Mackland Shetland Sheepdogs Shelties South Africa

Breeding to the standard or winning at a cost

Dog Breeders…        Be a great student        My thoughts on Breeding & Mixed breed dogs

Puppy buyer manners        Win or lose ~ The way it should be

Breeding to the standard or winning at a cost
by Nadine Shortland

 Breed standards exist in order to keep each breed within it’s set parameters, to keep breeders on the straight and narrow, to provide guidelines to dog owners, and to remind judges on the important aspects of each breed. It is in fact a “blueprint” for breeders and judges!

Within each breed there are variations, styles/ types, and the Sheltie is no exception. As in everything in life, we have our personal preferences, whether it be the darkness of the shading on the coat, the quirkiness of the temperament, or the prettiness of the face etc – but we always need to remember to stick to the set guidelines in order to keep our breed REAL.

 Some hallmarks of our breed:

Character should be alert, gentle, active
Soft, almond-shaped eyes with a melting expression
Small, semi erect ears, set high on the head, adding to the attentive expression
The movement is lithe, smooth & graceful

While breeders need to do their best to keep their breeding dogs within the parameters laid out in the standard, there are always dogs produced that are outside the guidelines – perhaps a puppy that is too big, or too small, or of the incorrect colour, or that displays an undesirable trait. These should not be used in a breeding program, but can make fabulous pets to Sheltie enthusiasts, or be homed as performance dogs. It is the breeder’s duty to sift through what they produce, think of their long-term goals, and keep the important traits to produce future generations. No dog is perfect, but we should be adding to the desirable attributes with every generation, in essence improving the overall quality of the breed. This will have a domino effect, and the performance and pet Shelties should also be increasing in quality.

 Breeders with goals will need to get their dogs out there, to be seen and promoted. A breeder’s duty is to educate & inform people what their breed is all about. A breeder also needs to ‘prove worthiness’ by showing their dogs and titling them in the Conformation ring. Unfortunately, this is often where the wheels fall off for a lot of breeds! It is here that, I feel, breeds can be damaged. Judges are put in a position of authority (I am not disputing the fact that judges are knowledgeable), but often this fails a breed horribly! By breeding to goals, with pure intentions, and then winning in the showring & being appreciated by breed specialists, breeders can walk away with a sense of fulfilled satisfaction. They can be happy with the knowledge that they are on the right path, and have a feeling of achievement, having gained a specialist’s approval. For a breeder, there is nothing to top that proud feeling!

But there’s another side of that coin. The majority of judges out there are NOT breed specialists, they are studying groups and reading up on breeds in order to give us their opinions on show day. We stand before them, hoping that they will recognise our efforts in our breeding choices, and award those specimens closest to the ideal as laid out in the breed standard. Unfortunately, with Shelties, we stand amongst a lot of larger breeds – Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, White Swiss Shepherds, all of which show very different traits to that which the Sheltie should have. A lot of judges see “Herding dogs” as a whole and treat them as such and judge them with those “stronger” traits in mind, forgetting that the sheltie is a “sweeps & curves” type of dog, more dainty and sweet than a lot of the breeds in the same group. We are not supposed to be encouraging course, level backed dogs with great strides, for instance, but rather encouraging breeders to breed the best examples of what is laid out in our standard, and present those on show day.

In addition we have a “split” in our breed. We have those original, light-framed English dogs that are pure to the original when the breed was created, and then we have those that have been “Americanised” with the sentiment that “bigger is better”. Every feature has been enhanced to the point where the 2 styles appear to be 2 different breeds. This in itself is incredibly difficult to work around, as the original should be the blueprint, but the “new and improved” version is much more “in your face” and has much more ring presence when shown. When comparing the two styles next to each other it is easy to see why judges are awarding the more American style – they appear sounder, more sturdy in their structure, their temperaments are stronger, and some of their features are easier to see (they are more pronounced). This does not by any means put these dogs above the original style of sheltie, but rather (in my opinion) points out where the original perhaps lacks, and where we can improve on it. An apparent “better” dog may no longer fall within the hallmarks that class the dog as a Sheltie, yet it is still being awarded over a dog that is. I am of the humble opinion that It is here that the breeders should be concentrating – breeding better English dogs!  And if it means using the American dogs in our breeding programs in order to tweak the problem areas, then so be it.

But, both styles are shown alongside each other and the “wrong” attributes often get awarded. Rather award a sound, coarser dog over a bad “original” style….yes, but then a good “original” style should win over an equally good “new & improved, flashy” style.

 Uneducated judges, or judges that think it’s ok to put up “incorrect” dogs because they appear flashy or showy are, in fact, doing the breed an injustice. They are encouraging breeders to breed to win, rather than to breed to the typical original. Trends take over and judges & breeders are basically steering our breed into the dark side, a very sad situation altogether.

 The more the trend takes on, the more we lose of the original type of dog, the dog that was created to look a certain way, and to behave a certain way. It becomes the norm and is seen more and more to the point where members get their clubs to put forward changes in the standard, thereby changing the breed requirements. This is very sad for those that have maintained a meticulous breeding program, and have bred, generation upon generation, of to-the-standard dogs, that will now be deemed as incorrect/ unpopular or non-show dogs. Dogs that are “correct” are finding themselves in the minority as breeders are fighting trends that sweep through the show world, and some breeders are trying to fight these trends and losing to “single focus thinking”

 Good judges and Specialist judges, together with the breeders are the guardians of our breeds – choose them wisely! A judge’s responsibility is to award the dog that best represents what is written in the standard. The breed standard should take precedence over personal opinions or preferences. And for the breeder, what is more important – winning or breeding to standard? For me, my number one is education –  the teaching of the standard, mentoring up-and-coming breeders, and sticking to my goals in maintaining the highest standard of sheltie that meets the specifications that are laid out in our “doggy-bible”.

