First Published September 19, 2013
I am starting a new section on the blog where I am going to feature people I know who breed dogs carefully and thoughtfully to help people to learn a little more about who breeders are. Breeders often get a bad rap, but often they shouldn’t. I would like to share with people some of the questions that I think are important to ask breeders and get some answers from the breeders themselves. If you know a good breeder who consistently breeds nice dogs and who cares about where their dogs end up and what they dog throughout their lives, feel free to recommend a breeder to me. I will consider breeders of both purebred or mixed breed dogs as long as the breeders are the kind of caring folks who produce nice dogs and carefully select the families they go to. When families have options to get a nice dog and they keep that dog in their homes for the life of the dog, then we have a situation where dogs don’t get into shelters or rescues, and that is what I hope to achieve by helping people to better understand the process of breeding and raising great family dogs.
Dianne Mackie is a client who also breeds Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers. We have had a half dozen of her puppies in our classes, and we always enjoy them. They are delightful dogs who are great clowns and lovely pets. Here in her own words are Dianne’s thoughts on her breed!
What breed do you breed, and what do you love about your breed?
I have been loved and owned by Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers since 1988. After much research, I chose Wheatens because they are a medium-sized, active dog originating in Ireland (where I grew up) and a good natured, all round family pet. They were an all purpose farm dog; owned by the poor – not a dog for the Gentry. I can say I made the right choice for myself and my family. Exuberant and enthusiastic are two words used to describe Wheatens. Full of character and personality, Wheatens are sweet-natured, affectionate and very people oriented. They thrive in homes where they are part of the family and are included in daily family activities. They are renowned for their beautifully soft, non-shedding coat which is a warm wheaten color. Wheatens do require regular brushing and grooming. Most people would not choose another breed once they have been loved by a Wheaten.
|Three of Dianne’s dogs! I have met these dogs and they are all friendly and easy going with people!|
What is the biggest drawback to living with your breed?
I thought about this for a long time, and really could not come up with an answer. For me, there are no drawbacks but Wheatens are not a dog everyone, especially those who would like a little less enthusiasm and spirit!
What do you do with your own dogs?
I show my dogs in conformation. Flora, (aged 11), Will (9), and Maggie (5) are Canadian Champions. Shamrock, the youngest is ½ way to her championship. All our dogs have been to Puppy Socialization Classes followed by at least 2-3 levels of Obedience Training. My daughter enjoys taking Shamrock to Rally ‘O classes at our favourite training school -‘’Dogs In The Park’’ and she hopes to be ready to compete soon. My daughter and Shamrock love the weekly off leash walks also run by “Dogs In The Park”. The dogs get a long daily walk in the neighbourhood and take turns in accompanying us on trips and outings. Going to soccer games were one of the favourite evening activities when my kids were young. Flora always found a dog lover nearby who would pet her for the whole game, her head on their lap. When Maggie was 8 months, she travelled with us by car to PEI. She was a delight to travel with.
|Here Dianne is showing one of her dogs in the sport of conformation. This sport is intended to help breeders to compare their dogs to a known and agreed upon standard. This is more than a beauty show though; the judge looks at the dogs and makes certain that they move normally compared to how the breed standard says they should move and does a preliminary health check. Males who have retained testicles are disqualified for instance because that is a heritable trait that can lead to significant health issues in the offspring. By eliminating those dogs who carry the gene for monorchidism (the veterinary term for a retained testicle), healthier dogs will be produced. Champions are dogs who have competed against a number of other dogs and earned points. When they earn enough points, they earn their Championship. In Canada the Canadian Kennel Club governs this, and in the United Stated the American Kennel Club governs this. If you look at a pedigree and it says CAN AM Ch before the dog’s name, then the dog has earned a championship in both countries!|
What do you hope your puppy owners will do with their dogs?
First of all, my new puppy owners will have their puppies signed up for Puppy Socialization Classes before the pups leave my home. I can’t stress enough how important these classes are for everyone to get off to a great start. I encourage at least 2 levels of basic obedience training and more. It is a great bonding activity and can help manage a problem early before it becomes more serious. I want the pups to be a cherished family member and join the family in their activities. If introduced early to water, Wheatens love to swim and have enjoyed riding in a canoe and even surfing. Wheatens are becoming more involved in herding activities as they did round up the cattle in Ireland. I hope puppy owners will join our national Wheaten Club: The Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier Association of Canada. (I am the Regional Director for South Central Ontario). There’s lots of great information in the 4 times/year publication and is a great way to connect with other Wheaten owners and activities.
|Puppies need lots of chances to explore and play and learn. These pups are too young for puppy classes, but they will learn and explore even more in a good puppy socialization class!|
If you could give any advice to people who are considering purchasing one of your puppies, what would it be?
Do your research on the breed. Go to dog shows. Talk with many breeders.
Find a breeder you like, respect and feel comfortable and who has time to spend with you. Ask lots of questions and you should expect the breeder will ask you about your family, lifestyle and how much time you have for a pup.
Then get on their waiting list. You may have to wait for your puppy but it will be worth it. A good breeder will be there for support and advice for the duration of your dog’s life.
|Buying a puppy is not like buying a can of soup! A good breeder often has a waiting list and will match the right pup to the right family. A waiting list is one sign of a good breeder. Find someone who can work with you over time. If you are able to get to know the breeder ahead of time, then you will have a lasting relationship that will help you to be successful with your puppy throught his or her life.|
What advice do you have for families with children who want one of your puppies?
First, I want to meet all the children to see the family dynamics, how they behave and interact with dogs. Parents need to have time and energy for the pup and the amount of work a small puppy involves. Having a puppy is almost as much work as having a new baby.
I want to make sure they understand that, though it may be Johnny’s puppy, the majority of responsibility needs be theirs. I want to know that the children will be involved in Puppy Socialization classes and the dog’s training classes if they are old enough. Children should sit down to hold a puppy. The puppy’s teeth are needle sharp. Just like children, puppies put everything in their mouths. Children should hold a toy in their hands while playing so the puppy bites the toy, not fingers. Look at your home from a puppy’s viewpoint to see what is safe and what dangers puppy could get into. Anything on the floor can be a hazard for the puppy. Puppy needs a safe place (crate) of his own where he can rest and not be disturbed.
|Wheatens are family dogs! Charlotte and Shamrock train in Rally O and are getting ready to compete.|
Do you have any advice about living successfully with your breed?
Keep them stimulated physically and mentally. Have rules. Be firm but fair. Love and cherish their unique personalities. Lots of positive reinforcement and praise. They just want to be with you so do not leave them alone for long periods. Make provisions for them during the day if you are working outside the home. Small puppies should not be left alone for more than one period of 2-3 hours in a 24 hour period.
|Understanding that each dog is an individual with unique likes and dislikes can help you to find interesting things to do with your dog. This Wheaten loves the water and is playing in a pool in the yard. Enjoy the clownishness of your dog and he will reward you with ever more creative activities.|
Do you have any additional comments you would like to share with new puppy buyers?
If you want a good night’s sleep, then place the puppy’s crate in your bedroom at night. When the puppy hears your breathing and movement, it won’t feel alone and abandoned. This way, you will only be up once in the night when the puppy needs out vs. listening to a lonely, distressed puppy crying all night in the kitchen.
Do you have a website?
No, but check out the website of our national club for the newly revised “Puppy Buyer’s Guide”.
It has lots of information for those looking for a puppy: http://www.scwtac.com