Breeding your Bitch

To breed or not to breed

If you are wondering whether or not you should breed your dog, here is some information that might help you take a decision. The summary is that if you want to do it right, and get healthy and happy puppies, it is an expensive and time-consuming proposition involving a lot of work.


I want to supplement my income!

Breeding ethically and correctly starts with picking out a good bitch, waiting for her to be at least two years of age, picking out the best dog to mate her with, ensuring that she as well as the male are healthy; you have already invested a lot of time, effort and money. In addition to this will be the stud fee you might have to pay for the stud dog, the time and expenses during pregnancy and the possible expense of surgery at the time of whelping. And all this before even the puppies are born! 

You need to keep the puppies for a minimum of 8 weeks before finding them their new homes; you need to advertise and find good homes for the puppies, you need to make sure they have had their first round of vaccinations before going. If some of the puppies die, or you have a smaller than usual litter, you may not get as much money from the sale of the puppies as you had though.

You are better off consulting with a financial whiz about investing the money you would otherwise spend and lose on breeding!

Breeders frequently thank their stars if they break even.


My kids should see the wonders of birth and life!

What if the whelping goes wrong and dead puppies are born? What if the bitch dies? These are all very real risks that you are undertaking.

Switch on Animal Planet and let them watch it on TV!


I want another dog just like mine!

If you want to breed your dog so as to get another dog like yours, think about this for a moment. No matter how special your dog is to you, a puppy out of it is not guaranteed to be just like or even similar to your dog -- half its genes will be from another dog! It is much easier, often less expensive, and certainly less time consuming to pick out an existing dog that you like from the shelter or another breeder. Best yet, go back to the same breeder of your dog, if possible, and pick another puppy out of similar lines.


Every bitch should have a litter!

This is a complete misconception. Bitches are not improved by having puppies.

Nor is it beneficial for her physically. In fact, an ‘entire’ (unspayed) bitch who has never had a litter is at a much higher risk of mammary cancer and pyometra. There is absolutely nothing wrong with spaying a bitch without her having a litter.


But my dog is registered!

Well, yes, but that really does not mean too much. A registered dog simply means that the dog's parentage is known.  

Most registries do not make any assertions of quality in the dogs they register. They do not restrict the breeding of their dogs and hence there is no guarantee that a registered dog is a good specimen of its breed.


So when should I breed? 

The only reason you should be breeding is that you honestly feel that you are improving your breed by doing so. There are far too many dogs around to breed without good reason. A dog in a breeding program must have a good point to contribute to the benefit of the breed, whether that is in good conformation, good performance or whatever. Such a dog must have some evidence of external evaluation.

That usually translates into titles, whether for conformation, obedience trials, or whatever is appropriate for that breed. Such a dog should also not have any hereditary problems in its lineage or pedigree.


Potential Hereditary Problems

Every breed has a different set of potential problems for it. Hip Dysplasia, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), Patellar Luxation, Heart Diseases, von Willebrand’s Disease, Epilepsy, poor temperament, are some of the problems that are hereditary.


Medical Checks before Breeding

Both the dog (sire) and the bitch (dam) should be in good general health. The dam must be healthy, to withstand the stresses and rigors of a pregnancy. They must both be up to date on their vaccinations and deworming.



Do not breed any animal that has temperament problems. In particular, this has been the cause of the degeneration of many breed's general temperament: Doberman Pinschers, Rottweilers, and so on. If your animal is untrustworthy around people, overly aggressive to people, excitable, or is a fear-biter, do not breed it. If it is shy or submissive, don't breed it. Look for happy, confident and obedient animals, and consider carefully the particular temperament requirements for your dog's breed. If your dog is not a good representation of its breed, do not let it reproduce. It is much easier to improve a few faults than to try and get excellent pups with a mediocre dog. Check the breed standard for your dog and ask a knowledgeable person for their evaluation of your dog.


Considerations for Stud Dogs

First, remember that it is extremely difficult to come up with a top-quality stud dog that people want to use. After all, they will look around and pick out the best male they can find. So, your dog has to be pretty impressive to be noticed in the competition.

Your male should be in top condition. He should be certified clear of joint problems and any hereditary diseases. An unproven dog (that has no previous puppies or only puppies too young to evaluate) will command a much lower stud dog fee than a proven dog (with a record of puppies to examine).


Other issues to consider

Many dogs and bitches require assistance during mating and this can be quite a challenge for novice breeders.

After the puppies are born, it is your responsibility to find good homes for the pups. So many dogs end up unwanted and abandoned because of hasty decisions being taken on the spur of the moment.

If you have still decided to go ahead and breed, then good luck, and remember since the choice is yours, the responsibility of placing the puppies in good loving homes is also yours.

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