Category Archives: Diary of a Dog Breeder

WHY PUPPIES ARE NOT TOILET PAPER

SOLD OUT! Puppies cannot be made to order

You may or may not have noticed, but the world and his wife have got a new puppy! How lovely for everyone. People have been forced to spend time at home reviewing their lives and have realised that their life will be better with a dog. Correct. It will be. If you have changed your working pattern and will now be spending time working from home, you will be able to play with your new dog – that’s great.

puppies for sale
Life is better with a dog

Of course there will be plenty of people who have been at home and thought it was the ideal time to get a puppy so they could ‘get it sorted’ before going back to work, when it will be left all day, every day. Those people will find their bored, frustrated puppy (it will still be a puppy) will wreck their house and bark all day, annoying their (now working from home) neighbours. Those puppies will then go into rescue centres – more on that later.

Where are all the puppies coming from?

When we first went into Lockdown, everyone decided they MUST have toilet paper. It sold out pretty quickly. But then the manufacturers realised that it was essential for everyone to have a year’s supply immediately, so production of toilet paper went into overdrive. These companies were able to stop making other products and produce more toilet paper. Great, everyone has a clean bum now.

puppies for sale

With puppies, this has also happened. I am sure that LOTS of people who were considering having puppies some time over the next year, have decided to crack on. This might well be because their own plans have changed. That is what has happened to me.

I would normally have two years between each of the three litters I would try to have from my girls. However, Busy was supposed to be spending this year competing in agility shows. We were going to drive across Europe with the dogs in July. All this has been cancelled. So I looked at Busy and thought ‘Well I may as well have another litter from her now.’ She’s 6 years old, young and fit. Her last litter are over a year old. It will just about be summer – a nice time to have puppies.

puppies for sale

What happens next?

That’s all fine so far. More puppies, to meet more demand. Everyone is happy. I have had hundreds (literally) of enquiries for puppies, over the past couple of months. I could have sold many, many puppies. So I have a waiting list of carefully scrutinised, suitable owners. I am sure all responsible breeders, especially those who are Kennel Club Assured Breeders, will have gone through the same process. I have plenty of people on the reserve list. I even have a few possible homes for a litter I might have next year (from Ounce, NOT from Busy!)

puppies for sale

The trouble is, I am still getting enquiries. Usually, when I get an enquiry, I tell people to go the other KC Assured Breeders. Or to look on Champdogs, a reputable website with health tested, pedigree dogs. So what happens now? Where will the future puppies come from?

The breeding cycle

It only takes 9 weeks to make puppies. Wow, that’s not very long, I hear you say. Then it’s standard practice to have the puppies for 8 weeks before they go to their new homes. The Kennel Club recommend that as a minimum.

So then you start again, right? Wrong. Dogs are only able to have a litter when they come into season. This is usually every 6 months, but can be less often. The trouble is, they should NOT have a litter of puppies every 6 months. I’ve talked about all the issues with having puppies already on my recent post 5 reasons not to breed from your dog.

If more puppies are being produced, the chances are therefore high that these are being bred by people who don’t care about the health and wellbeing of their dogs. They just care about the money.

Puppies are not a commercial commodity

Please care about where your puppy comes from? If you get it from a rescue centre, why was it there? It may have been bred without much thought, or care. Usually that won’t matter too much, but there may be health issues that have not been accounted for.

It will probably have been dumped because the pet owners couldn’t be bothered with their new toy any more. They probably won’t have taken the time to train their puppy. It might not even be house trained! It almost certainly won’t come when it is called, or know how to interact appropriately with other dogs, or cope with strange situations.

puppies for sale

Most of these issues can be fixed, given time and patience. Some things can be harder to work through and it may be years before you have the dog you imagined. That can be painful and frustrating, for both you and your dog.

Illegal importing

I know from information given to me by the Kennel Club, that dogs are imported illegally into the UK all the time – it is a huge problem and one that is likely to get FAR WORSE in the coming months. Hopefully, with travel from Europe being more restricted, there might be better controls, but I think it unlikely.

