Tag Archives: puppies

You want to breed a litter?

You have no idea what you’re in for. I hear ya, you read all the books and watched all the DVDs, maybe you’ve even delivered human babies. You still have no idea what you’re in for. People think it’s two months of roly poly puppies full of adorableness, and that part is wonderful, but there’s more to it than puppy breath.

Preparing for the Breeding
They make it sound so easy, what with progesterone tests and vaginal cell smears. “Just wait for the progesterone peak and two days later you should breed her.” You’ll be constantly worried that you missed her progesterone peak and wonder, hmmm, spend money on a probably unnecessary test or sooth my worried brain? When did she come in? Why is this taking so long? So you do the test and it’s a big fat “not yet.” Ugh. You’ll email the stud dog owner every other day with meaningless updates as you try to figure out when to drop your leave chit at work so you can roadtrip to the stud. If you’re breeding her to an in-house male you don’t have to worry. Yet.

The Breeding
Your female will not enjoy this, in fact she might hate it. It’s not something that dogs do for fun and it’s painful for the female so she’ll probably whine or even shriek with pain. There’s also the chance that they just won’t be into each other, and some males have lousy libidos. If they do tie she’ll probably try to get away and might even try to bite him — this strange dog is hurting her in strange ways! Since that would be really painful for the male you are the cruel person who whispers sweet nothings while restraining her. It can be traumatizing for both of you. And you get to do it three times over the next few days. You’ll feel like a terrible person.

The Pregnancy
You bred her, woohoo! But, is she pregnant? You won’t know this until halfway through the pregnancy and even then there’s the chance of fetal reabsorption. There’s also the possibility that she didn’t take and it was all a false pregnancy. Skip the ultrasound and get an X-ray a week before her due date so you know how many puppies should be born. I say should because she could miscarry or have stillborn puppies. This sounds all gloom and doom but the worry is real!

Oh em gee, your bitch made it full-term and is showing signs of labor! Rent a few movies and order takeout, this could take a while. You’ll think she’s about to start pushing and then she’ll take a nap. Chances are she’ll keep you guessing for two days before finally starting real labor at 4am after you’ve been awake for 36 hours. This is actually the scariest part because you want to help but you’re not quite sure how to do it safely. Don’t pull to hard or you might hurt the puppy, but don’t wait too long or they might suffocate. Has it been too long between puppies? What do I DO???? This is when you freak out if you don’t have an experienced person with you.

First Two Weeks
You thought it was going to be easy sailing after they were born, but no. For the first two weeks puppies can’t regulate their own body temperature, see, or hear and they need to eat every 1-2 hours. Even though you’ve been up for 48 hours you’re going to hover over the whelping box making sure nobody gets accidentally suffocated, they’re warm but not too warm, and holding puppies up to the nipple every 10min. Now you’re a helicopter parent who obsessively checks the heating pad and critically examines how mom jumps in the whelping box to see if you can make it safer somehow. You’ll fret over the runt, making sure they’re still alive every chance you get and holding them up to the nipple every 2min just in case. Are you sure you’re not hungry? Buy a webcam because eventually you do need to return to your day job or at least leave the house, but this way you can spy on them.

The Departure
This part is sad — these are your babies! It’s also terrible because as soon as one puppy leaves the others realize that the group dynamic has changed, and they start fighting viciously. This will scare the crap out of you in addition to being highly inconvenient, so it’s best to have them all picked up on the same day. After the last puppy leaves you’ll feel like a bear coming out of hibernation as you ease back into “normal” life and wonder how to fill your suddenly empty days. Even though you once thought “I wish I could keep them all!” now you’ll be thinking “phew, glad that’s over.” Six months later you might find yourself thinking you want to do it again.

My point is that your first litter is going to be trial by fire, probably much like having your first human baby. Now I understand why so many breeders are retired or don’t work outside the home! Is it a ton of work? Yep. Is it worth it? Yes! It’s a wonderful privilege to watch your puppies develop from birth and know that you had a hand in creating these amazing little creatures.

