passim border collies

Everything a dog should be.


Breeding dogs is hard work, expensive - if you do it properly - and very time consuming. It is not something that should be undertaken without doing the research first, and putting a great deal of thought into whether or not you are in a position to give the best care to your bitch and pups.

 If you have a male you would like to have a litter from, the same health requirements and finding a suitable mate still apply, and the breeder of your dog may consider using him. But you must consider the fact that most bitch owners will want to have a litter from a dog that has already proven to produce good quality pups of the type they require, or a dog that has excelled in its chosen field, as an awful lot of time and expense goes into producing a litter. You may find it extremely difficult to find someone willing to use a dog that has not proven in competition that he is up to the standard they want for their bitch. If you do decide you would like a pup from a litter sired by your dog, I would suggest training him for obedience/agility/show etc. and get him out around the appropriate shows, so that prospective bitch owners can see what he is capable of, and start looking well before you want to use him.

Please click HERE for a list of available border collie health tests, and what they involve.

Breeding a litter of your own.

The following article is based purely on my own breeding experiences, over the last 30 years or so, and the way I do things, not everyone will agree with my views, but I hope it will give you some idea of what to expect if you decide you would like to breed a litter, and explain why you have to expect to pay more for a puppy from a breeder than you would from the farmer down the road.....

WHY? This should be the first question you ask yourself. If you are hoping that by breeding a litter you will earn enough for that special summer break, forget it! Believe me the profit margin is low, and it does not include labour costs, if it did, chances are you would be running at a loss.   If you think that it would be nice for the children, O.K. they will probably love it, learning that animals need an awful lot of care and attention will possibly make them better people, and so long as you don't mind the expense and work involved, and the upset when their new toys all go off to their new homes, fine...........   If you have a genuine love for the breed, want to produce a pup for yourself that you can participate in your chosen discipline with, or want another dog and want one that is completely 'yours' and are prepared to put the welfare of the breed as a whole as well as your own bitches welfare as your first concern, then read on. I can guarantee that it WILL be hard work, and not an easy way to earn a few pennies, but if you are doing it properly, and for the right reasons, then it can be very rewarding.   Litter size can range from one to around thirteen, but the average litter size is around six.  

GETTING YOUR BITCH TESTED . There are a number of tests that should be done before you breed from your bitch. This is to control, and where possible eliminate, the risk of producing pups with heredity disease as much as possible. There are now a number of DNA tests available, and more coming along all the time, the links on my links page that can take you to the necessary web sites to explain more about these tests, and how you go about getting them done. They generally require a sample of blood being taken, and sent to an approved laboratory, to extract the DNA and establish if your dog is genetically clear, a carrier, or affected by the specified disease. If when you bought your bitch, her breeder had both parents tested, and both were genetically clear, then your bitch will not need the test as she has to be clear by parentage, but if one parent was a carrier, or untested, then your bitch needs to be tested to establish her status.

She should have a physical examination by a specialist eye vet, for PRA and a gonioscopy to check the drainage channels in the eye, which could show a predisposition for glaucoma, and to check for any other abnormalities, and this should have been done within 18 months of when you intend to breed her.

Next she needs to be hip scored. This involves having her hips x-rayed, under general anesthetic. The x-ray plates are then sent off to a panel of experts, who will 'read' them and give them a score. The total score for both hips will be between 0 and 106, ( 0 - 53 each side) the lower the score the better the hips, the average for the breed is around 13 (both sides added together) in total  so it is advisable to breed from animals with, if possible, a lower score than this, I personally would be very reluctant to breed from any animal with a score above 20 maximum. But this is a personal choice, the idea is to try and lower the incidence of hip dysplasia, and obviously the lower the parents score, the better chance the pups have of ending up with good hips themselves.

It is also recommended that you get your bitch hearing tested, though some breeders still do not do this as very little is understood about the mode of inheritance for deafness.  

Presuming your bitch has satisfactory results from all of her tests, the next step is to ensure that all of her paperwork is in order. You will need to provide a pedigree document and registration certificate for each pup, and as the breeder it is your legal responsibility to get each pup micro chipped by 8 weeks of age, and to ensure that the new owners change the ownership details into their names, along with copies of the relevant health certificates from the parents and, a worming certificate and diet sheet for the pups. Make sure you have her pedigree to hand and that you have transferred her into your name with the kennel club. This is vital if you are going to register the pups. Also check if, when you bought her, you signed a puppy sale agreement that may have certain breeding restrictions on it, and contact her breeder regarding these if necessary.  