People bring pregnant dogs into the UK, smuggled in tiny spaces in the backs of cars. They then register the puppies here, sell them off for a fortune and then go home to breed again from that bitch at her next season. NB: Registration on the Kennel Club Activity Register does not mean that the dog is a pedigree!

Extortionate prices

Sadly, when it comes to dogs, you don’t ‘get what you pay for’. Responsible breeders will charge a reasonable amount to cover their costs, including health testing of course. Unscrupulous people, breeding for financial gain, will charge whatever people are prepared to pay. So if it is costing thousands, it’s not been well-bred.

In conclusion

Now really is not the time to start looking for a puppy! You will get one from a rescue soon enough, if you are prepared for some extra work. But healthy, carefully bred puppies are sold out. Sorry.

Ask 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?

Remember..

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.

5 Reasons not to breed from your dog

Why dog breeding is not a casual hobby, or a business

“Responsible owners research their breed before choosing a dog that will best fit their lifestyle.”

“Responsible breeders know that purpose-bred dogs are predictable which helps owners make the right choice for their family.”

These are strange times we are living in, indeed. We are all spending our days differently, whether we are furloughed, redundant or just working from home, online and via Zoom. So it is not surprising that we are reflecting on our lives and how we are living. I am not at all surprised that people are realising that NOW is the perfect time to get a dog.

border collie puppies
getting the right dog for you

Everyone should have a dog (or 5!) They simply make life better. Always present whether you need them or not, keeping you company. They demand attention, through affection and play, which is the best way to soothe your soul. Dogs will amuse you every day, through their antics and interactions. And of course walking with a dog is the absolutely best start to your day. Whatever the weather, having a dog by your side is brilliant.

Don’t get a dog NOW?

Sadly, dogs are not toilet roll (it’s a pandemic joke!) We simply CANNOT rush out and buy a dog. We CANNOT demand more dogs are made – it just doesn’t work like that.

Yes, some breeders may be able to bring their plans for the next one or even two litters forward. If you have a number of breeding bitches, you may decide to have the next litter from one of these this year, rather than next year. BUT BEWARE! The more puppies the public demand, the more likely buyers are to get one from an unscrupulous person, who will take your money and lie to you. Heartache will be yours, as your dog becomes ill and dies, or just doesn’t turn out how you thought.

Here are some reasons why it is a BAD idea to ‘just have a litter from your pet dog’.

1. It’s not healthy

dog breeding
before puppies

Having puppies really sucks the health right out of dogs. It is NOT something than can be done on a whim. The Kennel Club require that dogs are only allowed to have litters between the 2 and 8 years of age and they will only accept 4 litters for registration. They do NOT allow more than one litter per year.

Bitches generally have two ‘seasons’ per year, which is the fertile period during which they can be mated. Their first season is at around one year old, so they could potentially then have two litters per year, for 8-10 years. Imagine that? What would that do to a dog? Would you want that for your dog? Think about what that would do to them?

dog breeding
after puppies

I take the utmost care of my dogs. They have top quality food, plenty of exercise, stimulation and training. But it still really takes its toll on them. I only have three litters, if they are able to cope with it. Not four, that’s too many.

2. It’s time-consuming

Having a litter of puppies takes time. A lot of time. I reckon I spend around 5 hours a day, or 35 hours a week, for 8 weeks, on each litter of puppies. Not to mention a great deal of time preparing for the litter before it arrives. Then supporting the new owners once the pups have gone.

border collie puppies
up to no good

This time includes:

  • being there for the labour and birth (usually through the night)
  • getting up several times during the night to check on the puppies, so they are not crushed and are feeding successfully – for a couple of weeks
  • cuddling the puppies (a couple of hours a day should cover it)
  • talking to the new owners and preparing pupdates for them
  • having visitors to the house to show off the puppies (around 150 per litter for me)
  • cleaning up after the puppies (about an hour a day doing this)
  • providing a stimulating and enriching environment
  • taking pictures (obv!)
  • feeding the mum, then the puppies endlessly
  • putting them outside
  • bringing them inside
  • taking them for their microchips and health tests
  • preparing their puppy packs

Sounds terrible doesn’t it? Of course it is brilliant having puppies, but I cannot stress enough what hard work it is! It is exhausting at times.

