Dog trains man

Monday, October 4, 2010

Danish Hovawart puppy mill active again

Any regular reader of this blog knows I am a big fan of the Hovawart breed and both my dogs are Hovawarts. Unfortunately, Hovawarts in Denmark have a bad reputation because of health and mental issues. Why? Most of them come from a puppy mill called the Hovawart Kennel. After some years in hiding, they have now become active again. They also started exporting to the USA under the name Hovawart puppies.

Bad rep

The first time I went to our vet with Kenzo he was still the smallest of puppies. Our vet was in chock. "Oh no, a Hovawart? Where did you get him?". She was relieved to hear he didn't come from the puppy mill. She told me about the "Hovawart Kennel" and that all her former Hovawart patients came from this notorious breeder, and she had to put all of them out of their misery before the age of three, except one. And this is not the lucky one, he had a very expensive hip replacement, and can still not walk properly.

It didn't get better when I tried to find a club to train small Kenzo. They were reluctant to take on a Hovawart, as they had so many bad experiences with them. They did let me join a class. One of the owners of a German Shepherd Dog even threatened my health if his dog would get hurt by Kenzo.

Hovawart puppies for sale

As it seemed, the "Hovawart Kennel" has been active in Denmark for almost 15 years. Under different names, like "Kennel Hof-Joy", but with the same owners and on the same address. They have been exposed several times by puppy buyers that lost their dogs very early, even days after buying a Hovawart puppy. They have been in a TV-special about puppy mills on Danish television. The Danish Kennel Club and the Danish Hovawart Club (both officially recognized by FCI) threw them out. The police investigated circumstances and found the dogs in very bad conditions. Unfortunately, by Danish law, they were only fined with an amount less then the price of a puppy. Ridiculously low. A lot of owners appeared on television, complained on Internet forums, but nobody stepped forward to press charges.

Under the radar

It went quiet in a couple of years in which they apparently have been living in the USA. But now they are surfacing again under a new name in Hovawart circles. This time because they have acquired a Hovawart from another breeder, and have been using this dog for litters outside of the control of the Danish Hovawart Club and the Danish Kennel Club. No complaining owners yet. But it is very suspicious that they re-registered this dog in the Continental Kennel Club, which is not recognized by the FCI. The dog was already officially registered with the Danish Kennel Club, an FCI-recognized organisation. Obviously not something you can use in this type of business. Even worse, as it turned out the owner of "Hovawart Kennel" is also the owner or representative of the Danish branch of the "Continental Kennel Club". And that is more then just a conflict of interests. It is the setup of a hoax.

The breeder of which they acquired the Hovawart that should serve as a stud, repented. He went public by placing adds on the Internet warning people about the kennel being active again. Kudos for this breeder, that made a mistake, but didn't want to hide and went public instead.

Absent voices

But apart from this one breeder it is awfully quiet. The website of the Danish Hovawart Club has a list of responsible breeders, but doesn't mention which bad breeders are active. They don't mention anything that has transpired in the last 15 years. The Danish Kennel Club is not much better. They only have one hidden reference under the old name of "Kennel Hof-Joy" on their website, a moderate "we knew" response to one of those (now outdated) TV-programs that has been aired years ago. One could expect a more pro-active attitude from the people that strive for the perfection of all dog breeds. At least a regularly updated blacklist of breeders. On the Internet please. Where the fight is taking place.

Apparently law in Denmark is not equipped for this kind of situations. The police has no real power and can only fine the breeders for ridiculously low amounts. It is very bitter that this can happen in the same country that has just accepted a new Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) to ban no less then 13 breeds. A worst-case scenario of mixed-up priorities. If our laws on puppy mills were as harsh as those that ban breeds, maybe we wouldn't have to ban breeds in the first place?

What about Kenzo?

All ended well for Kenzo, everybody in dog training class is crazy about him. He is extremely nice to smaller dogs, and especially smaller dogs that are afraid of large dogs. One of our trainers has even had Kenzo and me assist her in setups to help a couple of smaller dogs to overcome their fear. Even the German Shepherd Dog owner became a big fan of Kenzo. I am happy that Kenzo is such a good ambassador for his breed.

It is not the breed, but actions of us humans that makes, or breaks, the dog.
Any dog.
Of any breed.


For the latest and how you can help, visit the page Stop Danish Hovawart Puppy Mill.



