Category Archives: Dog Breeding

Applications Received: How are homes selected?

Waiting list update

It’s such a tricky process.  Do I advertise that there is a litter due?  Do I tell everyone I know?  Or do I keep it a secret, in case they are all born dead?  Should I take everyone onto the waiting list and hope that some drop off or change their minds later?  Or should I limit the list to the number of pups I think may arrive?

From experience, it seems that no matter how long my list, I often have pups without homes a few weeks along.  Sometimes it takes six weeks to sort out the right homes.  People might seem really keen and then decide they don’t want what I have – even after they have been to have a cuddle!  Or they want a particular puppy and I feel obliged to offer them a different one, as that one is also chosen by someone who contacted me earlier.

I always try and work on a ‘first come first served’ basis, but equally, I want to try and match homes to puppies.  Sometimes a pup will seem more laid back, or more feisty and that will suit a particular type of home better, in my opinion.  Often people come along with an expectation of wanting one thing, but when I meet them I feel they would be far better suited to something else.  This is particularly the case over the sex of the dog.  Most people come along with an idea that they want a dog or a bitch.  Sometimes it doesn’t matter, if it is a single dog household and they are experienced dog owners.

When there are other dogs in the house, getting the dynamics right can be important, so the sex and nature of the puppy will matter.  Again, people have ideas that if they have a bitch they cannot get another one (not true), or they have three dogs so ‘fancy a change’.  Not sure that is such a great idea, but it depends on the level of experience of the owner.

If the home is a family with young children, I personally feel that a dog is more manageable than a bitch, but it does depend on the family.  I think boys are slightly more ‘even-tempered’ than girls and therefore a bit more tolerant of being pulled around.  I also believe that border collies bitches are much less sociable with other dogs, so when they are out and about a dog is easier to manage. This is helpful if you only have one dog, as you want one who is friendly, not snappy.

Of course I am sometimes persuaded to send a pup off to a home, despite my reservations.  I know that every responsible breeder out there will tell you that they have done this, only to have the dog sent back as unsuitable.  This happened to me for the first time last year.  That makes the homing process even more difficult – how much do I trust my own judgement?

I am hoping that now this website is rammed with content, people will be able to see what my dogs are like and my beliefs and values as a breeder; they will be able to ‘self-select’ whether they are a good home.  Maybe that will make the job easier!  Here’s hoping…

Finally, I will say that if you are a friend, who is wondering whether now is the right time to have (another) one of my pups, PLEASE get in touch to tell me that?  I would hate you to miss out because I have homes sorted the day they arrive, which is pretty likely this time 😉

Applying for a puppy

If you would like to be considered for a puppy, have a look at the FAQs. You can also fill in a Puppy application form.

Please CONTACT ME if you would like to know more about my dogs or my puppies.  They are highly regarded and much sought after!

NB: FOLLOW my page and you will receive a notification of all my new posts. SHARE this site with your friends and family using the buttons below.

 

How to choose a stud dog

What should you be looking for in a stud dog?

I sometimes speak to people who tell me that they want to breed from their dog. “She’s so lovely, such a pretty girl, people often ask if I’m going to have puppies from her.”  Or people who have a dog say “I get people who want to use him to have puppies, because he looks so nice”.  So what should you do, if you want to get it right?

It’s really challenging. In order to create puppies which are ‘fit for purpose’, we need to match dogs and bitches that both have the correct looks and temperament, with all the relevant health checks in place.  Where do we start?

Finding a dog

The best place to start is through recommendations of friends.  This is where being part of the ‘dog world’ is really helpful.  If you show your dog, you will get to know many breeders that way.  Most top breeders work hard to promote their dogs. either through showing or competition.  If not, you will probably get to know about other breeders through talking to friends with dogs.  Look for good examples of the breed and ask the owners what lines they are from.  You will soon find that certain breeders crop up again and again.

There is a wealth of information available to us now, so it is easy to just search for ‘border collie breeders’.  However, just because someone is popular, doesn’t mean they have nice dogs, or that they will be a good match for your dogs.  I recommend looking at Champdogs as a good place to find quality, pedigree dogs.  However, far more obvious is the Kennel Club.

Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme

KC-Approved_BS_p2617

I have put some details about what it means to be an  Assured Breeder on this site, but if you want to find out more, go to the KC website itself and look at the Assured Breeders for Border Collie There are only a small number of us currently listed in the UK!  The Kennel Club are doing a great deal to promote and develop the scheme – I am going to a seminar in January – so it will be interesting to see what changes are made to encourage more people to join.

The KC do not list stud dogs on there, so you would have to contact the breeders and ask their advice about appropriate stud dogs, but it is a good place to look, in my opinion.

Line Breeding and In-breeding

I am not an expert in this by any means, but I’ll try to give a quick overview.