Dog Breeders…
by Nadine Shortland


 There is a lot of misconception regarding the breeding of dogs, and breeders themselves. Often I hear someone say, “I am a breeder” or “I breed x-y-z dogs”, and they feel that they classify themselves as a breeder.
 A breeder, in the correct sense, is someone that loves their chosen breed(s) and wants to protect it, and guard it against being changed, ruined, spoiled. The characteristics that make a breed what it is, is not to be altered or reduced in quality. A breeder should want to maintain the standards of that breed, and only breed to improve the dogs, and not for the sake of just breeding. He/ she would also want to educate the less informed on their chosen breed. A breeder aspires to maintain the original function of the breed, for which it was initially developed, or at least keep up with the requirements of modern day life, bearing in mind the temperament type/ workability of the breed and why it was developed for that initial function..
 There are organizations that take responsibility for the standard of dogs in each country, and all are linked worldwide. The main governing body in South Africa is the Kennel Union of Southern Africa. They are internationally recognized and hold the breed standards to which all breeders should base their interpretations on the breeds. For every recognized breed, there is a breed standard. These can be found on their website, here:

Within these organizations, it is important to note that there are other registries. For instance the Kennel Union has a “Discipline register” – this is NOT proof of well bred dogs – this is merely a register of any dogs including mixed breed dogs that want to compete in canine sports etc. 
 There are certain responsibilities that a breeder takes on, and the first thing that the “man on the street” is concerned with, is price. The price should reflect the amount of trouble taken by the breeder to do things correctly. And anyone buying a dog needs to ask lots of questions from their prospective breeder to ascertain just what they are getting. Below are a number of standard items that one should expect from a good breeder that is charging accordingly.
 The breeder needs to be a member of the country’s main registering body, and in good standing. Anyone wanting a dog from this breeder, is free to ask questions, ask for references and talk to the owners of any dogs sold by this breeder.
The breeder’s own dogs need to be of good quality, from good stock, all in good health, correct to the breed standard, and of age to breed, with all paperwork in order to prove this. Often a breeder will spend a lot of money importing good quality dogs from overseas in order to maintain a high standard (to give you an idea, this ranges from R50 000 upwards for a good dog!) They are chosen because they can both contribute to the excellence of the breed as well as complement one another. The breeder needs to consider many things including physical structure, temperament, and in the case of working breeds, workability.

The bitch that is bred needs to be up to date with all inoculations (in fact have a record from birth), needs to be microchipped (to prove that she is the correct dog), she needs to be in excellent health, fit, not over or under weight, and she needs to have been fed a high quality food. She has had regular vet checkups all her life and her entire history needs to be available. She also needs to be dewormed before mating, and again later. She is also free of fleas and any other parasites.
Before being bred the bitch, and the male being used, have had certain testing done. This varies between breeds, but the standard tests range into thousands of Rands for the breeder. These include eye tests by a Canine Opthalmologist, hip and elbow x-rays, plus scoring (an international grading to check for dysplasia), and DNA testing to test for hereditary conditions. All of these costs fall on the owners of the bitch (the breeder) and the owner of the male (for his own testing).
The male, if not in the same area as the bitch, has to be flown to her, adding to the cost of breeding the litter, and the owner of the bitch pays a stud fee (normally the price of 1 puppy). The actual mating(s) needs to be witnessed, and the paperwork completed accordingly.

From the bitches season (heat) when she is due to be mated, her high quality food is increased gradually, and she will eat up to 5 meals a day, and should be given a number of extras per day in order to give her pups the best start in life.
Scans are done from 4 weeks after mating to confirm pregnancy, and to ensure the correct development of the pups. An x-ray is also sometimes done in the last week of pregnancy. Some breeders will have added veterinary assistance (and bills) if the bitch is in distress during the birth, or if she needs a caesarean etc. Often, there are a multitude of things that can go "wrong"... mastitis, weak pups, fading pups, cleft palates, etc These need to be addressed as soon s they arise, often at night, after hours!
After birth, depending on the breed, breeders may have to have some items seen to, for example the removal of dew claws that can cause later stress in certain breeds. The mother also needs a thorough examination to see that everything is in order. She and her puppies require warmth, and often a heater is present all day and night in the whelping room, as well as an infra-red lamp.