3. Finding homes

When I started out, over 10 years ago, I was told that finding the homes is the hardest part of the breeding process. I thought ‘well it can’t be that hard, everyone will want one of my pups’. Wrong! It’s a nightmare.

border collie puppies
the perfect home

Yes, everyone thinks your puppies are SO cute. But that doesn’t mean they want one. Or that they are the right home for them. You will be let down by people, who seem really keen, then drop out for no reason. Then there are people who come and look at your gorgeous pups and then say ‘Well I wanted one a bit more…’ God, that’s so annoying!

4. Vetting homes

People lie. All the time, so it’s really hard to believe them when they say they know all about your breed of dog, or that it’s exactly what they’ve been looking for.

I’ve produced over 50 puppies now, over the past decade. I’ve had two go to new homes. One came back to me at 13 months and was successfully rehomed within days. One was re-homed to friends of the owner, as he went travelling. None of my puppies have gone into a rescue.

border collies
best boy in the right home

I know that for certain, because I keep in touch with my owners and they with me. I vet my homes rigorously and then support them as required. It’s hard work!

5. It’s expensive

You won’t get rich having a litter of puppies from your pet dog. If you want to do things even half well, they need health testing first, which is expensive and time-consuming.

border collie puppies
special toys are needed

Then you need special food, bedding, runs, toys, and other equipment. It all adds up! I always spend money on bits to add to the puppy pack, partly because I am Assured Breeder, but also because I want my owners to have everything they need for a great experience with their new puppy. A photo book is a lovely keepsake.

puppy pack
the puppy pack

It’s not just the financial cost though. Having puppies takes its emotional toll on you. Things can go wrong, people can mess you around, or cause you worry. It’s really hard and there have been many occasions when I think this litter will be my last.

So why do it?

I carry on because for me, it is a passion. Producing amazing dogs that enrich people’s lives and bring joy every day; it’s a brilliant thing to have in your life. Under the right circumstances.

border collie breeder
best job ever?

But when I’m receiving 5 enquiries PER DAY for puppies I cannot produce, I get frightened that people will be conned into buying puppies that have been carelessly, thoughtlessly brought into the world, only to be just as carelessly dumped when things don’t turn out to be the cute, fluffy dream you imagined. Please take care?

Remember..

If you want to see more videos and photos, please go to the Dentbros Dogs Facebook page.

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.

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
THROW THE BALL!

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 collie myths
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 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!

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

Fundraising: Free calendar with every donation

Fundraising effort – raising money for Canine Concern. I have been trying to raise money for this wonderful charity for some time through the sale of the Dentbros Dogs Calendar 2019. My plan was to recover the printing costs. I would then donate any additional payments to the charity – 100% of the profits.

fundraising

I have raised around £65 so far. But I still have around 40 calendars! As you know, a calendar is no use to anyone after January. I am now keen to give these away, with any donations I receive. Having a calendar is not compulsory!

Just Giving Page

To make the fundraising much easier to manage, I have now set up a Just Giving Page. So you can go there and donate to Canine Concern simply and easily. You can give as much or as little as you would like.

fundraising calendar
Miss May

Supporting dogs in schools

I am very proud of the fact that three of the dogs I have bred have now joined this charity and are working in schools.  This includes Bea (pictured above) who features on the calendar in May. It is my hope that others may be inspired to join the work done, which makes such a difference to a huge number of children and adults.

This week I took Aura and Ounce into school for a visit – they loved it! Ounce was such a show off! She was so excited, jumping on the children and ‘kissing’ everyone. The children were delighted with how clever she was, demonstrating all her tricks, including the ‘rollover’ which she does at dazzling speed! I kept asking her to settle down and she would look at me and answer back “I don’t need to settle down, everyone loves me!” They did – the children thought it was hilarious. Maybe one day she will be quiet enough to engage with the children properly.

fundraising calendar
Miss November – cheeky girl

Request a fundraising calendar

If you would like a fundraising calendar, please CONTACT ME? More details of the calendars can be found on my original post about them here – Fundraising Calendar 2019 – BUY NOW!

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?

Remember..