FINDING A STUD DOG  I would normally recommend that you start by speaking to the breeder of your bitch. They presumably are most familiar with her lines, and the lines that will most likely suit her. If this is not possible you need to consider the type of dog you want to put her to and what you want to achieve. It is important to find a dog that compliments her, and also a dog that has had all of the necessary health tests done. Look at her honestly and see her weak points.

Make a list of things that could be improved upon. If she is a bit light in bone, you need a dog that can give better bone to the pups, if she is highly excitable a calm temperament in a mate could improve the pups, make a list of things that could be improved upon, don't look at her through rose coloured spectacles, of course you think she is perfect, and you love her to bits, but realistically the dog has not been born yet that is perfect and can't be improved upon, so be honest, see her faults and try to improve on them.

Once you have a list of desirable traits, go to some shows, either obedience or agility if that is your interest, or championship breed show if you are interested in confirmation. Look at dogs that seem to have the traits you are after and take note of the owners name and phone number, these can normally be found in the catalogue for the show or you can ask who ever is with the dog. Owners at shows are normally VERY busy, it is an expensive hobby and they need to concentrate on their dogs to get the best out of them in competition, so don't expect them to necessarily have time then and there to talk about the possible use of their dog at stud, just say that you are interested in the possibility of using their dog and would it be ok to call and speak to them later.  

Take details on a number of dogs, your first choice may not be suitable or available when you get all the details. Call the owner a few days later, when you have had time to think about the dogs you have seen, and to give the owners the chance to have gone home and sorted themselves out, in some cases they will have travelled from a long way away, and they may not feel like discussing your breeding plans immediately after the show. When you do contact them, have your bitch's pedigree and her test results to hand. Accept the fact that it is possible the dogs Image result for dogs in loveowner may not consider your bitch suitable for their dog, don't take it personally, they probably know a lot more about the respective lines than you do.  

I would normally worm the bitch as soon as she comes in, or when she is due in season, as the less of a worm burden she has, the less the pups will have. Obviously it goes without saying that your bitch needs to be in tip top condition before she is bred from.   When you have settled on a dog, tell the stud dog owner AS SOON as she comes into season, to give them time to prepare for your bitches visit, don't wait until she is ready for mating, ( normally between 10 – 14 days into her season - but this can vary between different bitches)) and then call the dog's owner in a panic.   It is normal to pay the agreed stud fee at the time of service, you are paying for the mating, not the results, though most dog owners will give a free mating if no pups are produced, this should all be discussed and agreed before the time of mating.  

PREGNANCY.  Your bitch will carry her pups for approximately 9 weeks, but may whelp (give birth) up to 3 days either side of this with no problems. Remember this is a very normal condition for your bitch; she is not ill and does not need molly codling, you should continue to exercise her, though it is best to avoid too much jumping or very heavy exercise, particularly later in the pregnancy in case she knocks herself. It is a good idea to get a scan done around 30 days after the last mating, as this can confirm that she is definitely in pup, and give you an idea of whether to expect a small or large litter.

Don't be tempted to greatly increase the quantity of food she is given, if she is fat it can cause difficulties whelping, I do however improve the quality of her feed around 4 – 5 weeks, personally I change her food to puppy or junior food, so that she is getting more protein and vitamins, and divide the food into two feeds a day rather than one, as the more her pups grow the less room she has in her belly, I also give a calcium supplement, or bone meal, from about week 7 and continue with this all the time she is feeding her pups, as growing pups can deplete her own calcium store, some breeders don't agree with this, but it is a method that has worked well for me for the last 30 years or so.  

