Category Archives: Dog Breeding

The Kennel Club – Friend Or Foe?

Why we should support the Kennel Club

I am receiving large numbers of enquiries for puppies once again, as people realise that a dog will improve their lives. It is so frustrating not to be able to offer any support to these people, because puppies are not toilet paper and cannot be made to order.

I always recommend that people contact the other Kennel Club Assured Breeders and ask to go onto their waiting lists. I’m delighted to have recently had my three-yearly inspection as part of this scheme. However, I am disappointed that there isn’t wider recognition and take-up of this scheme.

The history and purpose of the Kennel Club

It’s a very old organisation that runs dog shows. I think that is the public perception of the Kennel Club. The organisation was set up in 1873 “to have a consistent set of rules for governing the popular new activities of dog showing and field trials. It was the first national kennel club in the world.”

dog showing
dog showing

The home page of the brand new Kennel Club website now states it is:

The largest organisation in the UK devoted to dog health, welfare and training. Our objective is to ensure that dogs live healthy, happy lives with responsible owners.

What does the Kennel Club do?

It does still run dog shows. Although most people are aware of Crufts, the world’s oldest and largest dog show, they probably don’t know everything that happens there. The show really is a celebration of dogs! You can find out about different dogs, watch dogs at work, doing what they do best and enjoy the amazing relationships between dogs and owners.

I love watching the heelwork to music displays and the excitement of the flyball. Of course I love watching the agility and was very proud as a breeder to have one of my pups competing last year. It’s a great place to learn about dogs and what brings them into our lives. And there is LOTS of shopping to be done!

heelwork to music
heelwork to music

Other dog shows around the country are run by the Kennel Club. Breed shows promote the enormous range of dog breeds we have available to us in the this country. Sadly though, this is still viewed as an elite hobby and one that is regarded as subject to corruption and bias. I do feel that something based on the subjective opinions of individuals is likely to be a bit unfair. However, through writing the Breed Index, I have learnt that there are breed standards and that these are rigorously checked.

Healthier Dogs?

I do believe that the Kennel Club is a force for better dog health. There have been scandals in recent years about dogs with poor conformation winning prizes, but I think that on the whole, there is a momentum of support for healthier dogs.

health and health screening
health and health screening

The Kennel Club claims the following:

“We help improve the lives of dogs, now and in the future, through research, collaboration, resources and health schemes.”

For pedigree dog breeders, there is a wealth of information and support. As an Assured Breeder, I am not able to register my puppies as pedigree Border Collies without meeting the health testing requirements for my breed. If I want to use someone else’s dog to mate with mine, I am able to check the health records of that dog and ensure that the dogs are a good match.

Sadly, the Kennel Club is not as rigorous in recording the health of all dogs. Crossbreeds are not required to be tested. Puppies can still be ‘registered’ with the Kennel Club, but this is just a record of existence, not a certificate of proven parentage and health. I don’t know how this could be improved?

Getting a dog

Just as I have tried to support people in finding a dog, the Kennel Club have a huge amount of support and resource to help people. You can find out about different breeds, check the health of a dog’s parents, and think about what different dogs might need in terms of care. The Kennel Club provide support on finding a rescue dog and help you find an Assured Breeder.

finding a dog
finding a dog

Admin issues

Part of the problem the Kennel Club has is to do with the sheer volume of information it holds and the demand for dogs in this country. Last year was an extremely challenging one for the organisation as the massive increase in demand coincided with a transfer of records to a new IT system.

In this message to its users published yesterday, the Chief Executive Mark Beazley said “we know that many of our customers have not had the experience they deserve and expect from The Kennel Club in recent months.” The message details the progress that has been made to work through and resolve these issues. There is still work to be done, but with 40 million records to transfer, I can quite see why this is a challenge!

What do we want from the Kennel Club?

I have said that we need more responsible breeders. It would be great if this could be promoted and managed more assertively by the Kennel Club.

Personally, I would like there to be a much clearer message about dog breeding and health. It makes me sad that someone with a mixed crossbreed dog can embark on breeding with no thought for checking the health of their dog beforehand. They can produce a litter of pups and sell these to random strangers for thousands of pounds. People ‘don’t care about paperwork’ so they don’t ask to see proof of parentage and health testing.