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Posted by on March 17, 2017 in Other Stuff


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Puppies! xD

Once you find “your” breed you have a hard time sticking to just one dog. The first one was so fabulous that you can’t imagine the second one being anything other than equally fabulous! And if you have any ambitions to breed you’ll definitely end up with at least a male and a female.

Both of these things apply to me, plus I want Wally to have a buddy. So I decided to wait until he was at least two and then get a female from Marion. And guess what? Tweed is in heat! Which means I’ll be bringing home a puppy in about 5 months! Yaaaay!

I’m super excited about this litter because it’s a repeat of the last one (Otr x Tweed), which turned out stunning. The puppies were exactly what I wanted to complement Wally: racy, elegant, leggy. Basically they look just like Otr. Wally is correct but in the other end of the spectrum: sturdy, balanced, muscular. I’m super exited to see what turns up in the litter! Hopefully there are plenty of girls. :)

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

How did Marion know Tweed was coming into heat? Because Toby, who is not quite 1 year old and is Wally’s half brother, went bonkers around her. Exactly how Wally did last year when Tweed came in. I think raging libidos is a family trait in this line!



Posted by on March 13, 2013 in Other Stuff


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What makes someone a good breeder?

At Thanksgiving, a holiday where my family joins several other families to celebrate, the conversation turned to dogs and someone mentioned that they wanted an Irish Wolfhound. I immediately said that they should make sure to get one from a good breeder, which prompted them to ask: what makes someone a good breeder?

Having been a passionate dog lover for, oh, my entire life, I had never really tried to define “good breeder.” It was just something I could recognize. Unfortunately the vast majority of people have no idea what makes someone a good breeder, which is why backyard breeders (BYB) and puppy mills (PM) are still going strong.

How can someone without intuitive knowledge recognize a good breeder? Here are some rules of thumb to guide you through the process.* And yes, I’m a dog snob. I’m OK with that and think you should be one, too. You’re making a 10-15 year commitment, so stop kicking tires and spring for the Rolls-Royce!

*Keep in mind that there are always exceptions to the rules so use your best judgement based on your overall analysis of a breeder.

A good breeder has some kind of mission statement that guides their breeding decisions. While a BYB or PM may have a mission of “make a profit” or “see the miracle of birth” or “I want a Fluffy 2.0”, a good breeder has something much more challenging in mind: make a positive impact on their breed by leaving it better than they found it. Their mission statement often looks something like this: “To breed structurally sound and healthy dogs with amazing family temperaments.” If they have a breed with working instincts they may include something like “with natural working ability.” This mission is backed up by things like health certificates from OFA/CERF, temperament testing, and titles (covered below).

Look at how much time, money, and energy they have invested in their dogs and breeding program. Good breeders have invested thousands of dollars into their breeding program: buying excellent foundation stock, showing, health testing, training, self-education, maintenance of dogs, etc. They do this knowing that they will never see a profit, and they’re OK with that because it’s not about money; it’s about the mission.

A BYB or PM keeps investment costs low since for them it’s also about the mission, but the mission is return on investment.

Volume, Timing, and Duration
A good breeder will usually have 0-3 litters per year depending on their current goals and the size of their breeding program. They only breed if it’s in line with their mission of bettering the breed, which is why some years they may not have any litters at all. The time they begin breeding an individual dog is normally after the dog has reached two years of age and has had health testing completed (see below for more details on health testing). And a good breeder will normally breed an individual bitch no more than three times.

A BYB probably has 1-2 litters per year, often begins breeding by one year of age, and may breed every or every other heat cycle for an indeterminate number of years. A PM will have dozens of litters per year, begin breeding before one year of age, and often breeds every heat cycle until the bitch is no longer productive.

