It’s believed around 2,000 stolen dogs are reported per year and the number just keeps increasing.
“Dog breeder offers £50,000 reward for her 11 puppies that were stolen by a gang of thugs armed with knives.
Just seeing social posts about missing animals makes my stomach flip with concern. For many of us, our dogs are one of the most precious things in the world!
As breeders and owners it’s imperative you keep them protected and secure. Dogs have become highly desirable and over recent years dog theft has significantly increased, mainly driven by the fluctuation of the monetary value of animals. A Belgium racing pigeon called ‘Armando’ sold for £1.1mil to some Chinese bird fancier's, I think this proves my case!
It’s easier to steal and distribute a litter of puppies then adults which are easier to identify and more likely to defend themselves.
Microchipping is one of the most effective ways of reuniting dogs with their owners, as long as the contact details are current.
Breeders can be at an extreme risk when selling puppies, typically if litters aren’t chipped and puppy viewings have started. This is an area of risk that you need to manage. Completing the four vetting stages will help deter any possible undesirables but it’s not foolproof.
Puppy viewings involve you allowing fairly unknown strangers into your home, which could potentially leave you a victim of crime.
Don’t provide your exact address, until 24-48hrs before the viewing. Your vetting process should have meant you have the visitors full contact details including address and contact numbers.
Explain to them that there are safe guarding procedures which will be carried out before any puppies are viewed and regardless of if they decide to purchase a puppy.
Request that the visitors provide identification in advance, copies of identification e.g. Passport or Photographic Driving Licence with a utility bill registered at the same address.
This is easily done by taking a picture using their mobile phone and forwarding the image with apps such as Whatsapp, Messenger or email.
You can also request they bring the originals on their visit, so you can check they haven’t been edited or counterfeit.
I have known breeders to also take note of the visitor’s cars registration during their visit.
Consider how much of your house the visitors will see. Possible criminals ’acting’ interested in viewing a litter, could be ‘casing your premises’ to return uninvited later.
Never have visitors when you are the only person on the premises. Two strangers could soon dominate a situation and you’ll have no help or immediate backup.
Consider investing in a security system to protect you, your house and your dogs. There are many types of surveillance systems and it’s worth seeking professional, advice due to the huge array of options.
Always have yours and your dogs safety and protection at the forefront of your mind. Treat every visitor with vigilance to prevent becoming part of ever increasing the ‘dog theft’ statics, particularly if you breed high value puppies.
Michelle Ramson of the Redimorose dogs started breeding Pugs after being besotted with them as a child. Her husband bought her a black Pug as a Valentine's gift back in 2014. Michelle comes from a farming background and has many breeding practices instilled from watching her family rearing Suffolk Sheep.
First Pug Betty Boo, stole Michelle’s heart and she soon wished for a companion for Betty. A friend who bred Golden Retrievers suggested to Michelle that she should consider breeding Betty, rather than buying in another Pug and her dog breeding interest started.
Michelle’s breeder friend, Lisa Hayes mentored and supported Michelle guiding her to become a Kennel Club Assured Breeder which she has been since August 2015 (and Lisa since May 2007!).Michelle was taking proactive steps to breeding by fulfilling the required breed health tests, kennel club paperwork and found a suitable stud. Betty Boo’s litter was textbook and resulted in five lovely pups. Michelle kept a puppy from this litter, called Ellie and continue to breed her Pugs.
In the meantime, another dog walking friend of Michelle had rescued a Bulldog called Snuffy. Michelle admired his character and persona so much that she was starting to think she would love a Bulldog to join her family too. This time her husband took a little convincing. Once new Bulldog puppy Winnie was settled, it seemed he had a soft spot for her!
Michelle first used HomeScan’s canine pregnancy scanning services in April 2016. I asked Michelle why she thought scanning was so important.
Michelle shared that her most challenging litter was her experience of water puppies where she lost three pups in a litter. She observed no signs of the condition but had changed a few of her breeding protocols. She wondered if not giving the Canine Herpes Vaccine or continuing to walking the dam during her pregnancy due to her high energy levels, both deviations from her usual practices, may have contributed to the condition. She was aware that Bulldogs are also predisposed to the condition.
Michelle also talked about her traumatic experience of unknowingly rearing a puppy with an undiagnosed cleft palate, that later was put to sleep at 10 days old. This experience formed part of Michelle’s decision to no longer breed the Pugs and refocus on a breed she had previously owned, Golden Retrievers.
Michelle shared the importance of ensuring the female eats post birth and if needed, she will hand feed until they are back to their usual self. Michelle also feeds goats milk as an easy way to increase the female’s calorie intake after the birthing experience. She also ensures the puppies suckle every hour because of her farming upbringing and the importance of colostrum having been taught in her family’s farming rearing practices. Over time the space between feeds are increased, Michelle is comfortable to do this because of a daily and simple process of puppy weighing which confirms the pups are thriving and gaining but also to quickly to identify any poorly pups.
I asked Michelle what was her most essential piece of breeding equipment? The one thing she couldn't do without.
“The whelping box, the Warrick plastic type. I love it. I can get the jet washout on it and really scrub it properly. I'm really not a fan of anything wooden, not at all. For a one off, I have also used a cardboard box."
I asked Michelle what would be her best tip for another breeder?
“My best tip would be only using a health tested sire. Put your investment into researching. When you first start out and you think to yourself ‘I'm going to mate my dog’, you need to make sure she’s health tested too.
This blog is just a bite-size portion of the smorgasbord of breeding knowledge and advice we discussed. Listen to the FREE audio of the interview below, where you’ll find out:
The next issue of the Home Breeder Herald includes Michelle’s full load down on her experience of applying for the Dog Breeding licence, plus:
Socialisation: The activity of mixing socially with others and the process of learning to behave in a way that is acceptable to society.
