High House Labradors
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As some of you visiting this page will know, Dom sadly passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly in August 2018, and I have therefore had to deal with a significant change in my life and the workload with the animals. I am continuing to care for a smaller number of horses and dogs, and I'm continuing the breeding programmes with both but at a reduced capacity so I can manage things safely and sensibly going forward. Please bear with me in this time of transition and adaptation into the new normal. Apologies for any broken links, missing images and out-of-date information on these pages, which I am in the process of updating. Any questions in the meantime please email me at email@example.com and I'll get back to you when I can. Thanks for your understanding - Jan Atkinson
We are both retired Lake District Mountain Rescue Search Dog handlers, and Dom was an instructor and assessor. We breed Kennel Club registered pedigree black, yellow and chocolate labrador retrievers from very carefully selected field trial champion and working lines. We insist on the highest standards of health test results in all of the breeding we do. Our puppies grow into intelligent, willing and athletic workers and also into loving, sensible family pets. We socialise them with dogs and people from a very early age, and give them problems to solve to maximise their intelligence. Vets, trainers and owners in our local area can tell when a dog is one of ours!
Alternatively, please visit our Facebook page for more information and for any new updates and announcements.
We are far more interested in the health and temperament of a dog than its colour. Our search dogs had to work for up to 16 hours day and night with very little rest, looking for lost and injured people in the most extreme weather and over the worst, steepest ground. We would be heading into the mountains after nightfall in winter while the met office and emergency services were issuing dire warnings to the public to stay at home, often searching throughout the night. Our dogs are still bred with the potential to do the same.
Video of typical first training session: talent spotting for puppies who will keep trying when things get difficult. Not all patients find easy places for their accidents!!!
We breed out the labrador genetic diseases from the lines we import, and concentrate on producing adults with exceptionally good hips, elbows and eyes. All of our litters are bred for this without exception. Puppies we do not keep give their owners the best possible starting point for raising a dog with the prospect of a long, healthy, active life. Those puppies also leave us with the experience and understanding to become outstanding workers and family pets, that rare combination of both in the same dog.
All of the breeding we do is for ourselves - or at least that is why we breed. 2011 was special, in that we did the almost impossible when we bred to give us a next-generation chocolate bitch. The resulting litter of just one chocolate bitch meant that we had no new owners, so a very easy time. We also had a litter of two and a litter of three, so a total of just three new owners to support. That turned out to be just as well, as the rescued bitches brought 17 puppies with very high support requirement and a considerable expense as a result...
Why do we have two kennel club names? When we first applied we couldn't have Highhouse, and the crags (cliffs) behind the house are called Juniper Scar so we registered that. Later, we became allowed to use Highhouse, but we're very fond of our first name. Most of our dogs are registered as Highhouse, of few of the oldest as Juniperscar. Traditions matter, like loyalty.
We joined the KC Accredited Breeder Scheme in its early days when we found that we far exceed the already high standards required for membership. We give very full support to our pups and their owners, including a health guarantee; lifetime backup and advice on all aspects of care and training by phone and email; home visits in some cases; puppy boarding at very low cost (when available); behavioural retraining for our puppies and their owners if needed; and much, much more.
We are delighted that a majority of owners still want to keep in touch for years after they collect their puppies. We take this as an endorsement of our breeding and our backup, and it has the added benefit of keeping us informed about the longterm health and personalities of the litters.
Juniperscar Adhara's success at Crufts 2013
Holly (Juniperscar Adhara) had a fabulous day at her first Crufts, coming a close third in the Novice ABC Agility. Daughter of our stud dog Jura (Treckers Vadis of Juniperscar) and bred here by us, Holly is the first agility dog trained by her owners Alan and Gill Smith, Congratulations!
Holly's runs are at 8 minutes on the Crufts Official Video of the jumping round, and at 33 minutes on the Crufts Official Video of the agility round. She was the only yellow labrador in the competition.
With the development of new genetic tests and our use of those tests across the board we now guarantee that all of the puppies we breed are safe for life from the genetic diseases PRA prcd, EIC, CNM (also called HMLR), and narcolepsy. All of these are known to be widespread problems in labradors. What they mean is explained further down the page and (soon) in more detail in our advice section.