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.

Designer Dog Breeds: What are they?

Designer Dog Breeds – are they better than pedigree dogs?

What makes a crossbreed a ‘designer dog’?  Over the last 20 years there has a been a massive increase in the sale of so-called ‘Designer Dog breeds’.  Crossbreeds, or mongrels, have always been around and have always been popular.  Many people think it is not important to have a pedigree dog and don’t care what mix of breeds their dog might be.  But the new fashion trend for ‘specified mixes’ has a number of implications for the health of dogs in general.

designer dog breed
cockerpoo?

Any crossbreed is simply a combination of two or more pedigree dogs.  When this is done purposefully, in order to achieve a particular look, or type, it may be given a specific name, to demonstrate that it is a combination of the two breeds.  

Of course this is how new pedigree breeds are generally created – we take different breeds of dog and put them together is a structured and managed way, to create a new, distinct type of dog.  If we do this over time and can demonstrate that dogs will breed ‘true to type’ we can eventually have a new pedigree dog breed. 

Labradoodles – the first designer breed?

The Labradoodle is a combination of the Labrador and the Poodle.  The original intention was to create a dog that had all the benefits of these two distinct breeds, including the poodle’s non-shedding coat, which is considered to be hypoallergenic.  This process was started in 1988 by a breeder named Wally Cochran, of the Royal Guide Dogs in Australia.  He was asked to ‘create’ a dog that could be trained as a guide dog, but with a coat that wouldn’t aggravate an allergy.  Labradoodle History then says

“Because of their immense rise in popularity, people began crossing any Labrador with any poodle without any regard to genetics, bloodline, or temperament and calling the puppies “Labradoodles. The result was an unpredictable variety of puppies with various physical characteristics.”

designer dog breed
Labradoodle?

This is the issue at the heart of dog breeding.  When it is done purposefully, to create something in particular, bearing in mind health and temperament, it is a positive thing.  However, when it is then taken up as a fashion fad, it can become problematic.

Kennel Club view

The British Kennel Club have a primary aim, referred to when talking about Designer Dogs“To protect and promote all dogs”.  They encourage the registration of all crossbreeds onto their Activity register.  Their main concern is:

designer dog breed
shihpoo?

“Some unscrupulous breeders may be breeding these types of dog simply for financial profit, rather than with the health and welfare of the dogs in mind. This can mean that they will mass produce puppies to meet the latest celebrity-driven trend and will sell them on to people who are buying the dog as a fad rather than based on an educated decision about what is right for them.

“Buying a dog is a lifetime commitment and they should not be purchased on a whim or to go along with the latest fashion.”

Other designer breeds

Once Labradoodles started to appear, people quickly jumped on the bandwagon.  Now it seems as though every dog you meet has some fancy name.  Other popular crossbreeds include:

  • cockerpoo – very popular, Cocker Spaniel/Miniature Poodle
  • sprocker – Springer and Cocker Spaniel cross
  • maltipoo – Maltese/Poodle cross
  • puggle – Pug/Beagle cross
  • schnoodle – Miniature Poodle/Miniature Schnauzer cross
  • jug – Jack Russell/Pug

designer dog breed
puggle?

Most of the ‘designer’ crossbreeds have some poodle in them.  This is because people (mistakenly) believe that this automatically means you won’t get dog hair around your house.  Unfortunately that is not necessarily the case.  What people also fail to realise is that this means you will need  to spend a great deal of time and money grooming your dog.

Health issues

I could go on, banging on about issues with designer dogs and why they are not a great idea.  Fortunately, the Kennel Club have been campaigning very actively to increase awareness of the health issues surrounding careless breeding. They report that:

The research found that:

  • One third of people who bought their puppy online, over social media or in pet shops failed to experience ‘overall good health’.
  • Almost one in five puppies bought via social media or the internet die before six months old.
  • 12 percent of puppies bought online or on social media end up with serious health problems that require expensive on-going veterinary treatment from a young age.
  • 94 percent of puppies bought direct from a breeder were reported as having good overall health.