So what's puppy enrichment?
This goes some way toward improving their lives and replacing activities they might do in the wild, such as foraging for food. Its purpose is to maintain physical and mental health. It helps prevent boredom and behavioural problems which often stem from a lack of mental stimulation
Enrichment: The action of improving or enhancing the quality or value of something.
This form of stimulation should help prevent developmental issues, resulting in a happy dog and owners. This investment of effort should support keeping dogs out of rescue or being returned to breeders.
So it's vital that breeders not only understand and participate in socialisation and enrichment practices but also educate their puppy owners as they need to continue this development as the puppy grows and as an adult in their care.
Being stuck behind two!
I was recently trundling behind a stream of cars at 11mph, when my eye followed the line to the leading cars it was not one, but two learner drivers. It was apparent these were causing the tailbacks.
Now to be fair, when I’m behind a learner driver I’m always patient, all drivers know how difficult learning to drive initially is.
When I had my first lesson with the family instructor he asked me ‘Do you know how to drive?’ , I thought it pretty apparent I couldn’t otherwise why would I need lessons? I answered ‘No’, and he replied ‘Oh both your brothers did!’ well that figures!
NUMBER 1 - Don’t test if you are on a tight budget.
It will be more cost effective to run a full set of blood tests, then receive multiple matings to cover the biggest possible window of fertility. Multiple matings may require multiple trips to the stud costing time and fuel. It may also result in the stud being over used and by not identifying the optimal time to mate could result in a smaller litter, if any at all.
It’s more efficient to spend money up front on identifying ovulation and need only one mating.
NUMBER 2 - Don’t test if you want to guess when she's ready, by doing just one test.
Blood testing doesn’t predict when she’s going to ovulate, it only identifies whether she has ovulated or not. Be prepared to run on average three tests to pinpoint the optimal time to breed.
You should I start from day 6 - 9 of season, day 1 being first day of blood, unless the season is silent/dry or previous history suggests otherwise.
NUMBER 3 - Don’t test if you’re not prepared to take the advice that’s given, regarding the results of the test.
There’s little purpose running the test and ignoring the results. If you need to retest because the numbers are too low, then retest as advised! Don't get disappointed if the result is too high and you’ve gone past day 9 of season, take it as a lesson to start testing earlier.
When sharing your results, make sure that all parties are all talking the same language! There are two scales of results:
NUMBER 4 - Don’t test if you haven’t prepared and planned.
Vets aren’t particularly helpful when it comes to breeding. You need to have the discussions regarding asking for a blood draw only appointment in advance. This can be conducted by a vet nurse negating the need to see the vet and incur consultation fee, as your dog is not ill and you do not need their assessment. This is pertinent if you plan to use your own independent Laboratory, particularly for same day results.
You’ll need to pre-order your kits from (if they provide them) from the Lab to take with you and it’s always good to keep the stud own in the loop!
If you want to do things right…
You should learn what the results mean and how a female cycle progresses. Independent testing of the stud will ensure no conflict of interest regarding the results. Only 1.2ml is needed of whole blood to the fill line of a microtube suitable for testing, the quality of blood is better before food. The tube should be white or clear topped, its fine that the blood clots and the tube should have no gel separator as it can lower the results.
If you want to know the full load down on efficient blood testing then register for the FREE 1 pager on “Everything you need to know about Progesterone Testing”.
1. A.I stands for artificial insemination, this is the technique of collecting from the male and artificially inseminating the female by directly placing the semen inside the vagina (trans-vaginal). Semen placed through the cervix (trans-cervical) should only carried-out by a vet with the use of an endoscope.
2. The male is collected by imitating that he is locked onto a female which causes a tie, is not the equivalent of human foreplay and shouldn’t be collected in such a way!
Thankfully Ben Holt of HighHolt Labradors, Pugs & French Bulldogs and owner of Highlands Kennels Ltd (Horam) agreed for me to interview him as part of gaining HomeScan Master Breeder status. The interview took much longer than I had imagined in this bustling reception of the boarding kennel that he owns and managed for the last eight years and a reason why his breeding programme evolved so quickly. Ben shared some great information that any breeder would benefit from!
A.I stands for artificial insemination, this is the method of collecting semen from a dog and artificially inseminating it into a female. There are three different types of A.I. The first is intra vaginal which can be conducted by somebody that has experience and is competent, but is not necessarily a vet. Surgical A.I is another technique which requires a procedure and should only be conducted by a vet. This is typically used when frozen semen is being used so it’s deposited directly into the ovaries for the best success rate. Finally, there is trans cervical insemination, again this should only be conducted by a vet who would use an endoscope (a flexible tube with a light and camera attached to it so deep into the body) generally is used for frozen semen to be deposited through the cervix and females having a history of difficult conception.
To date (December 2018) I’ve confirmed a positive pregnancy in over 1,100 animals (mainly dogs), that’s nearly 72% of all my scans are confirmed pregnant. Owners are always surprised when I confirm pregnancy for just one puppy and I’m equally surprised when they comment that it’s rare. I’ve looked over my figures and there’s a 6.4% chance of a pregnancy being a solo puppy, unlike the chances of having a large litter of 10 or more puppies is only 2.3%.
One of the questions I get asked frequently is, how do I know when to C-section my bitch, or how do I know if she needs a C-section?
These decisions can be made significantly easier if the breeder has carried out a few simple checks along the way and throughout the dog's pregnancy. No one can ultimately answer this question, because nobody has a crystal ball, not the breeder, not the vet, not me.
This is where Sara Lamont the Canine Family Planner founder of HomeScan & Pet Mate Services will be sharing her observations in the world of canine breeding accrued from three decades in the field.