We do now have an understanding that if we keep demanding puppies, that there are unscrupulous people who will force dogs to breed continuously, in horrible conditions – a puppy farmer. But we are not yet savvy enough to spot a dog that has been bred this way. We still buy dogs from unregulated online adverts, meaning we can easily be the victims of fraud. This affects us all, because getting a dog without proper care and due diligence can result in emotional trauma.

introduction to breeding
introduction to breeding

Equally, there is absolutely no requirement for breeders to vet prospective owners of dogs. I can breed from my dogs and send them off to complete strangers, without any checks. There is no guidance on the questions to ask prospective homes. Sadly, it is the puppies that are ‘carelessly homed’ that end up in rescue. Good breeders take their puppies back, and provide a lifetime of support to their owners.

Please let me know what you think? What do you think the Kennel Club should do better? How do you think things should change?

Remember..

If you want to know more, 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 write about a specific topic?  And feel free to COMMENT if you want to tell me what you think?

What is a Puppy Farmer?

Puppy Farmers – how do you know when you see one?

A Puppy Farmer breeds dogs for money. So anyone who breeds from their dog simply to make some money could be seen as a farmer, but that’s not it. Having one or two litters from your pet dog is not the same as setting up a business and doing it on a large scale.

Breeding professionally is not necessarily the same as breeding commercially. If you LOVE your dogs and decide to promote them, show them and then breed from them, you might end up with lots of dogs. They might have lots of puppies. You might then decide to have a professional setup, which involves kennels and outdoor runs. (Or you might just end up with lots of dogs in your house, on your sofas, on your beds, by your feet…)

puppy farmer

It might seem a fine line then, between breeding for the love of dogs and breeding for the love of money. If you love your dogs, you might find the money generated from having puppies comes in handy to pay for your dogs. But that isn’t really true. If you LOVE your dogs, you will spend ALL your money on them.

Puppy Farming – Definition

“Puppy farmers produce lots of puppies in poor conditions and with little consideration for their health and welfare.”

The Kennel Club: avoiding puppy farmers

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.

puppy farmer

What does a Puppy Farmer do differently?

Here’s a description of someone’s experience of buying 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. She is a ‘breeder’ rather than the same as you (breeding your pets). Albeit a well organised breeder. She breeds 4/5 different ‘types’ and has a big set up. Was all very professional, clean, spacious etc but not ‘pets’. Lived in a massive beautiful house with lots of land and kennels. She clearly make lots of money from it! “

puppy farmer
Is it a Labradoodle?

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? Unless you are given copies of paperwork, you can’t easily verify what your puppy is and where it has come from.
  • A breeder, but not ‘breeding 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. No personal care and cuddling. These puppies may never see a human being before they are sent off.
  • 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. Not to mention health tests. It costs a LOT of money to breed well.

Paperwork is essential

If I had a pound for every time someone said to me “I’m not interested in the paperwork, I don’t want to show/breed from my dog”, then I’d be a rich person. I recently realised that buying a dog should be like buying a car – it’s a big, expensive purchase that you have for years. Unlike a car of course, dogs are living, breathing animals that are part of your family!

So, would you go along to some tatty garage and pick up a car that looked like it was cobbled together from different cars? Would you pay thousands for a car with no paperwork? There is a registration system for cars, so that we know where they are from and who has owned them before us. We need cars to have health checks (services and MOTs).

puppy farmer

Dogs need these things too, We need to record where they are born and who their parents are. It is vital that we take advantage of health tests available, to ensure we produce healthier dogs.

One ‘type’ of dogs is enough

If you care passionately about your dogs and want to breed from them, you don’t often have more than one or two different breeds. When you DON’T care about what you are producing, you might mix and match to get whatever the buyer wants. You might even tell the buyer a dog is one type of crossbreed, when it is something else entirely! That is fraud, pure and simple, but it happens all the time.