Because of vigorous campaigning, we now have Lucy’s Law, which may well help to reduce the production of puppies by unscrupulous commercial breeders.  It may also help encourage people to think twice before buying a designer dog.  Unfortunately it may also make the process of breeding and buying a dog much harder for everyone.

Ask 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?

Remember..

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.

Want to buy a dog? How do you do that?

Want a dog?  It’s about to get much harder to get one

I am pleased that Lucy’s Law is coming into effect from 1 October this year.  Anything which helps to protect the welfare of animals is a good thing.  If it helps to prevent people from importing and breeding dogs and cats en masse, as if they were mere commodities has got to be a good thing.  But how on earth are you supposed to find a dog when you want one?  And how is it going to affect a hobby breeder like myself?

want dogWhat is a ‘hobby breeder’?

I breed from my pet Border Collies because I love my dogs and I want to share that love.  Other reasons include:

  • Loving watching the puppies grow and develop, not just from birth but into adulthood as well
  • Cuddling puppies!
  • Doing it well – as a previous business owner and entrepreneur, I love to think I can produce dogs that are the absolute best they can be.  I love being professional about it, creating a positive experience for the new owners right from the start
  • Producing healthy, happy dogs, that are a real asset to the families they go to.

Because I strive to do it well, I am a Kennel Club Assured Breeder, and proud to be one.  It was hard work to ensure I did everything necessary to pass the assessment and I feel that it is an accolade worth having.

Breeding in this way makes me a responsible breeder, but it also means that I do it as a hobby, not a business.  You cannot make a profit of any significance producing puppies this way.  That is not what I want and it is not what it is about.

want dogThe cost of producing puppies

To do it well, there are many costs, both large and small, in dog breeding.  These include:

  • Health testing – these range from £300-£400  for the hip x-rays to £50 for an annual eye test.  That is for the adult dogs – the puppies must also be health tested
  • Good food – well bred dogs require good quality food and this is certainly more expensive than a supermarket own brand
  • Toys and equipment – well bred dogs live in comfortable surroundings with plenty of stimulation
  • Training – all my adult dogs attend weekly training classes and I think most breeders do the same.  This is part of ensuring that dogs are well behaved and are happy and healthy
  • Time spent with the puppies.  I rarely leave the house when I have a new litter.  I sleep with them for the first week or so.  I have many visitors to the litter, to ensure that they are used to a variety of people and experiences. (It’s a difficult thing to do if you have an actual job!)

People complaining about Lucy’s Law say things like:

“It’s impossible to get a dog from a rescue centre.  They won’t give you one if you have young children.  You can get a child if you have a dog, but not a dog if you have a child.  How mad is that?”

If you have young children you are busy and your home is hectic.  Can you supervise your children at all times with your puppy?  What if they tease it and it bites them?  I know it’s unfair, but we want the best for the dog, don’t we?  We must learn to be critical.  Look at my advice on Dogs and Children and think carefully before getting a dog with young children.

want dogWant a dog now?

I have already talked about the buying process you need to follow when buying a puppy.  That post is about having patience and doing research.  It explains that you need to present yourself to the breeder and convince them that you are the right home for a puppy.  This is more true than ever now that we will have new legislation.

But how do you judge the place you get a dog from?  What do you look for when you want a dog?  Again, I have already talked about the definition of a Puppy Farmer and I have covered some Questions to ask a breeder.  

Problems with the new law

Problem no 1: Hobby breeders like myself may require a licence in order to sell their puppies. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against having a licence, BUT at the moment Local Authorities are not staffed or skilled in the issue of these licences, particularly in being able to discriminate between hobby and professional breeders (ie puppy farmers).  They are more likely to issue a licence to the latter, as it can appear that they are more ‘business-like’ in their approach.  By the time the LA come to visit my puppies, they will have gone off to their new homes.  I am an Assured Breederwhich is much better.

NB: Do not expect small scale breeders to produce a licence.

Problem no 2: How on earth are we hobby breeders supposed to meet the demand for dogs in this country?

