Guardianship Program

This program gives our breeding dogs, who we would typically offer as adults to retirement homes, the opportunity to be placed with families as puppies or young adults. In this program they can live with their forever families while we continue to pay for their breeding expenses and they remain active in our breeding program. When they are ready to retire they will become the Guardian Family's dog at no charge to the Guardian Family.

Our females retire no later than 5 years old and our males at 7 years old.

As with everything, there are Pros and Cons…

the Pros:

  • You receive the dog free of charge.

  • We pay for all breeding related expenses.

  • We groom at no cost to you.

  • We will board the dog when needed.

  • When the dog reaches retirement age they will be spayed or neutered at our expense and you become the owner of a health tested dog that has contributed to the future of the breed!

  • The person/family receives the priceless love and companionship of a beautiful Miniature Schnauzer.

  • If at anytime you decide the Guardianship program is not for you, we will take the dog back. Even after retirement.

the Cons:

  • The dog is ultimately ours until retirement.

  • The dog must come back to us every time she is in heat. She must be brought to us right away and stay with us for the duration of her cycle, then she may return to you.

  • Same goes for whelping, she will come to us 5-7 days prior to her due date and remain in our care for 7-8 weeks until the pups are weaned, then she may return to you.

  • Our dogs must remain in the care of Veterinary Services in Chapel Hill, TN.


This is a VERY selective program and we take serious consideration regarding potential guardian families.  Anyone interested in this program is welcome contact us for an application.

  • Have previous experience with dogs.

  • Be willing to teach basic commands such as sit, stay, lay-down, and leave it.

  • Be willing to socialize puppies. This is very important!

  • He/She must be an indoor pet and never left unattended outside.

  • Feed a premium, quality food.

  • All other dogs in the home MUST be fixed if they are the opposite sex.

  • Provide regular exercise.

  • Willing to let us, the breeder, visit your home.

  • Contact Breeder immediately in the event of a serious illness or accident.

  • Send a copy of all vet visits to Breeder.

  • Must not allow he/she to mate with any unapproved dogs.

  • Provide veterinary care when needed.

  • If you are a guardian for a female dog, you must be willing to drop her off for 1-2 weeks while she is bred. Then drop her back off 1 week prior to her whelping date. She will stay with us until the puppies are weaned.

  • If you are a guardian for a male dog, you must be willing to drop him off for 3-5 days for breedings unless arrangements are made ahead of time for us to pick him up.

  • Be able to communicate with us, the breeder, about scheduling testing, mating, whelping, and anything else breeding related.

A guardian home is a local family who is a forever home for one of the dogs in our breeding program.  Guardian homes allow our breeding dogs to live with families and not in kennels as our program grows.  Only so many dogs can fit on our lap!  :)  We are always looking for great guardian homes, so if you are interested, please contact us!

Our breeding program is designed around our ability to utilize guardian homes for our breeding dogs.  This program is designed this way to benefit everyone, especially and most importantly the dogs, who are raised in a home with a family instead of a kennel.  Think of it as being a foster family with the intention of adopting the dog permanently once their career is finished. Guardian homes are meant to be permament so that the dog does not need to go through re-homing.  

Blueberry Cottage retains ownership and breeding rights while the dog lives with a family.  We want all of our dogs to be in a loving home and it allows us to be kennel free.  It is a win, win for everyone, most importantly the dog.  

Most of the dogs in our guardian homes will be females but we may have a male from time to time.  Females will have up to 4 litters and males can be in our program for up to 6 years (at the sole discretion of Blueberry Cottage).  

Guardian families are responsible for normal dog care including but not limited to training, socialization, vet expenses (non-breeding related), food, grooming and lots of love and affection. Blueberry Cottage pays for all breeding related expenses.  As an added benefit for the guardian family, depending on our schedule we may provide care for your dog while on vacation.  

We will ask you to visit our home periodically to ensure the dog is comfortable when he/she comes for breeding and whelping.  You will be responsible for sending pictures and updates monthly for our website.  


Location, location, location - within 2 hours of Osseo, WI or our reproductive vet (Chippewa Falls, WI)
Own your own home
Fenced yard (physical fence)
Flexible schedule (work at home, dog goes to work with you, etc - no more than 4 hours alone)
Keep female dogs away from intact male dogs
Not allow intact males to breed intact females
Training - at least 2 classes and the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test
Notify us immediately when the dog is in season
Visit our home periodically to ensure the dog is comfortable when they come back for breeding / whelping
Bring the dog to Blueberry Cottage as needed for health testing, breedings, whelping and photo shoots

What is it?

This allows us a breeders to place our breeding dogs, usually as puppies, in their permanent, loving, forever homes. We do not believe puppies/dogs should be placed in a kennel style environment and wish to give them the best life possible. We can only house so many in our personal home as pets and once retired they remain with us, so we have started this program to give any future breeding dogs the same loving care. Guardian homes act as “foster homes” until the terms of agreement are satisfied and then full ownership will be transferred to the guardian.

What is the benefit to you?

You will receive a “pick of the litter” puppy, top breeding quality, possibly with a financial benefit, pending the terms of our agreement.

