puppyThose who regularly read my column will know that, in addition to my Veterinary work, I have a bit of a menagerie at home.   We keep Pedigree Southdown Sheep, Berkshire Pigs and Hens. We also have Pedigree Labradors which are very much family pets but which we also breed from.   At work, I regularly see the problems that poor breeding can cause and so we take the health of the puppies we breed very seriously and have recently undergone an Inspection by The Kennel Club and have been awarded their Accredited Breeder Status. As the name suggests, the scheme is a quality assurance which aims to recognise those breeders who are focused on the health of their breeding dogs and the puppies they produce.   The Accredited Breeder Scheme has been run by The Kennel Club for over 10 years; during that time, the scheme has developed significantly, improving protocols and methods of ensuring that good practice is being followed. One vital element to these mechanisms is a visit by an Inspector. Every member of the scheme is now visited prior to receiving accreditation and thereafter at least once every three years.   To achieve accreditation, we had to demonstrate that our breeding stock were microchipped to identify them and that their pedigree documentation was correct. The Inspectors wanted to see our facilities for whelping and rearing the puppies and also the facilities for socialising the puppies.   The Inspectors also wanted to see the written documentation that we give to the new owners of our puppies. This includes information about Labradors as a breed, their feeding, exercise and housing requirements as well as advice on vaccinations, flea and worming treatment. It is really useful for new owners to have a written “puppy pack” which keeps all of this information together as one point of reference for them.   We also provide a telephone back-up for owners while their puppy settles in to their new home.   The Inspection went well and we have now been awarded Accredited Breeder Status.   While the Kennel Club has been heavily criticised in the past for not always prioritising dogs’ health, I think the Accredited Breeder Scheme is a really useful scheme which is very practical in its requirements and is a mark of quality which all prospective puppy owners should consider when looking for a suitable dog.   This is a photograph of Coco who was one of our puppies and now lives in Crief, Scotland.