Health testing
Many people see health testing as a cornerstone to any good breeding program, and rightly so. Genetic disease is a preventable problem in purebred dogs, which means that not doing the proper testing is negligent and detrimental to the breed. Good breeders will do the appropriate testing for their breed, be willing to share the results, and will make breeding decisions based on the results. They will also only breed dogs who meet a minimum standard of good health, which either means passing a test or getting some minimum score. Tests are usually scored by OFA (many conditions) or CERF (eyes only).

For a simplistic example, a breeder has a gorgeous Doberman male but he tests as “affected” for von Willebrand’s, a genetically inherited disease. This dog could still be bred but only to bitches who test “clear” for the gene; this would produce a litter of 100% “carrier” puppies who are not affected by the gene but could pass it on. The breeder keeps one carrier puppy who grows up and is bred to a non-carrier (“clear”), which produces a litter of 50% carrier and 50% non-carrier. Now the breeder can keep a non-carrier puppy who has all the good traits of their original male but no longer passes on the gene for vWD. Because the breeder did health testing, within 3 generations they were not only able to rid their own breeding program of a deleterious gene but also to improve the breed by weeding out the gene while still retaining the excellent traits of their top-winning dog.

BYB and PM don’t normally do any kind of genetic screening (I’ve heard tales of BYB who do, but never seen it in practice), and as such cannot make breeding decisions based on the results. This leads to increased prevalence of genetic diseases and, in turn, increased health problems within the breed.

Behavioral analysis
Most people want a dog that’s easy to live with and a dog with a challenging temperament (reactive, fearful, aggressive, etc) is often the first one to end up at the pound. A good breeder recognizes this and, within the constraints of their breed’s natural temperament, they do their best to produce stable dogs that are easy to live with. Some breeders will do formal temperament testing (TT titles) or therapy work (may have a TDI title, but may not) and some may even do testing on puppies to get a feel for temperament (the Volhard test is popular). The best way to analyze temperament, however, is to meet the dogs in person and determine if you would enjoy living with them.

BYB and PM don’t do temperament testing.

Our first BOB win! Many thanks to Judge Leslie Rogers

Conformation titles
Conformation titles indicate that someone other than the breeder agrees that this is a quality example of the breed. The caveat: conformation shows are subjective so a less than stellar dog can still earn a CH title. As a result you should use CH titles as a baseline and then go further by analyzing the dog yourself or asking a mentor to do so. Read the AKC standard and determine for yourself if the dog is a good example of the breed.

Sport titles
This would be along the lines of obedience, agility, flyball, etc. They are an indication that the dog is trainable and that the breeder spends time with the dog one on one. They are also a rough indication that the dog has a stable temperament since it can compete at venues full of chaos, people, and dogs.

Breed-specific titles
These titles are proof that the dog can do what the breed was originally developed for. Terriers may earn Earthdog titles, herding breeds may earn herding titles, hounds may earn lure coursing or tracking titles (although tracking is open to all breeds), sporting breeds can earn field titles. If you want a dog with strong working instincts you may want to specifically look for these types of titles.

BYB and PM don’t normally have any titles on their dogs.

General policies
Frequently a good breeder will have a puppy application that prospective buyers fill out; this helps the breeder determine if you meet their criteria for a good owner. Be honest when you complete these — the truth will come out eventually! The youngest age that a good breeder will release puppies to their new owners is 8 weeks of age. For some breeds, or if the breeder is analyzing puppies to determine show quality, this may increase to 12 weeks of age. Usually they will require you to visit with them in person at least once before you take home your puppy, and the puppy may have to be picked up in person (not all breeders will ship puppies).

BYB and PM don’t have a pre-purchase screening process, often release puppies at 6 weeks of age (which is too young), and will happily ship the puppy to you, sight unseen, for a few hundred bucks.

A good breeder typically divides their puppies into two quality categories: show and pet. They may or may not charge more for a show puppy, but if they do it’s because that puppy is legitimately a better example and could improve on the breed. A BYB or PM will often have three quality categories: show, breeding, and pet. This is ridiculous because any dog that can’t be shown due to conformation faults also should not be bred, which is why a good breeder normally doesn’t have a “breeding quality” category.