Puppies feed on their mother’s milk alone for approximately 3.5 weeks (most breeds) and then food is introduced gradually as well, starting off as a pulp. Inbetween, breeders would also offer a variety of nutritionally balanced items eg goats milk etc.
Puppies should be dewormed at 2, 4 and 6 weeks for it to be effective (and with a good dewormer). They are then inoculated at 6 weeks of age as well, and each pup has a thorough vet check. Certain breeds have additional tests around this time (hearing etc). Also at 6 weeks of age, each puppy receives a microchip, positively identifying the dog. At 8 weeks of age the puppies have an eye test with a specialist, before going to their new homes.
The bitch continues to have her increased diet for a further 2 months to maintain her condition, as there is a steep decline after having puppies. Her coat becomes thi and dull, and a lot of work is required to keep her condition up to standard.
The puppies are registered with all the correct paperwork, and certificates are issued accordingly. The breeder has a fee to register each puppy with the registering body Some breeders register their pups with more that one organisation!
 For interest sake, a breeder must be registered with the registering body as a breeder as well, and not just be a member. Breeders will campaign their dogs to achieve qualifications by judges to authenticate their “worth” and likeness to the breed. They often travel all around the country to gain these qualifications, so if your breeder has Champion dogs, he/ she has spent quite a bit of money travelling and entering shows to get this. And the breeders that have additional working qualifications on their own dogs even more so, as the time and effort that has gone into the dogs is immense!
 Properly bred puppies, by breeders that care about their breed, would not be sold cheap, because as you can see from the above, it is a huge expense to breed correctly. Breeders want to protect their hard work and will place Breeding Restrictions on each puppy. This means that no one can breed from those pups without the permission of the breeder themselves. This is to ensure that future breeding is as well thought out as they intended for their breed. Before lifting a restriction, the breeder will insist on all the required testing to be done on both dogs being used, will check to see that the dogs being used are good examples of the breed as laid out in the breed standard etc. These dogs would not go to just anyone, and breeders would have lists of approved homes. Any extra, unexpected puppies would be advertised in the appropriate approved canine media (NOT Gumtree, your local newspaper etc).
 The breeder may go the extra mile and have some early socialising and training done before the pups leave to go to their new homes. Some even have puppy aptitude tests done, all in an effort to maintain the high standard that is expected of a good breeder.

 The whelping area is always kept clean, free of any germs for the young, vulnerable puppies, and early visitors are restricted, and strict measures are taken on hygiene to avoid the spread of Parvo etc. (the use of F10 spray etc). Puppies would NOT go to their new homes at 6 weeks, but would stay until around 8 -10 weeks.
 These breeders do not breed because they feel that it is important for their bitch to have a litter first, or for the kids to witness the miracle of birth etc etc. They do not want to breed because it might “calm their bitch down”. This is how so many unwanted pups get into the system and welfare organizations, the streets and worse.
 Breeders safeguard their dogs, and know exactly where and what type of homes their dogs go to, and in what condition they are in, how they are being treated, if they have been sterilised, worked, shown etc etc. Breeders have contracts with their puppy owners stating all of the above, as well as when their dog is to be sterilised. In addition the contracts often have a clause that, if in the event of changed circumstances, the owners can no longer take care of the puppy, or if something happens to the owner, it is returned to the breeder! (and not passed around or go through the welfare organizations)
 Puppies in pet shops are from backyard breeders that want to get “rid of” them.
Puppies sold in the swop column are from backyard breeders (there are the occasional registered ones here that can be checked out)

Puppies sold on Gumtree, Bidorbuy or OLX are from backyard breeders that think they can make a quick buck! Some "puppies" are sold by scam artists, and the money paid to them and no puppy ever arrives... Do not buy a puppy from an online list!

Glossary of some terms used by backyard breeders
“Registered parents” often refers to puppies that have been bred from dogs that are registered with an organization and are not to be bred with – ie dogs of an inferior quality, sold as pets or the people breeding do not have permission from their breeder for whatever reason - be it health or quality.

 "Registered” does not always refer to a recognized authority. KUSA is South Africa’s registration authority, but some breeds do have an additional recognized body ie the GSD Federation, the Boerboel Federation, the Boxer Federation, SASDA etc, and anyone wanting to purchase a registered dog needs to check with the registering body as to the legitimacy of it! There are a number of bodies that do not require paperwork, authenticity or history, but “register” the dogs that could very well be (and are likely) crossbreeds!

 “Pure bred” is often used by backyard breeders that have a dog that looks like a breed and they breed it to another dog that looks like the same breed, but neither have any proof that they have pure parentage, nor are they registered with any canine body, there is no proof of the history.

 “Free to a good home” means that the poor puppy has probably had a terrible start in life, is full of parasites, and they want rid of it. The puppy’s mother is probably thin, malnourished, flea-ridden, and often sickly - as none of these things could have been taken care of if the puppy was free. If you take a puppy from someone who advertises this and you want to do a good thing, take the mother as well and have her sterilised and care for her!

 “Beautiful Puppies” R1000-R4000 – often with a picture of cute fluffies…. Blatantly advertising to sell puppies. The $$$ is going into their own pocket while their bitch suffers. They have let the pups suckle on the mom for 8 weeks and she is in a terrible state, but they saved on food costs. They are in a box covered with newspapers (hopefully clean) because they wouldn’t want to wash bedding twice a day. They have probably been dewormed max once with an inferior, cheap dewormer and still have worms. They are not inoculated (or maybe you are VERY lucky?)

 Note from the Author
If you want to buy a pet/ working dog/ companion etc, with the best start in life, and that has a “guarantee” from common hereditary conditions – go to a well respected breeder. You get what you pay for! Ask questions, ask to see the parents.  If a breeder refuses to give you more information, or proof of health testing, go elsewhere. Contact KUSA to check on any breeder that you are not sure of!
It is not reputable breeders that add to the unfortunate population of unwanted, sick, sad, starving dogs in shelters and on the streets, it is those that are listed above that just don’t care, nor do they think ahead! 

