We live on an old farm in the middle of Sweden surrounded by mountains and forest. Here we and our dogs can live the life we always wanted to live.
When we had only few dogs they were of course living as part of the family, slept with us in the bed etc. But the more dogs we got the more difficult this was. Of course there were the obvious difficulties as the cleaning and the dog´s destructiveness on our house, but also for the dogs themselves it turned out that there were several problematic issues in this besides the hygiene. When the dogs went from being two and three to being a group of four, five and more something happened with their relationship towards us. Suddenly they were so many to share us that they all started to seem stressed as they all wanted to do all they could to be the one who got the attention. It became stressing for both them and us. We therefore decided to let our dogs live as what they actually are, namely dogs.
Our adult dogs therefore live outside in big runs except for the lagottos. They have their own house with heat and beds etc as they would be too cold in the outdoors. We have made sure to build our runs bigger than required by the authorities. We have also made sure to make the runs as fun and natural as possible for the dogs to live in. The runs have natural grounds which means the dogs are able to dig if they want, a fundamental behaviour for them. They also have things to hide under and things to jump up on, something the dogs enjoy as well and would do out in nature. They get fresh bones several times a month which means they always have something to chew on, another fundamental behaviour for dogs. They have fully isolated doghouses filled with hay and they also have shadow in the summer.
We put a big effort in creating well functioning groups of dogs. We do not want dogs to live alone which is unnatural for them or in too big groups creating stress and figths. Most of our groups of dogs consist of 4-7 dogs together which we have learned for us is the optimal number. We put dogs together which like eachother and form a nice group. In every group there is some older dogs and some younger dogs and in most groups both sexes. This is the way we found it works well. We see the dogs enjoying this lifestyle very much, they play with eachother, interact and have a very natural and deep relationship with eachother.
When a bitch is mated she always comes inside to live with us in the house. All our litters are born inside with us and live there till they are 8 weeks old. We sometimes hear people advertise that they are a “kitchen breeder” or similar words and we can say even if we have many dogs we are just the same whatever one wants to put in that word. All our litters are born and raised in our kitchen or our bedroom and they are exposed too all the normal things in a household with kids, cats, other dogs and people coming and going. We have experienced in the past that some people think we are a big breeder with many dogs and thereby assume we don´t raise our puppies the same way or give them the same amount of time as others migth do, but that is very wrong.
In our daily routines we start the morning with cleaning of the puppy pens inside the house. After that all dogs in the runs go out to play. They are let lose one run at the time and while we pick up poo, clean the waterbowls and fill up with fresh water etc the dogs get to run free around the property and play. It is important to us that all our dogs can run free and come when we call and have the joy and freedom this gives them. From the age of 5-6 weeks our litters start to come outside on daily visits where they run free and follow us around and from the age of 8-10 weeks they are normally allowed to be outside most of the day. The puppies we keep at home always get to run free untill they are around 6 months old and we decide which group they will fit in and where they should live. In these first months of their life we make sure to train their recall with them, teach them their name and let them slowly understand the concept of living here, playing and running around free, but staying not too far from the house. Once they are adults who join a group this helps in them knowing how to act. Also all puppies every day play with each group of adults who come out to run. Our dogs are very social and like to be together with eachother.
While the adults are out running we of course also make sure to have close contact with all dogs. They get hugs and kisses, are checked to see if all is okay with their coat, nails, teeth etc and just have their daily dose of human contact. We are two adults who chose to work full time with our kennel. Even if we both have university degrees we could have chosen to use for a career we have chosen instead to go all in and spend all our time on the dogs. On the contrary to many others who go to work and leave dogs and puppies alone we are here 24 hours a day. This is not just a job it is a lifestyle for the entire family. We love our dogs and spending time with them and this is why we do what we do. We have the time to give each dog what it needs every day and we enjoy that.
We have always been 100% open about how we keep our dogs. Everybody is welcome to come visit us and see for themselves. Some breeders will say they have less dogs than they have and some find it by definition bad if the dogs are living in runs. Many breeders we met lie about it to puppybuyers or other people and claim all their dogs are living as family pets, even if they are not. We never wanted to do that and see no reason whatsoever why we should defend ourselves just because we have chosen to share our lives with as many dogs as we did. We know our dogs have an excellent life and we are happy to show that to anybody interested. We also know the life of our dogs is a different life to a dog living in a home with just one dog who gets to sleep on the sofa, ride the car every day etc. But honestly, we do not believe the latter to be better or more natural for a dog. We respect the fact that many other people would not like to live with so many dogs or would not have the stamina to do the work needed, but we also hope they then respect our choice enough to not judge us on the number of dogs we own unless they have actually been here to visit us and meet our dogs and us.
We have our official aproval from the Swedish government for running the kennel and they do follow up check ups to make sure we live up to the laws and regulations.
Here a selection of photos of the dogs different runs and fascilities.