A Seahouses farmer and sheepdog breeder has spoken of his delight after one of his dogs has given birth to a large first litter of nine pups.
Scott Smith, whose family have been at Village Farm since 1872, has been breeding and trialing border collies for the last 25 years and the latest bundles of joy arrived when his bitch Jess gave birth to her first litter.
Jess is part of the same breeding line he has had all the time he has been rearing dogs and has proved to be an excellent mum.
The pups’ father is Glen, who belongs to Paul Turnbull from Debdon near Rothbury, and he has done well in sheepdog league nursery trials.
Jess gave birth on September 28 after a 63-day gestation period. When she was scanned at 32 days, Paul knew it was likely to be a large litter.
Scott sat with her during labour which started at 12.30am and finished at 6.30am when pup number nine appeared.
Paul said: “She is an exceptionally good mum who has a lovely nature.
“Because she had so many, I had to help out with feeding from the start. They went on to soft food at 18 days and are now on full feed four times a day.”
He is delighted with the quality of the five dogs and four bitches and has got his eye on one or two he may keep.
It isn’t until they are about seven weeks old that they start to develop their character and six of them have already been sold.
Scott said: “I don’t do it for the money, I do it because I love it. My intention is to breed good working dogs and getting a trial dog is a bonus.”
Thanks to modern methods of communication, Scott is able to follow his dogs’ progress around the world, with some of them now as far afield as America, the Czech Republic and Barbados.
The pups are introduced to sheep at five months old, with Scott believing it is a mistake to start training them too early. It takes six to eight months to train a working dog and ideally he starts with a quiet breed such as Herdwick, before moving on to something a bit more lively such as Blackface, aiming to get the right balance between encouragement and discipline throughout their training.
Scott, who has two other dogs, Kim and Bess, enters the nursery classes of the Northumberland Sheepdog Trials League, which he points out has world class and international handlers among its members, resulting in very high standards.
After meeting Scott, it is clear to see that for this one man and his dogs, they mean the world to him.
Log on to the Gazette website to see a video of the cute puppies.