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Buddies Breeders – Sandra Stevens

We recently caught up with Buddies breeder Sandra Stevenson. Sandra, who is based in Ayrshire, Scotland, has held her ‘Steelriver’ affix for 30 years.

We asked Sandra some questions to find out more about her and her breed of choice.

What is your breed of choice?

‘My main breed is the Flatcoated Retriever although I have also previously owned and bred Welsh Springer Spaniels. Too.’

How Long have you been breeding for?

‘As a child, my family owned and bred Jack Russell Terriers, so I was involved in that respect from the age of 10. As a breeder in my own right, I have owned Flatcoats for 31 years and bred my first litter in 1993.

Why this breed?

 ‘I can’t imagine not having Flatcoats in my life. it was instant attraction from the first time I met some in person. I was aware of the breed previously, but from that first meeting in person, the quest was on to find a suitable puppy. They are an attractive breed, beautiful to look at and they are very people orientated dogs. Their joy of life is infectious. Flatcoats never have a bad day and try to make you feel the same regardless of what may be going on in your life. Their natural Gundog traits make them very versatile and able to enjoy a variety of activities with their owners in addition to being the very best companions.’

What is the best thing about the breed?

‘Definitely their temperament. The breed standard describes them as ‘confident and kindly’, which I think pretty much says it all.’

Buddies Breeders - Sandra StevensWhat is the worst thing about the breed?

‘Unfortunately, they are more predisposed to cancers than some breeds, so the early loss of a much-loved friend can be devastating. However, most Flatcoats do live long and healthy lives despite this.

What is the best thing about being a breeder?

‘I think the anticipation of what might be when planning, whelping and rearing a litter, and all the new friends made when puppies find their new families.’

What is worst thing about being a breeder?

‘There are always occasions when things don’t go to plan, the disappointments are inevitable but also part of the journey.  But I find the most stressful part of breeding is the responsibility of finding the right homes for the puppies you have chosen to bring into the world, especially in a breed which can produce large litters and where supply often exceeds demand.’

If you could have any other breed, what would it be? 

‘I have owned other breeds, Jack Russell’s, Irish Red and White Setters and Welsh Springer Spaniels but find I can live without them. I have thought about what I might have when and if Flatcoats become too much for me to manage and I would probably have a Cocker Spaniel, possibly even an American cocker with the coat trimmed down.

How many litters do you have per year?

‘I never have more than 1 litter per year and often not even that. I only breed for myself so each litter is planned with a view to having a puppy to keep when I am able to have another and to keep my direct breeding line going.’

Any other info or achievements you would like us to share?

‘I have previously been top U.K. Breeder in Flatcoats and despite not being a prolific producer of puppies, I have bred or owned 10 Flatcoat champions and 1 Welsh Springer champion plus a number of other CC winners. I have won Best of Breed at Crufts with a home bred champion and also judged the breed.’

A big thank you to Sandra for sharing her love and knowledge of Flatcoat Retrievers with us.

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