Health, fitness and personality have always been the passion behind our breeding, and in 2011 we had the confirmation that we are right, as the issue of genetic diseases mushroomed for us in a few seconds of sheer horror. The way it unfolded is the stuff of nightmares, and not only because of the actual problem we imported. The explanation of the situation and what we have done about it is already being played out on one of the internet forums, and we have copied, pasted and edited a shortened but detailed case study version on a page in our advice section (CLICK HERE). Very briefly, when another breeder had to disperse because of a change in personal circumstances we were asked to take in a number of adult labradors including heavily pregnant bitches to ensure their safe future, and to home the puppies on their behalf. We tested them for the whole list above as we always do. The email came in with the results. Four double clicks later, we suddenly found ourselves in very unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory, with every one of the parents testing as a carrier for EIC. We knew straight away that a statistical 25% of the puppies would be EIC/EIC affected, and set about testing them all individually...
All of those puppies have been homed, with each of the owners knowing exactly what the status of their own puppy is and what it means, but a number of hopeful owners had to be declined. A large proportion of our puppy owners are people who want a dog for work or for companionship in their highly energetic leisure pursuits, and an EIC/EIC puppy would be highly unsuitable for them. We have asked all of the owners of all of the puppies in both litters to take part in a long-term health study to see what we can learn about the degree of disability the dogs may have. The information from the N/N clears and N/EIC carriers should allow valid comparisons, without the sudden realisation that some feature of the puppies might be nothing to do with EIC. The next questionnaire is about to be sent out to them. We also recruited an honorary veterinary advisor and an honorary training instructor to give extra support.
We are very pleased for people who intend to have one of our puppies to visit us a number of times, before or after the pups are whelped (born). This has a number of benefits: we can decide whether we think you should have one, based on suitability both ways; we can help you to prepare; and we can use you to help socialise the puppies.
On the other hand there are risks in letting you visit if we have uninoculated infant pups, and we ask you to cooperate fully to make it safe: we need you to arrive in clean clothes, and not to handle your own or other dogs after changing into them; we take you through a simple disinfection as soon as you arrive; we INSIST that you do not visit us as part of a tour of litters - bringing us infection from another place; and we will not allow your young children to pick the puppies up off the floor, as the injuries can be catastrophic if they drop one (so, clean but perhaps scruffy clothes so that you can all get down on the floor as a family with the puppies...)
We are also happy to talk with you if you are deciding whether or not to have a dog, including how to provide for it in your own circumstances and how to select a breeder and a puppy. We strongly advise you not to take your children "just to look" at any puppies, including ours. The pressure you will be under to have even a highly unsuitable one will be intense! Do feel free to use our puppy buying checklist to help you to ask breeders questions about health and socialisation, and don'tbe fobbed off by "noone tests for that" or similar answers! We have excellent relationships with other reputable breeders, and can point you in their direction if we do not have suitable puppies for you.
Many of "our owners" visit us several times in the weeks/months/years before their puppy is conceived, then continue to call in over the years. We will show you where the kettle is on your second visit, and train you how to use it on your third. All visits are intended to be informal and relaxed. There may well be other visitors here at the same time, existing owners as well as hopefuls. If you can't get on with them, we probably don't want you to be included in our owners' group! We have a simple understanding: you are welcome, but at times we may not be able to spend time with you. Occasionally we may have to tell you that you can't stay, so it is worth checking before you travel a distance to get here. If we are deeply involved with a training session or with the horses, you may have to be satisfied with a distant wave and coffee made by yourselves. We are a good starting point for a walk in the surrounding Lakeland countryside, not on the usual honeypot routes.
We do have some very "high profile" owners, and assure confidentiality and discretion. However, we do not sell puppies via agents or personal assistants to unknown people, whoever you are. We are happy to arrange closed, private visits if your circumstances make it desirable. We are not interested in gaining publicity from being associated with you in this way, though we might ask if we may publicise your dog's actual achievements if we know of them, like anyone else's. This might well be on the condition that you are not identified in any way.
