Pam in Yorkshire with Inca who she imported in 2014

Pam in Yorkshire with Inca who she imported in 2014

While the Stabyhoun remains a rare breed in the UK, and to ensure that we build a genetically diverse population of dogs, the UKSA facilitates the import of Stabyhoun puppies from abroad; mostly from the Netherlands and Denmark. Below you will find a list of the most common questions and answers about importing a puppy to the UK. Once you have been allocated a puppy, you will also be invited to join our private Facebook group for members. Here you will find many who have previously imported and are happy to share their experiences. If you have any questions that we have not answered below, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Q. When can my puppy travel to the UK?

Your puppy will need to have had a Rabies vaccination which  vets give at the age of either 12 weeks (typically in Denmark) and 3 months (typically in the Netherlands). Your puppy must not have this vaccination before the age of 12 weeks as it will then be considered invalid at the border control in Calais. After the Rabies vaccination, you have to wait 21 days, with the day of the vaccination counting as day 0. So either at the age of 15 or 16 weeks old, your puppy can travel to England.

Q. What are the current Pet Passport rules?

Since 2014, a vet certified to issue a pet passport has to complete the following sections in the pet passport:

  • Details of ownership. This will originally be the breeder as they make the passport and therefore sign it. On one of the following pages, you can then complete your details as the new owner before travel.
  • Description of the pet along with identification details (chip number)
  • Date of the Rabies vaccination (not to be given before the age of 12 weeks and often at 3 months)
  • Details of the vet issuing the passport (stamp with address and contact details, as well as a signature)
  • Details of the puppy’s final tapeworm treatment (administered 1-5 days before travel – no sooner or later)

Q. What shall I transport my puppy in on the way home from the Netherlands?

Most people prefer to transport their new puppy in a crate or custom carrier. Lining the bottom with absorbent puppy pads or an old towel will absorb any accidents on the way home, and makes the crate easy to clean in the event of accidents or car sickness. Placing a familiar blanket or toy in the crate with the puppy helps provide comfort. A 36-inch (medium) crate will be large enough at this age for a puppy weighing anywhere between 8-14kg. By comparison, an adult male Stabyhoun will fit in a 42-inch crate. You can find examples of crates that are specifically practical for driving here.

Some people prefer to place their puppy in a safety harness on the back seat so they can sit next to them in the journey. Bear in mind that it is a long journey so your puppy needs to be able to lie down comfortably without too many distractions. Talk to your breeder about what the puppy is used to, and what your plans are so they can practice with your puppy beforehand.

At home, crates should be a safe and lovely place for your dog to sleep, and for short-term confinement purposes (such as when you go shopping).  They should not be used for long-term confinement unless advised by a qualified behaviourist or by a vet for medical purposes, and never as a punishment. The crate should have a warm and cosy feel but at the same time should be big enough for your dog to stand up, sit, lay down and turn around in once fully grown.  Some crates come with a spacer or divider which you can use to reduce or increase the area the puppy actually uses inside the crate during the early days when they are growing.  Most websites will provide guidelines as to which size crate is suitable for which breed. For the Stabyhoun, a crate which is recommended for either a Springer Spaniel or a Labrador if you would like to go a little bigger will be fine.

Q.How much does a Stabyhoun puppy from abroad cost?

Stabyhoun puppies from the Netherlands currently cost €1100-€1300. You then have to add the cost of an additional puppy vaccination, Rabies vaccination, a passport and the final Tapeworm treatment, along with food and care for the additional 8 weeks. Typically, this ends up being a maximum of €1750, but this is something you should agree with your breeder from the outset (the UKSA will guide you both as to what is the current norm).

In Denmark, the basic price of a puppy is between 10,000-12,000 DKK and the total price including all vaccinations, worming treatments, passport, insurance and food is in the region of 14,000-15,000 DKK. Puppies are allowed their Rabies vaccination at 12 weeks so you will usually be able to collect your puppy a week earlier from Denmark than from the Netherlands.

If you and your breeder agree that they will take your puppy to early socialisation classes, this is a separate cost to be paid for by the future owner.

