Hi! My name is Polly and I adopted an ex-breeding dog called Nelly; @nelthecocker.

I adopted Nel from a breeder who didn’t want her anymore because she couldn’t get pregnant; she also couldn’t be shown because she had alopecia! She was 3 and a half when I adopted her and she is now 5 and a half (typing that out gives me heart palpitations because I don’t want her to get any older!)

We are Explorers for Dog Furiendly. Being an Explorer meant a lot to us because we are always going on adventures and wanted a platform to be able to share them all with everyone else! I wanted our first blog to be something I am very passionate about; and for it to hopefully inspire others to help or maybe even consider adopting an ex-breeder. Anyway, let’s get into it!

Why consider adopting an ex-breeding dog?

The answer to this will not be much different from ‘Why adopt a dog’! The main answer, obviously being, to give a dog that has not had the best start in life a forever home.

I have a special place in my heart for ex-breeders, these poor pups are bred over and over again; with their babies (hopefully) going to amazing homes where they get loved, get cuddles and go on amazing adventures; whilst they are stuck behind. There are obviously some amazing breeders out there, who love their dogs and do a wonderful job; but this is definitely not the case for all breeders.

Where to find an ex-breeding dog?

This is a complex answer as you can find them anywhere depending on the breeder. Some breeders will advertise when they are rehoming a dog they are done with, however, usually, they don’t like to show that this is what they do. They are worried by showing they rehome dogs they are done with they will get a bad rep, so its most likely that they surrender them to a rescue, or advertise anyway and falsify the reason they are rehoming.

Saying all of this, I urge everyone to look at ‘Many Tears Rescue’. They are always getting ex-breeders, and ones in horrific condition. If only I had space and time to go and scoop them all up and bring them home!

How to prepare for rehoming an ex-breeding dog, and what to expect?

Every single dog is different, with their own quirks! However, I will let you know what I found to be the common theme when I adopted an ex-breeder; and what others have said too.

I definitely wish there was something like this I could have read to prepare myself for bringing Nel home! You will most likely find that they will be extremely loving to the person who gives them their forever home; to put it lightly, they will cling to you like white on rice.

Trusting Humans

They will have no trust in humans (why should they), so this means that in order for them to be comfortable around strangers, to be okay with you leaving them, they will need to gain trust in you; trust that you won’t let anything bad happen to them again! It’s 2 years on with Nel, and she will now only be comfortable around strangers, as we have built a bond and built trust.

This leads me to my next advice, find a good trainer! One that shares your expectations and methods! Speak to them before you get your doggy, as you want to get everything right from the beginning. I wouldn’t go too crazy too fast though. Ex-breeders will crave a routine, and they will need a few weeks to really settle in before you’re introducing training and bombarding them. They are very sensitive dogs so too much too fast will set them way back; every small step forward is a very big achievement, you don’t want to ruin it! Believe me, I did just that.

Reaction to Dog Essentials

I sent a message to the lady I was getting Nelly from and asked what toys she likes as I was going shopping, she sent a message back saying ‘she doesn’t play’. I went out anyway and bought one of every kind of toy! But no, she couldn’t care less, however she will play with a ball now; she learnt that off my mum’s dog.

I also bought a crate because the lady who owned her said she was crated. Now she will quite happily sleep on the armchair in my room so the crate is just sitting there empty!

I put her on the food that my mum fed her dogs because I had no idea about dog nutrition/transitioning them but now she is fed on fish4dogs which she LOVES. My advice would be to do your research into the food you eventually want to put your pooch on, but start by feeding them the same food they are being fed on, to help them transition. Don’t be worried if they don’t eat for a while, Nel didn’t, but now she can’t eat her food fast enough!

It’s all very new and overwhelming for them at first. You also want to be thinking about buying things like a collar, tag, training lead (as they wouldn’t be used to walking nevermind recall), and a harness as they may not like being walked on a collar!

To keep the name or re-name?

Finally, when I got Nel, her name was Ellie. It didn’t feel right, firstly because I had always grown up with dogs that had ‘old people names’ but most importantly because I felt it held onto her old life. So, she was renamed, Nelly! Or as she’s always called, Nel.