All of this year's puppies are now whelped (born) and all of the first two litters are now homed. The third litter are all booked, though it is not impossible that someone will have a change in circumstances in the final few weeks before they leave. The final litter is having a lot of interest, and again will be fully booked soon. Details are below.
Almost all of our puppies from previous years seem to have settled in well and without problems, leaving us sighing with relief after the year when one had a poisoning incident, thankfully resolved by a fast trip to the veterinary hospital for a quality control check on the vet's bill insurance we send them all away with - do be careful everyone! Quite rightly the brand new first time owners rang us straight away for advice, which was to put the phone down on us and contact their vet immediately. One of 2008's puppies began to have repeated digestive infections a few months after joining her new family, leading to all sorts of health issues that seem to us to have their roots in nutrition. We advise all of our owners to continue with the top quality food we start them on, but also to be quite insistent with their vets to identify the cause of any problems irrespective of cost, which is another reason for keeping up the insurance after the policy we provide runs out.
We still have contact with almost all of our "QC" pups: Every year we keep a number of puppies for "Quality Control" purposes, and as prospective permanent members of our pack. These are raised and trained to meet our house-dog standards (no mess, no fuss, no damage...), be successful members of the domestic and the canine pack, and to be ready for formal training. We also monitor their physical development in detail, to check that our programme of breeding for health is definitely benefitting the next generation. Many defects are genetic in origin, and even the most healthy adults may carry recessive genes. Once we are certain that the puppies are of the highest quality, we make a decision about their future in terms of whether they are available for selected homes.
We have kept all three of Laurel's 2012 litter until now, and have tested all of them to help us to confirm our theory about the embedded health of our breeding programme. We have now decided which to allow to go to a QC home. The BVA tests have been highly unhelpful: all of them have the same total hip score of just 6, with 0 scoring elbows and clear eye tests. All are N/N clear of prcd PRA, EIC, CNM/HMLR and narcolepsy. Every one of them has fabulous health test results. The first one we decided to allow to leave is the one least likely to make a search dog: that is, she is the one who always does what she is told every time. (If that sounds strange, consider: what would happen if a dog obeyed its handler when wrongly called away from the scent of an injured person in the mountains?)
Gillean is a QC dog from the February 2008 litter. By 9 months months old, he became a full junior member of the pack and passed his first BVA test with perfect eyes. He was Xray hip assessed as "very good", but before he was a year old (the earliest this can be done officially). Sadly, this was not good enough for him to stay here to become one of our stud dogs, though it showed that he is set for a long active life without hip problems. Again with super parental health scores, his working / trialling background and an exceptionally patient outlook, he has become an excellent family dog. He has been chosen by a family living near us, enjoying his new life while we continue to monitor his health and character for our quality control purposes. He has the added double bonus of a country home and an aga, numbers 2 and 3 on his wish list. A great outcome! He stays with us regularly during family holidays, as do others of our puppies, especially infants who join their new families before the school summer holidays.
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Field Trial Winner Highhouse Rhyd
("Dell") (fox red (BBee)); hip 0/0; elbow 0; eyes clear; optigen clear of PRA
prcd, CNM clear, EIC clear, narcolepsy clear, proven sire.
Bred by us, Dell returned here to us to join our stud dogs, but still works regularly with his previous owner His photo is at the top of the page. To see him working here on the first day of his return CLICK HERE (file size 15MB ).
Treckers Vadis of Juniperscar ("Jura") (yellow (BBee)); hip 3/3; elbow 0; eyes clear, optigen clear of PRA prcd, CNM clear, EIC clear, narcolepsy clear, proven sire.
Grangemead Blade at Highhouse ("Bowie") (yellow (bbee)); hip 1/2; elbow 0; eyes clear, optigen clear of PRA prcd, CNM clear, EIC clear, narcolepsy clear, proven sire.
Grangemead Cannon at Highhouse ("Cairn") (chocolate (bbEe)); hip 2/4; elbow 0; eyes clear; optigen clear of PRA prcd, CNM clear, EIC clear, narcolepsy clear, proven sire.