Questions for the breeder

Here are a few questions you could ask your breeder:

  1.  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.
  2.  How many litters do you have per year?  How many does each dog have?    How old are they when they have the first litter?  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.
  3.  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.
  4. 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.

border collie breeder
NOT a puppy farmer

What to do if you suspect someone is puppy farming

People are (unfortunately) cunning and devious. They know many ways to take your money. Equally, there are good people out there with the best of intentions, who don’t know how to do the right thing.

If you think that a breeder may be a puppy farmer, or is breeding irresponsibly:

  • Never purchase a puppy from them, even if you think you are rescuing the puppy. That puppy may be better off going home with you, but by giving the “breeder” money, you are funding them to breed even more dogs, possibly from the puppies’ mother, in horrible and unethical conditions
  • Report them to the RSPCA, the police or your local authority –local councils, animal health officers and the police have the power to enforce the law.

Taken from The Kennel Club: avoiding puppy farmers

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. Do your research! Read how to get a perfect dog!

Remember..

If you want to know more, 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 write about a specific topic?  And feel free to COMMENT if you want to tell me what you think?

Dog Breeders Wanted

URGENT: More breeders are needed!

Warning: controversial post! We recently had a massive hoo-ha over a proposed TV programme about people wanting to ‘make money by breeding from their dogs’. I do not want to cause a sensation in writing this, but I feel I must write about this topic.

want dog

We do not have enough RESPONSIBLE dog breeders in this country. This causes massive heartache to dog owners and wannabe dog owners. It also leads to thousands of unhealthy, poorly-bred dogs. And a huge market for unscrupulous, money-grabbing people who breed commercially. Finally, it drives the existence and persistence of rescue centres, where dogs are dumped unceremoniously on a daily basis.

Where there is a market, there will be puppies

The Kennel Club registered 250,000 puppies last year, including pedigree and crossbreeds. Isn’t that an amazing figure? We want puppies! Last year everybody wanted a dog, but of course we soon run out – see my post on why dogs are not toilet paper.

border collie puppies

We do absolutely adore dogs in this country and they are a massive part of our lifestyle and culture. Sadly, dogs don’t live as long as we do, so we are likely to own multiple dogs in our lifetimes. We also want more than one, because we are greedy consumers! Although not everyone is lucky enough to have five like me. So there is an enormous market for dogs and this will not go away.

Go to a rescue

I see endless people on social media moaning about dog breeders and telling people to ‘get from a rescue’. Rescue centres are heroic and I applaud them all. I love the work they do and particularly the way they vet new homes. However, I do know that new homes often don’t work out and the dog ends up going to multiple homes before ending up in their ‘forever home’. Poor dog.

The Sunday Times issued an article this week about Lockdown puppies being dumped, just as we knew they would be. “Hundreds of “lockdown puppies” that were purchased in the pandemic are being sold online or handed to rescue centres, only months after the owners had taken them home.”

Disillusioned buyers say they are unable to cope with their dog’s lifestyle or have found it too difficult to juggle work and a puppy. One person, selling a six-month-old collie-spaniel cross for £1,500, writes: “Unfortunately, due to work commitments now we are no longer able to give him the loving and care he requires and deserves.” Heartbreaking, I’m sure you’ll agree.

puppies

People see rescue centres as being like shops. You go along and choose a dog from the ones available and take it home straight away. Then you try it out and see if you like it. If not, you simply take it back to the shop. We have successfully introduced Lucy’s Law, to exert controls over commercial breeding and stop ‘third party selling’ ie selling dogs in pet shops. But what is the difference between buying from a pet shop and buying from a rescue centre? Not that much, if you think about it.

Responsible breeding

Let me ask you a question: How many of my puppies do you think have ended up in rescue? Yeah you’re right, none. Why do you think that is? Because for me, breeding is a lifelong commitment. When one of the owners from my second litter rang me a few months ago, I guessed it was bad news. He cried, I cried. That dog was so loved, for all of his eight years. Of course that owner will be having another one from me, fingers crossed.

Responsible breeders will consider the health of their puppies to be a priority, which increases the probability that they will go on to live long and happy lives.

want dog

When I began my breeding journey over a decade ago, I knew I wanted to be a responsible breeder, to ‘do it right’. I had experience of my mum’s breeding and knew about health testing. My ethos right from the start was ‘Beautiful Border Collies, bred for better temperament and health’. That is what I do and who I am. I’m proud to say that my puppies are pretty healthy, with currently 51/54 alive and living happy lives. My first litter will be 11 years old tomorrow.

