Breeding Shelties In Germany

by Barbara Woda, Kreuzelberg's Shelties (Germany)


Editors Note: This article first appeared in the November/December 1985 issue. We invite our German visitors to provide updates or contribute new material.)


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It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. I am including a picture, therefor, or more accurately, a graph, so you can see what has been happening to the Sheltie in Germany (as well as to the other breeds of British Sheepdogs) in the last few years. The numbers of pups born and registered with the German Club for British Sheepdogs each year. Notice the upward trend of all breeds except our Sheltie!

Even more interesting are a few statistics that I compiled during a rare moment of quiet. In 1983 a total of 58 Sheltie breeders did a total of 89 litters for a total of 304 surviving pups in Germany-an average of 3.3 pups per litter. Now that is not even two litters per breeder on the average, is it? But let us look a bit closer. Considering the years 1980-83, we note the following: of a total of 114 breeders, 37 had only one litter in this four-year period. Forty others had between two and four litters. Only 19 breeders averaged two or more litters per year in this time span, and of these, only seven had three or more litters per year.*

[*Those with the most litters being: Dusrani Kennels with 15 litters; Stormarer Land with 20; and Onkenhof with 26 litters in this four-year period.]

The fact is, breeding Shelties in Germany is done as a hobby-for enjoyment, not to make money. The opinion is that those who want to breed dogs for profit do not breed Shelties. As an experienced old breeder put it, "There is no money in Shelties. Expenses are too high and litter sizes too small." Most Sheitie breeders are Collie breeders who keep a few Shelties for "fun." Others breed only Shelties, but on a small scale, as the statistics show. After all, in a country as crowded as Germany (630 inhabitants per square mile), in which land is sold by the square meter (one meter = approximately 40 inches) and in which the square meter prices can go well over $200, not many can afford the acreage required for kennels and runs. Thus, many Shelties are raised in apartments or in homes with tiny yards (like ours) next to neighbors who are very conscious of the anti-noise laws (which prohibit stereos, lawn mowers and barking before 7 a.m., between 1 and 3 p.m., and after 10 p.m., as well as all day Sundays) and who will summon the police if they feel your dogs' barking is disturbing them at any time! And so it is that many Sheltie owners who decide to have a litter just for fun (by the way, isn't this the way most breeders began-in spite of all the good advice about starting with a good brood bitch, etc.?) quit after their first litter.

Thus we are left with some thirty-odd breeders who do produce at least one or more litters a year. At shows and at random, I have spoken with some of these and have noted a few interesting things:

The German breeder's dream (and for many, a reality) is to have his very own British import stud and, if possible, his very own British import bitch, and to breed from these. Second best is to use a stud that he himself has bred from a British import. Line-breeding is practiced wherever possible, and there have been a few examples of what I would call extreme in-breeding (sire to daughter and then back to granddaughter!) which does reduce size very nicely, but is an awfully quick way to magnify faults and produce dogs with missing teeth and testicles. Color-headed whites are not used at all and I suspect that these (as well as too-white pups resulting from a white-factor to white-factor breeding, and indeed all mismarked pups) tend to be destroyed at birth as I have never seen or heard of any of these. Sable merles are taboo, as is the merle to merle breeding. When I asked Mr. R6mpert for figures, he mentioned that between 5 to 10 percent of the Sheities born in Germany are blue merle, between 15 to 20 percent are tri color, and the rest are sable and white, most of these being a gold-sable in color. It has been my observation that most breeders tend to use their own studs almost exclusively, and when they have bred themselves into a dead end, they purchase a new stud from England. I might be wrong here.

Ch. Jefsfire Freelancer, a Sheltie that significantly influenced German Sheltiedom through his sons, daughters, and grandchildren that have been brought to Germany, although he himself remained in England with his breeders/owners, Mr. and Mrs. A. T. Jeffries of Jefsfire Kennels, until his death. His son, Weltsieger Jefsfire Allensway Captain Scarlet ("Sandy") was a very busy stud in Germany until his death [in 1983].

And how is it for the American who brings his Sheltie to Germany and would like to do a litter? Well, once you have gone through it all, you will realize why so many stop after one litter! Because you must first:

  1. Send for an AKC-certified three-generation pedigree for your Sheltie. The AKC registration is sufficient for exhibiting, but not for breeding your dog in Germany.
  2. Submit this document to the German Club for British Sheepdogs-along with the equivalent of $17 for a year's membership. (If you do not join the club, your pups can still have papers, but all costs involved are tripled!)
  3. Produce evidence (ribbons, trophies) that your Sheltie has been successfully shown in the States or elsewhere. Having forgotten to bring any of these, you must enter it in a European show and receive at least the rating of "good" for a bitch or "very good" for a dog (add another $20 for entry fees, plus gasoline, hotel, restaurant, etc.) before you can…
  4. Present your Sheltie to a Kormeister, who is an experienced Sheltie judge authorized by the Club to examine your Sheltie, standing an moving, with eye, hands, and ruler, and with a thoroughness that leaves no questions unanswered. The Kormeister will then decide wehther your Sheltie is to be classified "recommended for breeding", "conditionally recommended for breeding", "breedable", "conditionally breedable", or "conditionally breedable for one litter." (For males, only the first two categories are acceptable.) Be prepared to shell out $6.50 if you have this done at a dog show and $35 if you have it done privately at the Kormeister’s home.
  5. After a suitable period (one week to one month), you will receive the Korschein-a double-sided document describing every aspect of your dog-registration number, parentage, general description-on to each detail of each part of its body-size, length, chest circumference, coloring, constitution, health, temperament, expression, coat (length of hair measured in three places), head (forehead, stop, planes, muzzle, eyes, ears, jawline, teeth, bite), shoulders, elbows, pasterns, hocks, legs, tail length and carriage, movement, etc. etc. etc. Actually you are getting a lot for your money, aren't you? In addition, at the bottom the Kormeister will note what kind of stud or bitch is recommended to suit your Sheltie.

