Category Archives: Diary of a Dog Breeder

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 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.

Top tips on the best way to contact a breeder

Making contact: how to get in touch with a dog breeder

We generally think we know how to apply for a job, don’t we?  We reflect on our skills and aspirations and craft these into a CV.  We then put together a carefully worded application form, which is relevant to the job for which we are applying.  I was talking about this process with my son this week and we were agreeing that it is a challenging and time-consuming process.

contactI have worked in HR for many years and have seen many variations in the quality of applications.  You can tell straight away whether someone is committed to the job, or if they have just sent out a generic ‘give us a job, any job’ application.

First contact

You may have already read some of my posts about the challenges of being a Responsible Breeder.  What I haven’t really talked about so much is the challenge of finding suitable homes for the puppies.

Of course a Puppy Farmer doesn’t really care who has his puppies – he’s just breeding dogs to make money.  They are a commodity, nothing more.

But if you care about the dog you are bringing into your home, wouldn’t you want to find the right one for you?  Wouldn’t you want to ‘apply’ for a dog from someone who equally cares about who you are?

contactHow would you feel if you received a message like this?

“Hi, I saw that you breed border collies, I wondered if you had a litter? Thanks”

What would you say?  I honestly try to reply to every enquiry I receive, but really, what can I say to this person, whoever they are?  No.  Why should I say anything else?  Even if I did have a litter, why would I bother to reply to this message?

Sell yourself

When you contact a breeder, you need to let them know who you are.  At the very least, you might tell them your name!  But actually, if you really want a puppy, you need to sell yourself to the breeders.  By contrast with the message I received, I also had a phone call from someone.  He was keen to tell me all about himself, his family and his previous dog.  I told him that I wasn’t going to have a litter for a while, but he was keen to wait for the right dog, from the right breeder.  He had already done some research and asked some great questions.  (He’s got through to the next round :))

What should you say?

Here my list of a few points that you might say to a breeder, just by way of introduction:

  • Your name, where you live, your circumstances – do you work full time?  Who lives with you?  Do you have children?
  • Your current and previous dog ownership
  • What you are looking for in a dog?
  • When you want to have a dog – this year or next, not too specific
  • What you would like to do with your dog

contactWhat should you NOT say?

Equally, there are a few ‘no-nos’ when you make contact with a breeder:

  • I want a puppy now, or on a specific date (it’s not an exact science!)
  • Specifying colour or markings – I want a black one
  • Asking for unusual characteristics – I want one with blue eyes
  • Saying you have a 2 year-old child (too young, really)
  • Wanting a puppy before your old dog dies.  Old dogs don’t take well to puppies.

Breeders talk to each other

Breeding dogs responsibly is quite a specialist ‘job’.  There are not that many Assured Breeders around and we know each other!  This is partly because we need to find non-related dogs to breed with and partly because we give each other support and advice.

This means that we help each other out when we have litters, sending along good homes once we have found homes for our pups.  We also tell each other if someone seems unsuitable!  So be warned, even if you think you are making a casual enquiry, you might be jeopardising your chances with a number of breeders.

contactA 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.

If you are a breeder, you can talk to me about how I vet my puppy owners, together with advice on the information I provide to my puppy homes. CONTACT ME for more information?

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.

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

Would you recommend your dog?

What makes your dog right for you and would you recommend it to someone else?

I’ve been mulling over what makes people choose a particular breed of dog and how to recommend the right kind of dog to the right people.  Last week I was chatting to two people; one had a Husky and the other had two King Charles spaniels.  We were remarking on how different our breeds were and laughing about their distinctive characteristics.  So this has started me thinking that I should interview owners of different breeds about what they like, or don’t like about their own dog(s).

recommend I have already written about having a Practice Dog to stay and in there I listed the ‘challenges’ you face in having a Border Collie; their obsessions, their nervousness and their endless energy to name but three.  But they are also amazing, exciting and incredibly loving dogs to own – I certainly recommend them, to the right person.  Because I am a breeder of Border Collies I also have a page about what makes them so special – Border Collie Breed Information.