You will help give this dog the best life possible.

You could receive a pet puppy from the last litter in lieu of financial benefits if you choose, per our written agreement.

What is the benefit to me?

My puppy will be in a permanent, forever home, getting the attention and living environment conducive to creating an exceptional pet and allowing us to continue our breeding program.

What is the sacrifice for you?

We technically own your puppy until the terms of agreement have been met (typically after 3 breedings for females {each litter must contain at least 6 puppies to be considered a full litter} and 5 years for males). Once the terms are met, we will spay/neuter at our expense and transfer full ownership to you.

Your female dog will come live with us at one week before her due date and until the puppies are weened at about 6 weeks (but will live with you during her pregnancy). We will allow visits that are scheduled and agreed upon. Males will not need to leave you for extended periods.

You must be available for us to take your dog for breeding related testing (scheduled in advance) and breeding (not much notice here!). And for females you will have to endure a few heat cycles and keep her away from male dogs during this time (and maybe female dogs if she is a bit hormonal).

What is the sacrifice for us?

I have to trust you with my breeding dog so we have to be sure we are a great match for each other.

We pay for all breeding related expenses (health testing, breeding, and medical care) and make all arrangements, including travel.


-You have to have great communication with me and allow me to see my dog when I deem necessary through the duration of the contract.
-Live within 2-3 hours of Albany, GA, but ideally much closer.
-Own your home and have a fully fenced back yard.
-Notify me immediately when your female dog comes in heat.
-Routine vet care (we pay for breeding related expenses, but you are responsible for routine care) and a diet approved by us.
-Ensure your puppy is well socialized and attend puppy obedience classes.
-Ensure your female isn’t around intact males during her cycle. For males, ensure he never breeds to a female, unless it’s an approved breeding/timing by us.
-Use an approved groomer and keep up the “doodle” look, especially near times that I need photos.
-If you need to relocate outside of our 2-3 hour area, you must let us know as soon as possible so we can make fair arrangements, on a case by case basis and according to our written agreement.

If you are interested, please contact us.

Guardian Home Explanation

We do not believe that puppies or dogs are best served by being kennel raised. By placing them in a home environment that will be their forever home from the time they are puppies or young adults, we are doing our best to ensure their happiness and best start in life. We never have to kennel raise a dog when utilizing guardian homes.

There are always a lot of questions that people have about the guardian program. The collection of questions and answers below are our best attempt to address all questions right up front so someone does not feel like they weren't really aware of how this program works. Hopefully the information doesn't overwhelm you. It really is a very simple program even though it may seem like it has a lot of details. The main thing to remember is, there is no better way than this guardian program to breed dogs in a humane, loving environment. We value our dogs as family members and we hope that you can see how this program benefits families and our four-legged friends!

What guidelines do I have to follow when raising the puppy or dog?

  • Dogs should be maintained at a healthy weight with good quality food.

  • If the dog becomes sick or injured, we need the family to notify us right away so we are involved in all decisions regarding the treatment of the dog.

  • We ask the family to practice safe handling of the dog. To not leave the dog outside if they are not at home. Don't let the dog sit in the back of an open pickup. Use a leash in public. Provide basic obedience training so the dog has manners. All things that should be done to protect your dog anyway.

  • The guardian home is responsible for the transportation of the dog to us when needed for breeding, litters, or health testing. This is the most inconvenient part of the guardian responsibilities. Please think through this carefully. We will not meet families or pick up dogs ourselves. This is the guardian home responsibility and part of how they earn the dog through the program. We do expect that the dog only come to us within 1-2 days of when needed, and be picked up 1-2 days after they are ready to go. We are not a boarding facility and have dogs coming and going all the time. Should you be unable to drop off or pick up your dog, we can usually arrange for someone else to do so at the cost of $100 per trip.

What age do you start breeding the dog?

  • We will usually breed on the first heat following when the dog reaches 12 months of age. If a dog goes into heat at any time beyond 12 months, you must notify us immediately so we can assess whether or not we will breed. This will depend on how many other girls are cycling and having litters, as well as the individual dog's age and situation. We would also like to be notified when your puppy has its first cycle, somewhere around 6-9 months of age, so we can have a calculated guess on when her next cycle will be.

How long is she with you when you breed?

  • As soon as the family is aware the dog is in heat we will have them arrange to bring the dog to us by day 5 - 7 of the heat cycle. She will remain with us for about one week, and then they can pick her up and take her back home. Again, please be aware that we will not house the dog for long periods before or after the times they are needed. If you are unable to drop off or pick up the dog within 1-2 days of when needed, you will be required to find someone else who can do so for you, or we can ask one of our dog transporters if they are available for $100 per trip.

How long is a dog pregnant?

  • Dogs are pregnant for 63 days.

How long is she with you when she has the litter?

  • She will come to us between 5 - 7 days before she is due with her litter. This gives her time to settle into our house and get used to seeing the whelping box. It is important that she becomes very comfortable with being in our house and being with us all the time. We do not want the mom to feel threatened by us when she is getting ready to whelp. She will go home after puppies are weaned. This will be between 6 and 7 weeks of age.

