a breed of dog and would like to share your views on living with your dog?  Please CONTACT ME to let me know?

You are very welcome to CONTACT ME to ask for my advice?  I can help you with a variety of issues and problems around getting a dog and suggestions for tackling training issues.  Go to the What Dog? page for more information on my new service.

Staffies – Interview with an owner

Staffies (Staffordshire Bull Terrier): a brilliant family pet

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier, more commonly known as Staffies, has been a recognised breed of the UK Kennel Club since the 1930’s but there are references to this breed back to the early 1800’s.

Originally bred as a baiting dog and then on to fighting the Staffie has been a favourite of ours for hundreds of years.  Unfortunately their reputation for this behaviour has never left them. The other uses for Staffies were and still are often overlooked; their high intelligence and passion to please and their loyalty make them great family pets.

StaffiesDan Callaghan, from Barkers Trail Academy gives us some fascinating insights into the joys and challenges of owning Staffies, speaking from his informed experience.

Bold, fearless and affectionate

With any breed there is always a generic temperament, a ‘one size fits all’ sort of description.  A quick google search will tell you things like, bold, confident, fearless and affectionate. For the most part this is absolutely true, but Dan has unfortunately also seen a great deal of scared, frightened and timid Staffies.

This is likely due to poor breeding.  Unfortunately with popularity comes demand and easy money, so there are lots of poorly bred dogs, in Dan’s experience.  Good temperament is bred into dogs and a Responsible Breeder will take care to produce this.

Are they pets or workers?

Dan says:

“Well to put it bluntly, both! The Staffie is well known for being the affectionate cuddle monster, but what people will say is that they have so much energy! This is because the Staffie is actually an incredibly intelligent breed, ranked 34 alongside the field spaniel on the Stanley Coren Intelligence of Dogs list

Sorry Dan, they’re 94th on the version I looked at!  (We can all guess who is number 1 can’t we readers? Lol)

StaffiesDan’s completely correct though – if you want a dog that will cuddle you and give you kisses but will also learn lots of tricks and work for you then the Staffie is a great choice of dog.

Health issues in Staffies

Although they tend to be quite healthy and live long happy lives they do have a few common problems:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Skin allergies
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Cataracts
  • Cancer (various)

Are Staffies aggressive?

This is by far the most common problem Dan has to deal with in this breed and also the most common thing people will think of when the word “Staffie” is mentioned. Unfortunately this is a true issue, but does that mean that they are inherently aggressive towards dogs? Absolutely not!  Dan says:

“If you get one from a reputable breeder and you do the correct type of socialisation (see below) then your Staffie will grow up to be a well-adjusted and behaved dog that you can be proud of.

If you buy the dog from Dave in the pub, then you are already fighting an uphill battle via poor genetics (yes genetics DO have an impact on behaviour) and then if you do not worry about the social aspect, then you are likely to have a dog that is anti-social.”

StaffiesSocialising – what does this mean?

One topic that Dan is always asked about is socialisation, “Hi I have a puppy and want to socialise it” is the usual message he receives.

“I detest the so called “puppy parties” where the dogs are taken to a hall and released to play and socialise. Why do I detest them? Well because they encourage unwanted behaviours.”

Dan explains why (these two examples could be describing ANY puppy.  Border collies are usually like puppy 2 by the way.)

Staffie puppy 1 – This puppy is very confident and full of life.  He comes into the room and is excited to see his new friends.  He runs in, jumping around and having a great time.  This puppy can bounce on the others, pin them down, bark, chase and all round have a blast.

What have we allowed the dog to learn here? It’s ok to play rough! SO when they’re a fully grown, muscular and powerful dog, who runs up to another dog and flattens them, what then? Well the other dog may take offence to this and retaliate, which then causes a fight!  Now when a confident Staffie has a fight they walk away actually thinking “that was fun”.   So what do they get good at?  From day one the Staffie should be taught control and correct approach behaviours.

StaffiesStaffie puppy 2 – This puppy is nervous and would rather be left alone, she comes in to the room and is bombarded by dogs. She stands there, tail down wondering what to do and then tries to retreat to her owner.  However she has nowhere to go, the dogs keep coming so she growls.  That didn’t work, she nips, success! We all know where this is going right?  Poor puppy 😦


Although Dan has focused on some negative parts of Staffies, this is more about awareness of what can go wrong if you don’t get things right.  The Staffie is one of Dan’s favourite breeds.  Their energy, loyalty, affection and the noises they make, give you a fantastic little dog.

“If you have the chance to own one and do things right I guarantee the Staffie will be the only dog you’ll ever own again.”

Thank you Dan, for a great insight into this fascinating breed!  More information can be found on the Your Dog Advisor page for Staffies.

Ask for help?

I hope you have enjoyed finding out about owning a Staffie?  Please comment and share your views and experiences?  What breed would you like to know about?  Or do you have a breed of dog and would like to share your views on living with your dog?  Please CONTACT ME to let me know?

You are very welcome to CONTACT ME to ask for my advice?  I can help you with a variety of issues and problems around getting a dog and suggestions for tackling training issues.  Go to the What Dog? page for more information on my new service.

Westie: The West Highland White Terrier – Interview with an owner

Westie – a terrorist with lots of energy!

The West Highland White Terrier, or Westie was developed from the Cairn terrier breed and was recognised by the Kennel Club as a distinct breed just over a hundred years ago, in 1907. It is clearly part of the terrier group of breeds.  The name terrier comes from the Latin ‘terra’ meaning earth; these breeds were designed to flush vermin from holes in the ground.