BIRTH  Most bitches like quiet and privacy to whelp. Most also whelp in the middle of the night. I always trim the hair from around the bitches knickers and tail and along her tummy, and give her a bath a few days before she is due, this helps to keep everything clean for her and the pups and makes it easier to see what is going on. I suggest that you prepare a whelping room, either a spare bedroom, or a room that you do not use a lot and does not have much through traffic. She will need a large bed, these can be bought from animal suppliers or over the internet, and you are going to need lots of newspaper so start collecting it from the time of mating. The chances are she will not want to leave her new born pups for a day or two, so if you have good carpets I suggest either removing them or covering them with plastic and a layer of newspaper.  

I would start to sleep the bitch in this room at least a week before she is due, so that she is familiar and comfortable with her surroundings.   I do not like using blankets with very young pups, there is too much risk of the pups getting under the blanket and being sat on by mum or suffocating, bedding also needs to be changed daily to keep it clean and that is an awful lot of extra washing. I use newspaper, shredded into strips about one inch wide, up until I am sure she has finished whelping, then I replace it with paper bedding that is made from shredded tea bag off cuts, this is very soft and absorbent and sterile, and easy to remove soiled patches and replace with clean, (search on line for animal dreams paper bedding) you could just use the newspaper, but when it is damp the ink does tend to make the pups and mum look grubby.

Once the pups are more mobile and their eyes are open around two weeks or so old, and mum is no Longer losing so much discharge use a special fleece type blanket called 'vet bed' which has a stiff back to stop it rucking up and trapping pups underneath, and a warm fleecy top. I would not recommend using normal blankets at all as pups can get tangled in them and be sure to avoid loose threads that could wrap around little legs.

The room should be comfortably warm; if it is comfortable for you it should be fine for her.    I would advise notifying your vet of when she is due to whelp, the chances are you won't need him, but it is better to warn him if you are likely to be getting him up in the middle of the night.   The first sign that labour has started is normally that she will start to dig up the bed and she will look a little worried and uncomfortable. This stage can go on for some considerable time, just keep an eye on her, don't start to fuss and fret, you will only worry her, treat her calmly keep an eye on her progress. If you are comfortable taking het temperature, take it 3 times a day, morning noon and night, and keep a record of the result, when it drops a degree or two from what is normal for her, pups should arrive within 24 hours.

I have a CCTV camera fitted in my whelping room, trained on the whelping box, and at this stage I leave her to it, keeping an eye on things with a small TV monitor that I can take around with me as I work.   When she stops digging, and starts to pay a lot of attention to cleaning herself things are imminent, I normally just go and sit near to her and observe, whelping is a normal process and she should manage to cope with things without your interference, just be there in case you are needed, and remember stay calm and quiet at all times.

She should strain a few times and then push out a pup, some bitches lie down, some squat and some stand, all are normal and it just depends on what is most comfortable for her. Straining can be for a few minutes up to about 30 minutes, and still be normal, after 45 minutes if no pup is produced it would be wise to call your vet for advise, though I would suggest you insist he comes to you rather than take the bitch to his surgery at this stage, as moving her unnecessarily could stress her. In most cases the pup will come out in its own bag, she will break the bag with her teeth and lick the pup to start it breathing and then chew through the cord, she will then lick the pup vigorously to stimulate it, often rolling it around, although this looks rough it is perfectly normal, and there is no need to interfere.

The afterbirth will follow shortly, or in some cases with the next pup, and it is perfectly normal for her to eat this, in fact it helps bring the milk in, though, particularly if she has a large litter, it will cause very black looking feces for a few days. This is all normal.  

The gap between pups can be from a couple of minutes to a couple of hours, it is normal for the bitch to rest between pups if she has time, just keep an eye on when she starts to strain again, if she seems to be straining for more than 45 minutes, or starts to strain producing nothing and if you feel concerned call the vet.   Occasionally things don't go to plan. An inexperienced bitch may not know what to do with her pups, some are quite horrified when the pups start to appear, and seem to have no idea of what to do. This is when you need to step in and help, but remember, still quiet and calm at all times.  

If a pup comes out and is still in the bag, and she is not trying to get it out, you need to step in. Break the bag from around the pup with your fingers, wipe its mouth with a soft piece of cloth and it should start to cry, take hold of the chord firmly between thumb and forefinger of both hands, about an inch from the pup's stomach,  pull the chord to break it, being sure not to pull against the pups stomach or to pull against the afterbirth. Tearing it with your fingers will stretch the blood vessels and stop any bleeding, do not cut it with scissors as the clean cut will bleed.  If there is any bleeding tie a piece of cotton about ¼ inch from the pups tummy to stop the bleeding. If the pup is not showing much sign of life, hold it so that its head is downwards, to allow fluid to drain from its lungs, and rub it vigorously with a soft towel. As soon as it starts to squeak and the bitch starts to take an interest in the pup give it to her to take over.    

