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The history of Domaine d'Haïsha

Why "Domaine d'Haïsha" ? - Our family - Our first dog - First memories from a long serie - Kennel history summary - What are we meaning by "family breeding" ? - Our main concern : the health Another very important point : the temperament - To not forget, the beauty and the respect of the breed standard - Breeding, a compromises succession - Our puppies - The Irish Water and the American Cocker

What are we meaning by "family kennel" ?

We are neither the private people who breeds his litter in his kitchen (but of course, we passed by that stage too), nor the "breeder" who produce 100 or 200 puppies a year.


Our kennel is approved by the Belgian Ministry of "Classes Moyennes & Agriculture".

We are members of the Belgian English Cocker Club, the Jagdspaniel Klub (Germany), the Spaniel Club Français (France), the Cocker Club in Luxembourg, the Irish Water Spaniels Clubs in Finland and in England, the Syndicat d'Elevage Canin de Liège.

We have 25 dogs, some are young, some are old, some cannot or are not able to breed, some are males who don't take part at breeding anymore because they don't give the desired type, ...


Some people could think : "25 dogs that's too much, that's doubtful, too big kennel" ...


First, and I take a general case, not a particular case : some people can have only 3 dogs but in very bad condition, not well feeded, leaving alone, and some other people can have 25 dogs and spend 100 % of their time with them, to take care of them, to clean the kennels twice a day, to trim them so they are all clean and well in their body, to socialize the puppies, take the adults out, comfort the mothers when whelping, at any hour of the days and nights, to get up early 365 days a year, never have a real day off, no holidays, ...  But also advice the possibly future owners, and try to be as available as possible if a problem occurs in the life of the dog, but also to aswer to their questions, ...


That kind of breeders, what we are, doesn't complain about their life, of course, because they choosed it and they are doing that by passion and love, but they cannot tolerate that one can insinuate that, if they have such a number of dogs, these dogs couldn't be well...


Some people could react at the name "kennel", because a lot of people are thinking that dogs living in kennels are not happy.  When you have 25 dogs, there are some hierarchies to respect,  try to let 25 people with each one his own temperament in the same room 24h/24 and see what's happen, and you'll understand.

Of course, we have some dogs in our house (9 dogs are living all the time with us) but 25, it's a lot.  Yes, some other structures are necessary when you want to breed and that you exceeded a certain number of dogs, for cohabitation, hygiene reasons, etc ...



When you want to breed and build your own line, that's not with 3 dogs that you can succeed; of course, you begin with 2 or 3 dogs, you kept progeny from these dogs, then you see that it's not the type that you wanted, because you kept with you heart and not with your mind, so you'll do better next time, ...  But you kept one or several dogs that perhaps you won't use for breeding, who that's not suitable for shows ... So, you try another thing ...


Time is flying, the number of dogs increase, the first are becoming old, but you cannot place them, because you are so close to them ...  And you would like to breed other colours too, you started by solids, but you saw so nice partis at a recent show, and the breeder has a wonderful litter at that time ...  And you are going on for new adventures ...  By that time, you continue your own experience, with having some disappointments too : cannot breed with that dog or that dog because he's not able to produce, or he has a big hereditary defect, or an health problem ...  So, it's with that way that you have 25 dogs, with some males who don't breed anymore because they didn't gave the type of puppies you hoped, or because you already used them enough in your breeding program and you cannot continue without doing too close consanguinity.


We place some of our "pensioners" because, in a family where that are the only dog, the centre of the attention, they can have a very happy "second life", go on holidays with their new owners, travel, ... all things that, of course, they canot have here, in spite of our best will.  We already placed several dogs, we keep in touch with their new family and we regularly see them for trimming, and all is doing at the best.


We have more or less 5 or 6 litters in a year, so between 25 and 30 puppies.  Our bitches have on average 4 litters in their life, and are "pensioned" from breeding at the age of 7 years maximum.  In 20 years of breeding, we have had more or less 60 litters, and we raised approximately 250 puppies.  At our beginnings, it was "slowly but surely", with one litter a year, and sometimes not at all. 


We don't live from our dogs.  The easy calculation that some people do when they see a litter : As much euros per puppy sold x as much puppies in a year = "these people earn a lot with their dogs" is totally false.  People who think that don't understand at all the "passion breeding", they think they are at the local puppy farm, that buy puppies in Eastern countries at 5 weeks old and sold them at 6 weeks old more than 10 times the price they bought them, without no expenses with these puppies, and no adult dogs to maintain.