Be a GREAT Agility Student
by Nadine Shortland

sheltie agility south africa

Agility instructors often have a tough time putting together lesson plans for their students. Each student that comes to class has their own ideas of what Agility entails, of what to teach their dogs, and often HOW to teach it. Most people think that they need to teach the dogs to negotiate obstacles, and they expect to be running courses in no time, I kid you not! They do not have any idea of the planning, foundation and importance of early training stages. Agility to the newbie means run with your dog (or jog) next to some obstacles while the dog does them, just follow the numbers. They want to play around on the obstacles, with no clear picture in their minds of what they will be doing in future in their training. If they are not allowed to do this in class, they often lose interest, drop out, or go elsewhere - to another instructor that maybe has the same ideas. To have a successful Agility career, the dog and handler really do need to have the correct foundation!

To a good instructor, the thought of a student, such as that mentioned above, sends prickles down the spine! Knowing all that is to come in the future, and watching prospective Agility stars be screwed up on step 1 is not an instructor’s idea of a good time. In fact it is a waste of time, and instructors do their best to avoid having students such as these.

A lot of new students come to a training school and are full of hopes and dreams, full of excitement and thoughts of success, promises of dedication and stories of their fantastic dogs. But rarely do they understand that what they are hoping for, in reality, is a pipe dream, as most do not have that real dedication, the ability to absorb valuable information, the natural ability to “feel space” and distance, timing etc. A lot of handlers actually will muddle along happily, oblivious to the fact that they are not actually doing Agility, but merely going through the motions. Handlers that use the words, “yes, but..” are not really adding to a positive class environment. Unfortunately, these types of handlers need to be separated from the truly dedicated & talented newbies from the start. Instructors actually turn away those that come to class to tell the instructor how it’s going to work, those that explain too readily why they cannot do an exercise, and those that prefer to sit around and not interact with their dogs. Handlers that “listen to answer” instead of “listen to hear” are not ideal students at all either, as most are rather talking over or butting in while the instructor is explaining something.

So, begin at the beginning and be serious! Those students that are impatient and jump ahead are not fully grasping the steps to understanding this sport, and what it takes to have success. Instructors live to have students that are patient, and that are willing to take their time and learn to read their dogs correctly, teach each behaviour solidly, mould the finer points to create accuracy, and encourage speed, concentration, focus, drive, etc.

Agility IS a race. It is about the speed just as much as the accuracy, so your dog, first and foremost, needs to have the correct mindset. He/ she must want to work and play with you, interact with you on all levels, and be keen to try new things. He/ she must know about rewards, must be excited about the interaction, and offer more and more! This important tool is up to the handler/ student to achieve, above all else, right from the start. To continue without this is fruitless!
One way that the problem of “bad students” is solved, is that serious instructors will accept only the “good students”, and turn the rest away. They will have a type of a test, or entry level basic course, an initial meeting and assessment. Unfortunately those that don’t make the grade will have to go to a general large group class where they just get to run courses and not worry about skills.

Once an instructor has some excited and willing students, the first class if often more about talking than training. The instructor, in essence, has to teach the students HOW to teach their dogs. Luring, shaping, clicker etc are explained. Types of play are explained, along with a rewards discussion, how to handle incorrect behaviours, how to read your dog, types and lengths of training sessions, general obedience behaviours, tricks... And much, much more. This is followed by the introduction of a fun obstacle: the tunnel, and some more training tools like ladders, cones, the balance board, etc.
Communication with, and a connection to, their canine partner is essential. A student that doesn’t have this, or does not want to have this, will not last too long in a serious class!

With some thought and planning, beginner Agility classes should offer a good balance of foundation work, relationship, and obstacle training. The foundation needs to be present, and correct, without losing any of the excitement and motivation! Students need to be having fun at all times, they need to keep motivating their dogs and upping their criteria. They are to be looking to the future, planning each step and working through the levels to achieve greatness. Great students go home and think some more about their training, and train and work at home every day! A great student makes an instructor truly beam with pride! Be a GREAT student!

My thoughts on Breeding & Mixed breed dogs
by Nadine Shortland


 Recently I was, once again, offended by remarks on a public forum regarding breeders. Blanket statements are made by various rescue organisation field workers and I take great exception being lumped with unscrupulous, backyard breeders that add to the population of unwanted, unplanned, sickly animals that end up in rescue every year. The one-sided, mindless statements accuse ANYONE that breeds of being lower than the scum of the earth for making their lives and the lives of animals all over, a living hell.

Firstly I am all FOR their cause, to put a stop to the abuse and suffering that these animals go through, to put a stop to people breeding unscrupulously and to reduce the amounts of animals without homes!

The standard line “but breeding is breeding and you are adding to the population” is wearing so thin with me! If you are one of those that say this, please take a moment to shut your almighty trap and just look at it from another point of view, please… (Do you have children? Yes? Don’t you think there are enough starving children in the world?? Please STOP having children! Oh but….. MY children were planned and taken care of and are well brought up with only the best that I can afford blah blah YES EXACTLY) so now let me have a say!