Do bear in mind that some of the additional treatments, you would have had to pay for in the UK as well, such as the second puppy vaccination, food and so on. Breeders make almost no extra money from the puppies they export which is worth noting given the huge amount of extra effort they have to invest in raising your puppy. This is something we are always very grateful for.

Q.When do I have to pay for my puppy from abroad?

Typically, the UKSA suggests that the basic puppy price is paid when the puppy is 8 weeks old, after which point it technically belongs to its new English family – YOU. The rest can be paid before or on collection. BUT this is ultimately something to be agreed between the breeder and future owner. Some simply ask that the full price is paid right at the end.

Visiting Jelske in Holland before collection

Visiting Jelske in Holland before collection

Q. Can I visit the puppy before I collect it?

Absolutely! Some breeders specifically ask that buyers visit their litter before the pups go to their new home, but this is not always a requirement. If it is, you will be told at the time the puppy is offered to you. Typically, Stabyhoun puppies are allocated to their new owners between the age of 5-7 weeks. It is up to you and the breeder whether you want to visit before or after that point. Some prefer to meet the breeder and the litter before it is decided who gets which one. Others like to visit once they know which puppy is theirs so they can get to know them.

Q. How many breaks should I take on my way home from the Netherlands/how frequently should we stop?

As a minimum, you will be stopping at the Pet Control in Calais to present the puppy and its passport to the officials for inspection. There is a safe enclosure where your puppy can stretch its legs and relieve itself, but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t want to run around much! Every significant change and new environment can be a little stressful for a puppy who has never been away from home, which can have the effect of suspending bodily functions. Because service stations and motorway stops aren’t generally very calm and quiet, the fewer stops you make, the better for the puppy typically. Take your lead from the puppy; if he or she is asleep, there is generally no need to stop.

Q. How long should I expect to spend at the pet control at the Eurotunnel in Calais?

Since you will have made certain that all requirements for the import of your puppy have been met, you can expect to spend minimal time at Pet Control – often 15 minutes or less. The actual passport and puppy inspection only takes a minute or two and there are rarely queues of more than a handful of dogs.

Q. How easy it is to bond with a 15-week old puppy?

Those who have imported through the UKSA say ‘very easy’.  This is a breed that adores human attention and companionship, so your puppy will most likely seek you and your family out instantly and constantly. Of course, every puppy is different – the same would be the case if you bought an 8-week old puppy bred in the UK.

Take it easy for a few days in terms of introducing too many new experiences. Spend time at home and in the garden while your puppy gets to know you before setting off on new adventures, puppy classes and so on. But rest assured that they will love you as much as a puppy that is brought home at 8 weeks.

Q. Can I take the ferry home with my puppy from the Netherlands?

The UKSA does not typically recommend the 12-hour Rotterdam-Hull ferry crossing. We feel that a pup recently separated from its family should have the comfort of company, which is not possible on this journey. The puppy should be able to smell, hear and possibly even see you constantly throughout the journey to its new home. This is, however, your decision although some breeders might also have a view on the matter so make sure you all agree on how the puppy will travel to its new home. The Harwich – Hoek van Holland ferry is a shorter crossing at 8 hours, and has kennel facilities which you can spend as much of the crossing in as you like, as well as a dedicated area outside on the deck for dogs. There is also CCTV from the cabin. Some ferry companies have recently starting providing “Pet Friendly Cabins.”

Q. How likely is my puppy to have motion sickness?

Motion sickness is quite common in puppies and not uncommon in older dogs, though they typically outgrow a tendency to car sickness by the time they reach one year of age.  You can minimise the likelihood of motion sickness by ensuring that the puppy does not eat too much right before you set off, and by not feeding it too much (if anything) during the journey. Most pups won’t want to eat during this time anyway – just make sure they are offered a drink regularly. Talk to your breeder about asking the vet for an anti-sickness tablet IF they tell you your puppy suffers from car sickness.