Can we visit her when she has the puppies?

  • We do not allow guardian homes to visit until puppies are at least 3 weeks of age. Please be aware though that no handling of puppies will be allowed at that early of an age. You may visit the guardian dog and spend some time with her if she is doing well with leaving her puppies for short periods of time. We ask that you limit this visit to one hour as our schedule is very busy and puppies are not best served by being away from mom for longer than that.

Does this negatively affect the dog emotionally to go from the guardian home to the breeder's home?

  • No. There is an initial "Where is my family going?" when they bring her to us, but in every situation the dog is settled and comfortable and doing very well within an hour or two. We try very hard to give them so much attention and love the first couple days that it is a pleasant and enjoyable experience for them. This is also important as everything the mother feels causes things to happen inside her body that can affect the babies. The less stress and the more relaxed she is, the better it is for babies. So, it is very important that the guardian home not make the transition difficult for the dog. If they act upset or nervous or sad about leaving her, she will feel that even more greatly and we need to make sure that doesn't happen. Bringing her and hanging out in our house with her for an hour or so and just pretending like it's any other visit you'd make is very important. If we can have the family sneak out so the dog isn't even aware they've left, that is usually best too. She rarely acknowledges for more than a couple of minutes that anything has happened.

What happens during pregnancy and what do I have to do differently with the dog?

  • Pregnancy is actually very easy. I have a list of what happens each week during the development of puppies, and I give that to our guardian homes at the time we begin breeding. The dog may act a little more tired, or not eat normally for a few weeks. The last couple weeks of pregnancy she is usually becoming hungrier and sleeps more as time progresses. Otherwise, normal activity is typical and it is important to continue with walking the dog right up to the end. This helps during delivery. Being in shape is always best. Normal play and romping and running during the first half of pregnancy is great. After that, we limit activity to walks on a leash and no ball chasing type of activities.

  • No chemicals may be given during pregnancy. We have to be notified immediately of any illness or injury so we can be involved in determining how she is treated.

What happens if the puppy gets sick or injured while in the guardian home's care?

  • While the dog is in guardian's care and home, any illness or injury that happens is their financial responsibility. We must be involved in treatment plans and know what is going on and determining medications, but the family is responsible for those expenses. Health insurance is highly recommended during this time. This insurance is for your protection because these dogs are extremely valuable as breeders.

What expenses do the guardians pay for and what things does the breeder pay for?

  • The guardian home pays for any normal care items. Food, dishes, leashes, beds, normal vaccinations or worming, flea meds, heartworm meds, toys, grooming needs etc. If the dog needs meds due to worms, illness, infection or anything unrelated to pregnancy, it is the guardian’s responsibility to pay for those expenses.

  • We pay for all expenses related to health testing for breeding purposes, all breeding expenses and litter expenses.

How many litters do you usually breed before retiring the dog?

  • We contract for four litters. We may only breed three or two, or one, but we have the option of four. We are concerned for the well-being of our program dogs. If we find that the girl has problems with deliveries or it would be unhealthy for them to breed again, we will stop the breeding program with her and she will be yours.

Who pays for the spay surgery?

  • We allot $200 towards the spay surgery after the girl has had time to recover from the last litter and have her hormone levels return to normal. This is usually about 2 months after puppies are weaned. If you choose a vet that charges an amount that is more than the average we've found throughout Ohio, be aware you'll be paying the difference. You will initially pay for the spay but once proof of spay has been provided we will reimburse you $200 and sign over AKC registration paperwork for proof of ownership at that time.

What happens if the dog doesn't pass a health test like you want them to for becoming a breeding dog?

  • At this stage in our business, we are typically placing puppies in their guardian home before the testing is done. We are very careful to know the lines we work with, and it's not typical to have a health test come back so poorly that we have been unable to use the dog as a breeding dog. Remember, that breeding quality and pet quality are two different things. Just because a dog may not be the best breeding candidate doesn't mean they aren't the perfect pet. Most of the testing we do is very specific, and we have already thoroughly screened the line and health testing of parent dogs, so it's not likely we'll encounter a problem that would cause us to say we can't breed with that dog.

  • However, the biggest problem with placing puppies early is that if the girl were to have borderline tests and we decided not to use her in our breeding program, it makes financial sense for us to sell her as a pet. We recognize the hardship on the family and the dog if we were to have to sell the puppy. If the guardian does not want to give up their pet and a dog is not utilized as a breeding dog for ANY reason by the time they are 2 years of age, the guardian home would be responsible to pay $800. In some cases we might reduce or waive fees based on our knowledge of our guardian family.

What are the grooming requirements and do you want us to keep the dog clipped a certain way?

  • We do require that the dog be kept groomed and matt free. If you are unable to keep the coat in good shape yourself, you are required to use a groomer to do so. If the dog is brought to us with a matted coat, or a coat that is in bad shape, we have the right to groom them while in our care but you will be responsible to reimburse us for that expense before the dog returns to you.


Guardian dogs are ambassadors for our program. It is important that they maintain a clean and healthy look for the breed and behave well with good manners.