OK now that I have your attention, please consider this:

A well bred, planned, carefully engineered litter is an asset to this world. Yes, I said ‘engineered’ because that is what it is. It is a gift that any conscientious, reputable breeder can give to mankind. A breed that has been protected, kept pure, along with all its natural & correct traits that make it special and &unique for generations to enjoy is valuable to us all. The animals that I am talking about have not only been kept pure, but also have been rigorously health screened for any condition that could possibly affect that breed, and selectively bred on in order to eliminate all possible problems. Anyone who believes in the worth, and of passing on, such a gift will see to it that this is done very vigilantly and with great thought and care. And then anyone that has got this far will obviously NOT want anything so special just go to waste or be spoiled by anyone, let alone the unscrupulous backyard breeder! A person that truly cares for the well being of these animals will protect them, and see that they don’t fall into the wrong hands. They do this my means of strict screening processes, contracts and breeders restrictions. A person such as this in fact does NOT add to the population of animals! A person like this, in case of death or emergency, will take their animal back before any other avenues are explored!

As a breeder, I have placed puppies carefully, and I have never had a pup of mine rehomed, let alone get as far as a rescue organisation! I have never had one of my pups bred on, unauthorised. I know the status of every one of my dogs with regard to training, feeding, living arrangements. They are bringing joy to those that appreciate the same level of integrity and appreciation that I do. They have the same type of love that I have for my chosen breeds.

The people to blame for these problems aren’t even always the ones selling the animals. The problem actually doesn’t even lie solely on the backyard breeder’s shoulders. It, in fact, lies with the people that SUPPORT them!! The people that BUY from them on Gumtree, OLX, Junkmail, Bidorbuy, and in the pet shops!. Where there is a demand, there is a market and that makes an outlet for these types of people to sell, so they will keep breeding anything to anything! If you are a do-gooder that buys a puppy on the side of the road to “rescue” it, you are adding to the problem! You may ‘save’ that puppy, but that guy will have 100 more puppies to sell, as he got money from that one!

If you are a rescue fan, have rescues, love rescues etc, I am not bashing you. I have rescues myself. Each to his own, you are doing a good thing by taking in unwanted animals, and animals already out there by the hand of backyard breeders and uncaring people. You are ok with not knowing where your animal comes from, and the lack of history of the breeds that are mixed up in your dog, it’s traits and it’s quirks. You love your dog/ cat etc, and that’s fine. But please stop attacking the narrow margin of good people that are going about things correctly.

And now some thoughts on dogs:

People love dogs, and want to own dogs, for whatever reason suits them: companionship, sport, fun... you name it. So people buy dogs, and I feel that some thought should go into this in order to determine which type of dog would suit each person – whether it be a pure bred dog, a mixed breed, or a cross breed. People need to consider the pros and cons of all, relative to their life and expectations.

3 Types of dogs:
X is a purebred Dalmatian as his mom and dad are both purebred Dalmatians. Breed traits are specific and all puppies from such a combination should look and behave in a similar fashion, and how someone would expect as correct for the breed.
X is a crossbreed as his mom is a Dalmatian and his dad is a Boxer
X is a crossbreed even if his mom is a purebred Dalmatian and his dad is a purebred Boxer
When more than 1 breed is present in a dog’s immediate history, it is a cross breed.
X is a mixed breed if his mom is a Border Collie cross Spaniel and his dad is a Boxer cross Dalmatian.

A mixed breed dog has been made up of a jumble of genes and traits, and there’s no way to tell which of those come from which breeds. There could be 10 or 20 breeds in his ancestry. Breeding the same 2 crossbreeds together may produce different results altogether each time!

Can you look at a mixed breed dog and tell what breeds he is made up of? No! He may LOOK like one breed but behave like another. A cute Yorkie that has been mixed with a Staffy may seem like the best option for your family and toddler, but the cute Yorkie may have staffy traits that would not be suitable for a grabbing, cuddling toddler, for example.

Multiple breeds are contributing traits and genes, and there’s no way to tell which traits might have come from which breed. People who look at a mixed breed dog and then declare which breed's genes are inside that dog, are only guessing. There are simply too many breeds, too many genes that can produce a certain shape of head, ear carriage, type of tail, coat length, colour, etc, and too many ways those genes can be combined.
It doesn’t even help to know which breeds make up your mixed breed puppy, because even if you know which breeds are in him, you don't know whether those individual DOGS were typical for their breed.

Also, just because your mixed breed puppy "has pure breeds" in his ancestry doesn't help you to know what those individual dogs were actually like – and therefore you don't know which genes and traits they had available to pass on. ONLY by selective breeding over a number of generations (ie by a reputable breeder) would you know more about the actual traits of your dog.

For some inherited health problems, there are medical tests that can be done before breeding two dogs together, to make sure they don't have that particular health problem. Unfortunately, it is almost unheard of for a mixed breed dog to have even one parent who has been tested for any inherited health problem. With a mixed breed dog, you have to put your faith in his genetic diversity, rather than in medical testing.

Some advantages of purebred dogs:
Physical and behavioural traits are more predictable due to the similar genes that are present when breeding a dog of a breed to another god of the same breed. These genes distinguish one particular breed of dog from another. They produce wanted traits for that breed, including size, coat, colour, shape of the head, whether the ears prick up or hang down, etc.

Since each breed was developed for a different reason (herding, guarding, hunting, etc.), the traits that are "wanted" are different for each breed.
Way back when each breed was developed, breeders determined which traits were wanted for a breed. Then they began selective breeding, which simply means that dogs with the wanted traits were bred, whereas dogs with unwanted traits were not bred.
Traits are carried on genes. So within each breed, all those genes with the wanted traits got spread throughout the gene pool of that breed.
So when you see a puppy who is a member of a particular breed, you have a pretty good idea which genes (and therefore which traits) he inherited. If you want a certain size dog, or a certain length of coat, you can choose a breed that has the genes for those traits. For many people, that's the biggest advantage of purebred dogs.