For a real breeder, after he has deducted the real expenses of the litter (food, treatment against worms, pedigrees, tattoos, vaccinations, mating ...), he could count the hours spent to take care of the litter, socialise the puppies, ... at the scale of the minimum wage for a workman ...  There will not remain a lot ...

Then, after that, there are all the other dogs to feed, and the real "passion" breeders often feed their dogs with high quality food, thus expensive, because it gives an optimal shape to show dogs, and permit to the bitches to stay in good health when they are pregnant/lactating, ...


Then, when you have 25 dogs to feed all over the year with 5 litters and a few matings done by your males, more the show expenses, the mating expenses, the disease tracking tests costs, ... You can count that you'll have sometimes to put your own money, especially if a bitch stays "empty", or that your bitches have heat periods spaced for sometimes more than a year, ... In short, these incomes are far to be regular ... And 365 days a year, your dogs have to eat, to be maintained, vaccinated, treated against worms, ...


Here, we are 3 persons working in the dogs.  One of these 3 persons is working full-time outside during the week, and the two others are busy to manage the grooming salon and the kennel.

We don't count the hours that we spend to take care of our dogs, they are all our life, an indescribable passion but also a breeding and selection work who lasts since 1984, with high and low, immense joy moments but also intense discouragement.  That work, we assert it and we defend it savagely.

Our main concern : the health


The hereditary diseases and problems exist in all breeds known as "pure breeds".  These diseases are brought, among other things, by the selection who tend to respect the breeds standards, and thus by the consanguinity necessary to arrive to that.


In the English Cocker, in some countries, like Germany, in addition to the confirmation, the eye disease (annual) and the hip dysplasia tracking tests are necessary by the breed Club to take part to breeding with a dog ... And official listings results are held by such breed clubs. 

In Belgium, none health test is necessary to breed with an English Cocker.

But the breeding rules of the FCI  (Fédération Cynologique Internationale) says :

"Breeding and development of dog breeds must be based on long-term objectives and sound principles so that the breeding does not result in diseases, bad temperament and lack of working skills.

Breeding must serve the objective of preserving and preferably extending the genetic variety (polygenicity) of the breed.


Only functionally healthy dogs are to be used for breeding. It lies with any breeder who selects a dog for breeding to determine whether this breeding animal is mentally and physically suited for breeding.

The breeder has to ensure both good mental and physical conditions for breeding animals.
As long as a puppy is in the breeder's custody, he must ensure a physically and mentally beneficial environment for the puppy to guarantee proper socialisation.


Dogs with eliminating faults such as e.g. unsound temperament, congenital deafness or blindness, hare-lip, cleft palate, substantial dental defects or jaw anomalies, PRA, epilepsy, cryptorchidism, monorchidism, albinism, improper coat colours or diagnosed severe hip dysplasia may not be bred.

With regard to surfacing hereditary defects, e.g. HD or PRA, the FCI member countries and contract partners are obliged to record affected animals, combat these defects in a methodical manner continuously record their development and report to the FCI on this matter when requested.


Any breeder is at mercy of health problems.  The Progressive Retinal Atrophy is an example.  You can marry two dogs totally healthy, but indeed healthy carriers, and a part of their progeny can be affected by the disease, without accusing the breeder or his way to work.


From another side, the PRA declaring itself very late in the English Cocker (between the age of 8 and 10 years on average), a dog could have produce a lot of progeny, and then being affected by the disease and, if he has been married with another "affected", or even with an healthy carrier, he would have transmitted that disease ...  And the breeders couldn't do anything against that.  Now, such cases can be avoided (at least concerning the PRA disease), thanks to the genetic tests.

Since a few years now, all our breeding stock is tested annually for eye disease, and our solid breeding stock is tested for hip dysplasia.

We also used the Optigen test for the seek of Progressive Retinal Atrophy.  Now, at least one of the two parents of each puppy du Domaine d'Haïsha is "Optigen A1" tested, that means that no more dog resulting from these unions could be affected, soon or late, by the most current form of PRA in the English Cocker.

We are very vigilant about the health of the dogs we produce.  And we don't accept that dogs coming from our kennel are used for breeding without having these diseases tracking tests.  Some people are using our kennel name in that way, and they don't respect our work.  We find that unacceptable and we condemn that way of breeding. 


Another very important point : the temperament.