Get started

The Kennel Club provide a huge amount of advice and support to first time breeders. Unfortunately, people don’t realise that this should be their first port of call.

I am extremely proud to be a registered Kennel Club Assured Breeder. Only 5% of the puppies registered last year were bred by an Assured Breeder. It’s a scheme with rigorous standards, including an inspection every 3 years. Unfortunately, last year the Kennel Club closed to new applicants during the pandemic and when they re-opened they had 300 applicants. I believe we should be demanding an increase in the places available on this scheme.

breeder

If you are hoping for just one litter from your dog, you can still breed responsibly. After you have read the Kennel Club advice and done the relevant health tests, you are ready to go.

My no 1 piece of advice? Get a mentor, someone who has done some breeding and can provide support and information.

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.

Dog Breeding – Conformity vs Individuality?

Be the same, but different!

Jeremy Vine does a series of pieces entitled ‘What makes us human?‘ on Radio 2 and this is a picture that sums up a viewpoint I have realised over the past few days in relation to this question.  It is similar to a picture I saw on social media with a man in camouflage trousers and a neon top with the caption “do ye wanna be seen o’ no?” (Scottish) Lol.  Here I am, with my camouflage jacket and my bright purple hair.

What’s the point I am making?  We want to be the same as everyone else. We are desperate to conform, to fit in, to be seen as ‘normal’, to go unnoticed.  AND we are desperate to be different, to stand out, to be memorable.  In order to achieve these two opposing and confrontational goals, we will buy the latest fashion, follow the trends, look carefully at what others are doing and copy it.  There are many entertaining social experiments about people going along with a crowd, performing in increasingly bizarre ways, just to do the same as everyone else.

Equally, there is a constant battle to be just a little bit different, to be memorable and not the same as everyone else.  We give children ridiculous names, or spell their names in ridiculous ways.  We get tattoos, with our own versions of patterns or pictures making us look a bit different from other people (while following the fashion for body art).  We dye our hair.

How does this relate to dogs?

I watched the Catherine Tate programme Saving the British Bulldog the other night (watch it, if you haven’t already, it’s really good).  Catherine presents a really clear, balanced picture of what has happened to the bulldog breed and why this has taken place.  In my view, this represents  this same dichotomy between conforming and being different.

The Kennel Club have a breed standard for the British Bulldog. It says right at the outset:

“A Breed Standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance including the correct colour of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for functionAbsolute soundness is essential.

“Breeders and judges should at all times be careful to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed.

There it is, in black and white.  So what’s going on?  Breeders are breeding for health and to produce the best examples of the breed, conforming to the ‘standard’ set.  BUT people don’t want all dogs to look the same.  They want them to look different. People want a dog, but they want it to look like a baby.

As the programme demonstrates, this make the dog unhealthy, because it becomes deformed.  This is NOT the fault of the Kennel Club, nor the breeders, but the buying public, who are trying to find a particular ‘look’, no matter what that costs.

Health comes first

Surely we would not deliberately buy something that was unhealthy, would we?  We wouldn’t choose to have an unhealthy child, would we?  So why would we choose to have a dog with inherent health problems?

crufts best in show 2018

If we only cared about dog health, we would all have dogs that are shaped like dogs.  A bit like this year’s Crufts Best in Show, Tease the Whippet, (Collooney Tartan Tease). The Kennel Club says that the Whippet was originally bred for rabbit coursing, with gambling on racing in the North of England.  It goes on to say:

“Although Whippet racing continues on a very minor scale, the breed is now hugely popular in the show ring where its elegant lines and smooth daisycutting action has won many admirers. As a family companion, the Whippet is gentle and affectionate and enjoys the comforts of domestic life.”

Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?  But we don’t all want Whippets, do we?  We want something different.

The same, but different

This is all just an excuse to talk about my puppy, Ounce.  I LOVE that she is different – pretty unique in fact.  She is a lilac and white Border Collie, which is a colour that is found in only around 1% of the breed.  In addition, she has blue eyes, which is even rarer.  Blue eyes are definitely not part of the breed standard.