Purebred dogs have some temperament/ behaviour traits that are predictable.
Some aspects of temperament and behaviour are also carried on genes. If you want an energetic dog, you can choose a breed who typically inherits genes for high energy. If you want a dog for herding your cattle, or guarding your sheep, or hunting pheasants or rabbits, or pulling a sled, or doing police work, you can choose a breed that tends to inherit those kinds of behaviours. However, other aspects of temperament and behavior are not inherited – instead, they're based on the dog's environment (how he is raised and trained, starting from birth.

A crossbreed dog is what you get when you breed one purebred dog to another purebred dog of a different breed. ie a Golden Retriever crossed with a Standard Poodle, produces crossbred offspring which they call the "Goldendoodle".
Some people call them hybrid dogs, but that's incorrect. A hybrid is the offspring of two different species. For example, a horse bred to a donkey produces hybrid offspring (a mule). But dog breeds are NOT different species. "Breed" is simply the term we use for an inbred group of dogs within the same species, canis lupus familiaris. Crossing "breeds" does not produce hybrids.

Some people call crossbred dogs designer dogs, but crossbreeds are no more designed than purebreds. For example, Border Collie breeders designed their breed by choosing specific traits that would help their dogs be expert herders. Medium size, high energy, quickness, strong chasing instincts, weatherproof coat, etc.

Some specific crosses have been given names.
· Goldendoodle (Golden Retriever crossed with Poodle)
· Labradoodle (Labrador Retriever crossed with Poodle)
· Cockapoo (Cocker Spaniel crossed with Poodle)
· Pomsky (Pom crossed with a Husky)
But whether a cross has been given a name or not doesn't matter. If a male Siberian Husky escapes his yard and discovers, just down the block, a female Dalmatian in heat, the resulting puppies will still be crossbred even though no specific name has been coined for a Siberian-Dalmatian cross.

One purebred dog bred to a purebred dog of a different breed = crossbred puppies. No cutesy names required!

Advantages of crossbreed dogs – but are they really advantages?

Crossbreed dogs appear to have a more moderate appearance. Yes. That is from “outcrossing” and breeding traits that mostly are not found in both the breeds. But in pure bred dogs, their “deformities” – tiny size, giant size, very short nose, protruding eyes, a long back, loose jowls, long heavy ears, wrinkled folds of skin, etc. – can only be maintained by deliberately and continuously breeding such dogs TOGETHER. By breeding dogs that complement each other, we can eliminate the traits that are not desirable. So yes, the crossbreed has a higher chance of more intermediate looks.

Crossbreed dogs appear to tend to have a more middle-of-the-road temperament. Yes. Again, as above, different personality traits are put together, it is a lucky packet of a wider variety of traits that are produced in the crossbreed. Traits are watered down to produce dogs that are more suited as household pets. Remember, in pure bred dogs, they are bred for specific jobs, so they need to have specific traits – these are bred in generation after generation in order to keep the breed pure and to keep their hallmark characteristics that make them unique as their breed.

Crossbreeds are healthier. Unfortunately, no! All dogs have defective genes. But many defective genes don't cause any problems unless you have TWO copies of it. Whether you are crossing a Yorkie to a Border Collie, or breeding 2 purebred Australian Shepherds, the same conditions can affect the puppies – and that is if each parent has a copy if the defective gene. But yes – the chances are less likely that two copies of the gene are present if the 2 crossbreeds are of very different breeds. Pure bred dogs have more of a chance of doubling up the genes as those traits are already in the breed. But this is why we have health testing – in order to match up the best possible health results while still breeding dogs that are true to their breed.

Unfortunately, the genetic diversity of the mixed breed “designer” dogs does not make for a consistent “breed” of dog. There is no breed standard, no higher power that the “breeders” are breeding to, no authorised body or control – their main aim is to sell dogs and put 2 dogs together. Each dog could be different, their sizes vary from the smallest breed to the biggest breed, no consistency is achieved, and there is no direction for their breeding program. Most litters are first generation – ie a plain and simple crossbreed!

So, in closing, whether you are someone that wants a specific dog for it’s traits, or if you want a lucky packet type crossbreed, your choice is your own. Those that take in unwanted dogs and other people’s mistakes, good for you. But that does not make you better than the next person that wants a really good specimen of their chosen breed.

Puppy Buyer Manners
by Nadine Shortland


I am posting this specifically because I do NOT have any puppies here now, and don’t anticipate any for a while. So you know that I’m not singling any real person out. This is because it seems that there’s a lot of confusion about the whole “proper” way to go about things. So, puppy buyers and anyone else thinking about maybe someday approaching a good breeder about a puppy, here you go:

Stop looking for a puppy
The classic mistake puppy buyers make is saying “I need an xx breed puppy at the end of the year” or whatever it may be. So they go out looking for litters due in October so that they get their puppy for Christmas. Bad idea.
Puppies are not interchangeable; one is not the same as the other. This is largely because every breeder has their stop-the-presses criteria for breeding or not breeding, and each has preferences for size, personality, working ability, etc. Breeder X’s “perfect puppy” is not the same as Breeder Y’s.