When you think all of the pups have been delivered, replace as much wet paper as you can, give your bitch a drink, I normally mix about half a pint of warm milk with a couple of raw eggs and a couple of dessert spoons of sugar, this seems to be a good pick me up and helps bring the milk in, and then leave your bitch in peace to bond with her pups. Again the CCTV camera is very handy to keep an eye on things without disturbing the bitch, but failing this just check her every half hour or so, but don't keep fiddling with her and the pups, leave them alone to bond.

Some breeders like to get the vet in at this stage, just to check everything is O.K., personally I prefer just to keep an eye on things and leave her to rest, but I do have many years experience to fall back on, if you are worried call the vet to check everything out.  

WEANING AND REARING.  The first couple of weeks are pretty easy, just keep everything clean, feed your bitch well, and she will do the work.   The pups need to be wormed at two weeks old, and every two - three weeks then until they leave you, it is sensible to worm the bitch at the same time.   The pup's eyes will start to open at 10 – 14 days, and when they start to open your work will start.

I normally start to wean them as soon as they are able to stand and look around. I start them off on lean beef mince, with warm water added to make a raw meat soup; this is put in a large flattish dish with the pups around the outside. They normally take to this mix readily, sucking it up and paddling through it, this is given 3 times a day, about a table spoonful per pup, each feed. When they have had their fill mum is allowed in to help clean them up and finish any leftover food, about a week later I start to add soaked complete puppy food to the mince, adding gradually less water until at around 6 weeks they are having damp biscuit rather than soaked, I then start then to add a tin of quality meat to the biscuit instead of mince, as I am then preparing them for life in their new homes.  

 It goes without saying, that at this stage your life will be one long round of feeding and cleaning up, pups have an amazing ability to produce far more mess than the amount of food they consume, and then to plaster it around every available surface. They need to be exposed to household noises such as TV vacuum cleaner, washing machine, tumble dryer, cats and children etc. They need to be socialised, fed well, kept clean and safe and prepared for their new lives.  

HOMING PUPS.  I don't like to let people see my pups until they are at least four weeks old. Normally if they have made it that far they will be O.K. There is nothing worse than having to tell someone, who has chosen their pup, that it has been laid on by its mother and suffocated. At about this time I also apply for their registration papers and prepare their puppy pack, along with a 3 kg. Bag of the food they are on, to give to the new owners.   You may find that you are fortunate enough to have a list of people wanting your pups., but it is often the case that when you contact these people you will find that they got a pup elsewhere instead of waiting for one of yours, or maybe they decide the timing is not right just now, so you will need to find perspective owners, it is important to vet new owners, a lot of people decide they want a pup without putting much thought into whether they can offer the kind of home you approve of.

Ask questions, they are your pups and you are responsible for their future welfare.  Will there be someone at home to look after a young pup? Do they have a secure garden? Are they prepared to care for it, including possible heavy vet's bills for possibly the next 16 years? If you are in doubt, then don't sell, they are your pups and it is up to you to find the best possible homes for them.

 At between around seven weeks of age the pups all need to be micro chipped, this is a legal requirement from April 2016 -  all pups are required by law to be micro chipped, with the chips registered in the name of the breeder in the first instance and the paperwork transferred to the new owner when they are collected.

Be prepared to look after your pups if they don't sell, they are your responsibility, even if it does mean you are running at a loss, they are not a 'cash crop' to be disposed of when the profits drop too low.  I don't allow my pups to leave until they are 8 weeks old, but I am prepared to keep them longer if necessary, at the end of the day, If you decide that they are to be born then you are ultimately responsible for them for the rest of their lives. You should be prepared to take back any pup at any time in its life if its owner is no longer able to keep it for any reason.   

I hope this has given you some idea of what is involved in having a litter of pups, please think carefully before you decide to breed your own.