At the same time, Ounce conforms to the ‘show type’ of Border Collie, because she is from those lines.  So she is more ‘stocky’ than a farm-bred, working sheepdog type Border Collie.  She has the pedigree Border Collie broad, short back and head, and she has a thicker, longer coat than a working sheepdog.  She has very even markings, with a white blaze, full mane, white socks and white tail tip.  Ounce is also a ‘typical collie’ in her temperament and behaviour. Lovely.

The evolutionary compulsion

In my opinion, there is a biological reason why we want to conform and be different.  We need to ‘fit in’ so that we can be desirable to others, but we also need a diverse gene pool and we need to attract a mate.  To meet these needs, we are prepared to do almost anything and ‘variety is the spice of life’.

Going back to the health issues, we are, unfortunately, prepared to do many things in order to be ‘attractive’ to others.  People have always been happy to mutilate themselves and each other in the name of beauty, eg stilettos, makeup, piercings, FGM.  This is well documented, so I do not need to detail it here.

This compulsion is transferred to our dogs.  We want the same as everyone else, but we want ours to be better.  More beautiful, more unusual, more extreme, more fierce and so on.

My mother has passed down a family expression to me, which my sons now say.  It was said by my great-grandmother; “It’s a good job we’re not all the same, or we’d all want to marry the same man.  And it wouldn’t be you Charlie.”  Poor Charlie!  My conclusion is that we strive to be different, while fighting to be part of the human race.  It’s what makes us human, but also what makes us part of the evolutionary process.  Purple hair, purple puppy, something different.

Hopefully, we can recognise the need to promote the healthy ‘normal’ while celebrating the beautiful variety of life.  Pedigree dogs should be healthy, but this is only true as long as responsible breeders can produce enough dogs to meet public demand. Once we clamour for more and more ‘designer dogs’, unscrupulous people will see a chance to make big bucks by compromising standards, as Catherine Tait’s programme demonstrated.  Please bear in mind what a dog should look like when considering what to get for your best friend?

Remember..

If you are buying a dog, start by looking at the What Dog? page, then contact me?  Or if you want to breed, read this Dog Breeding Blog and then please CONTACT ME to discuss this, as I may be able to mentor you?

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.

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 in the future, have decided to crack on. This might well be because their own plans have changed.

Unfortunately, if breeders have brought forward their plans and had a litter in the past year, they are unlikely to have another litter this year. So although there will have been some puppies available during the past year, it is going to get harder and harder to find puppies bred by responsible breeders.

puppies for sale

What happens next?

I have had hundreds (literally) of enquiries for puppies, over the past year. I could have sold many, many puppies. 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.

border collie puppies

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.

border collie puppies

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. These people are known as puppy farmers. The puppies they breed are NOT HEALTHY. They will charge you a fortune to buy a puppy, it will get sick, cost you a lot more money and THEN DIE. Trust me, talking to a vet last week, this is what is happening.

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.

A key point to note here is that every dog in a rescue centre and every puppy now being born, has many, many homes eagerly wanting it. It’s now a fierce competition for every dog. You have a lovely home and big garden? So what! You have children under 5 years of age? No chance you will be considered for a dog, rescue or puppy.

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.

border collie puppies

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 necessarily been well-bred.

border collie puppies

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. Please, please forget about getting a dog, for now? I can’t help you and nor can anyone else. 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.  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.

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.

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.

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.

Guide to contacting a Dog breeder

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.

contact

I 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?

contact

How 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
contact

What 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 Find a Dog section of the website.

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.

Health News Update – working towards healthier dogs

Health in dog breeding – how the Kennel Club is helping our dogs

“Did you know that in 2017, the Kennel Club Charitable Trust gave over £450,000 to aid scientific research? Or that Mate Select, a free online Kennel Club health resource for breeders, was used approximately 1.8 million times? Or that the Kennel Club emailed around 140,000 dog owners and breeders to promote 40 different independent health surveys, research projects or health clinics? “

[Source: KC Newsletter March 2018]

These are just a few of the ways in which the Kennel Club strives to make a difference to dog health.  To find out what the Kennel Club did in 2017 to help improve canine health, have a look at the KC Dog Health Brochure.

health puppy

Why is the health of our dogs important?

