Sourcing a puppy can be an exciting time – you’ve met many dogs at events around the country, explored many breeds and decided that a Skye is the one for you. But the work does not end there, now you have to find a breeder and you may have to wait for that breeder to have a litter. The Skye Terrier Club recommend finding a responsible breeder, but what does that mean?
What Do Responsible Breeders Do?
The Kennel Club recommends that a breeding contract be in place between owners of breeding bitches and dogs to ensure that there are no misunderstandings regarding obligations. They also recommend that breeders produce a Buyer’s Contract when rehoming their puppies.
A Responsible breeder is one who puts the health and welfare of their dogs and puppies before anything else. They may be members of the Skye Terrier Club, and they may be members of the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeder’s Scheme. They will also have committed themselves to a certain standard of care that strives towards producing healthy, happy puppies that maintain a healthy gene pool.
Members of the Skye Terrier Club will see that:
- The dam (mother) has been properly raised and is at least 2 years old before she is bred from
- Prior to breeding the dam will have been DNA swabbed and will have a general health check to ensure she is in good health (all members are encouraged to have ultrasound scans of the kidneys done prior to breeding – please see our Health Pages for more information on this breed health scheme)
Once the decision to breed has been made a responsible breeder will then go on to select a mate. This will take into consideration a wide variety of factors including conformation, temperament and genetic diversity. The breeder will research the potential mate and its lineage for signs of any health concerns and will compare the pedigrees of the dam and potential mate. The breeder will ensure that sire (father) has also had the required health checks and that he is also in good health.
Conformation is not a question of beauty but of ensuring that the dog is physically capable to live a healthy life as a pet, working or show dog. A healthy dog is a well-made dog.
Over the past two decades Skye Terrier Club members and breeders have been involved in the importing of new lines into the UK. The importation of semen for artificial insemination and of puppies into the UK has widened the gene pool and imports of dogs and semen are continuing. As a result, the puppies being produced today are typically genetically diverse. More importantly, as the widening of the gene pool continues it will enable responsible breeders to continue to produce healthy puppies for many more generations.
Puppies Are On Their Way
Most Skye bitches whelp naturally without veterinary intervention but occasionally there are complications. A responsible breeder will make sure that a bitch in whelp receives any help she might need as soon as possible.
Once all health checks have been completed, pedigrees have been compared and the mating has taken place a responsible breeder will continue to protect the health and welfare of the pregnant dam. Her diet will be monitored to ensure she is receiving the best nutrition to support herself and her unborn puppies. Later in the pregnancy she may receive an ultrasound scan to give an indication of litter size. She will be provided with an adequate whelping (birthing) space and she will be monitored closely for signs of labour. During the whelp she will be monitored and veterinary intervention will be given if necessary.
Once the puppies have arrived, the dam will continue to receive the correct nutrition so that she can continue to make enough milk for her pups and support her own bodily needs. The puppies will also be monitored and handled daily, weighed and wormed regularly and once old enough they will be vet checked. A responsible breeder will also begin to socialise their puppies – they will introduce them to sights and sounds around the home, to other family animals and to visiting friends, and they will provide daily human contact. This is an incredibly important process that every puppy needs and deserves.
When Can I Take One Home?
Once you have found a breeder you may find that you have to wait for them to have a litter. Once they have a litter you may be invited to view the puppies at 5/6 weeks old. This can be a wonderful experience as you should be able to see the entire litter, with their mother (and possibly their father too).
The breeder will ask you questions about your home life, your experience with dog ownership and training and what you hope to get out of owning a Skye. This is to help the breeder to match you up with the most suitable puppy.
The breeder may draw up a Buyer’s Contract, and may have a clause in this contract that makes it clear that they will take the puppy back if your circumstances change. Some things are beyond anyone’s control and responsible breeders will step in to help with the care or rehoming of one of their puppies, no matter how old the dog may be.
You should be able to see how the puppies interact with each other, with their mother, with their humans and with the visiting humans. This is your chance to ask the breeder more questions about how to continue the socialisation process and correctly care for your puppy, but please be prepared to answer the breeder’s questions too!
Puppies should remain with their littermates and mother for at least the first 8-9 weeks of their lives. This is because there is a sensitive period stretching from around 3 weeks old to around 9 weeks old in which puppies learn all manner of social behaviours that they need in order to be happy, well adjusted dogs. The best place they can learn these behaviours is with their mother and littermates. A responsible breeder may let you view puppies as early as 5 weeks but they will not separate the puppies from their mother until at least 8-9 weeks old.
Things to be Aware of
When you are searching for a puppy or considering having a puppy from a breeder, it might be useful to think about the following questions.
- Is the breeder a member of the Skye Terrier Club, or the Assured Breeder Scheme? If they are, have they complied with the regulations of the scheme(s) they are involved in?
- Is the breeder able to tell you about the parents and family lines, in detail? This includes health issues, temperament and achievements in the family.
- Has the breeder performed the necessary vet checks on the parents prior to breeding and can they show records and certificates that confirm this?
- Have you been able to see the puppies with their mother at the breeders’ premises? If the breeder is the owner of both mother and father, have you had the opportunity of meeting the father as well?
- Is the litter registered with the Kennel Club? If it is registered, are there any endorsements placed upon the puppies? If there are endorsements, the breeder should explain what these mean to you. If the litter is not registered with the Kennel Club, has the breeder explained why?
- Can the breeder provide details of the puppy’s diet, worming history and veterinary checks?
- Has the breeder begun a program of socialisation with people, other animals, household sights and sounds and have they provided you with advice on how to continue this once you get the puppy home?
- Can the breeder offer you advice about caring for your puppy, about living with and training a Skye? If they have, do you feel confident that this support will be ongoing and that if you approached the breeder with a question or query they would help out as best they could?
- Has the breeder asked you questions about your lifestyle, your reason for wanting a Skye and what you will hope and expect from your new puppy?
If you are interested in adding a Skye Terrier to your household then please contact the Skye Terrier Club. We will be able to put you in touch with breeders in your area who will be more than willing to talk to you, answer your questions and let you meet their dogs. Getting to know your breeder, and allowing them to get to know you, is the best and most effective way of ensuring that you get a healthy, happy puppy that is suitable for your personal circumstances.