ALL THE PIECES
Skylar Copeland, owner of Fireside Fernweh, has been training her own dogs since 2013, beginning with her German Shepherd, Athena. This experience is essential for raising puppies to be well-adapted and confident dogs. Many breeders use Puppy Culture or similar programs, but Skylar believes this does little to no good if one does not have a training background to have perfect timing and a solid grasp on canine body language.
OUR BREEDING PROCESS
CHOOSING THE PAIRING
When we consider a pairing, our goal is complimentary traits in the parents and in their pedigrees. For each pairing, we have a handful of specific goals in mind that we hope to improve upon in the dam. Breeding is an art of give and take, and every line of dogs has it's own vices and virtues. Our aim is not to cross two lines which share the same vice, but instead to thoroughly research so that we can cross lines which balance one another to give us the all around, versatile dog we are seeking. This is the research phase where we gather as much information as we can find on a handful of stud dogs we are interested in using. We look at them themselves, their parents, their grandparents, their siblings, their offspring if they've been bred. Eventually, we have enough information to make a choice!
REARING THE PUPPIES
Our puppies are extensively handled from birth until they leave for their new homes. They are raised following Puppy Culture protocols with some variations to make the program more suitable for this breed (it was made for Bull Terriers which have different needs than White Swiss Shepherds). Our puppies are not often fed in bowls after they are on solid kibble, but are scatter-fed instead. This encourages the puppies to interact with the objects in their environment and it encourages them to start using those powerful noses! We also expose our puppies to a variety of sounds played via Bluetooth speakers while they are eating to create positive associations. Our puppies also get to explore many different areas of our property - inside and outside - which is excellent for confidence building and for learning to pay attention to where the people are. We also introduce the clicker and begin rewarding our puppies for sitting for attention. In short, we do everything in our power to give your puppy the best start in life.
MATCHING OWNER & PUPPY
After spending the first invaluable 8 weeks of their lives with our puppies combined with knowing many of their close relatives, we match each puppy to their new owner. Our process is based on multiple factors, including the puppies' structure, drives, sociability, confidence, and energy level to name a few. Given our vast experience competing in a variety of dog sports and our knowledge of canine structure, we are very confident in our ability to select puppies for all purposes, whether that be show, sport, or companionship. Though our breeding program is still young, we believe our many years' experience owning and training dogs gives us the knowledge and understanding of dogs needed to accurately evaluate puppies and choose the best home for each puppy.
AFTER THEY GO HOME
We offer lifetime support for all of our puppy buyers, and are happy to consider them to be a part of our extended family. We are always appreciative of updates and we love to know that our puppies are excelling in their new homes. For those that utilize social media, we have a private Facebook group for all owners of Fireside Fernweh dogs where owners share their dog's accomplishments and their day to day life. We ask that you keep us updated on how your puppy is doing, and please let us know if any issues arise so that we may help you navigate life with a Swiss puppy, adolescent, adult, or senior. While it is not required in our contract, we hope that you will have your dog's hips and elbows scored so that we can monitor prevalence (or lack thereof) in our lineage. While we do everything in our power to minimize these risks, it is impossible to know if our efforts have worked without having progeny tested.
OUR AIM FOR EXCELLENCE
We consider a multitude of factors whenever we consider using a dog for breeding which can be divided into three major areas: temperament, health, and structure. Our goal is to produce socially stable dogs suitable for show, sport, and companionship. Our ideal White Swiss Shepherd is biddable, eager to please, and has good enthusiasm for training while maintaining an off switch in the house. While we strongly emphasize temperament, health is equally important. Our dogs are extensively health tested for multiple diseases including hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, heart murmurs, MDR1, DM, CEA, and more. Because breeding is a long term art, each breeding may especially emphasize one area as a piece of the puzzle. Contrary to popular belief, the COI (Coefficient of Inbreeding) is the single-most important predictor of health, which is why we Embark DNA test all of our litters to monitor the COI. At this time, the White Swiss Shepherd breed's average COI is quite high, so it is essential for us, as breeders, to use diverse lines in order to maintain and hopefully lower this number. Of course, it is quite difficult to get everything we seek in one dog - low COI, good working ability, and gorgeous structure, but this is our long term hope.