If you have never had a child or pet suffer an illness or injury, lucky you!  As soon as you go through the agonising experience of watching someone you love, be it child or animal, in pain, you just want to take that away.  You hate to see them suffering and want to do anything to restore them to full health.

Any steps that can be taken to improve the health of our beloved pets is therefore worthwhile.  I believe that it is better to start with a healthy animal than to try and nurture something that is sick to start with.  Bad health might be due to a poor start in life from irresponsible breeding (puppy farming) or from genetic breed health issues.

Canine Health Schemes – helping you to improve dog health and welfare

Canine Health Schemes (CHS) works with the Kennel Club and British Veterinary Association to support breeders in improving dog health and welfare by enabling you to make informed decisions with regard to your breeding programmes. The four schemes run by CHS, which are open to all breeders, are the Hip Dysplasia Scheme, Elbow Dysplasia Scheme, Eye Disease Scheme and the Chiari Malformation/ Syringomyelia Scheme.

To find out more and to learn how to screen your dogs, have a look at the Canine Health Schemes.

health test

Hip dysplasia

I thought is would be useful for you to see a copy of Aura’s hip score certificate.  She was x-rayed to see if her hips were healthy, for which she needed to be sedated.  These are sent to a panel of veterinary experts for review. They examine the images for health defects, which highlight the likelihood of future problems.   They mark each defect on both sides.  The lower the score therefore, the better the health of the dog’s hips.

Breeds scores are recorded and over time and the figures give a clear picture of the health of the hips of different breeds.  You can then see whether you are producing dogs with at least as good as average hips.  The overall aim is to reduce the breed average, the probability of hip dysplasia and the likely future suffering of the dogs.

Breed_Specific_Statistics_2012 can be looked at and make for interesting reading.  For example:

  • Border Collies currently have an average hip score of 13,  taken from 7, 648 dogs.
  • Labradors have an average of 14, taken from a sample of 74, 094 dogs.
  • Bulldogs have an average of 44, taken from a sample of 26 dogs.

Why is the sample of Labradors so large?  We know that they are very likely to suffer from hip dysplasia, so breeders are working hard to remove this from the breed.  Why is the sample of Bulldogs so small?  In 2012 (when the figures were published) the breed was declining.  This was due in part to its poor health, short lifespan and inability to give birth naturally.  You don’t need to x-ray a bulldog’s hips to know that it can’t move freely.  😦

Remember..

If you are buying a dog, start by looking at the What Dog? page, then contact me?  Or if you want to breed, read this Dog Breeding Blog and then please CONTACT ME to discuss this, as I may be able to mentor you?

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.

Dog Breeding – Conformity vs Individualism

Opinion piece: What do you want your dog to look like?

Jeremy Vine does a series of pieces entitled ‘What makes us human?‘ on Radio 2 and this is a picture that sums up a viewpoint I have realised over the past few days in relation to this question.  It is similar to a picture I saw on social media with a man in camouflage trousers and a neon top with the caption “do ye wanna be seen o’ no?” (Scottish) Lol.  Here I am, with my camouflage jacket and my bright purple hair.

What’s the point I am making?  We want to be the same as everyone else. We are desperate to conform, to fit in, to be seen as ‘normal’, to go unnoticed.  AND we are desperate to be different, to stand out, to be memorable.  In order to achieve these two opposing and confrontational goals, we will buy the latest fashion, follow the trends, look carefully at what others are doing and copy it.  There are many entertaining social experiments about people going along with a crowd, performing in increasingly bizarre ways, just to do the same as everyone else.

Equally, there is a constant battle to be just a little bit different, to be memorable and not the same as everyone else.  We give children ridiculous names, or spell their names in ridiculous ways.  We get tattoos, with our own versions of patterns or pictures making us look a bit different from other people (while following the fashion for body art).  We dye our hair.

How does this relate to dogs?

