Breeding ethics

Our aim is to breed healthy Border Collies with good temperament, working ability, correct structure. We hip score and eye test our breeding stock whenever possible and we use only healthy dogs for breeding. We study several generations of the pedigree to make sure we minimize the risk of CL (storage disease), and we closely monitor possible hereditary diseases when deciding the suitability of each dog for breeding.

We do not mate any bitch under 18 months of age, and I only breed when I have a full confirmed list of bookings. I believe in using only top quality bitches for breeding. Finding a suitable stud for a high quality bitch is often difficult, especially as we breed for the actual quality of each dog and being restricted to South Africa with a very small quality gene pool.

Each dog planned for breeding is eye tested as a puppy (dogs bred by other people are naturally not under my control) and they are re-examined prior mating. Also, hips are scored before deciding the suitability for breeding. The more littermates are scored, the easier the decision from that point of view will be. The bitch is de-wormed and vaccinated just before her season.

Choosing suitable homes

As the Border Collie is a hyper-active breed, bred to work all day, the future owner must be motivated enough to spend time socializing, training, exercising and organizing enough work for the dog to keep it happy. For that reason we question the prospective owners, not because we suspect them or we don't like them, but simply because we believe that the right dog in the right home is a pleasure for both people and the dog. A frustrated dog and an insecure owner is a combination that can have a sad ending. By suitably matching dog and owner, we hope to avoid any tears in the future. It is ideal both for the puppy and the owner to meet each other a few times before the puppy moves to the new family. It is also good that the new family gets to know at least the dam of the litter, and in the very best case both parents.

A Border Collie puppy is not chosen for its markings. A Border Collie must be chosen for its temperament and suitability for the needs of its new family. Therefore, it is important that the prospective owner should question: "What do I want to achieve with my Border Collie?". This will help you to know what you are looking for, or realize that there is a more suitable breed available in the dog world. Personally, I follow the puppies temperament changes from three weeks or even younger up to seven weeks, and can see differences in the character of each puppy. As well as different kinds of puppies, there are also different kinds of owners. One wants to have their very first obedience dog, which should be moderately active, but yet one that is not very soft, but definitely not too hard. Someone else may want to have a dog to do dozens of different performance activities, and looks for a tough dog that has got plenty of energy and has a lot more of its own will. All of these things should be planned taken into consideration well in advance. Watching the puppies mature helps to see how their characters change. When planning a puppy from us, please expect to answer lots and lots of questions. We also like to hear you asking as many questions as possible. The better you have planned for having this puppy, the more successful the relationship with your new friend should be. If it is possible, we encourage you to visit our kennels a couple of litters BEFORE you plan to have a puppy of your own. This gives you an opportunity to view the puppies and to ask questions! For us, the co-operation does not end when you take the puppy home. You can feel free to contact me whenever any problems arise, and naturally we would also be happy to hear the good news too.

Health checks

All our puppies are eye tested by an eye specialist between 6 and 8 weeks of age. It is very important for the future of this breed, that every dog be eye tested and hip scored. The dog must be at least 18 months of age before official scoring can be done. Every result helps us to breed healthier dogs in the future. Also, we hope that we are contacted in any case of health problems, no matter what it is, as the information might be valuable for the future. We keep all the health results public, and all eye test results and hip scores are published on the web page, even if the result is dysplastic. We hope that even the sad cases will help us in the future to breed healthier dogs. Like CL, hip dysplasia is a breed problem, and therefore nobody's to blame. But the information is important, as it will help us in the future.

Source: Hereditary Conditions in Dogs, Prof Robert M Kirberger, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Adapted from FCI, BVA and OFA data.
The author does not accept responsibility for any inconsistencies which may be present in the below table.
Author's placement of scores in FCI classification - guideline only.
First published in
Stafford World 2002.
Classification KUSA United States of America OFA United Kingdom & Australia BVA (0-106) FCI Classification
No signs of hip dysplasia 0 Excellent 0 A1
Good 0 - 6 A2
Fair 6 - 12 B1
Borderline 12 - 18 B2
Mild hip dysplasia 1 Mild 18 - 24 C1
24 - 30 C2
Moderate hip dysplasia 2 Moderate 30 - 42 D1
42 - 54 D2
Severe hip dysplasia 3 Severe 54 - 66 E1
4 66+ E2

Please Note: Giftnell Border Collies will only include dogs with a Excellent or Good rating in their breeding programme.