All our breeding dogs and retained puppies are given the Wisdom Panel genetic testing array. It tests for 212 anomolous conditions found in all breeds - a bit of overkill since most of the conditions do not affect our healthy breed. The reports are available to anyone interested in our puppies. In addition, all puppies have an appointment at the veterinary ophthalmologist's at 8 weeks of age for a thorough exam, with eye dilation. The vet creates CAER (Companion Animal Eye Registry) certificates for each puppy with her findings, which are also given to the buyer.
Our puppy contract includes a guarantee of freedom from genetic conditions which compromise the life of the dog. Our puppies are vaccinated, wormed, microchipped and have their ears taped from 6-7 weeks of age (Collie ears are never cut or surgically manipulated.) We provide with each puppy a health folder with dates & proof of vaccination and worming to bring to your vet.
We set our puppy price based on the costs of our breeding program, not just the isolated costs of producing that litter. Showing our dogs is expensive, as well as travel to obtain breedings from top stud dogs in other parts of the country. Kristy believes in minimizing stress to the girls at the critical breeding time, so we never ship our bitches, preferring to chauffer her and keep her in our hotel. To obtain top genetics involves paying top dollar for stud fees. Then there's daily upkeep and creating fresh diets for our Collie family members, and the focused care, veterinary costs, and extensive equipment required to successfully whelp and raise litters of healthy, well-socialized puppies. We could save a lot of money if we just repeatedly bred our bitches to our own male! But that's basically just producing puppies one after another. It's not the way to improve the breed, to make every generation better than the last.
Our puppies arrive into the world in a specially equipped "puppy room" inside our house, and begin to explore and interact with the household, our grandchildren, guests, and our adult dogs as soon as they are mobile, around 4-5 weeks of age. Our large fenced upper and lower back wooded area connects with the house by doggie-door. The doggie terrain features hills, toys and balls, different underfoot textures and landscape variations. The puppies learn nail care, crates, stairs, riding in the car, and early leash training before going to their new homes. We keep the litter together until at least 9 weeks of age. By then they will have learned basic manners from Mom, how to act appropriately with adult dogs, bite abatement, and the foundation for house-training.
I would say the most important trait I breed for is temperament. A dog can be beautiful, sound, and healthy but if it does not have a temperament that is a delight to live with, there is no point in placing it in a family. A dog's highest purpose is to be a joy to its human household. We have established excellent "companion" temperaments at Whitehall, and I believe that is both from genetics and environment. Our dogs are calm, affectionate, and very easy to train. From that point, we select for puppies that exemplify the Collie Standard. There is some subjectivity to that, and my "bias" is for beautiful expression, stylish outlines, and classic elegance. We do breed for luxurious coats, as that to me is indeed the "crowning glory" of the Rough Collie. While we do not breed for specific colors, we have been blessed with an abundance of white Collies in our breeding program, which are a bit unusual and guaranteed to attract lots of attention wherever they go!
It's a bit of both. Most prospective puppy owners have preferences for sex and maybe color. Working with what we have available in the litter (usually 6 to 9 puppies) we ask each buyer to give us their first, second and third choice. We have always been able to honor those. I as the breeder will have noticed definite personality traits in each puppy and will make buyers aware of what I expect the puppy will grow up to be, and what type of household will fit best.