Everyone wants a dog, but a breeder like me only produces around 6 puppies per year.  I am able to choose the very best homes for my puppies, so what is everyone else supposed to do?

want dogTop tips if you want a dog

  • Research the best dog for you
  • Wait.  For the right dog, or the right time, or the right home
  • Find an actual, purposeful breeder who takes the trouble to produce the best dogs
  • Look for a story with the dogs

A top breeder will be able to tell you their dog’s life story.  She will be able to show you pictures and certificates of both parents of the puppies.  You will see pictures from the day the pups are born and then every stage of their development, until they go to you.  A breeder like this will expect you to visit more than once.  They will help you choose the right puppy for you.

Ask 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?

Remember..

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.

Selecting a puppy: How do you choose which one to have?

Selecting your puppy – which one will you have?

I thought it might be helpful to talk about selecting a puppy from a litter.  Another week goes by and I have received more enquiries for puppies.  I hear from some really lovely people and I hate to disappoint them.  But unfortunately I am not a puppy farm, so I can’t produce puppies every week.  If I’m lucky, I will have half a dozen puppies each year, but things rarely go according to plan.

That is why I try to support people when they have to go looking elsewhere.  It’s such a challenge, to find a Responsible Breeder who is also hopefully a Kennel Club Assured Breeder.

selectingChoosing your breeder

You’ve decided to ‘do it properly’.  You’ve chosen what type of dog to have, then narrowed it down to your breed,  perhaps by attending an event such as Discover DogsThen you look at the list of breeders for your breed, such as the Assured Breeders for Border CollieYou contact them all, get onto some waiting lists.  

Finally the day arrives when a litter is born and you are on the list!  Yay!  Now what?  How do you go about selecting your puppy?

Breeder’s criteria

If you are lucky, you will be at the end of the list and the breeder will present you with a  puppy and say “you can have this one”.  If you have done your research and chosen the right breed for you and your lifestyle, then the best breeder you can find, then it truly, honestly will not matter which of the actual puppies you have.

Of course there will be occasional issues with one particular puppy.  But in terms of the temperament of the puppies from a litter, I can promise you that they will be like their parents and affected by the home they have been bred into.

By the time my puppies are three weeks old, I can start to see subtle differences between their characters.  Even though they are only just up and about, with their eyes open, I can sense that one will be slightly more outgoing and confident, while another might be more cuddly.  That’s because I spend hours with them every single day.

When you visit a litter, even if you are there for over an hour, you are unlikely to really see their characters.  They might even all be asleep when you are there.  If one crawls over to you,  it doesn’t mean he has chosen you!  So if the breeder says she thinks one will be more suitable for your lifestyle or circumstance, please listen to her?

selectingBoy or girl?

Which sex of puppy you get will depend on your circumstances.  If you are having your first ever dog as an adult (even if you grew up with dogs), I recommend getting a dog, rather than a bitch.  Dogs are more sociable with other dogs, particularly Border Collies, which makes them easier to manage when you are out walking and meet other dogs.  They are also a bit more ‘robust’ with younger children and better able to cope with being an only dog, in my opinion.

Other than that, it doesn’t really matter which sex of puppy you have.  So when selecting one from a litter, choose the temperament you want, not the sex?

What colour?

When selecting a puppy, it is easy to focus on what it looks like.  I often have people say they want a particular colour – that they have searched far and wide for a particular ‘look’.  I find this rather disappointing, if I’m honest.  Border Collies come in many varied colours, shapes and sizes.  They have all different kinds of ears, and markings.  Their coats can be curly or straight.  They can be fluffy or quite short coated.  So even if you think you have a certain ‘look’ in mind, you might end up with something completely different!

I regularly have people say that they want a different colour from their last, beloved collie, because they don’t want to replace him.  Hmm, I doubt that this one would be at all similar, even if it was another black and white collie, with ‘classic’ markings.  Oh and what are those, by the way?  Wouldn’t you rather have Aura?  I know I would.

Don’t forget that if you were having a Labrador, it would be golden, chocolate or black.  (Or possibly red).  That’s the only choice you get.  So does it really matter that much?

Keep an open mind

My best advice to you is to keep an open mind and listen to the breeder.  They know their dogs, they know what the puppies will be like and they understand what will work for you.

