or not to breed dogs
I am not even going to start hounding you on the millions of animals euthanized
year in shelters or that die on the streets. No one ever thinks this could
happen to a litter
I am going to tell you what makes a responsible breeder and the
that goes into ensuring the best, healthiest dogs possible. Breeding is not just
putting two cute dogs together and sixty-three days later you have cuddly pups.
breeding requires work. It is not to be jumped into headfirst.
What a responsible breeder does:
Know the breed standard
Each dog has a standard accepted by a kennel club that
states what the ideal specimen of that breed should look like. It covers fur to
to structure. A dog not fitting the standard will not be considered for
they get out and show the dogs. Just because you think the dog may fit the
not mean it is a good breed representative. Only by having the dog evaluated
can you truly get a feeling your dog is breeding material – this goes for males
females (what a dog show does as well as other competitions such a Schutzhund –
highly regard a dog who has achieved a SchIII – field trials, lure coursing,
etc.). Even if
a dog is top notch physically, meets the standard well, but has temperament
aggressive), it will not be bred. Many breeders also want to prove their dogs
to match the beauty. There are various sports that test a dog's working ability.
should have both form and function.
Know the pedigrees.
Just because two dogs are great specimens does not mean they
compatible. Not all
hereditary problems are a simple Dominant/Recessive gene
Some require a combination
of multiple gene sequences before being expressed.
So, two dogs could have parts of these sequences and if bred, the problem could be
though there is no sign in either dog's background of the problem. Two great
may not produce great puppies. A responsible breeder will research pedigrees and
other breeders to find the best possible matches. This can be a big undertaking.
because a dog is winning all over the country does not mean he is the best. It
mean he (or she) is being shown loads; chances are by a well-known handler, and
everyone wants to breed to him (or get a pup from her). This dog may not be the
just the most popular at the time. Do not be blinded by wins.
You also must know color inheritances. Some colors, like merles (blue or
should not be bred together. The merle gene, if doubled, can cause problems.
merle breeding can be very bad…
Know the dog.
A responsible breeder will test dogs for things like hips,
problems (eye should be tested yearly on breeding stock) and whatever problems
common to your specific breed. If something is suspected, the dog is not bred.
require testing for the dog they intend to breed to. There are also diseases
brucellosis that can cause fetal abortion (miscarriage) in pregnant females – it
transmitted – you dog must be clear of. Brucellosis does not always have outward
symptoms, your dog could carry it and you never know. You dog also must be
Accepts the risks
Breeding is not all happy. If you own a female, you must be
wait until she is physically mature to breed (about two years old). To breed too
like a teenage human having a child. They are not physically ready or
breed to old is like a woman having her first child later in life. Males also
must be at
least two. You cannot get hips certified until they are two years old at least.
Dogs of both
genders must be fully mature and in top shape before breeding.
You must be willing to be in close contact with your vet from the moment of
There is so much that can happen and that you should know. There are nutrition
– pregnancy and nursing is taxing on the female body. There are risk factors –
breeds are prone to birth complications and almost always require medical
remember hearing an English Bulldog breeder state 99.9% of all English Bulldogs
are born by C-section due to the physiology of the breed. Even in a breed not
birth complications, they can arise and be costly! Many breeders will have their
(radiograph) a pregnant female to get an idea of how many pups, their placement,
big pup could get stuck in the birth canal. A retained pup (not born for some
die and cause massive infection as it decays. A female may die during delivery.
willing to hand rear a litter of pups? This is NOT easy and very tiring. What if
female has poor mothering instincts? Will you take over? Are you willing to
you could lose your dog and her puppies? What if one is born deformed or has a
show up weeks down the road – then what? Are you willing to have you children
miracle of death? I have only scratched the tip of the iceberg…
If you own a stud dog, you will have someone's dog in your care for seven to ten
You must ensure her safety, ensure another dog does not breed her, and that any
needs are attended to. What if she will not breed naturally? Can you
Accepts responsibility for puppies
Puppies need to be with Mom for 8 weeks – in
areas it is illegal to sell or give away an animal younger. This means eight
poop, piddle, and then the fun of a litter of pups playing with food as they
will require vet exams and at least one set of shots before going to homes. Vet
feeding, time to socialize and clean up after, postnatal care of them and Mom
all can be
expensive. What if down the road your dog develops a problem, say starts having
seizures. Are you willing to call everyone who bought a puppy from you and
them? What if someone calls you down the road and cannot keep the puppy – now
what will you do? What health guarantee will you offer? What if someone's puppy
proves deaf, dysplastic, epileptic, what will you do? You brought the pups into
world; therefore, you are responsible.
I have only touched on responsible breeding. There volumes devoted to
breeding. Whether you own a male or female, you must act responsibly. Do not
haphazardly. Do not breed to get a dog "just like Scruffy" – it won't happen. Do
to produce crosses (peke-a-poos, schoodles, etc.). Do not breed if you cannot
time and money to do it responsibly. If you cannot ensure good, loving homes for
(they do not go to pet stores or get dumped at shelters or given to just
anyone), do not
I hope I have given you a bit of food for thought…
To Breed or Not To Breed?
This is the question – my apologies to Mr. Shakespeare…
Pet Editor, Your Life Magazine on line,
West Wind Dog Training
© 2006 West Wind Dog Training, no part may
be used without written permission.