Here at Sweethaven, we raise breeds that are best served by living in a home with a loving family. We are committed to our promise to never have our dogs living in kennels!
Most of our breeding dogs live here with us, however, to be able to continue to breed for exceptional health, temperament and beautiful coats and colors, it is necessary for us to retain and bring in diverse genetics through new puppies every year!
This could potentially lead to too many dogs in our home than we are able to properly care for and give the amount of time they need to feel fully loved and appreciated. It is vitally important to us that every dog of Sweethaven gets the life they deserve, and thus, we utilize the Guardian Family model to benefit everyone involved.
Interested? Keep Reading!
How it works
The puppy/dog lives with you and becomes a member of your family, while we retain official breeding rights for a contracted amount of time.
A few times a year the dog will come to us for breeding and birthing, and will be here for about 8 weeks.
Once the dog is finished with their breeding career, they will be spayed/neutered at our expense and official ownership rights will be transferred to you.
As stated above, we simply reject the idea that dogs need to be raised in a kennel situation to be part of a professional breeding program. Many, if not most professional breeders house their breeding dogs in kennels. This is the fastest and most economical way to house dogs in a breeding program, however, our primary responsibility is to the well being of the dogs...not the bottom dollar.
Housing dogs in kennels, no matter how nice and clean they are, is still condemning that dog to a live a life largely devoid of the love and stimulation that it deserves. This is not only sad for that parent dog, but can affect the temperament of puppies as well.
If we honestly reject the idea of Puppy Mills, then we should embrace the idea of responsible, ethical breeders and their Guardian Families! In our opinion, there is no better way to continue to add quality genetics while maintaining our standards of happy, loving family environments for our dogs!
Here are some answers to our most frequently asked questions about the program.
How much do I pay for the puppy or dog?
~Nothing. In fact, we typically will gift our Guardian Families with cash, gift cards or dog supplies every time the dog comes back here to have puppies or a male comes to sire puppies!
If I become a Guardian Family, will the dog or puppy be mine?
~ Eventually, yes. We will retain legal ownership of the puppy/dog until the contracted amount of litters have been born. At that time, we will have them spayed/neutered and transfer legal ownership to you.
How often does the dog
have to come to Sweethaven?
~Females will typically have to come
to Sweethaven about four times per
year. Twice for breeding and twice for
having and raising the puppies.
Males will come to Sweethaven for
only a few days at a time, but it can be
many more times per year, so they need to be
How long does the female dog stay with you for breeding and raising puppies?
~She will come to Sweethaven while in heat to get bred. This visit is typically for about 3-10 days. She will then return home to you for most of the pregnancy, which is 63 days.
She will then come back to Sweethaven to settle into her nursery suite about 7 days prior to her due date, and stay with us until she has weaned her puppies and her milk has mostly dried up. Typically about 6-8 weeks.
Is it hard on the mommas to leave their family to give birth?
~No. They may have a day or two of confusion, but we pay special attention to mommas when they arrive, and make them as comfortable as possible! In addition, the week leading up to and especially the few days before and during delivery, their instinct kicks in and they are in the "mom-zone". They are thinking of little else except the birth, and after the puppies arrive, they care for nothing else in the world for a few weeks!
It is really amazing.
Can I come and visit them while they are there?
~Typically no. Our nursery is comprised of several private suites for mommas, but in one large open room. Having strangers come in is not only distressing to the other mommas, it is dangerous to the new puppies being raised here.
We do send photos and updates!
Do I need to treat my dog differently during pregnancy?
~Not really. Sometimes they experience a bit of "morning sickness" and need to be enticed to eat, but do not need any special food or supplements. They occasionally will eat about 25% more during the last three weeks of pregnancy, though not always.
We do ask that they not be taken to places where they will be in contact with other dogs for the duration of the pregnancy due to the potential for viruses that can be lethal to the puppies.
Who pays for all regular dog care?
~The Guardian Family pays for all normal vet care, food, toys etc. Anything that would be a part of normal pet ownership falls under the responsibility of the Guardian Family.
Health insurance for a dog is very affordable, and we highly recommend it.
All health tests and breeding related supplies and healthcare will be paid by Sweethaven.
What happens if the dog gets injured or sick while in the care of the Host Family?
~Again, We HIGHLY recommend health insurance on a the pup. Any injuries or illnesses will be the Guardian families' responsibly, as that is a cost of pet ownership. It is very easy to drop over a thousand dollars on just ONE emergency vet bill, and Dog health insurance is very affordable.
If the dog/puppy is sick or injured and you are unable to pay for care, we will, of course get the dog/puppy the treatment that it needs, however, we will also take the dog/puppy back into our care after that. Part of having a dog is making sure you are prepared to pay for medical care, should the need arise.
How many times will she be bred?
~ Typically, our girls have retired from breeding by age 4 or so. After the last one, we will have her spayed and turn official ownership over to you! The total number of litters will depend on various factors such as what age she started breeding, how many puppies she whelps, how great/not great of a mother is she and many, many other factors. In general, though, at Sweethaven, we breed our dogs far less times than many breeders, and retire them earlier than most.
Can Sweethaven take back the dog?
~ Legally, if a term of the contract is broken, then yes we can. That is never our goal. We place Guardian puppies with the intent that this will be YOUR dog for the lifetime of the dog.
Our goal is for each and every dog in our program to have the best and most loving environment possible. That being said, we do have specific requirements for training, communication and making the dog available for breeding/testing. We are very clear on our requirements and regularly send out updates and requests for information for Guardian Families - because we understand that life happens and it is easy to forget to check in.
What are some of the requirements?
~You must must own your home, have a securely fenced yard, and not have any other intact dogs on the premises. We also do not allow Guardian dogs to go to dog parks or doggie daycare, as the risk for injury and disease is too high.
~We require dogs use ONLY seresto collars for fleas and tick and Heartguard Plus for heartworm.
~We require all families train the dog and achieve the AKC Good Citizen Award by the age of 12 months old. We also will request video updates on training as you progress through it. We advocate advanced training for ALL puppies born here, and hope this would be a goal of yours whether a dog were purchased or placed as part of a Guardian Family Agreement.
~It will be the Guardian Family's responsibility to transport the dog to Sweethaven as requested. If we are unable to find a time that you can transport them here, you will be required to pay our transporter to pick up the dog and bring them here. Time is of the essence when it comes to breeding, as we have only a very small window during a heat cycle. We do try to give advanced notice and be as flexible as possible.
~ Commit to twice yearly vet exams and always notify us of any changes or recommendations by your veterinarian. We like to come together to make important decisions for our Guardian Dogs, but all final decisions for every dog lies with us. Commit to always send Sweethaven all vet records immediately following every visit for our records, answer our monthly "check-in" emails promptly and follow any other recommendations that come up.
~Commit to feeding only foods and treat approved by Sweethaven.
~Demonstrate the financial means to care for a dog.
~Live within a reasonable driving distance (several hours) of our farm in Lafayette Alabama. Male guardian dogs must live within 60 minutes of our farm.
Fill out our application by going to the JotForm at that link below!
We will get back to you as soon as we can. Please be patient!
We do place Guardian pups every year, but it can be months before we have one available, and we take a lot of time to view applications and do interviews.
If you have filled out the application and have not heard back from us in 4 weeks, do send us a reminder! Things can get tossed to the bottom of the pile when we have pups!