Our Breeding Program

How Do You Select Your Breeding Dogs?

 

Whether a breeder dog was originally born here, or we purchased it elsewhere, before we begin breeding, our breeding dogs must meet certain criteria.  They are evaluated and monitored for a minimum of one year, usually longer, to ensure they possess the right temperament, physical standards, and guardian instincts.  If we feel they meet that criteria, they will undergo a thorough veterinary examination, to help ensure they are  free of common genetic defects.  This exam includes hip x-rays and a careful evaluation of their joints, which are too-often faulty in poorly bred, large-breed dogs. We also test for the following genetic conditions NDG, Dwarfism, 

 

Of course, there is no way to 100% guarantee that a puppy will not inherit some recessive genetics, but we certainly do our best to prevent this. 

If for any reason, we have a dog that does not pass these evaluations, we will spay or neuter, and either allow it to remain here on our farm (if we have a need), or offer it for sale as a trained and working guardian.  We are always up front with buyers as to what issues the dog may have, and chances are it will not hinder them being a great livestock guardian dog.  We just want the "best of the best" for our breeding program, to help ensure our puppies are as healthy as possible.

 

Because our dogs are guardians first and breeders second, as a general rule, our bitches have only 1 litter per year.  This allows them plenty of time to recuperate between breedings, and continue fulfilling their God-given instinct to protect the livestock.

Are Your Breeding Dogs Certified through OFA or PennHip? 

 

.We currently have OFA certification and/or PennHip done on all breeding dogs, however it is just one of MANY tools available to ensure a good breeding program. 

 

OFA and PennHip cannot and will not truly guarantee that your puppy will never develop joint problems.  If a breeder says otherwise, it is misleading.  It just isn't possible.  OFA also happens to be very subject to the opinion of the 3 qualified OFA veterinarians that view the results.  No true measurements of hips are taken, and dogs are simply given joint ratings based on the appearance of the joint and possibly measurements of a (potentially inaccurate) picture at the time the x-ray was taken.  MANY breeders have gone through the process, been given a "poor" rating, only to be given an "excellent" or "good" rating after a secondary x-ray.  Other breeders have gone through the process, only to have one vet rate "excellent," one "poor," and the third "good."  We do not consider this an accurate enough assurance of the health of our dogs.  PennHip is known to be a bit better, but requires a specially-trained veterinarian to perform it. 

Meanwhile, we do make our dogs' health and genetics a priority in our breeding program!  We do whatever we can to ensure we are passing on good genetics.  We work very closely with our veterinary team.  We have our breeding candidates carefully examined physically, as well as have standard x-rays done on their hips to rule out any obvious signs of displaysia or other abnormalities.  Additionally, 2-3 vets evaluate the x-ray if there is any question or concern.  As one vet stated, "There is so much more to a dog than it's OFA rating!"  We agree completely!  Therefore, we feed our dogs a well balanced, vet-approved diet, supplemented with raw, natural foods from our farm.  This helps ensure they, and their offspring, have the best start possible.  We wait until the dog is over a year old, before even considering breeding, as this gives us plenty of time to ensure that our breeder dogs meet the criteria we are looking for.  Before being bred to pass on their genetics, they must prove themselves to be excellent, confident, capable, and independent guardians of our livestock AND free-range poultry.  They must have the conformation we are looking for, to help ensure their pups will be physically capable of their duties later.  They must prove to be low and discerning on the "bark meter."  They must prove to be gentle and social with our steady flow of visitors to the farm.  They must prove to respect our fences, and be content to stay home, on OUR farm!  We even watch how the puppy fur grows out, so we can see if their top coat guard hairs clean naturally, and the undercoat sheds properly--a very important aspect for a working farm dog that lives outdoors!  There are many other aspects we consider as well, but this is a good start.  It's also the reason our puppy buyers return for future pups, thanks to the success they have with their first!  

 

As one last note, success over time is one of the best ways to determine the health of future generations.  We have received only good reports, with absolutely NO reports of unsoundnesses, joint, or eye issues.  Of those that were tested under OFA, they received "Good" and "Excellent" results.  In fact, the majority of our customers have experienced none of the common temperment issues many new LGD owners complain about.  With the exception of poultry, which should always be monitored closely during the puppy phase, most of our pups have been moved right in with livestock from the day they arrived at their new home, and are usually trustworthy and confident guardians well before they are a year old!  That is a fact we are very proud of!