The dogs kept to take part to shows are most of the time dogs who have a lot of temperament.  Because, that was proven by behaviorists, a show dog has to be proud, to show himself, to "parade" and to be able of all these things the dog has to have temperament.

So, we have to pay attention to that in our breeding selction, and avoid to breed with too dominant parents, or to marry two dominants together.  The good middle is not always easy to find because, if a dominant dog has to be strongly educated and doesn't suit to all people, a too subjected dog is not the best too.

The breeders who work for hunting can have this kind of problems too, because a dog who comes from pure working lines could be too nervous and not be appropriate for "family life".

This lead us to want to breed partis too, even if we personnally prefer the solid stronger temperament, because the partis are easier to educate for the people who has less temperament, the older people, the people who have a less active life, ...

That seek after a balanced temperament, appropriate for "everybody", made us "test" a "solid-parti" union, that is not forbidden but disadvised because it gives solids with white patches.  We were very satisfied by that marriage, because not only the temperament of the puppies is well balanced, but also because the type, the construction, ... are excellent too.  And if the white patches seem to be important when the dog is a puppy, they nearly totally disappeared at adult age.  Of course, each marriage has to be well thought, and we don't want to revolutionize the world with these "mixings".  But we plan to do it again if it's necessary.

About "hunting", our dogs are not from working lines, and we don't take part to working tests, it's a question of time and also because it's difficult to combine shows and hunting.  Hovewer, the "smell" is stil there, it only needs to be awaken.  Thus, several of our cockers owned by private people are very good hunters.

To not forget, the beauty and the respect of the breed standard



Of course, we want to breed nice dogs and even if, for any owner, his own dog is always the nicest, a breeder needs to know "where he goes", and make the right marriages to keep the type he likes, and staying as near as possible of the breed standard (the perfect dog in all points doesn't exist).

To help us in that search, we take part to shows.

So, why do we have to spend our money in dog shows (+/- 50 € per dog entered, more the travel costs, ...) ?  No, we don't earn money in dog shows.  Some people will be disappointed, but one can only win some titles, some trophees (dust collection ...) and the "reputation".


Even if any breeder has to be able to see the qualities and the defects of his own dogs, it's good to mesure to and to meet other types of dogs, other opinions too, and perhaps to find the future male for one of his bitches, or the parents of his future new puppy  ...  And shows in an undescribable passion ...  What a happiness for a breeder to enter his dogs to a championship show, an european or a mondial show ...  Even if he knows that he won't bring back wonderful results, only to take part is a real pleasure ...  Shows are very enriching at human point too...

We are as happy and proud to show a 6 months old puppy who seems us very promising as showing our 10 years old veteran who is still in perfect shape.

And we are very proud to train our puppies at the Show-Training courses, even if the beginnings are sometimes a bit difficuls, to see the evolution course after course and that new complicity with the dog shown are wonderful rewards.

Some people think that show dogs are unhappy, I invite them to come to see them when we are preparing the show bags, the "pensioners" are crying so much when they see the preparations ... And an unhappy dog doesn't run merrily in a ring, ...  The show dogs are happy to be the centre of the attention, and it's also a great complicity between the handler and his dog.

Breeding, a compromises succession


First, there is no miraculous formula to produce healthy, good and nice dogs.  At any time, something bad can happen, breeding is always choosing the best compromises between health, termperament and beauty.

Breeding is not marry any male with any bitch, and make the same union every time.  Each union has to be carefully studied before "testing".


When we plan a mating, we first look at the health tests, because two beautiful dogs who will make beautiful puppies who will become blind or have hip dyslasia don't interest us.  Then, we examine the pedigrees and we try to know if, in the 4 or 5 generations before the parents, there is no recessive problems (dogs carriers of diseases) that come back too often.


We estimate also the consanguinity rate, and we avoid the too line-bred unions, and also the too big consanguinity on an unknown or uncertain dog.  Consanguinity is necessary to keep a certain type of dog, but with small amounts.  If we marry two dogs who have absolutely nothing jointly, we have very little chance to have homogeneous types in the litter, except if the two parents have the same type.


We also avoid to marry two dogs who have a too dominant temperament, or two dogs who have a too subjected temperament, et we check, when it's possible, the generations before too.

Then, we see the beauty points, the qualities and defects of the two parents, and if that mating could be appropriate.

The considerations as to try to have such or such colour, the number of champions in the parents pedigrees, such or such famous lines, ... come at the end.