In my experience the average price for a well-bred pet puppy is $1500. This, of course, varies by breed, location, quality, etc. Some good breeders will price high in an effort to weed out less than ideal buyers; if you’re serious then they expect you to pony up the cash. If you’re not then they know you weren’t a good fit. Unsold puppies will be kept until an appropriate home can be found; don’t expect a discount.

BYB and PM will price at whatever the market will bear and often offer discounts on unsold puppies.

All good breeders have a binding contract for each puppy. Typically they will have one for pet quality and one for show quality, but both will state basic care expectations, prevent the buyer from selling the puppy without the breeder’s permission, and give the breeder first rights to reclaim the puppy if the buyer can no longer keep it. Basically, a good breeder wants what is best for their puppies. If you can no longer provide that then they want the puppy back so they can find someone else who will. It’s not personal; they just just really care about their puppies! They will also provide a health guarantee, usually up to a certain age. For example, they may state that they guarantee against hip dysplasia up to the age of two and if the puppy shows congenital signs of hip dysplasia prior to that age the puppy may be replaced free of charge.

Show puppy contracts may require co-ownership, may have breeding restrictions built in, and often lay out the responsibilities of the buyer in relation to showing and/or breeding. Pet contracts usually require spaying/neutering and do not allow the buyer to breed the puppy. You will likely have to provide veterinary proof of sterilization.

A BYB or PM won’t have a contract, or if they do it be more like a used car affidavit where you get what you paid for. Health guarantees, if offered, are usually limited to 14 days and may not cover genetic diseases.

4/366(Y2) - Research

Read everything! (Photo credit: Nomadic Lass)

A good breeder will provide lifetime support and always be willing to answer any questions their puppy-buyers might have. This goes back to their desire to place their puppies into the best homes possible: the more you know the better off their puppy is. Plus, the more the breeder knows the better they feel about you having their puppy!

A BYB or PM doesn’t provide support once the puppy is sold.

Assuming the breed is AKC recognized it’s a given that each dog and puppy should be AKC registered. This is not a selling point for a good breeder because it’s assumed to be true, always. Anyone who uses AKC registration as a selling point is not a good breeder.

Also, any registry other than AKC, CKC (as in Canadian Kennel Club, not Continental Kennel Club), UKC, or FCI should not be considered a valid registry. Puppy millers who couldn’t get their stock AKC registered established their own registries that had more lax requirements, which causes unsuspecting buyers to assume that any set of acronyms is a good thing. As a general rule, stick to AKC!

Shots & Deworming
If you look in the local newspaper you’ll see ads proclaiming that the puppies have had their shots and been dewormed as though the breeder were doing you a favor. This is basic health care for any litter of puppies and is to be expected. Good breeders always provide health care to their puppies until the puppies go to their new homes; this usually involves at least first shots (sometimes second) and 1-2 rounds of deworming. Some breeders will not provide shots or deworming based on the natural rearing concept; determine if they’re actually following that philosophy or if they’re just using it as a cover for being cheap.

Do they take Paypal?
Then they’re probably not a good breeder. Since Paypal is so prevalent among shoddy breeders I have a hard time seeing it in a positive light and I’ve never seen any good breeders who accept Paypal.



Posted by on January 21, 2013 in Other Stuff


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Crawling out from under a rock

Yeesh, it’s been a while since I posted! I suppose that’s because there’s not much going on in the life of Sir Walter Greendown these days. I’ve even been paring down in the dog show media consumption: just a glance at Dog Show Poop, unsubscribed from Best In Show Daily, and unfriended a bunch of dog show people on FB (people I’d only added for networking reasons anyway). We haven’t gone to any handling classes or even looked at show premiums. When I said we were taking a break I meant it!

