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Breeding Your Dog

This is a very important topic. There are some valid reasons why you might want to breed your dog, but there are about a hundred why you should not.

Some of the common reasons people give for breeding their dogs are:

  1. She's so sweet we just want to get a puppy out of her.
  2. It would be a good experience for the children.
  3. We paid a lot of money for her and this is how we can get some back.

 To these notions we respond:

 1) A large part of what makes your dog so sweet is due to the breeders efforts before you got her. It takes a long time to decide on the proper stud dog to use to compliment a bitch (that is, a female dog) so that the puppies will be pretty, smart and sociable. After they are whelped (born) it takes weeks of work to make sure that the pups are healthy, happy and well socialized so that they will be happy in their new homes. And while you only want one puppy out of the litter, some breeds routinely have litters of twelve to fourteen pups. After you take yours, that still leaves a lot of puppies to find homes for and to take care of until you do.

 2) While there is no denying that watching a dog whelp is an educational experience, it could easily turn into more of an education than you bargained for.

If all goes well and the bitch is very maternal, whelping a litter is easy and you may need to do nothing more than sit back, watch and occasionally change the soiled papers. However, not every bitch is an easy whelper, and may require your assistance to deliver each and every pup. The fear, and pain of whelping a litter has been known to cause even the most placid and even tempered of dogs to panic and growl, snap or even bite their owners when they attempt to assist a delivery. This tends to be more common with pampered pets that have been allowed to gain some degree of dominance within the family "pack". Our experiences have run from the sit back and watch deliveries to bitches that scream and try to run for the hills with every pup. Emergency caesarean sections may occasionally be necessary ( we've had two over the years ) to save the life of not only the pups but of your beloved pet as well. On top of all this, even with experienced breeders, a thirty percent mortality rate is considered reasonable. Along with healthy, squirming pups your children may also see still born pups, deformed pups, partially decomposed pups and pups which die before they are a week old. Some bitches have even been known to eat their young out of fear and panic, any bitch that resorts to this behavior should never be bred again ( even if it is a top prize winner ) as this tendency can be passed on to the young. Whelping a litter also can put the bitch's life in peril from a dozen whelping related diseases. Most of these diseases require that the Bitch be removed from the puppies. This requires that you take care of ALL the puppies needs. This is a job which usually keeps the Bitch occupied twenty four hours a day! If you cannot afford to give the whelps this care, they will die! In short, it can be as much a lesson in death as it is in life.

This is the image most people have of what it's like to have a litter of puppies. the pups all nestled up next to Mom nursing happily.

But what they don't see, or don't think about, is what happens after those cute little puppies grow up a bit. Mom takes care of most of the care (feeding/cleaning) for the first couple of weeks. After that it's up to the breeder to feed them and clean up after them. A normal sized litter of active healthy puppies can produce a prodigious amount of waste. Even under the best of circumstances there is noise and odors to contend with. If you aren't prepared to handle them they can easily get overwhelming.

 And even though Mom does most of the work in the early stages a good breeder will be working on socializing the puppies right from the start. Here is a link to a site that discusses early socialization and it's impact on a dogs temperament. Raising Pups With Great Temperament

3) If we even suspect that a persons interest in our dogs is monetary, we will not sell it to them in the first place. However, while a good sized litter can occasionally result in some profit, it is a hard way to earn some extra money, and is not something you should rely on. The profit that you do make doesn't begin to offset the many hours of work that went into producing a physically and mentally sound litter. And if something goes wrong, as it often does, it can be a financial disaster.

For a rough idea of the costs involved in responsibly breeding a litter of puppies please follow this link. For another site that goes into the costs of breeding please refer to this site.


NOTE - Due to the large numbers of dogs and cats that need to be euthanized yearly many types of legislation ( both nationally and locally ) are being enacted that may have long term effects on you as a breeder. One common component is requiring the breeder to be responsible for every dog they breed for its full life time, and take it back if the people they sell it too can no longer keep it, for any reason. Over the years we have on our own taken some back, due to financial setbacks, divorce, allergies, or other family tragedies. We are set up to handle all of the possible problems, including fights, associated with bringing mature adult dogs together, are you?

If after reading through this article you are still considering breeding your dog. We'd like to offer some links to articles on what to expect in terms of whelping and care needed in raising a litter.

Rec.Pet.Dogs - Breeding, Whelping and Rearing Puppies FAQ

K9 Web - Breeding Whelping and Rearing Puppies

Becoming knowledgeable in genetics is also beneficial for both you and the dogs you produce so we'd like to provide links to some articles on genetics and related issues for you to read and consider.

This link is for an article that was originally written as part of a series of e-mails to a breed specific e-mail list.

Genetics and Health

The remainder of these articles are ones that can be found on the internet. This list is fairly extensive and some of the articles quite long. But there is a lot of information here well worth the time to read through. In providing these links we are not saying that we agree with the authors opinions in all cases, but they do offer considerable food for thought.

Genetic Drift

Genetics Lecture Notes - UBC

Achieving Genetic Health For Our Dogs

Population Genetics

In-breeding In Dalmatians
(You'll need Adobe Acrobat to read this file)

Canine Diversity Project

Animal Color Genetics

Veterinary Genetics Lab - UC Davis

Canine Radiation Hybrid Mapping Project

Conservation Genetics

Principles Of Genetics

Breeding Dogs For The Next Millenium

Bearded Collie Health Web Site - Genetics

Laboratory of Molecular Medicine and Canine Genetics - MSU

Genetics Resources

USA Today Article - Aggression Gene Found

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