To try to find the best male for such or such bitch, it could be necessary to do many kilometers and to travel a lot, or to pay mating fees, ... But we are not afraid of that...

Our puppies

Our puppies are sold pre-vaccinated, microchipped, treated against worms, with the European Pet Passport, copies of pedigrees and health tests of the parents, and a specimen of the contract signed between us and the new owners.  They have also a Saint-Hubert pedigree (only pedigree in Belgium recognized by the FCI).



They are also very well socialized, we handle them every day since they are born, they are listening to sound effects CD (coming from a behavorist) 1 hour a day since they are 3 weeks old till they are leaving us, that to get them use to the every day life, they are listening to the radio during the day, they have all kind of toys to stimulate them...  From the age of 5 weeks old, they are going in the garden, when the weather is good enough, and they meet adult dogs.  They also meet as different people (men, women, children, teenagers, old people) as possible before leaving us.


Our puppies can leave us from the age of 9 weeks old.  At that age, they would have already meet their new owners many times, because we let the future new owners visit their puppy "when they want" (on appointment, so we can devote them as much time as possible to answer to their questions).


We didn't cut the tails of our puppies anymore, without any exception, since 2001.

Tail docking is now forbidden in Belgium for all puppies born after 01.01.2006.


We don't sell puppies as "show prospect", because at 2 months old, it's impossible to say with certainty that a dog will be able to take part to shows.  If some people would like to have a puppy from here to take part to show, we'll sell him the puppy who will have the best potential and will suit the most likely, but we cannot promise anything.



We sell a puppy to another breeder only if that breeder follows the same breeding policy than us.

The Irish Water and the American Cocker

Far from us is the idea to work with these 2 breeds like we do it with the English Cocker.

The Irish Water is a blow heart that Dany has in 1998 when he visited the World Dog Show in Helsinki (Finland).  And he didn't want any Irish Water, he fell in love with Olga(Akvavitix Oleaginous Olga) and he wanted a bitch with the same type as her.  He waited 5 years for that Olga gives finally a litter to her breeders, Helena Siven and Elena Oikkonen.  During these 5 years (that began to turn to the despair, like that : "I will never have my Irish Water"), we got informed a lot about the breed, its problems, its temperament, ... thanks to Helena, real well of learning for all concerning that breed for what she' devoted since more than 20 years.  Our Lahja ("Oleaginous Sweet Brunette") finally arrived here in 2003 and from that moment, she conquered everybody, at the Domaine d'Haïsha and elsewhere.

Lahja with our dear friends Helena & Sirpa


She will have puppies one day, first for her breeder, who makes a point of keeping the line and have a lot of hopes with Lahja, because she is a great quality bitch.  Moreover, the Irish Water Spaniel is in the threatened breeds.  But also because we'll probably want to keep a daughter from Lahja, for our own  pleasure.  But whatever happens, we will always follow Helena's advices for all concerning Lahja.  Helena has to same goals than us in breeding : the health, the temperament and the beauty.

The Champion Darby's Decoy,

Lahja's father

The Champion Akvavitix Oleaginous Olga,

Lahja's mother

The American Cocker was Carol's dream for a long time and, after she has studied dogs grooming (and opened her own grooming salon), she just had to find where to get her Cocker.  Because we weren't looking for any American Cocker, nor any kennel.  Always the same health, temperament and beauty concerns, but also a kennel where dogs are treated well, bred with respect and love and not just for glory and champions titles.

Forman's United  Color


So, we renew contact with the Forman's kennel, who devote more than 20 years to that breed, worked with the United-States, and even imported dogs over there (For a French kennel, to sell American Cockers to breeders in the United States is not so bad.  Moreover, these dogs were proven realiable there, as well in shows than in breeding), and also published a book about the breed.  It was in this way that Lucy ("Forman's United Color") arrived at the Domaine d'Haïsha.

JNB's Pipe 'n Hot, Lucy's father

La Championne Forman's Sarah Lee,

Lucy's sister

Of course, she will get puppies, first for Carol to keep a daughter of her to take part to shows abroad (as Lucy has a docked tail, she can't take part to shows in Germany), and also to make the breed known, its temperament, ...  There is only a few American Cockers kennels in Belgium, and that breed deserves another image that the one given by the merchants and the puppy farms.

We think that, after having bred only one breed during 20 years and be concerned by that breed as we are, we can allow ourselves to put our competences and our knowledge for other breeds (who moreover are Spaniels breeds, as the English Cocker), and thus of course answer to our personal desires, ...

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