Once you have a stud dog in mind, you need to establish how closely related he is to your bitch.  A good way to do this is to go to the Border Collie database on Anadune and look up the dog.  You can then check any health tests that he has had and make sure that everything that should be done has been done, including hip scores and eye tests.

Then look at his pedigree and see if there is anything on there that is the same as for your girl.  You might then decide to use a stud dog with a common grandparent – this is called line breeding.  You then know that they will bear similarities to your girl and that their pups will be of a particular ‘type’.

How close should you go?

You can put two dogs together who are more closely related than this and many breeders do this.  I’ve just found this great summary of inbreeding; A beginners guide to COI which explains it all better than I can.  Basically, the more common ancestry the pups have, the more likely you are to breed in health issues.  This is particularly worrying for something that cannot be tested for, such as epilepsy.  However, if you are confident that there is no epilepsy in a particular line, you might feel that using that line on both sides actually improves the chances of healthy pups.

It is therefore about getting the balance between characteristics you definitely want and increasing variety for better health.  It’s complicated, and good judgement is needed.

Dentbros Stud Dog

I now have a stud dog – Dentbros Jelly Bean** who is available to stud for health tested, suitable bitches. CONTACT ME to find out more?

JB

Remember..

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

Being a Responsible Breeder

A Responsible Breeder – what does that look like? 

“We wouldn’t get a puppy from any old breeder. Dentbros Dogs tick all our boxes and more. Highly recommended!”

As I pause between litters, I thought it would be useful to ask my forty-two puppy owners for some feedback.  So I sent them out a ‘Customer Satisfaction Survey’.  I thought it would be helpful to establish whether they were generally happy with their dogs and felt they had had a good service.  Can I improve on how I do things?

The results (from almost 50% of the homes) are a bit embarrassing really.  Almost everyone would recommend me to a friend and are very satisfied with their dog.  The dogs were universally described as:

  • good temperament
  • healthy
  • beautiful
  • easy to train
  • good value for money (50%)

“Both of our boys have been the most wonderful temperaments , being very affectionate and characters in their own right.”

In addition they are confident, fit in with the family and are a pleasure to own.  I was described as being extremely or very responsive to any questions or concerns about the dogs.  Most people would like to have another dog from me.

“We are delighted with the puppy we bought from Dentbros. She is beautifully calm and affectionate and very well behaved at home. She has also settled well with our older dog.”

 What should you be paying for?

These are some of the costs I incur when producing a litter:

  • health tests for bitch, including hip scores and annual eye test
  • mating
  • scan
  • wormer
  • specialist food and milk for bitch while pregnant
  • KC registration
  • Assured Breeder fee
  • KC Breeder affix
  • toys for puppies
  • run and fencing
  • bedding
  • puppy food
  • eye & hearing tests for puppies
  • puppy packs and books

In addition to this, there is of course my time.  I spend the whole of the 8 weeks I have puppies at home, with them.  I receive around 150 different visitors during that time, including a hundred different people for the pups to experience.

“Really appreciate the time and effort Penny puts into breeding and raising these dogs. She does a tremendous effort, and it really shows in the dogs temperament. Highly recommend her.”

I make sure that I cuddle the pups every day, checking them over and generally handling them.  They are part of our family life.  I spend time communicating with the potential owners, sorting out who is having which puppy and making sure they are the best fit possible.  I get to know the owners during that time and am available to discuss any worries or concerns that they have.

I spend time dealing with the associated administration of having puppies.  Registering them with the Kennel Club, organising their health tests and generally making sure they have a great start in life.

As seen by a Veterinary Nurse

“We couldn’t have asked for a better service. We feel very lucky to have found such a quality breeder. I had high standard before but other breeders will really have to work hard to come in line with you. My very trusted vet and friend who also breeds and is a behaviourist was incredibly impressed with the information we were sent home with also the lovely touches like his puppy bag and all the little details. The book as well. Just everything.

“We really cannot leave any constructive criticism or negative comments because there just aren’t any. You should be incredibly proud as a breeder and dog owner as you are sadly the exception and will feature heavily in my advice when I speak to clients who want to buy a puppy.  As a nurse I see many different types of breeder, some good, some just awful and some just don’t know what they are doing. So thank you as a nurse for being such a fabulous caring and committed breeder. It’s really refreshing. Also Lenny is just the most polite, laid back handsome happiest puppy ever we are so lucky. THANK YOU!”

Here’s one happy puppy owner!

Why I do it

I do love having puppies!  I love spending time with them.  I love spending time with the mum of the pups, focusing particularly on her and strengthening the bond I have with her.  I love producing healthy, happy, confident dogs, who enrich the lives of the families they live with. I am proud to be a Kennel Club Assured Breeder.

What could possibly be a better job than this?” 

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

What is a Puppy Farmer?

What is being done to improve dog breeding standards?