I watched the Catherine Tate programme Saving the British Bulldog the other night (watch it, if you haven’t already, it’s really good).  Catherine presents a really clear, balanced picture of what has happened to the bulldog breed and why this has taken place.  In my view, this represents  this same dichotomy between conforming and being different.

The Kennel Club have a breed standard for the British Bulldog. It says right at the outset:

“A Breed Standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance including the correct colour of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function. Absolute soundness is essential.

“Breeders and judges should at all times be careful to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed.

There it is, in black and white.  So what’s going on?  Breeders are breeding for health and to produce the best examples of the breed, conforming to the ‘standard’ set.  BUT people don’t want all dogs to look the same.  They want them to look different. People want a dog, but they want it to look like a baby.

As the programme demonstrates, this make the dog unhealthy, because it becomes deformed.  This is NOT the fault of the Kennel Club, nor the breeders, but the buying public, who are trying to find a particular ‘look’, no matter what that costs.

Health comes first

Surely we would not deliberately buy something that was unhealthy, would we?  We wouldn’t choose to have an unhealthy child, would we?  So why would we choose to have a dog with inherent health problems?

crufts best in show 2018If we only cared about dog health, we would all have dogs that are shaped like dogs.  A bit like this year’s Crufts Best in Show, Tease the Whippet, (Collooney Tartan Tease). The Kennel Club says that the Whippet was originally bred for rabbit coursing, with gambling on racing in the North of England.  It goes on to say:

“Although Whippet racing continues on a very minor scale, the breed is now hugely popular in the show ring where its elegant lines and smooth daisycutting action has won many admirers. As a family companion, the Whippet is gentle and affectionate and enjoys the comforts of domestic life.”

Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?  But we don’t all want Whippets, do we?  We want something different.

The same, but different

This is all just an excuse to talk about my puppy, Ounce.  I LOVE that she is different – pretty unique in fact.  She is a lilac and white Border Collie, which is a colour that is found in only around 1% of the breed.  In addition, she has blue eyes, which is even rarer.  Blue eyes are definitely not part of the breed standard.

At the same time, Ounce conforms to the ‘show type’ of Border Collie, because she is from those lines.  So she is more ‘stocky’ than a farm-bred, working sheepdog type Border Collie.  She has the pedigree Border Collie broad, short back and head, and she has a thicker, longer coat than a working sheepdog.  She has very even markings, with a white blaze, full mane, white socks and white tail tip.  Ounce is also a ‘typical collie’ in her temperament and behaviour. Lovely.

The evolutionary compulsion

In my opinion, there is a biological reason why we want to conform and be different.  We need to ‘fit in’ so that we can be desirable to others, but we also need a diverse gene pool and we need to attract a mate.  To meet these needs, we are prepared to do almost anything and ‘variety is the spice of life’.

Going back to the health issues, we are, unfortunately, prepared to do many things in order to be ‘attractive’ to others.  People have always been happy to mutilate themselves and each other in the name of beauty, eg stilettos, makeup, piercings, FGM.  This is well documented, so I do not need to detail it here.

This compulsion is transferred to our dogs.  We want the same as everyone else, but we want ours to be better.  More beautiful, more unusual, more extreme, more fierce and so on.

My mother has passed down a family expression to me, which my sons now say.  It was said by my great-grandmother; “It’s a good job we’re not all the same, or we’d all want to marry the same man.  And it wouldn’t be you Charlie.”  Poor Charlie!  My conclusion is that we strive to be different, while fighting to be part of the human race.  It’s what makes us human, but also what makes us part of the evolutionary process.  Purple hair, purple puppy, something different.

Hopefully, we can recognise the need to promote the healthy ‘normal’ while celebrating the beautiful variety of life.  Pedigree dogs should be healthy, but this is only true as long as responsible breeders can produce enough dogs to meet public demand. Once we clamour for more and more ‘designer dogs’, unscrupulous people will see a chance to make big bucks by compromising standards, as Catherine Tait’s programme demonstrated.  Please bear in mind what a dog should look like when considering what to get for your best friend?

Remember..

If you are buying a dog, start by looking at the What Dog? page, then contact me?  Or if you want to breed, read this Dog Breeding Blog and then please CONTACT ME to discuss this, as I may be able to mentor you?

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.