  1. I'm so sorry to hear this puppy mill is doing business. Thank you for spreading the word. And, I"m so glad Kenzo is awesome ;-)

  2. Thank you Deborah, lets hope google does its work and any US citizen can find this info when they are interested in Hovawarts. It is the only warning in English against this breeder as far as I know.

  3. I have lived rigth next to this puppy mill (in Denmark) and even bought a puppy there before I became aware of their breeding and registration methods. Luckily the puppy is now 10 years old and in perfect health both physically and mentally.

    I have investegated the kennel several times and fund exactly what you have written to be true. I too fund that the owner of this kennel is also hosting the danish branch of CKC. It is not very difficult to get your puppy registered under CKC and use that as a legitimate genealogical tree (pedigree?)when you host the branch yourself. All it really takes to get your dog registered under CKC is two seperate witnesses to the signature. No DNA or even bloodtesting is used.

    I documented all of this as well as possible and sent it to the local councill with a direct warning from the Danich Kennel Klub.
    Unfortunately the local councill was in no posistion to do anything, as the breeders have fund and used all possible loopwholes in the Danish law.

    They are simply unstopalbe, and no local authority can close the kennel for good. It takes a lot more hard evidence and not just circumstantial evidence to knock them out of business, and I don't know where to find it.

    By the way. They have a really nasty lawyer, who even threatened me with a lawsuit because of the lack of hard evidence...

  4. @Anonymous
    Glad your pup is doing so good, thankfully not all of them have issues!

    I am happy to hear that you took steps towards the puppy mill. I was under the impression no-one has pressed charges so far, and glad you have proven me wrong. That was very brave of you to do, despite of their lawyer trying to threathen you away.

    Local authorities can do little based on the current law as you already point out. We indeed need a change of the law itself to make a fist against puppy mills. Like you mention we need hard evidence instead of circumstantial evidence. But does it have to be that way? Apparantly not, as the new law to ban 13 breeds also bans on suspicion only. The suspicion of belonging to a certain (mix of) the 13 banned breeds.

    We need that same kind of reverse thinking for puppy mills. Let them prove we are wrong. And why not? If it is possible in one case concerning dogs, it must surely also be possible in this one. But we need the media AND the (local and national) politicians to solve this.

  5. I'm sorry to hear about another example of so-called enlightened Scandinavia being less than enlightened but good for you for spreading the word. The internet is a double edged sword, with people using it to sell puppy mill dogs anonymously, but in this case you're using it as a weapon for the good -- and it's a powerful one.

    I didn't know that the Hovawarts had a reputation for being aggressive! I'm very glad Kenzo -- and you -- have been such a good public relations team.

  6. @Edie
    Thank you for the kind words!

    The reputation is caused partly because of people not using positive reinforcement when training. Which will turn against you especially with the Hovawart, being the independent dogs they are. The other one is bad breeding. Responsible breeders in Denmark (and in the most of Europe) only breed with Hovawarts that have, among others, been mentally tested twice. Once in adoloscence and once in adulthood.

  7. I'm glad to hear Kenzo is well... terrible story about this puppy mill. I hope people do their homework before patronizing them. Thank you for spreading the word.

  8. Spreading the word about their bad practices and less then ethical papering of their dogs is a huge step in getting people to take notice.

    Davinia & Indiana

  9. @Pupfan @TwoLittleCavaliers
    Thank you for your support!

  10. great blog, as always. yay for Kenzo the ambassador, love that dog! keep on blogging, spreading the word. It`s what we do. And you do it very well.

  11. Thank you for this great post, Kenzo, giving us all the heads up on this kennel. Hey, remember that new Breeder Ratings site @melzpetpals wrote a post on, interviewing the owner? Might be a good idea to spread your info on these bad breeders or rally the people you know on the internet to include their experience on that site, or maybe start your own .dk based site? Just a thought:)

    I agree - why is it so hard to stop the bad guys "for lack of evidence", yet we have laws like BSL where dogs are guilty before they do anything wrong!?

  12. @Leslie
    Thanks for your support and kind words!

    Very good idea Mary! I will follow up on that.

  13. Thank you for writing this, my husband and I are currently in the proces of finding a new dog and have fallen for the Hovawart and had just looked at this breeder, although it is a few years ago that you wrote this, I think, unfortunately, that nithing has changed.
    So Thank you so much, we are not buying our new puppy from them .. they should be ashamed

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