Border Collies are special

Here is an example of why I love collies.  When having an agility lesson last week, our trainer was demonstrating a game to us, using two toys, where different commands and movement indicated which toy the dog should go to.  It took my girls two minutes to get the hang of the game and understand what was required.  Try doing that with your dog and see how long it takes?

You can look up breed information on the Kennel Club website of course.  The Pets4homes website has pages on many breeds, including crossbreeds.   But are these sources telling you what it is actually like to live with a dog like this?

recommendNew Dog Breeds Blog

That is why I am launching my new Dog Breeds blog, with personal accounts from my friends about life with their dogs.  This will give you great advice and recommendations on the different breeds.

ACTION REQUIRED!

Please CONTACT ME if you have a breed of dog that is not a Border Collie?  I would like to talk to you about what it is like to own that breed.

I have also done a survey to ask people about other breeds of dog.  This makes interesting reading – if you want to know more, please go the survey results?

Thanks for your help!

recommendAsk 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.

If you are a breeder, you can talk to me about how I vet my puppy owners, together with advice on the information I provide to my puppy homes. CONTACT ME for more information?

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.

Off lead – How and when to achieve freedom for your dog

Going off lead: be brave!

Talking to a friend  recently who has a nervous, rescue girl and I found myself saying “you could let her off lead you know.  She’s not going to go anywhere, you’re her mum”.  How can I be sure?  What if she sees a squirrel?  What if she chases a deer?  Maybe she’ll get scared!  It’s too difficult 🙁

I have to admit, I’m pretty smug and annoying with my girls.  They are off lead for about 98% of our walks and I am completely confident in their obedience.  They come back, they wait when told, they don’t run into the road, blah blah blah.  I’m so lucky.  But then, I do have Border Collies, so it’s really easy.  Hmm…

off lead dogStart immediately

When I took Ounce out for her very first walk  I let her off the lead.  Scary.  Of course I had already practised her recall many times at home, but even so, it was daunting.

Training the puppy has not been without its moments!  Most memorable was the time when a man came past us, running flat out.  Ounce immediately went haring after him, round the corner in a flash!  Trying desperately not to panic, I stood and called her ‘positively’, (ie not yelling my head off) and just moments later she came tearing back, happy as Larry.

I also remember when my friend got her first puppy from me and I went to visit her.  I guess Nell and Luna were about 4 months old.  We went off for a walk and I was surprised that Nell was on lead.  “Let her off” I urged.  Thankfully she did and never looked back.

Finally, here is a video of when I looked after Charlie Brown, from Aura’s litter.  He is also going out for one of his first walks.  And he’s not even mine!

Why go off lead?

I wrote about this in one of my first ever posts: why go off lead It’s interesting to think how far I have come since I wrote that post; I know so much more about other dogs and how trainable (or not) they might be.  So let’s recap.

Reasons for going off lead

  1. more stimulating for the dog
  2. better exercise – your dog will typically travel 3 or 4 times as far as you do, if they are off lead
  3. safer – your dog can move away from anything they are not happy about

This last point is the key for me and something I often talk about.   When your dog is on lead they are able to pick up exactly how you are feeling. This is partly from your smell and partly from the lead itself.  Any anxiety you have transmits directly down the lead to the dog.  How ironic that the worry you have about your dog can cause the dog to worry about you!

Reasons to keep/have your dog on lead

  1. control near danger – mainly roads.  Dogs do absolutely understand the difference between roads and pavements and many dogs happily walk calmly beside you along a road.  BUT there are always squirrels, or moments when their focus shifts.  Cars are big, dangerous objects, so it’s not worth the risk, on the whole.

That’s it.  I honestly can’t think of anything else.  Of course dogs do run off after rabbits etc.  Any dog with a strong prey drive will do this and it is a real challenge waiting for them to come back.  I appreciate that they may be gone for hours and may go a long way.  I don’t know how patient I would be with a dog like this.  But I do know that when I go up to the woods I see many Spaniels and Labradors, all off lead, so it must be possible to manage this?  Let me know if you disagree?