Highhouse Rhyd ("Rush") (fox red (BBee)); hip 5/4; elbow 0; eyes clear; PRA prcd clear, CNM clear, EIC clear, narcolepsy clear, proven sire. Litter brother of FTW Highhouse Rhun.
Highhouse Ferto ("Ferto") (Black carrying chocolate (BbEE)); hip 4/2; elbow 0; eyes clear; PRA prcd clear, CNM clear, EIC clear, narcolepsy clear; proven sire; breathtaking field trialling pedigree. Spectacularly clever! We have also kept both of his litter sisters: both have hip scores of 3/3 and all of the other test results are the same as Ferto's. Clearly our health standards are now firmly embedded in their genes! His name - a good omen for a part time stud dog? - is derived from his sire's Hungarian background and his dam's Icelandic geological kennel name (Lon = lagoon). Ferto is a major lake in Hungary.
Croftonbar Midnight Gunner of Hartwoodhill ("Riley") (Black (BbEE)); hip 5/3; elbow 0; eyes clear; PRA prcd clear, CNM clear, EIC carrier, narcolepsy clear, proven sire. Available only to bitches who are N/N clear of EIC, by test result or by parentage. Riley now lives nearby, and may not be available at short notice.
No longer available: Tarnedge Nevada at Highhouse ("Bidean") (chocolate (bbEe)); hip 2/2; elbow 0; eyes clear, optigen clear of PRA prcd, CNM clear, EIC carrier, narcolepsy clear. Nevada's sire is litter brother to Cannon's ("Cairn's") dam. Nevada sired a number of puppies tested and clear of EIC as well as the rest of the diseases we can test for, including Fi (Highhouse Fionn), but he is no longer available as a stud dog. Six of his puppies who have reached maturity have been BVA tested and scored. All have had clear eyes, and zero elbows. Their hip scores are 0/0; 0/0; 2/2 (Fi); 2/2; 2/3 and 5/4. He has gone to a pet and agility home in Devon now that Cannon is a proven sire. We rather think that his offsprings' scores justify our policy of only breeding from the very best scoring parents!!!
We have published a guide to labrador colour genetics, and a table of puppy colours from bitches of different colour genetic makeup with our dogs: CLICK HERE. We can also quickly give an individual bitch's litter colours by email or phone: Contact Us
It is important that you understand that puppy breeding is an expensive and time consuming hobby, not a profit making exercise, if it is done to a high standard. All of our puppies are endorsed "R - progeny not eligible for registration". This means that you cannot breed from them and register the puppies unless we give our written permission to the Kennel Club to register them. Before we give that permission, we insist that we are shown the puppy's official BVA hip score, elbow score and clear eye test certificate. The hip score must be below 15 in total, and elbow score must be 0 or 1. In other words, the grown puppy has to approach the standard we set for ourselves for a breeding adult, which is a very high standard indeed. The various tests prove that the puppy is a good specimen, and that you have raised it carefully and avoided the accidental and environmental hazards that can damage even a genetically healthy pup. How else do you gain the experience to guide the new owners of your own puppies?
We have the same health and temperament requirements for other people's bitches using our stud dogs. We are very happy indeed to discuss the health testing and the reasons for it, and to guide you through all of the testing process. We will then advise you if you find that your bitch does not meet our standards, in terms of future plans; monitoring the health progress of any conditions found; and planning support for her if she has a progressive condition.
Bitches whose genetic disease status is not known may use our dogs provided that the conditions are recessive; our dog is N/N clear of any that are not known in the bitch; and the bitch owner understands the way these diseases are spread and agrees to take the same steps to prevent this that we do. We will not breed with any bitch who has a dominant genetic disease, which particularly includes hereditary cataracts (HC) as we feel that this is highly irresponsible. This means that any bitch must have a current BVA eye test at the time of mating. It also means annual eye testing for all of our own dogs from puppyhood to old age. Until a genetic test is found for HC, one eye test as a young adult is not enough to declare a dog clear for life, though some breeders wrongly think that it is. The onset of HC may occur at almost any age, and adults may pass the disease to their puppies before they show any signs themselves. Even with the same level of care as ours, it would take many years before the disease is wiped out in the labrador retriever population, and we are hoping that a DNA test will be developed soon...