    With the Korschein, which is valid for two to three years, you may now ...

  6. Breed your Sheltie! If it is a bitch, you will of course have missed the heat that you wanted to breed her on while you were taking care of points 1 to 4, but you have had the time to find the right stud, haven't you? And by the way, in Germany you personally deliver your bitch to the stud-no crating and shipping here, this just isn't done! You will drive there, spending a night in a hotel if you wish a second service, and you will usually assist in the breeding. This will cost you another $100 to $160 (stud fee), plus hotel, meals, gasoline (at upwards of $2.00 a gallon), nerves, etc.

Int. Ch., Dt. Ch., Lux. Ch., Bundessieger, Europasieger, VDH-Ch. Buffalo von Dursani (of Riverhill on his sire's side and Shelert on his dam's side)

Is it all over now (the red tape, I mean)? Not on your life! After the pups are born, you must notify, within three days, the chairman of the local chapter of the Kennel Club who will send over a Zuchtwart. This is a person authorized by the club to check out your litter and the conditions of your kennel. He may come unannounced, will want to see the dam, where the pups are kept, and will look over each one for unremoved hind dewclaws (the ones on the forelegs are usually not removed in Europe), for external parasites, and other signs of neglect. Finding none, he will write a glowing report of the litter in general. You must sign this document and supply him with your kennel name and the name by which each pup is to be registered, as not only the litter, but each individual pup must be registered by you with the Club. The papers will arrive after some weeks, C.O.D., and you must be prepared to shell out, depending on the size of the litter, between $50 and $70 for this package!

(In addition to fees for litter registration, you must bear the costs for registering each pup, for protecting your kennel name, and for the current yearbook of the Kennel Club-whether you can read it or not!) By the way, did I forget to mention that the Zuchtwart must also be paid for his traveling expenses (thirty cents a kilometer)? To protect the bitch, the Kennel Club decrees that if she has had more than six pups, she may not be bred at her next heat. Otherwise you may breed two heats in a row, but must give her a rest on the third heat. Nor may she be bred before her first nor after her eighth birthday. Stiff fines are levied on those who defy these rules.

When the pups are eight weeks old (and not before) the Kennel Club allows you to sell them. In the meantime the German vet will have relieved you of more of the green stuff for the postnatal checkup, worm medicine, and shots (which are quite expensive here). If you are lucky, the regional chapter of the Club or the Club's Puppy Placement Service-perhaps also the owner of the stud-will assist you in finding good homes for your pups, and you will be able to sell them for $200 to $250 each. (Well-established German breeders can command prices up to $350 per Sheltie pup, but remember, you are not well-known in Germany!)

The Germans do not generally distinguish between show- and pet-quality when selling pups as regards prices, but ask the same fee for all. This finishes you up with a loss of- well, you calculate it! But you did it for fun, didn't you? And you have learned that raising Shelties is a hobby in Germany! You will also, I hope, have begun to enjoy your membership in the Club and to take part in the activities it offers all year-round: hikes and picnics (with the dogs) in spring and fall, obedience classes, films, lectures, and the big Christmas party your local chapter will organize for its members-complete with a St. Nicholaus who distributes gifts, a Christmas raffle, music and carols, lots of "old-Germany" atmosphere, and of course that world-famous German beer! Recently, the Baden-Phalz chapter celebrated its thirty-fifth anniversary with a huge party and show-Germans love to celebrate! And they bring their dogs everywhere-including into restaurants. Some restaurants will even serve your dog a plate of and a dish of dog biscuits ... on the house!

You will, I hope, also travel in Germany. Take a along the beautiful Rhine River, visit some of the 20,000 castles and fortresses which dot the countryside and decorate the hilltops, perhaps even go to the famed Black Forest, and drop in to say hello to us on the way!

And you will learn that the Germans are deep down, very softhearted and kind. To them it is a sin to give away a bitch that has been good enough to supply them with litter after litter simply because she is old and may no longer produce. And I will never forget Mr. R6mpert, the long-time Sheltie and Collie breeder (and All-Breed judge) saying, "You must be tough! You must sell a bitch that does not produce top quality! You must only keep the best . . ." and on another occasion, his admitting to me that the loveliest Collie bitch he ever owned was sterile, but stayed on with them until the day she died-as have all his brood bitches and studs.

Sheltie people-whether in America or here in Germany, indeed, probably all over the world-are wonderful, aren't they?

In regard to the photographic material, I must mention the following. My thought was to give you a small sampling of what is being bred and with what material in Germany. Most German breeders treasure dogs that have Riverhill or Shelert blood in them, but the English stud that has perhaps most significantly influenced German Sheltiedom is Ch. Jefsfire Freelancer, who remained in England in the possession of his breeders, Mr. and Mrs. A.T. Jeffries of Jefsfire Kennels until his death. His sons and daughters that imported to Germany made a great impact here-most notably the beautiful World-WinnerJefsfire Allensway Captain Scarlet, who was used in Germany extensively until his death two years ago. At the moment, two "Freelancer" kids are living close enough to me that I was able to photograph them.... The two tri-color studs, Buffalo von Dusrani and Willow Trident, are not "Freelancer" sons but are examples of studs that are currently widely used in Germany-the one bred from English stock, the other a direct English There are many other beautiful Shelties in Germany and I wish I could have included more photographs, but I just have not had the time.

Int. Ch., Dt. Ch., Lux. Ch., VDH-Ch., Belg. Ch., Bundessiergerin '82 Penny McLain Dusrani ("Freelancer" double-great-granddaughter)

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