65ft 20M long Lead. 25mm – 1″ Wide. Very Strong (Purple)

The other main reason dogs are kept on lead is because they ‘don’t like other dogs’.   When they are on lead they have nowhere to go, so of course they won’t want another dog coming into their face.  When they are off lead, they will move away.  They may turn round and tell the other dog to go away, but if they can move, that’s what they will do.

Go on – you can do it!

Practice, practice, practice.  Use a long lead at first, make sure your dogs know their name, then go for it!  Please?

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.

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.

Bringing in a second dog – what is the right age gap for this?

When should you get a second dog?

A few months ago I talked about the journey to multiple dogs – How many dogs should you have? but I think it is useful to focus again on the timing of getting a second dog, following a couple of enquiries I have had this week.  Two lovely people have contacted me saying that they have a dog aged 13/14 and are thinking about getting a puppy.  The first person had only ever had one dog and was now considering a second.  This was my reply. 

Bringing in a second dog

It’s such a challenge isn’t it, knowing when is the right time to get another dog.  I look at Sunny, my eldest, who is nearly 12 – she did a couple of agility runs at the weekend (ones designed for old dogs I hasten to add!) but she skipped round so happily.  However, she does run around with the other girls, every day, so is fit as a flea.  I got her when Buzz was 8 and he was thrilled to have a companion; it gave him a new lease of life, definitely.

My previous girl, Rue, was 11 when I got Buzz as a pup and she was less than impressed.  She never interacted with him and just ignored him in the main.  I do know other people whose older dogs regularly ‘have a go’ at their younger ones.  People I know have to keep old and young dogs apart, or muzzled; it can be as bad as that.

“I think what I’m trying to say, in the nicest possible way, is that it’s too late for you and your old girl, in my opinion.  A rescue will come with its own issues, in my experience, which may well upset your girl considerably.  A puppy is just annoying!  If she already has arthritis she won’t want to be bounced on and won’t be up for a game of chase, for example.  You will have two dogs with very different needs and will be really torn with how to manage them.

“I think it is likely you will be wanting to get a puppy in a few years’ time.  Sorry not to be more enthusiastic, I am just thinking of your old girl and what is best for her.”

When you have had two dogs

The second enquiry was from someone who had lost one of her two dogs a few months ago and wanted to get a replacement of him.  When two dogs have grown up together and always had each other it can be upsetting for the remaining dog to be alone.  They are used to the greater activity level of being together and the companionship of each other.

Once again, I would exercise caution.  I think that despite the loss of their companion, an older dog would rather remain on their own with their family than have to cope with a new dog.   Dogs are like people; they are adaptable.  And if the owner is older, then the pace of life is generally slower all round, which suits the dog far better.

The ideal age?

What is the right age to introduce a second dog?  I was always a great believer in small age gaps, so that there is a closer bond and more playtime.  My brothers and I are close in age and there is only 18 months between my sons.

As is so often the case, this theory has not been borne out.  There are three and a half to four years between Sunny and Luna, Luna and Busy, and Busy and Ounce.  Aura is the ‘odd one out’ as she is between Luna and Busy.  My original plan had been to keep a girl from Luna’s second or third litter, but the best laid plans and all that!

Aura is a special girl, but she is demanding!  She was extremely jealous of Busy when I kept her and still struggles to get the attention she thinks she deserves.  My conclusion is that 18 months to 2 years is too small a gap.

Four years now seems about right.  I have lots of friends with various dogs and they seem to agree, on the whole.

second dogOther alternatives to a second dog

There are a couple of alternatives is you want another dog but it’s not quite the right time.  One is to put your dog into doggy day care, or simply to get a dog walker.  That way, they will have regular, prolonged interaction with other dogs.

The second is to use a service like Borrow My Doggy which allows you to lend your dog out to other families, or have other people’s dogs to stay with you.

Finally, I just want to give a quick mention here to The Cinnamon Trust who do amazing work to support the elderly with their pets.

Remember..

If you are buying a dog, start by looking at the What Dog? page, then contact me?  Part of this service is that I will provide a form for you to fill in.  This acts like a CV, enabling you to demonstrate who you are clearly to other breeders.

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.