If you have any concerns about our breeding dogs, we are happy to give you our veterinarians' contact information so you can speak with them personally.  We are also happy to put you in contact with other clients, who can tell you about their experience with our pups and dogs. 

 

How Do You Raise Your Puppies In the Early Weeks?

 

As part of our breeding program, we take good care of our breeder dogs, and monitor an expectant mother closely, but we don't pamper her.  She will continue living outside with the livestock until she goes into labor.  At that point, she is moved into the barn (a place she is already familiar and comfortable with), and set up in a stall--which also happens to be next to the chick brooder.  In most cases, the pups are exposed to the chicks from their very first day of life!! Once the pups are settled into their safe area, mom is free to come and go at will (of course, she never roams too far from her new litter!). 

When the pups' eyes open, and they began to explore more, we allow them to roam outside the barn more and more, until they are moved permanently into a paddock area.  Depending on the time of year, they will live with poultry, pigs, and/or goats during their remaining weeks here, while also being (safely) introduced to the other livestock, including hogs, cattle, horses, rabbits, and even the barn cats.  The pups are always with a more mature dog--usually their mother, though if another dog is available at the time, they may be assigned to help "babysit" and train them as needed.  We feel there is no better teacher than a more mature, experienced dog! Even when their mother decides to wean them and returns to guarding "her" livestock, the pups will always have a mature dog assigned to them still.

In addition to their training around the livestock, we also handle the pups daily.  Our 5 children, interns, and frequent visitors help a lot with this part!  Pups are introduced to basic concepts like wearing a collar, staying within the fence lines, electric wire, basic manners such as not mouthing or jumping on people, and appropriate play with the livestock. They are transitioned to a good, dry puppy food, supplemented with raw foods, given first shots, dewormer, and a wellness exam.  Once they reach 8 weeks of age, we will allow them to go to their new homes, although we highly recommend that you consider leaving them for additional training unless you have another LGD to help teach them.  

What Kind of Additional Training Options Are Offered?

 

We offer the following services to buyers of our pups ONLY:

  • Because the pups really don't start interacting with the small stock and learning guardian skills until they are about 6-7 weeks of age, we are willing to keep them here until 10 weeks* for no additional charge.  After they go to their new farm, we will remain available for consultation. 

  • We offer additional boarding and training time for $25/week.  We will work with your pup for a longer period, up to 5 months of age**, to ensure it is exposed to livestock appropriately and has plenty of time learning from the older dogs.  We can make recommendations, based on your needs and the individual assessment of your chosen pup.  During this time, your pup will also be socialized with children, and introduced to basic manners such as walking on a leash, not jumping on people or fences, not barking excessively, and waiting patiently for his food.  Of course, you are welcome to come visit your pup often!

  • We offer basic dog obedience lessons for $30/half hour session.  While usually not necessary, we have found that it may be desirable in some situations.  We will give you guidance through the process to ensure your dog remains bonded closely to the livestock, rather than overly attaching to you as the handler.  Although we are happy to combine basic obedience with the extra boarding time here on our farm, we do require that YOU participate in the actual obedience training sessions with your dog.  We will continue to enforce those lessons during the pup's stay here. 

*additional boarding and training service fees cover the costs of services and food/water only. If we require flea/tick control (based on the season), or if you desire additional vaccinations or veterinary services, these costs are your responsibility.

Do You Offer Any Mentoring or Guidance?

Once our pups leave our farm, we are always here to help!  Most LGD horror stories are due simply to mis-informed or inexperienced owners, who expected too much from a young puppy.  To help prevent issues from ever arising, you will receive a handout with some basic guidelines in your puppy pack, which will help you through those first few months of "adolescence."  We are also available by phone or e-mail should you have questions or concerns.  

Additionally, we LOVE to keep in touch and hear all about our puppies!  Send us updates, photos, stories about their skills....anything!  We love to hear it! 

What Happens if My Plans Change, or the Pup Doesn't Work Out?

Thankfully, this is a rare occurence, but we understand that life can happen, and plans can change.  Whether your plans change or you just feel the pup hasn't met your expectations, we are always willing to take the puppy back.  We cannot offer refunds for these reasons beyond our puppy guarantees and refund policies, however, as we will have additional costs involved in potentially re-training, re-evaluating, and re-homing the dog as needed.  

If the puppy develops a health issue within the first year, however, and the vet can certify that it is a genetic default, we are willing to take the dog back and give you another puppy or a full refund, whichever you desire.  Please read our full Puppy Policies for complete details.