How to socialise an ex-breeding dog?

An ex-breeder will be a very nervous pooch. Nel would growl if anyone entered a room, she never bit anyone and I don’t think she would of but I never allowed her or anyone to be in a position where that would happen. With lots of gentle training, we now have a bond where she trusts me enough to know I will never introduce someone who will hurt her. She even comes with me to get my nails done and is very, very happy!

Now, dogs. Ex-breeders will not have very fond memories of dogs! I don’t need to go into detail; we all know how babies are made. Nelly is very nervous of other dogs, if they go near her back end she screams and runs away; who can blame her! I used to get extremely frustrated with her, because I wanted a happy go lucky cocker that loved life itself! This damaged our relationship so much.

Once I let go of this idea, and embraced the fact that she had a traumatic upbringing, she can sense this and is much happier playing and interacting with other dogs! I used to take her to the local fields near me, however if there were too many dogs I found she would freak out. Our favourite place to go to socialise though was St.Annes Beach and Bijou Café (you can find these listed on the website!). Nelly loved it here, and so did I!

My Nel

I wish I would of known back then what kind of relationship we would have today. I knew it was all going to be worth it, but when there’s a dog who has never been taught ‘sit’, let alone food manners, toilet training, and they’ve never been on a walk at 3 and a half; you will want to rip your hair out. But, my god will they be grateful. Now, two years on we have so many plans this year.

We are going to Waggiest Weekend, which I CANNOT wait for! It’s going to be amazing to meet people in person and all the pooches! Nel comes away with us all the time, she’s stayed in a tent, in a caravan, in a hotel, and in a lodge so she’ll be fine as she’s very used to traveling and I know she’ll be great!

I also plan on getting Nel a passport this year as I’d love to take her to France, my mum has been with her dog and is going again during Christmas but to Spain, so I already know about taking a pooch abroad but I’m itching to do it myself. Because Nel was already 3 and a half when I got her, I want to make the most out of her time with me; to make up for those 3 years!

Have you adopted an ex-breeding dog?

Share your stories in the comments below, I would love to hear about them.


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  1. Hello! I adopted an ex-breeding dog 3 weeks ago, and your story as given me so much hope!
    Faye has shown improvements in so many areas already- she was, like Nel, very nervous of other dogs at first, but she enjoys socialising on walks now!
    We are having toilet training issues. It’s hard not to get discouraged, but we will keep rewarding the correct behaviour.
    Also, she is terrified by traffic. Getting her to walk on a lead on the pavement is a real challenge.
    Despite the challenges, we love her to bits. She’s such a sweet and funny girl!

  2. My friend convinced me to buy this breeder dog Shih tzu the breeder told us that the dog was only afraid of getting a bath. She cowarded away from my boyfriend and hides behind my chair. We have had her 7 months she will now lay and sleep on my lap.
    My boyfriend gives her all her treats. But she is still skittish especially when he stands up. She will jump up on couch near him if he is eating something, he does give here a piece of whatever he is eating….

  3. We adopted an ex breeder cavalier yesterday, she’s so shut down. We are giving her lots of love and are excited to see her transformation. I feel so sad for her but she’s safe now❤️

  4. Thank you firstly for all your advice! My boyfriend and I just rescued a Cockapoo ex breeder and she is a sweetheart. I had no idea where to even start. She is currently laying with me in bed on the first night! I already love her so much!

  5. We adopted an ex-breeder totally clueless about her history. I had been very carefully studying rescue websites. We ended up taking a Pomeranian, almost 5, hubby’s choice. We had a cage and introduced her to it where she stayed for two days. No pee no poo. I finally brought her food trying to get her to eat. First time we picked her up she went stiff–still does. She doesn’t know what ground is (kenneled on concrete?). It’s been 4 mos. She still runs to her cage. I’m doing the pee pad thing–can’t take her out on a leash. Tender tummy upsets. Warming a little to hubby-finally. Need direct

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