I’ve been wanting to write about this for a long time, but am nervous about doing so – it’s such a controversial issue!  I am buoyed up about it by the Kennel Club issuing a document last week ‘Collaboration is the Key – the Way Forward for Breeding Regulations’.  You can read this document by clicking here.

“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.  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.

Based on Kennel Club registration data alone, this will result in a threefold increase to the already stretched workloads of local authorities. Given this, and as a result of our work on this issue to date, Defra has given a commitment to incorporate the concept of earned recognition into the new licensing system. It was explained that this would include consideration of affiliation to a body accredited by UKAS (i.e. the ABS), in a risk-based assessment process which would ensure a reduced burden on low risk breeders (i.e. Assured Breeders).

“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 Farming – 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?  I will talk about what you should be paying for and why in a future post.  NB: Never get a dog for nothing – It costs money to produce a healthy and happy puppy, 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?

What does a puppy farmer do differently?

Someone I know got a puppy this year; here’s a description of where he came from:

“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! “

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 your 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.

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.

Finally, something to think about:

“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.

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?

My First Breeding Experience

Becoming a breeder – The first time

This is a description of my first experience mating a dog.  WARNING: some explicit language has been used.

Sunny was different from our previous dogs.  I made sure that I cuddled her and handled her.  She was encouraged to come onto the sofa and lie with us.  I took her to training classes and paid her much more attention.  The boys were already teenagers when she arrived but all visitors to the house were made to play with her.  Made to by her, of course, not me.  She explained the rules as soon as people arrived: “Here’s the ball.  Throw it for me.  Then I bring it back.  Then you throw it again.  And again.  And again.”  I watched many people being taught this game by her over the years, including grandparents, non -dog owning people and toddlers who couldn’t yet talk and weren’t very good at throwing!  When we had a French family stay with us, the children learnt to say “Where’s the ball?” before anything else!

I had a vague plan to find a mate for Sunny and someone at a show introduced me to a friend with a nice black and white boy.  They felt it would be a great pairing as both dogs were super-fast and agile.  I knew that I had to get Sunny’s hips x-rayed and got that done.  It involves a general anaesthetic but doesn’t take long and isn’t too hard for the dog as it’s not invasive.  I then started to get cold feet about the dog because he wasn’t registered and hadn’t had his hips done.

Suddenly Sunny came into season.  She was three years old so I knew I had to get going.  I did a frantic search online for another stud dog and fortunately, found Julia.  She was extremely experienced and knowledgeable.  She checked Sunny’s pedigree and agreed I could put her stud dog to her.  He was another red and white, a show champion no less and best of all, only lived down the road.

The first mating was quite traumatic for me.  When we arrived at Julia’s house, there was Wizard, in all his glory.  He was beautiful, but seemed so big, compared with my little girl.  He was really keen to ‘get on with it’ but Julia made him wait for a while, until Sunny and I were a bit more settled and not quite so anxious.  Then there was plenty of sniffing and licking and mounting.  I was surprised with how much we needed to be with them.   There was a chance that Sunny could have really attacked Wizard, but fortunately he was pretty determined.  It was also a bit of a challenge as it was Sunny’s first time, so it was quite a ‘tight fit’.  Once he has penetrated and ejaculated, the dogs remained ‘tied’ for around ten minutes.  This is where the male stays inside the female, but they turn around so that they are tail to tail.

Sunny screamed the whole time he was inside her, yelping as though she was in agony.  This was hard for me to take – my poor girl!  But as soon as it was finished she was all bouncy and jaunty, almost as though she was ready to go again!  Cheeky girl.   Even better, when she got home she told Buzz all about it!

Next time..

My next post in this blog will be about the arrival of the first litter.

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?

 

My life in dogs – how I got started

The first dog in my life was Bella, a black Cocker Spaniel.  She smelled horrible (ear issues) in my memory.  She died when I was 10.  Then we had Shahn, a Working Sheepdog, who nipped our ankles if we weren’t careful.   Two years later we had Kali, another WSD, who was incredibly soppy and would follow us around, getting under our feet and breathing her smelly breath on us.

Bella – she loved having her picture taken

When I was 18 my mother decided to get Afton, a pedigree Border Collie.  She was a completely different kind of dog – a ‘proper’ dog.  Beautiful to look at, a classic collie, and with a really super temperament.  She loved to have things thrown for her – anything at all, she didn’t care.  The classic was that she would bring visitors a tiny twig, or a leaf and carefully place it on their lap, then gaze at them patiently, waiting for them to throw it.

Rue (next to me) with Missy, Daisy and Afton

My mum wanted to breed from her and when I was around 21 she had her first litter.  I was there for the whelping (the births) and loved it!  It was so exciting.  She had beautiful puppies, which we named after herbs and we kept Dill.  Two years later she had another litter and we kept Rue.