Stop looking for a puppy; look for a BREEDER. Make a personal connection with a breeder you feel shares your top criteria, and then wait for a puppy from them. Maybe they even have a litter on the ground, which is wonderful, but maybe they’re not planning anything for a few months. Or maybe they’re not planning anything for a year; in that case, ask for a referral to another breeder that shares those same priorities and has a similar (or just as good) personality and support ethic. However it works out, screen the breeder first, then ask about a puppy.

Expect to wait for a puppy
 It’s very rare to wait less than a couple of months. We cannot just walk to the freezer and whip out the one in a desired sex and colour to defrost. We ALL have to wait, and we ALL have to get matched up by the puppies’ breeder.
Introduce yourself thoroughly

 The initial e-mail should be several paragraphs long; a phonecall is also nice, but not everyone has time for this, as breeders are often hobby breeders that have day jobs. When you initiate contact, clearly communicate these things: You are ready for a puppy, you are ready for a puppy of this breed, and understands its needs and traits, and you understand what sets this breeder apart from the others and that you share that commitment. Specifically describe your plans for this puppy; be truthful. If you are not going to be able to go to four training classes a year, SAY SO. Don’t say “Of course, training is a huge priority around here,” or you’re going to end up with a puppy who’s digging holes to China because he’s so bored and you’re not challenging him.

PLEASE avoid sending a text message that say “Do you have puppies” and “How much?”!
Bring up price either at the end of the first contact (if it’s been successful and you feel a connection to this person) or in a follow-up contact. It’s nice to say “If you don’t mind me asking, about how much are your puppies? The breeder will usually give you two pieces of useful information: The price, and what it covers. They may also refer you to a breeder on your area or that perhaps has something more suited to you. That way, if you decide to go a different way, you know about what to expect. If the breeder that you contact has a very high price, don’t be afraid to ask (politely) why. Perhaps the breed is a difficult breed that doesn’t produce puppies easily, perhaps there was a very difficult pregnancy, nationally ranked parents, a surgical AI, c-section resulting in very few live puppies. Perhaps the breeder forked out her life savings to import the parents at a cost equal to her car. Also enquire what health testing the breed requires prior top breeding – some breeds have an extensive list and some tests can only be done in a lab overseas. Those are some reasons a breeder could be asking more and it’s reasonable. If there’s no real difference from the other breeders except price, think carefully.

Be willing to be told no
Not every person is the right match for every breed. That’s just fact. I have my entire life devoted my chosen breeds, and I don’t expect you to have anywhere close to the obsession I have, so that means there will be some dogs that are just plain wrong for you. If a breeder says no, ask why. If the answers make sense, don’t keep calling people until you finally get one who will sell you a puppy of that breed. Go back to the drawing board and be very humble and honest with yourself about what kind of dog really would be right for you and your family.
Please do not get on more than one waiting list unless you tell each breeder about it. You need to understand that we think our puppy buyers are just as in love with our puppies as we are. We are excited to match our babies with their perfect owners, we are planning things and mapping out their lives in our heads. To find out that someone was on another list without telling us, and taking a puppy from somewhere else.. because it was ready 2 weeks earlier and that fitted in with the school holidays or Christmas…. Or that it was 150km closer to home – really makes us question some people’s dedication to the style of dog that we have so lovingly worked towards.

Also, as soon as your name is on one of our lists, we’re turning away puppy buyers. If we send people away because our list is full, and someone changes their mind at the last minute, it really pees us off. Yes, we can easily “sell” that puppy, that’s not the issue – it’s that we are trying to build relationships with the people that are taking our puppies and now we have to start all over again, and personally I start feeling rushed! If someone came to me and said “I’m on a list with So and So, but she’s pretty sure she won’t have a puppy for me, and I’d love to be considered for one of your dogs and I’ll let you know just as soon as I know,” I’m FINE with that. I understand how this goes!

Please do not expect to choose your puppy
If you are honest in your application, and give lots of information about you, your family, your home, and your lifestyle, you should be able to trust your breeder to choose the right dog for you. I always take colour and sex into account, and mostly try and stick within those parameters, but even then, some dogs just aren’t suited to the people that want them. Some people try and choose their puppy at birth (really.. never mind what their personality is like!) and some want to come at 8 weeks when all the pups are running around and see who appeals to them in that one visit. “Oh cute! Look at this little one! It ran straight to me and tugged on my pants leg! It chose me!!” When in actual fact every visitor has had the same thing happen to them. Puppies don’t choose their owners! If I am keeping a puppy, obviously I am looking at the continuation of my like – the most “correct” puppy.. so that more people like you can have even nicer puppies that I have. Do NOT pick up the pick of litter and demand that one! You’re going to have to pry him out of my cold dead hands.

And please, please do not expect to be given priority pick because you contacted me first; conversely, do not expect that because you came along late you somehow won’t get a good puppy – remember, I match puppies with their owners. It has happened that a person that contacted me very late, when the pups were 7 weeks old, ended up getting my pick because, due to circumstances beyond my control, I wasn’t in a position to keep her at that time.

My responsibility is not to make you happy. And that is why I am posting this! My responsibility is to the BREED first. That’s why my first priority is to keep or place a really good specimen where I have access to it to keep improving the breed. My second responsibility is to the PUPPY. I will place each puppy where I feel that it has the best chance of a good life, and then second to that, success in the disciplines and show ring.