Q. Which pet insurance companies cover the Stabyhoun, and when can I insure it?

You can’t insure your Stabyhoun puppy with a UK insurer until they arrive in the country. If you want to make sure your puppy is covered, ask your breeder to take out a policy from 8-16 weeks and then cancel it (at your cost of course).  Several UK insurers now name the Stabyhoun as a breed including Agria, The Kennel Club, Petplan, Pet Protect and Bought by Many. Many other insurance companies will insure the Stabyhoun but will usually quote based on a similar breed (Tesco will quote for an English Springer Spaniel for example).  When insurance companies quote for certain breeds, it is based on known problems with the breed, where they live, and any pre-existing conditions. This can mean that companies that will use a comparable breed may not be giving a fair quote, as historical health problems in one breed may not be a fair comparison with this one. Do shop around and find the best quote for you. It is recommended that you take out a Lifetime Policy with any dog, regardless of age, breed or size. Hopefully, your Stabyhoun will stay healthy his whole life, but this way you will have a higher level of cover and future assurance that whatever might happen, you will have the best cover possible for your new best friend!

Q. How much ongoing contact will we have with the breeder until we collect our puppy?

This depends on both you and the breeder but in our experience, families in the UK speak to their Dutch and Danish breeders at least weekly. Facebook is great, as is Skype for some live puppy action. Don’t be afraid to write and ask for updates. The more contact you have, and the more interest you show in your puppy, the more enthusiastic and confident will your breeder be that their extra efforts are worth it.

Q. How do I update the puppy’s microchip details?

You need to register your puppy’s details with one of the UK databases such as PetLog once they have arrived. See how you do it here.

Q. Can I bring in dog food from abroad through customs?

Yes, we have never had any trouble in this regard. If your puppy has been weaned on a raw food diet, you should not have a problem finding a suitable match in the UK and stock up beforehand.

Q. Which books should I read about puppy training before or after I get my puppy?

If you are interested in reading about training your puppy, and various other aspects of dog training, the following books are highly recommended by several organisations including the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and IMDT. Some are heavier reading than others, and some are available to view for free on Google Books. You can find some more helpful tips and advice on force free crate training HERE

  • 101 Doggy Dilemmas by Tony Cruse
  • Train Your Dog: Teach Yourself – Association of Pet Dog Trainers
  • Train Your Dog Like a Pro – Jean Donaldson
  • Reaching the Animal Mind – Karen Pryor
  • Dominance – Fact or Fiction? – Barry Eaton
  • How Dogs Learn – Burch and Bailey
  • Clever Dog – Understand What Your Dog is Telling You – Sarah Whitehead
  • Puppies Problems – The Good, The Bad and the Downright Ugly – Patsy Parry

Q. When can I Introduce a new diet to my puppy?

It is recommended that you keep your puppy on the same diet for a little while after they arrive home so that you don’t change too many things, too quickly. The journey, leaving mum and littermates plus a change of diet straight away may put a little too much stress on the pup to start with.  After a couple of weeks, you can consider changing the food to whatever you prefer. If your puppy is fed on a raw food/BARF diet however, there are numerous suppliers in the UK that will be a suitable match straight away. Experience is that pups adjust easily from one brand of raw to another.

Q. How can I help my puppy settle into his new home? 

Moving to a new home away from mum and siblings is a big deal for any puppy, but there are lots of things you can do to help him settle in. Do bear in mind that some puppies will settle into a new environment quicker than others; this depends on their personality. But rest assured that even a 15 or 16-week old puppy can and will make themselves right at home with you fairly quickly.

Try to get a rough idea of the puppy’s routine from the breeder: When they have been fed, when they tend to go toilet, when they sleep and play etc. Stick to this as much as possible for the first couple of days, and then slowly begin to move over to your own family’s routine.

When the puppy first arrives, allow them to explore a bit and show them where their bed is. You will most likely bring back a blanket with your puppy with their scent on it. Putting this in their bed will give them something familiar to snuggle in.

Encourage your puppy to chew or play with the ‘right’ things from the start such as solid puppy toys and natural dog chews. By providing him with his own toys and by puppy-proofing (and tidying everything else away) where ever possible until your puppy learns a good ‘leave it’, you can avoid unwanted behavious (and destruction).

