Who is Julie Swan?

One day at work, a coworker came up to my husband-at-the-time and I, and told us he was moving to Missouri, and planning on living in an RV. He was quick to chime in that an RV was no place for two German Shorthaired Pointers. He asked if we wanted his male dog, as he was planning on keeping his female. My husband had always wanted a bird dog, he had talked about it several times and I knew, given our financial situation, buying a bird dog from a breeder was going to be out of the cards for a while. So I quickly said “yes.”

My ex looked at me, shocked, but excited. We coordinated and brought him home a few days later.

Now, the coworker had warned us that he didn’t even know if he hunted, that he’d been out with him, but had really only paid attention to his female. Bird season always opens on my birthday and ex took him out and, to our surprise, he limited out on birds in 45 minutes.

We couldn’t help but take the stereotypical picture on the tailgate with all the birds and the bird dog. We sent it to our coworker, and the last thing we ever heard from him was, “I kept the wrong dog.”

At the time I had some Nubian Goats and some Berkshire and Duroc Pigs, and of course some chickens. I had never really considered breeding dogs despite having bred livestock for quite some time. I was developing an eye for what good livestock looked like and for more practice I turned my eye to our dog. The more I checked him out, the more I liked him. He had a gorgeous top line, a perfect tail set, and he was very balanced and graceful with his movements, not to mention his temperament was so family oriented as he was a so tolerant and loving with my 18-month-old daughter.

One morning a goat buyer came by to look at some of our babies she was interested in showing at the county fair with her kids. She commented on my dog saying he was really good looking, her comment came with a confidence that told me she was sincere and knew her stuff. 

I told her I agreed, but asked her what she saw in him. She explained some things, like ear length and some more about feet. She had been breeding Dobermans for many years and I asked her if she thought my dog was of quality to breed. She said yes without hesitation.

That gave me the confidence I needed to contact the breeder and ask him about getting the rights to breed him and what he thought of it all. He was oddly eager to help me get started and he offered to sell me some females he thought would be good complements for my stud. We drove out to visit him, got the papers, and got some dogs. Maybe I was a little over zealous to get started… we came home with 5 adult dogs that day—I’m not sure I’d recommend that for a starting breeding program.

Within 12 weeks all 3 females were bred and shortly after I had 21 puppies on the ground that I needed to home. I was 6 months pregnant with my son and things were a little crazy to say the least.

I was very overwhelmed and had no idea how I was going to find homes for all these dogs, let alone keep my sanity while I was taking care of them.

I eventually sold all the puppies, or at least found them homes, but it took a while, and some were 14 and 16 weeks old before going home to families, and definitely not for the price I had been hoping.

I knew I loved this process of breeding, but things had to change, this wasn’t going to work as a longterm system.

After reflecting on my program I culled two dogs that the original breeder had sold me, the additional stud and a female who wasn’t a good mother, and I kept 3 puppies out of the 21 that I bred in that first series of puppies for my breeding program. Then I went on a hunt for a good stud to breed to them (of course I wasn’t going to use their dad). During that time I bred the females again to my stud. I was starting to get a name for myself, people were calling me more for puppies.

Things were really starting to pick up my second spring of litters, and then the worst happened: I lost 8 puppies in a matter of 3 weeks. I had already sent puppies home when the first round of sickness hit, one pup I had already flown all the way to Alaska. The affected puppies were not infant puppies, they were 7 and 8 weeks old, and they just started to get lethargic and then die. I couldn’t get them to eat nor drink.  I felt helpless. I was up late every night researching, reading everything I could find and working with my vet. I was on the phone with buyers, telling them this could happen, but we didn’t yet know what it was. It was a very difficult time. All the symptoms pointed to parvovirus, but the incubation period didn’t align, as the puppies were getting sick at different times.

After 3 painful weeks, we finally figured out it was giardia, brought on by a rain that had happened two days before the puppies went home. Thankfully none of the puppies that people had already taken home died, but a few got sick, and there were some hefty vet bills I helped some buyers pay.

It really took a toll on me, not just as a breeder, but as a mom. I felt very guilty that I helped bring these puppies into the world and I failed to take care of them.

I was worried that I was the worst breeder, I even thought hard about quitting this whole idea of breeding. Like I didn’t deserve to be a breeder.

Yet, I couldn’t stop, I realized that if I stopped then I would be letting the giardia defeat me. I would be letting it take away what I loved to do. I knew I needed to conquer and prevent it from being a problem. I couldn’t let it stop me from bringing amazing puppies to amazing families.

I kept on breeding and worked to figure out a solution. I needed to get a better management system, a change in facilities could make a big impact in my system and my success in raising healthy puppies. It wasn’t quite in the cards for me to build something yet. However, I did create the “magic oregano oil mix,” a natural treatment for coccidia and giardia and it has been a literal life saver. Now if I ever see a puppy struggling and it could be giardia, I get him on the oregano right away and usually they are turned around and on the mend within 48 hours.


I’m very glad I kept breeding. Over the following years I was able to grow a large kennel program and I’ve bred hundreds of puppies that have gone to quality homes. 

I love working with breeders who have this perfect dog in their mind and each litter takes them closer and closer to that ideal dog they have in their head. I know that breeding is challenging and I’ve had to learn the hard way all the things that it takes to get things organized. I love sharing my shortcuts and discussing how to not only improve the program by making and managing better dogs, but also by improving the business that the dogs are a part of. I believe that people should get paid to produce quality dogs and that when done right, it can become a full-time job.

I help breeders grow their breeding business so they are happy with the puppies they are producing, easily finding quality homes for them, and getting well-paid for what they are creating, all while not pulling out their hair out in the process.

Join me, and together let’s bring more better-bred dogs into a world that demands needs them.