Sept 18, 2020
Interviews & Inspiration | Lauranne Heres
Planet Dog: Meet Karen, a dog breeder and dog show competitor. My pug has been staying with her whenever we go away on holiday, and she drives an old black cab renamed the Pug Taxi by everyone that knows her!
How long have you been a breeder? Which breed did you start with and why?
I have been breeding dogs for nearly 40 years, my first breed was White German Shepherds which I bred on my goat farm in Israel. In this country I have been breeding Pugs and Pekingese for 15 years.
How often do you have litters every year? How many times do you allow a bitch to be used? What about studs?
I usually have around 2 or 3 litters a year. My bitches are not bred more than once a year and will have 2 litters or maybe 3 in their lifetime. Stud dogs may be used more frequently as they can mate every other day, but I usually use each one a maximum of 6 times a year.
How easy or difficult are the births usually? Do you ever lose all or part of a litter, or is that not too frequent?
Pugs and Pekingese both have relatively large heads and so can sometimes have difficult births. All of my dogs self-whelp but do occasionally get into trouble with a stuck puppy or one that has died inside and so need a Caesarean. We are not allowed to have more than 2 C-sections in a bitch’s life so I would not use a bitch that could not self-whelp for breeding.
I don't often lose puppies but of course nature is unpredictable, and it does happen but not frequently.
How many dogs do you have at home at any given time?
I usually have between 13 and 15 dogs at home. Five of these are males and the rest females.
How long do the puppies stay with you before being sold? Do families ever change their mind and return them?
Pug puppies stay until at least 10 weeks when they have their second vaccination.
Pekingese are slower to develop and usually stay till 12 weeks. I have only once had a puppy returned; it was due to allergies of the owner. I am quite thorough choosing my potential owners and most people will be on my waiting list for a while which tends to sort out the serious people from the amateurs.
Do you start training the puppies a little before they leave?
Puppies have a lot of training to get them used to people, children, noises, and things they may experience in their new homes. They have their own little yard and will be mostly toilet trained by the time they go.
You also show dogs at competitions, when did you start doing that?
I have been showing my dogs since 2008.
How and when do you decide that one specific dog will be used for showing? Do you do anything in particular?
Dogs are judged according to their standard so I will evaluate a puppy continually and if they’re good enough I will start showing at 6 months old. We go to special classes called 'Ringcraft' where we train a puppy for everything they will have to do at a show (standing on a table for strangers to handle, walking correctly in different formations and standing nicely to show themselves off) and also to get them used to all the noises and commotion which are a part of large shows.
How difficult is it to train a dog for a show?
Some dogs are naturally 'showy' and will instinctively do everything right, others need a lot of work and some are just too nervous and don't take to it at all.
How many shows have you won, and who is/was your best show dog?
I have won at more shows than I can count, but my best win was 'Best In Show' with my Pekingese Dobby.
What would you like people to know about the breeds you have?
Both of my breeds, Pekingese and Pugs, are very long lived and hardy little dogs and often make late teens, PROVIDING they are well bred. I wish people would do more researching about reputable breeders and health testing and make sure they purchase a puppy from a good breeder. There are a lot of tests we can do now to make sure our dogs do not carry hereditary diseases and can breathe properly. Pugs are clowns and the best of fun, they are wonderful with children and have boundless energy for play. Pekingese are more refined, they are good tempered and playful dogs but more of a companion and a lap dog.