Judy Weir: Deciding to have a pet in your home is a decision that some people fail to fully appreciate. It’s a commitment that will impact your home, family, your wallet and your lifestyle. After you decide on adopting a dog, you need to understand the characteristics of the different breeds. Even crossbred dogs will lean in one direction that the household may find too rambunctious, tend to be aggressive, requires a lot of grooming, has special health issues, etc. Once you have decided on a breed, the next challenge is to find a responsible breeder.
Of course, you can pick up a pup from a puppy mill or back yard breeder, perhaps cheaper than from a certified breeder. However, you may also pay more in the end to a vet as you discover the pup is overwhelmed with acute and/or chronic health problems. Vet fees are huge. The heartache – beyond words.
Over my many years as a Sheltie lover, I have been associated with many Shetland Sheepdog breeders. Yvonne Halkow of WillowGlyn Shelties, has been a valuable resource for me in caring for my Shelties. Below is an interview where Yvonne talks about how to know a good breeder from one you should avoid.
Please feel free to ask Yvonne questions you have about selecting a dog breeder, selecting dog breed, or anything else that is of interest to you about dog ownership.
Phone: 780-361-2205 (Canada)
Yvonne Halkow, owner and manager of WillowGlyn Shelties
Judy Weir: Thank you, Yvonne, for agreeing to this interview. First, how did you become known as WillowGlyn Shelties?
Yvonne: I decided to register a kennel name and at the time I owned a counseling business known as Willow Counseling so I decided to use that as part of my kennel name. The ‘Glyn’ part of it seemed to fit with the Shetland Isles where Shelties originated.
- How long you’ve been a breeder?
Although I purchased my first purebred Sheltie in 1979, I didn’t get into showing and breeding until 1990. My first purebred male Sheltie was CH and OTCH Shancryla Bay Beary Bailey purchsed from Lorna Scott/Shancryla Shelties as a young puppy. We learned obedience first and he was a very smart boy finishing his Obedience Trial Championship by the age of three. He was also shown in conformation gaining his championship as he was being trialled in obedience which showed how versatile he was as very often he would do both conformation and obedience at the same show.
My first litter was born in October of 1992. From that litter of four came one dead puppy, one live deformed puppy that had to be euthanized, one monorchid male and one lovely female, who grew up to become my very first Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) champion and Best Puppy in Show winner. She was CH WillowGlyn Ebony N’ Stardust CD and she lived to almost 16 years of age. Since then I have bred or co-bred 91 CKC champions along the way. Several of those also have obedience, agility or rally titles.
- Why did you choose to breed Shetland Sheepdogs?
I chose to breed Shetland Sheepdogs as I had always loved Collies but wanted a smaller dog so Shelties were ideal. They are also very people oriented and intelligent which was a major drawing card for me.
- How does a person choose/find a good dog breeder?
Prospective puppy buyers of any breed should do some homework before they purchase a puppy. First, one needs to determine which breed’s characteristics are a good fit with one’s lifestyle, time and energy.
- Finding a good breeder involves some research also… breeders are not all cut from the same cloth and even show breeders with lots of champions should not be automatically assumed to be the best place to purchase a puppy. Make sure that any breeder you choose does health testing for common breed disorderson both males and females in their breeding program. They should be able to produce paperwork for test results done.
Commonly, with Shelties the tests that can be done are for hip dysplasia, eye defects,hypothyroidism, and von Willebrands disease (VWD). Shelties can also get epilepsy or familial canine dermatomyositis (skin syndrome) for which there are no tests at present. They either have it or don’t and those that have either should not be used in breeding programs.
- For Shelties, I don’t believe they are a breed that can be properly socialized if they are not in regular contact with people so it is important to visit a breeder to see how they raise their dogs.
- You want to know if the puppy will be registered… breeders that are Canadian Kennel Club members are not allowed to sell non-registered dogs as purebred. If they don’t come with registration papers, they cannot be called purebred as there is no proof even if both parents are registered. Non-members can sell dogs without papers but they still cannot call them purebred.
- Registration papers also belong to the dog so a breeder who has a litter that can be registered should not be saying that the dog costs less without papers.
- All CKC members are expected to register all their litters and to all also register each individual puppy they produce at their own expense and in a timely manner.
- Some breeders do not show their dogs but should absolutely be aware of the common disorders in the breed and be doing health testing.
- For the breeders that you can visit, if you visit and feel comfortable with the way their dogs look and are cared for, as well as the knowledge level of the breeder including health testing, then you should be able to be confident about the puppy you purchase from them.
- All breeders should have some sort of health guarantee – a short term one for immediate health and temperament which both become out of the control of the breeder once the puppy leaves their premises, and a long-term genetic health guarantee for inheritable disorders.
- Pet stores generally get their stock from commercial breeders that mass produce puppies. Some are better than others but you will never know as any contact with the actual breeder of a pet store puppy is not part of the sales agreement… so you never really know where they come from, how they were raised or how much, if any socialization they receive. I doubt that most have health tested parents as testing is expensive and cuts into the profit margin.
- One may also want to contact rescue organizations but not many Shelties show up needing to be rescued although it does happen on the odd occasion.
Thank you, Yvonne. I wish you continued success breeding the very best Shelties.