 Please don’t promise the earth to your breeder to get the puppy! If I have a really nice show quality puppy in the litter and you think “OOH that’s pretty!”, please don’t lie and say that you will keep up with the ear taping, will table train the pup, will enter all the major shows and campaign as I would. I know that you are lying L. I could put all my hopes and dreams in this gorgeous puppy, and trust you to continue upholding my good name in the dogworld, only to have my baby sit at your house so that your guests all ooh and aah over it.

You will love your puppy! If you are sitting chanting to yourself, “Please, girl 2, please, please girl 2 is mine, I only love girl 2” you will be disappointed when I say that Girl 1 is for you. But….. after 5 minutes, Girl 1 will be your everything! Trust your breeder.
Please finish dealing with one breeder before beginning with another. If you end a conversation with me saying “Well, this just all sounds wonderful, and I’m going to talk it over with my wife and we’ll call you about getting on your waiting list,” and then you hang up and call the next person on your list, that’s not OK. If you don’t feel like you click with me, or you want to keep your options open, a very easy way to say it is to ask for the names and numbers of other breeders I recommend. That way I know we’re not “going steady,” and I won’t pencil you in on my list. If you are on my waiting list, and you decide that you don’t want to be anymore, call me as soon as you know.

And then lastly….. something super important that puppy buyers really don’t seem to get: Every breeder knows every other breeder! Now of course I don’t mean all the bad breeders too (but some we do know), but the show breeding community is very small and very close-knit. We talk, we know things, and we stalk you on the internet and discuss our situations. We all want what’s best for our puppies and if someone tells me what I want to hear but telly my breeder friend the opposite because that’s what she wanted to hear, you aint getting no puppy because then neither of us trust you!

Win or lose ~ The way it should be
by Nadine Shortland

shelties south africa

I have been doing Agility for 19 years, and in all that time I have, by far, exceeded my expectations when it comes to success in the sport. But one often forgets, that with success often comes defeat! I have lost far more than I have won when I look at the results on the scoresheet.. but… even though, in history, frozen in time and ink, on certain days I “failed”, in real life I have not failed at all. The time spent “failing” on paper, is, for the most part, learning. It all comes under the heading “Lessons in life” and should be treated as such!

I have come across many handlers that chase the win, at all costs… handlers that arrive hoping to win and leave with nothing but the vision of someone else claiming the rosette (if they even stay for the prize-giving). The negativity surrounding them is obvious after a “loss”, and often emotions take over (jealousy, hatred etc). I fear that these competitors have lost sight of what is truly important. I often ask myself if they come to enjoy the sport or to fetch a prize…..
 It is essential to remember, in Agility, that we are a team, dog and handler, and the journey is actually the most important thing. Am I training well? Am I enjoying the training.. and is my dog enjoying it? At events, is my dog happy? How am I treating my dog and is my dog understanding what we are doing? Are we walking away with a feeling of fulfilment? Do we smile at our friends after our rounds? Do we play with our dogs after our rounds?

When I arrive home after a day’s Agility competitions, I do not count my rosettes, I do not count my prizes… I reflect on my time with my dog(s). Some of the BEST times I have ever had with my dogs have been when I have been eliminated. Some of the most valuable lessons I have been taught have been concealed in a “failed” result.
I review my competition very casually – I often hear of others scoping out their opposition and making lists of ways in which those people can fail, giving the rest an upper hand. I say it is not for me! Helping the “opposition” serves me to no end, as the advice I give is always the best advice I can muster and 99.9% of the time it is exactly how I wish to handle a situation. By doing this, it drives me to run against a better quality of opposition, which in turn makes me and my dog, as a team, even better!  

And naturally, I always aim to outdo myself, as opposed to beating someone else… There’s much more satisfaction that can be achieved by beating a standard that meets mine than someone else’s mediocre standard.
 I feel that losing is a part of winning. It lets us remember where we are in the bigger scheme of things. It shows us where we need to work, and reminds us of where we want to be… and makes us more determined to get there! Losing makes us find ways to improve, and it makes us pay more attention and seek out ways that we can try to achieve certain ideals. The challenges of achieving greatness are just so much closer and more intense after losing!

 Sometimes after a terrible, hicky, but technically clear, round, I cringe at the compliments and the congratulatory murmurs as the “win” feels like a loss… because it is not what I was aiming for.. but to grumble back just adds to the negative feeling of the round. Likewise, my fellow handlers reveal their dismay loudly across the field after I have eliminated, is an annoyance to me.. because DIDN’T THEY SEE my dog and I having a fabulous time!?? It surely was a win!
 Any apparent “loss” is often analysed to death by handlers and instead of stopping to review the work on the field carefully, from a positive and more optimistic point of view. They focus on the “wrong” without looking at it more simply, and look for what was right in the round, and then merely pin-pointing which minor aspects need adjusting. Trained manoeuvres will always be there in the dog’s mind, but it’s the bit that links our instructions to the dog’s performance that is often the problem.

By presenting the best possible information to my dog is often the solution, and when not complying with this, I become the main culprit of a “failed” round.

Keeping a positive outlook on my sport is important to me, it keeps me focussed on the good side of it, and it keeps me in line while trying to achieve my goals. It keeps me enjoying my dogs, and it strengthens my bond with them.
 I will always try and remember to “feel” my dog by my side, enjoy my sport with my canine friends, and not let anything outward interfere with my bubble.

 Dance like there’s nobody watching!