I took on Rue once I had stopped work after the birth of my second son, in 1994.  She was a sweet girl, but a bit neurotic.  She didn’t like other dogs much, or men, or children.  Typical collie.  She was easy going, kept herself to herself.  Undemanding but a bit boring.

My first puppy was Buzz, bred by my mum.  It was 1997 and we had spent nine months trying to move house.  We kept getting gazumped, or losing our sale, because our house was made of concrete and people couldn’t get a mortgage to buy it in case it crumbled to dust.  (The mortgage company had clearly never trying to put up a picture).  We were pretty fed up and there was this litter at home.  My younger son to a shine to Buzz, so there we were, a two dog family.  Soon to be followed by Woody, the cat.

Rue with Sammy

Buzz was a right pain.  He was as neurotic as collies can be, easily spooked.  He would bark, irritatingly, to come in, or go out, or whatever.  Incessantly at the doorbell.  He loved the boys, and would run around while they played, but they didn’t play with him.  We were brought up to have respect for our dogs, and they were always left in peace or put away if the house was busy.  We occasionally stroked them, but they were never cuddled, or handled, or fussed.  They were just part of the house, part of the furniture.  Not really walked and certainly not trained.

Buzz and Woody (with Batman)

I did do some training with Buzz and because he was a collie he was generally obedient, but didn’t really do much.  It was while I had Rue and Buzz was a puppy that I learnt that dogs could talk.  Not just bark, but actually communicate.  I was sitting working at my desk and Rue came into the room.  She said “You’d better come.  That annoying puppy has done something naughty.  I told him not to, but he did it anyway.   It wasn’t me.”  I was surprised that she was able to say all that, but she did and sure enough, when I looked, there was the chewed thing, just as she’d said.

Sunny at eight weeks

Buzz had grown up with two small boys, but they never really paid him any attention. It was a shame because his brother Digby had gone to my friend, who also had small boys.  Digby was one of the family and would lie on the floor cuddling with George, aged 2.  He was a super boy and I think that was when I started to realise just how much dogs could vary and how important their upbringing was to the way they behaved.

I had seen red and white collies at Crufts and when I mentioned to my mum that I fancied getting one, a few years after Rue died, she put me in touch with a friend of a friend who had a red and white girl.  I went from Essex to Southampton to see Sunny when she was three weeks old.

It was the first time I had been interviewed by a breeder and I was surprised, but pleased when I passed the test and was awarded with the puppy.  I named her Sunshine, as she was born on Midsummer’s Day, June 21st 2006.  She was the start of my journey as a breeder.

 

Why Breed Dogs?

I know some people who believe passionately that all dog breeders are irresponsible criminals and that ALL dogs should be obtained from rescue centres.  Trouble is, if everyone really did do that, there would very soon be no dogs left.  Also, if we could only get dogs from rescue centres, we’d be left with a load of miscellaneous mongrels.

I know that many dog breeders are responsible dog owners who care about the health and temperament of their dogs.  These breeders pay attention to who takes on their puppies and do their utmost to support those owners as they begin their journey into dog ownership.  If all dog breeders were like this, then all dogs would be better behaved and fewer would end up in rescue centres.

It starts with what we, the buying public, want from our dogs.  Dogs have been part of our lives for thousands of years and over time our views on what we want from them has changed immeasurably.  We do require dogs to perform a myriad of working roles, from search and rescue, to Medical Detection Dogs.  We also want them to engage in numerous sporting activities with us, from agility, flyball to competitive obedience.

Ultimately though, our demands of our dogs are the same as they’ve always been; we want a companion, a friend, a pet.  Someone to welcome us home and to soothe our troubles.

Supply and demand

We want more and more dogs and we have very specific criteria when looking for a dog.  I have any number of people asking for a ‘classic collie’ or a dog with blue eyes.  People want a dog at a very specific time, or they want one that doesn’t chew, or shed hair.  They want one that is an exact size, or that slobbers, has bulgy eyes, or a curly tail.

The challenge is to produce the dogs people want, but to do that in an ethical and sustainable way.  What makes people become puppy farmers?  Not only the fact that there is good money to be made, but the fact that people demand increasing numbers of particular kinds of puppies.

What is this blog about?

I am going to try and unpick some of these issues and talk about them from my own experience and opinion.  I would like to try and help future puppy owners to choose from a more informed perspective.  I am going to talk about:

  • What makes a good breeder?
  • What is a puppy farmer?
  • What is a hobby breeder?
  • Should you breed from your family dog?
  • What makes a pedigree dog?
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of a cross-breed?
  • What is the difference between a Working sheepdog and a Border Collie?
  • What should you look for in a stud dog?

Getting Started

Becoming a breeder is easy – you just need a dog.  Well, of course if you want to do it ‘properly’ then you need a ‘proper’ dog.  One that is healthy and has a great nature.  Then the journey begins…

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?