Here are some important things to consider before breeding your dog. Raising a litter of adorable balls of fur sounds easy and fun, but having puppies isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Breeding dogs involves much more work and responsibilities than most people are prepared for. Breeding carries the responsibility to your puppies and their buyers to produce the healthiest and most mentally sound dogs possible.
The first step in deciding to breed your dog is to determine if your dog is breeding quality. If you answer no to any of the following questions get you pet spayed or neutered.
Did you purchase your dog from a reputable breeder?
If you got your dog from a pet store, animal shelter, or you found him/her chances are your dog is not breeding quality. Although pet stores purchase puppies from USDA registered brokers who must meet the guidelines of the federal Animal Welfare Act, a shortage of inspectors, protection by local authorities, and the difficulty of making a legal case against violators makes adherence to the AWA virtually unenforceable. The brokers sell puppies for profit and chances are that they do not test for genetic diseases, place no limits on puppy registrations, have a marginal health program, know little about the breed standard, and have poor quality breeding stock. If you obtained your pet from an animal shelter or found it your dog is not breeding quality. You have no information about this dog’s history and are therefore unable to predict what kind of puppies he/she will have. Although your dog may be the best pet in the world, without a long history of similar type chances are those characteristics will not show up in the puppies. Reputable breeders are knowledgeable about the breed, screen for health problems, title or show their dogs, and carefully plan breedings.
Do you have a five-generation pedigree?
The pedigree is your dog’s family tree. Again if you do not know your dog’s history you have no indicator of what the puppies will be like.
Does your dog have a stable temperament?
Fearful, aggressive, nervous, vicious, unpredictable, or untrustworthy dogs present a danger to society. Puppies not only learn behaviors from their parents, but also inherit their temperament. Unstable temperaments can be genetically passed onto puppies and is not only difficult to live with, but also dangerous.
Does your dog fit the breed standard?
Each breed has a set of guidelines that describes the ideal specimen of that breed. No dog is perfect but it should fit most of the criteria and have no glaring faults. The breed standard maintains the integrity and uniqueness of the breed.
Is your dog healthy and certified free of genetic diseases?
The best way to determine this isn’t just a typical vet check. Every breed has health issues that it may inherit or develop. It takes experience and knowledge to learn how to recognize these problems. Many inherited defects are “hidden” – although your dog may not seem to have a problem, it could be genetically programmed to pass trouble along to its puppies. Without medical testing and a thorough understanding of genetics and pedigrees, you could easily produce puppies that will be a heartache to their owners or a financial burden to you. Some common problems include hip and elbow dysplasia, eye diseases, thyroid and hormone trouble, skin problems and allergies, and bleeding disorders.
If you answered yes to all of the previous questions you have a breeding quality dog. Now, your next step is to determine your motivation to breed. Breeding should be done to improve the breed, not for any of the following reasons.
For the kids.
Seeing the miracle of birth isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s messy, bloody and usually happens in the middle of the night. It’s painful for the female and her cries may be more than you or the kids can stand. There are videos and books available to show children what birth is like without the responsibility and expense of raising puppies.
We want another dog just like this one.
The laws of heredity make it impossible for any two to be exactly alike. Many of the qualities of personality that make your dog so adorable to you are developed, not inherited.
We want to keep a puppy.
It is far cheaper and easier to buy a new puppy than to breed one yourself.
All our friends want one.
Almost everyone who saw your dog as a pup will tell you they want one “someday.” That someday is seldom when your puppies are ready for their new homes. You’ll be amazed at how many people suddenly don’t have time for a pup right now or aren’t willing to pay your price. Don’t count on vague promises.
Placing puppies in good homes is easier said than done. Not everyone should own a dog and bad owners aren’t always easy to sort from the good ones. You have to be a good judge of character and willing to spend time getting to know people before you sell them a puppy. Do they have the experience to raise and train your puppy and if not are you willing to teach them? Is this the best possible home for this particular puppy? Do you know how to evaluate puppy potential to match the right dog with the right person? Will you be willing to hang on to each puppy until just the right home comes along?
We want to get back our investment in our dog.
Raising a litter involves a considerable investment in time and money-money that you are not likely to get back in profit. By the time your female is old enough to have puppies, you’ll already have more than $1000 invested in her purchase price, food and upkeep, vaccinations and the medical tests and certification to prove her suitability for breeding. In order to produce quality puppies, you’ll need to use a stud dog that is as good or better than she is. Good stud dogs can require hefty fees ranging from $500 to $1500 and most professional breeders won’t breed their stud dogs to just any female.
There will be pre-whelping exams and x-rays, post-whelping exams and shots, dewclaw removal and/or tail docking (depending on the breed of dog), puppy shots (two to three sets for each puppy before they’re sold), worming medication, food for the dam and puppies, equipment like whelping boxes, heating pads, puppy playpens, crates, etc. Problem pregnancies are also common. A cesarian section can cost up to $500. Birth defects like cleft palettes are also common and treating and saving sick puppies can be expensive and heartbreaking.
You’ll be taking time out of your schedule to whelp the litter and make sure all is well the first few days, especially if this is your female’s first litter. Dog’s don’t always know what to do and can accidentally kill their puppies. A problem during whelping can cost your female her life if you’re not there to tend her. You can depend on a 25% mortality rate for newborn puppies no matter how well you care for them. Then there will be advertising costs to help sell your puppies.
You probably bought your dog for companionship and pleasure. Even if you paid as much as $500 for your dog, that’s only an investment of $50 a year if your dog lives 10 years- less that $1 a week. Aren’t the companionship, pleasure, love and loyalty your dog gives you worth that much?
If you sincerely feel that you have an exceptional dog and are ready for the responsibility of raising a litter your work is just beginning. Contact the kennel club that recognizes your breed (American Kennel Club, Canadian Kennel Club, FCI etc.) for referrals to the national and local clubs for your breed. Join the club to meet and learn from other serious breeders. Subscribe to dog magazines, especially the national magazine for your breed. Read everything you can find pertaining not only to your breed, but all breeds. You’ll need an education in all canine subjects; medical concerns, anatomy and structure, behavior, training and even some psychology for working with the owners of your new puppies. Go to dog shows where you can see and touch other examples of your breed and learn what makes them better than average.
The decision not to breed your pet is one of the most intelligent, educated and loving decisions you can make.