I think Tobie is on the far left and Poppy is second to last (pic from when they were about 2 months old, they’re now 6mo old)

Although Wally has stayed at home, I’ve been going to handling classes with Wayne and his Otr puppies (Tobie and Poppy). I’m not learning anything new but it sure is fun to play with puppies! Like all of the pups Wayne trains they already freestack like baby pros and just need to build up confidence in the ring. I really like Poppy’s conformation, she’s gorgeous! I’m hoping to get a bitch from their next breeding of Otr x Tweed, even though Wally would be completely horrified if he suddenly had to share me with another dog permanently *gasp*. Some days I daydream about owning a big dog, partly so that when I (eventually) move out I’ll have some protection. Borders are the worst guard dogs ever and Wally doesn’t even alarm bark at the doorbell. He just stands at eager attention until the door opens, then he briefly turns into a wiggly noodle before racing off to grab a toy for his new friend to play with.


Posted by on October 17, 2012 in Other Stuff


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I want one!

Because I was so busy being manipulated into a gibbering pile of goo by adorable puppies I have no photos, but the Otr x Tweed litter is fabulous! They’re only 3 weeks old so things could change, but they are a gorgeous and very consistent litter. All have beautiful heads and look like otter kits. They also have good bone and good proportions. I’m jealous of the folks getting one, you’re so lucky! My consolation is the possibility of a fabulous little girl from the next litter. :)

No coat today (this was a week or so ago), but look at that head!


Wally didn’t get to go with me since the babies are so young that he could be a biohazard to them, so instead he spent the afternoon with my mom. I’m not sure what they did but I know he “helped” her change the sheets and do laundry, as well as verify that the cat didn’t any peace. Wally is afraid of my cat Quincy, who lives with Mom, and Wally starts barking the second he gets out of the car to make sure Quincy doesn’t come too close. Unfortunately for Wally, Quincy just finds this annoying and is more likely to sit and stew than to run away.

If you have a Border, your Saturday might look something like this…

  • Go to Home Depot, where so many people fawn over your dog that he is baffled when people ignore him
  • Go to obedience lesson where your dog has tons of fun and gets to play games that end in delicious cookies; you have fun too but you don’t get any cookies, instead you happily pay 35 cookies for the fun you had
  • Find a babysitter for the dog while you run errands; it’s too hot to leave the dog in the car but you don’t want to leave him at home alone
  • Go for a walk, being careful to walk in the shade as much as possible since Borders are total wienies about heat
  • Go out for coffee and sit in the patio area where your Border gets fawned over by other SBUX patrons; don’t forget to get a water for the dog
  • Go home and do boring stuff while your Border passes out on the couch, barely cracking an eye as you do jumping jacks two feet from his face
  • Foretelling the future, feel shocked around 9pm when your Border has a second wind and decides to mimic the whirling dervishes of Istanbul. Another possibility is to literally drag him outside for the bedtime pee only to have him drag you back inside so he can go back to sleep.



Posted by on April 21, 2012 in Wally


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What I Love About Wally #3: He sleeps in

Being super adorable when my alarm goes off is only the beginning of Wally’s morning routine. When I finally do slide out from under him he remains on his back, floppy-legged with his head thrown to one side and refusing to wake up. After gathering my things I try to force him awake by patting him or sliding him toward the edge of the bed. Nothing works — he remains stubbornly “asleep”. Of course this whole time I’m laughing quietly, trying not to wake Isaac.

Finally I have to pick Wally up and carry him downstairs with me. I learned that if I set him down at the top of the stairs he’ll just sit there and watch me go down. Stairs in the AM? Too much work! The moment I set him on the bathroom floor he flops down on the bathmat and watches blearily as I turn on the bathroom lights. The bleary look remains as we go out for his morning pee, but quickly vanishes when breakfast appears. Something about cold, wet grass and the prospect of food has a reviving effect on him!

Wally isn't one of those dogs who wakes you up at 6am on a Saturday. He's more likely to stay in bed if I'm silly enough to get up that early.

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Posted by on October 24, 2011 in What I Love About Wally


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What’s that Wally? You’d like a beer?

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Posted by on October 6, 2011 in Wally


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