Introduce existing adult dogs to the puppy gently, and try to keep everything as calm as possible. Make sure the adult dog has an area they can retreat to, to get away from puppy antics when they need quiet time, and vice versa.

Q. Should we have food/water/blanket in the car for the journey home?

It is a good idea to have these things available on the way home.  Plenty of blankets in the car for the puppy to lay on, and a few puppy wee pads to protect the upholstery is also a good idea! Water should always be to hand and offered regularly. You can carry some food with you but some puppies may get car sick and most will not want to eat. It’s always worth taking some just in case you get stuck in traffic and the trip ends up being longer than anticipated.

Q. What toys are great to start with?

Shopping for toys for your new puppy is excellent fun! Which ones before the most popular depends on the personality of the puppy, but to start with, a few puppy safe chew toys that they can mouth and teeth on will be good. KONGS are especially useful as you can stuff them with food.  Also, the odd soft toy and a small tug toy can be good but do supervise play with any stuffed toys or toys that have squeakers in – if your puppy enjoys shredding soft toys then please be careful. Another alternative is stuff-less toys. The reason is in the name!

You could also make a few homemade toys for your puppy; an empty plastic water bottle with the lid and plastic ring removed and filled with treats makes for a great interactive toy for puppies that like puzzles.

Once you get to know your puppy you can go shopping together for some more toys – the puppy will get the benefit of doing some socialisation in the local pet store and you can have fun picking out toys together!

Q. Will my puppy have a collar and lead when we collect it? What size should we buy?

Your puppy from the Netherlands will need a collar and a lead for the extra time they live with their breeder. You can either buy something you like and send it by post, or let the breeder get something they think is suitable. Expect to agree an amount they can spend on this.

Most pet shops sell puppy collars that have a clip fastening and are adjustable so they can grow with your puppy (for a while at least!). A soft nylon webbing type is best at this early age. Shopping for your puppy’s next new collar and lead is an exciting and wonderful thing! But there is no rush; you can do it once they have arrived.

Remember… puppies grow! So don’t splash out on that really expensive leather, rhine stone encrusted collar just yet. Wait until your beautiful puppy is a fully grown dog and then buy the really good stuff. A well-fitting collar should be loose enough that you can slide your fingers underneath it and all the way around the dog’s neck, but tight enough that it will not slip over the ears should the dog pull backwards while on a walk.

A harness is also recommended for walking, as this takes the pressure away from the neck, vocal cords, trachea and oesophagus if the dog should pull. It is, however, not a substitute for training. By using a no-pull harness where the lead attaches to the dog’s chest, you encourage them to turn around when they pull.

An ID tag worn on a collar is a legal requirement in the UK. It must have the owner’s surname and address on it, and of course it is a good idea to have one or two phone numbers on as well, so that if your dog goes missing you can be reunited as quickly as possible. It is not advisable to have your dog’s name on the tag. Bring a read-printed tag with you, with your phone number on for the journey JUST in case the puppy gets lost en-route (this has never happened before).

Q. What sort of puppy class should I book to start with, and how do I find it?

The Stabyhoun does really well with positive reinforcement training. There is absolutely no need for punishment-based training so take your time before your puppy arrives to find a kind and knowledgeable trainer. For a guaranteed positive approach, look at the Association of Pet Dog Trainers UK (APDT UK) website and Institute of Modern Dog Trainers (IMDT) website. Both allow you to search for a registered trainer in your area who is bound by a Code of Conduct and regularly assessed for up to date knowledge and skills.

It is always best to go along and observe a few classes before you get your puppy. If a trainer will not allow you to observe, or you do not like what you see when you get there… Walk away!

It is advisable to stay well away from any trainer who talks about Dominance and Pack Leadership, or Balanced Training. Or anyone who makes use of choke chains, shock collars, spray collars, water bottles, rattle bottles, training discs or any other equipment that is designed to scare or startle your dog.

Look for trainers that use rewards, play, clickers and toys as a way to motivate and teach dogs and you’re on to a winner!