As I have said before when talking about what type of dog you could have, terriers must NOT be confused with toy dog breeds – they are not lap dogs.  Terriers are much more demanding, physically active and not as cuddly.  The Westie is no exception to this rule.  Tiffany sums up the breed well:

“If you are looking for a dog with a soft, docile, obedient nature, do not get a Westie! They are a whirlwind of energy, fun and naughtiness.”

WestieTiffany feels that the best thing about a Westie is  his personality.  Her dog, Dougie, very much knows his own mind.  She says that when he’s got something to say, he can be vocal! If he doesn’t want to do something, he won’t do it!  But every night when they get home, he greets them so enthusiastically. Dougie is so loving and Tiffany’s little shadow at home.  She couldn’t imagine not having him.

Westie wiles

Being a terrier, he is what might be called a bit of a ‘terrorist’.  Tiffany says:

“Dougie definitely has ‘little dog syndrome’ and thinks he’s as big as a boxer. There is no predictability in which breeds he will be aggressive towards and which he will just completely ignore; sometimes that can be difficult.”

Dougie attended puppy training slightly late, around his first birthday.  Tiffany found him to be a keen learner who would do anything for a treat!  However, he is not as obedience as other breeds and outside he is easily distracted.  She feels that Dougie has absolutely no road sense and could never be off lead anywhere other than away from all traffic.

WestieYappy barking

Many small dog breeds have a tendency to be yappy.  Terriers have plenty of energy and enthusiasm, which means that they can bark all day long!  It is common for dogs like this to jump onto windowsills and bark at anything they can see outside.

Tiffany says that when younger he would bark all day.  They started to leave the TV on in the kitchen to create some background noise.  She drew the blinds and patio curtains too.  Tiffany also hired a dog walker.  She and her fiancé are at work full time, so they needed to ensure that he was given a good walk in the middle of the day.

Plenty of exercise

The Kennel Club guidelines for the Westie suggest they need up to one hour of exercise per day, but of course it depends on whether this is on or off lead, in parks or on pavements, along the same route every day or different places.  Dougie is give three walks per day, with short walks morning and evening and an hour with the dog walker.  At the weekends he is regularly taken on 3-5 miles walks.

Dogs like this are usually able to go for longish walks, but as with any breed, they need routine more than anything.  Just like us, it is hard to go from a small amount of exercise to a long hike. Please take this into account when planning how much exercise to give your dog?

Tiffany feels that a garden is essential (as it is for any dog, in my opinion).  Her Westie does like to chew fingers and jump up for a fuss.  She doesn’t feel that he would tolerate being pulled around like a Labrador might.  Dougie adores stuffed toys, but tears them to bits in minutes, rather than playing with them!

WestieHealth issues

Despite being an older breed and a tough little terrier, Westies do have some health issues.  Tiffany explains:

“The Westie is prone to skin and digestion issues and mine has both.  In the summer when the weather gets warmer, he will start to itch and scratch. He is given an anti-histamine to keep the itching under control. They do suffer with allergies.

“My Westie also has an incredibly sensitive tummy. If he eats something that doesn’t agree with him, it can upset his whole digestive system, leading to an inflamed bowel. He goes off his food and then ends up with lots of acid in his tummy, which he will then sick up. This also requires medication.”

A final health issue relates to anal glands.  These can become inflamed and even burst, which is messy and painful for the dog.  Dougie has twice needed to be sedated and a had the area shaved and cleaned.  As a result of this, he is given a grain-free diet.  His glands are also checked and emptied regularly at the groomers.  (This is rarely a problem suffered by Border Collies!)

Hair and grooming

The Westie has a typical terrier coat.  It is not particularly long and they do not shed or moult a great deal, although they are not listed as a breed of dogs that don’t shed.  However, they do require grooming and are usually taken to a groomers to have their coat ‘stripped’, to reduce the bedraggled look that terriers are prone to having, as well as keeping them cool in summer.

Always worth it?

Tiffany says that she hadn’t appreciated how much of her time and life revolves around her dog; it’s no different to having a child!  She says:

“I certainly didn’t think I would love a dog, quite like I do. He is my baby and I would do anything for him. But they are without doubt a huge bind and we do rely on family and friends to help to look after him, whenever we have to work late or go away somewhere we cannot take him.”

WestieTiffany says that Dougie is full of life and always raring to go out, so most of their holidays are geared around walking holidays.  Having a dog has made her go outdoors considerably more than she did before.

The personality of a Westie outweighs their sensitivities.  They are always smiling and happy dogs.  Dougie is small enough to take in the car and on holiday.  He is so loving; Tiffany wouldn’t know what to do if he wasn’t par of the family.  She recommends going to training as soon as possible and for a good while.

Thank you Tiffany, for a great insight into this cheeky little breed!

Ask for help?

I hope you have enjoyed my insight into owning a Westie?  Please comment and share your views and experiences?  What breed would you like to know about?  Or do you have a breed of dog and would like to share your views on living with your dog?  Please CONTACT ME to let me know?

You are very welcome to CONTACT ME to ask for my advice?  I can help you with a variety of issues and problems around getting a dog and suggestions for tackling training issues.  Go to the What Dog? page for more information on my new service.


Please CONTACT ME if you want to know more about me and my dogs?  And feel free to COMMENT if you want to tell me what you think.  If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME?  Then you will receive an email when there is a new post.

NB: If you read my posts in an email, you may be missing out on the lovely pictures!  Please click through to my website to see the post in all its glory?