By all means pick the one that stumbles into your lap for a cuddle, but be prepared for the fact that that one might already be taken.  Try to be happy that you have carefully chosen the right breed, the right breeder and the right litter.   Then take your puppy home. They will then become the dog you make them, influenced by the way you raise them.

Ask 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? Photos by Bridget Davey Photograpy

Remember..

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!

Childhood Dogs: great memories of past dogs

Childhood dogs – teaching us how to look after dogs

I regularly receive enquiries from people looking for Border Collie puppies; I am an Assured Breeder for Border Collie  after all.  Many people come to me because they are thinking of getting their first family dog or their first dog as an adult, having had dogs in childhood.

childhoodWhen I ask people if they have had dogs before, as part of my vetting process, people often say “yes, we had such and such dogs when I was growing up”.  Sometimes people even tell me they have previously owned dogs and it isn’t until I meet them and they talk about these dogs that I discover that the dogs actually belonged to their parents.

What’s the difference?

If your parents own a dog, then it’s yours too, right?  Well maybe.  If you grew up with a dog or dogs, can you answer the following questions:

  • how was your family dog chosen?
  • who chose its name?
  • where did your dog sleep?
  • who was responsible for feeding your dog?
  • who trained your dog?
  • did you walk it regularly?
  • who cleared up your dog’s poo/sick?
  • did you care for it when it was ill?
  • what health issues did your dog have?
  • how long did it live?

Taking responsibility

Living in the same house as a dog is not the same as owning one.  I’m sure plenty of people were able to answer some of these questions, but ultimately, it’s about making decisions.  Starting with what kind of dog to get.  Most children have a dream of owning a dog, but hopefully their parents are the ones making the choice, doing the research and buying the dog.

seaside childhoodVery often parents wait until their children are in their early teens before getting a dog.  This means that by the time the dog is old enough to need care and (often medical) attention, the children have left home.  They therefore miss most of the ‘owning an old dog’ stage.

Adulting – learning from childhood

Just because the dog wasn’t yours doesn’t mean you didn’t learn anything from the dog you owned in childhoood.  Hopefully you experienced the joy of dog ownership. You probably cuddled the dog when you were sad.  It is likely that you ran around with it in the garden from time to time.  I would definitely hope that your parents dragged you out on walks with your dog occasionally, although probably not every day.  You might remember some of the challenges – chewed shoes, accidents, fighting.

Look back on these experiences in childhood with a dog and understand what you learnt and what are the limitations?  Be realistic about the fact that it won’t feel like that to you, as an adult?  Read about 10 common mistakes made by new dog owners?

childhoodOne of my puppies went to a lovely young family where the husband had grown up with collies.  Sadly, the puppy developed epilepsy and they had an extremely challenging eight months before she was put to sleep.  Not what they signed up for.  Be prepared for the fact that it’s not all cuddles and carefree walks in the sunshine.  It is mostly that though.

Ask 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 new service.

Remember..

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.

And if you receive my posts via email, remember to click through to the site to see the photos and lots more information.

What is a Puppy Farmer?

How can we improve dog breeding standards and stop the puppy farmer?

Talking about how to stop a puppy farmer is difficult.  People demand dogs; in particular they want ‘designer breeds’ or particular breeds (currently French Bulldogs).  This means that unscrupulous people capitalise on this demand – why wouldn’t they?  And people feel that ALL breeders are only in it for the money and don’t care about the welfare of their dogs.

puppy farmerHow often will people say to me “you should only get dogs from rescues – there are too many dogs!” I have talked about whether you should go to a rescue or breeder but today I am re-visiting definition of a puppy farmer.

Puppy Farmer – Definition

“A puppy bred by a commercially driven breeder with low welfare standards”.

What does that mean exactly?  Quite simply, it means that the breeder cares more about making money than how healthy and happy their dogs are.  They do not care about their customers either; they are simply the mugs stupid enough to buy whatever is being sold, at any price.

If you are ‘doing it for money’ then it becomes a business.  But if you are doing it well and responsibly, then surely you should be rewarded for your efforts?  NB: Never get a dog for nothing: it costs money to produce a healthy and happy puppy (see health testing – why bother?), so it is therefore right that such dogs should be paid for.  Equally, don’t pay £1000 for a crossbreed – why is it worth that?