Other Genetic Diseases
There is rightly a lot of worry about labradors with hereditary blindness caused by prcd PRA ("progressive rod cone dystrophy - Progressive Retinal Atrophy"). A genetic test has now become available for this. As you would expect of us, we tested every one of our labradors at New Year 2008, at a cost of almost £1000. This began our programme of breeding the disease out. We are delighted with the results we have achieved.
At Christmas 2008 we spent another £1500, and had the pack DNA checked
with the newly available tests for: EIC exercise induced collapse, which is
what it says; CNM centro nuclear myopathy, also called HMLR hereditary myopathy
of labrador retriever, which is a horrible wasting disease; narcolepsy,
which causes a dog to lose consciousness as a result of excitement. All of our
adults came back with normal/normal (N/N or Clear) results for all of these
tests. Since then all of our imported dogs and potential QC puppies are tested.
Based on this we guarantee that none of our puppies born since 2007 will ever suffer from prcd PRA blindness, CNM/HMLR, EIC or narcolepsy in their whole lifetimes.
Breeders: we are happy to advise on testing and to help you to preserve your bloodlines with our clear stud dogs of working and FTCh pedigree. (Strict terms regarding the welfare of the puppies apply).
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Every year, some people have first choice after ourselves from our litters, having booked in advance. If you wish us to contact you with litter information when we have finalised our plans, please email us with the sex and colour you are interested in, and any other information you would like us to have.
However, these days most of our litters are at least 50% prebooked. As the first to book has first pick, we advise you to get in touch well in advance.
Most of our 2015 breeding is underway, with one litter due at the end of January. If you want one of our 2015 puppies , you need to contact us NOW. We have a few bookings for 2016 and 2017... Our health testing standards for breeding: (CLICK HERE)
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|Flynn (Threevalleys Red Rum)||Mero (Highhouse Mero)|
Flynn X Mero. Flynn is a working dog, and both he and Mero have 3/3 hip scores. Both also have our usual health profile of 0 elbows, clear eyes, and are N/N clear of all of prcd PRA, EIC, and CNM/HMLR. She is also clear of narcolepsy. Black and Yellow puppies. Due to whelp in the last week of January.
Photo © Janette Sayers
|Fynn (Laurinco Red Flame of Hollowgate)||Blaze (Highhouse Gwenfro)|
Fynn (external stud dog) X Blaze, hopefully all Fox Red puppies. Due to whelp in March (subject to pregnancy confirmation). Fynn has 1/1 hips, Blaze 2/3. Both also have our usual health profile of 0 elbows, clear eyes, and are N/N clear of all of prcd PRA, EIC, CNM/HMLR. He is tested N/N clear of SD2 dwarfism, she is N/N clear of narcolepsy.
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|Dell (Highhouse Rhun)||Bana (Highhouse Glendullan)|
Dell X Bana. This is a very special litter indeed. Dell is a Field Trial Winner, and both he and Bana have 0/0 hip scores. Both also have our usual health profile of 0 elbows, clear eyes, and are N/N clear of all of prcd PRA, EIC, CNM/HMLR and narcolepsy - perfect health profiles. Black and Yellow puppies. Due to whelp in March (subject to pregnancy confirmation) This is a repeat, as last year's puppies were amazing. Two owners reported that they were retrieving properly at 9 weeks old...
Also, ONE of the following, not yet conceived and likely to whelp in May(ish)
|Ferto (Highhouse Ferto)||Fi (Highhouse Fionn)|
Ferto X Fi. Black and Chocolate. Ferto's hips are 4/2, Fi's 2/2. Again both also have our usual health profile of 0 elbows, clear eyes, and are N/N clear of all of prcd PRA, EIC, CNM/HMLR and narcolepsy.
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|Cairn (Grangemead Cannon at Highhouse)||Seil (Highhouse Seil)|
Cairn X Seil. Chocolate. Cairn s hips 4/2, Seil s 4/4. Without wishing to bore you, both also have our usual health profile of 0 elbows, clear eyes, and are N/N clear of all of prcd PRA, EIC, CNM/HMLR and narcolepsy
We have had a heavy stream of enquiries over the last few weeks as well as prior bookings. We expect most of the puppies to be booked very soon. We advise you to contact us immediately if you want a puppy from us this year. We also have a number of bookings for 2016 and 2017 puppies, so we repeat our advice to you to contact us pretty soon if you would like a pup from us in the future!
Email us for full information, including details of their upbringing and the backup we give you once they leave us. Note that we are normally nowhere near the phone, and email is almost always best.
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Having spent their first few weeks in the heart of family life, the puppies leave the kitchen once they are strong enough, around 4 weeks old, living in the stables and outside in the sunshine until homed or ready to start house training. By this time, they are well used to the sights, sounds and smells of humans, including the stream of visitors through the kitchen. This prepares them for being house dogs, therapy dogs, assistance dogs, gun dogs, guide dogs, and so on. The constant stimulation keeps their brains engaged, producing dogs with a foundation of intelligence and adaptability. Fireworks, shotguns, traffic and helicopters have little startle value by comparison with Dom's DIY attempts!!!
In 2008 we went on holiday, leaving full instructions behind for our dog sitter. When we got home, he announced that Jura "must have" got in with the three bitches in season. "They were whining" when he came up to the netting of the secure area we had set up... Three litters born in a week is the stuff of nightmares!!!
In the wild, bitches cooperate by nursing each others' puppies. This increases the chance of some pups surviving even if a bitch dies. We suspect that this is also why some domesticated bitches have "hysterical" (false) pregnancies: a junior wild bitch who may not be allowed to breed with the dominant bitch's mate would appear pregnant and would produce milk that the real puppies could suckle on. Domestic bitches will also nurse each others' if they live in a pack and whelp at approximately the same time. Tress is a compulsive puppy nurse, and can't help jumping into the puppy garden when she is supposed to have lost all interest ages ago! Maths time: if a bitch has 10 teats and no more milk and there are 27 puppies, how many can she feed? how many will she try to feed?
It is important that you understand that puppy breeding is an expensive and time consuming hobby, not a profit making exercise, if it is done to a high standard. All of our puppies are endorsed "R - progeny not eligible for registration". This means that you cannot breed from them and register the puppies unless we give our written permission to the Kennel Club to register them. Before we give that permission, we insist that we are shown the puppy's official BVA hip score, elbow score and clear eye test certificate. The hip score must be below 15 in total, and elbow score must be 0 or 1. In other words, the grown puppy has to approach the standard we set for ourselves for a breeding adult, which is a very high standard. The various tests prove that the puppy is a good specimen, and that you have raised it carefully and avoided the accidental and environmental hazards that can damage even a genetically healthy pup. How else do you gain the experience to guide the new owners of your own puppies?
We give you as much support as you need, including rehoming help in exceptional cases, as well as the guarantee. In the last ten years we have had two rehoming distress calls, one resulting in our urgent, active intervention: because of sudden family health problems, one of our 2006 puppies immediately needed a very carefully selected new home. We gave him a temporary home with our pack, and asked our many site-watchers: "If you can offer him a suitable home, please contact us immediately." We also emailed our entire owners list.
Yellow dog; 15 months old; neutered; healthy; very well socialised; reliably house trained; loves children; friendly; obedient; much loved; family extremely upset to have to lose him; litter brother of two trainee guide dogs; Jura / Boreal 2006. We had had a steady stream of proud emails since he left us in June 2006.
Three weeks later, we had a happy ending. He went to a really good new home with a family who have one of his older half-brothers. We still offer many thanks to all who contacted us with offers or suggestions of a new home following our email alert or having seen him on our webpage. You made his last owners feel much better in their unhappy time - and we still feel pretty good about your response, too.
It is extremely unusual for us to take a dog back (indeed for anyone to have to part with one!). Our lifetime backup for all of our puppies helps most owners to avoid the difficulties and behaviours that put the relationship at risk. In the rare cases where it goes wrong, we give as much help and advice as you need, bearing in mind that the welfare of your dog is your enduring responsibility. We do not just offer an easy way out for those who change their minds or lifestyle, and are careful in our choice of owners: when we meet you we will decide whether we trust you to have one of our puppies.
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