Kennel Club work

The Kennel Club issued a document last year : ‘Collaboration is the Key – the Way Forward for Breeding Regulations’.  The Kennel is working towards:

“A new system so that more breeders are inspected, good breeders are more identifiable to puppy buyers and puppy farmers and bad breeders are driven out of business”

As a member of the Assured Breeder Scheme I am kept informed about the Kennel Club’s campaign for their scheme to be fully incorporated into the local authority licensing regime.

Better inspection regulations

The government is committed to introducing new regulations on dog breeding, which will reduce the litter licensing threshold at which breeders will require a licence, from five litters per year to three.

Defra has given a commitment to incorporate the concept of earned recognition into the new licensing system. This will include consideration of affiliation to a body accredited by UKAS (i.e. the Assured Breeder Scheme), in a risk-based assessment process which would ensure a reduced burden on lAssured Breeders, who are seen as low risk.

“The Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme makes it easy for people to find responsible breeders, whose standards have already been assessed.”

The KC want to ensure that the new system works in practice in order that more breeders are inspected, good breeders are more identifiable to puppy buyers and puppy farmers and bad breeders are driven out of business. This means using this opportunity to grow the scheme by incentivising the best breeders to join and improving the standards of health and welfare in dog breeding.

puppy farmer

What does a puppy farmer do differently?

Here’s a description of where someone got a puppy:

“She went through the puppy pack with all the breed details from mum and dad with us, but didn’t give it to us to take away. This was a ‘breeder’ rather than ‘breeding from pets’.  She breeds 4/5 different ‘types’ and has a big set up. Was all very professional, clean, spacious etc but not ‘pets’. She clearly make lots of money from it! “

Here are the alarm bells for me:

  • Didn’t give away details of parents – were they actually the parents of that pup? Had they been health tested appropriately for their breed?
  • A breeder, but not ‘breeding from pets’.  Sorry? Aren’t you buying a pet?  Why would you want something not bred as a pet?  That’s the very definition of doing it as a business.
  • She breeds 4/5 different types and has a big set up.  Not pedigree dogs, defined by their characteristics and lineage, just random mongrels.  A big set up – 20 dogs? 50? Not much time for them then.
  • She clearly makes lots of money from it!  No other income? Relying on this income to live on means the litter must be profitable.  So not spending money on health testing, toys and good quality food.

puppy farmerQuestions for the breeder

  •  How many dogs do you have?  Can I see them?  Where do they live?  Good breeders might have a number of dogs, but they will be part of the family.  They might spend some time each day in crates or runs, but should be in the house for most of the time.
  •  How many litters do you have per year?  What is the age of the dog when it has its first liter?  And the last?  A litter of puppies is extremely time consuming (or should be!) So the more litters you have, the harder it is to spend time cuddling the pups.

Dogs should have no more than 4 litters each, between the ages of two and eight.

  •  Who is the sire?  Why was he chosen? How closely related is he to the mother of the litter?  What is the in-breeding coefficient? Stud dogs should be from good lines, fully health tested and with a good temperament.  They should be similar in breeding to the bitch without being too closely related.
  • What health tests have the parents had?  Can I have copies of these test certificates?  If the correct tests have been done for the breed, copies of these tests should be given to you as part of your puppy pack.

If the puppies are pedigree dogs, all this information is available on the Kennel Club website.  You can look up dogs and breeders and see who has had what, how they are related and what health tests they have had.  As soon as you move away from pedigree dogs, this information is not compulsory, therefore breeders don’t need to bother following the KC rules.puppy farmer

A final thought

“Dogs owned by people who spent more than an hour researching where to buy them from are likely to live twice as long as those who spent under 20 minutes choosing a puppy, with mean mortality ages of 8.8 and 4.3 respectively.” (Taken from the KC report ‘Collaboration is the Key – the Way Forward for Breeding Regulations’).  As a result of buying from puppy farms, people claim to have suffered emotional and financial hardship, the KC report.

Ask 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 new service.

Remember..

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.

And if you receive my posts via email, remember to click through to the site to see the photos and lots more information.