SHOULD I BREED MY DOG??
Almost everyone who owns a dog thinks about breeding it at least once. Raising a litter
sounds easy and fun -- but having puppies isnt all its cracked up to be.
Breeding dogs involves much more work and responsibility than most people are prepared
for. Before you breed your dog, there are some important things to consider:
Your responsibilities as a breeder:
Selling puppies is easy .... finding homes that will take good care of
them for their whole lives is hard.
As a breeder, you are personally responsible for each and every puppy for the rest of
its life. Your responsibility doesnt end with selling the puppy - it only starts
there! It will be up to you to know where those puppies are six months, a year, five years
from now and whether or not theyre being taken care of. It will be up to you to keep
any unsold puppies or to take back puppies youve sold after theyre grown if
their owners cant keep them anymore. Since only 1 out of 10 puppies stays with its
original buyer for life, you can expect to have to take back most of your litter sooner or
later. The time to prepare for this is now - before you bring puppies into the world, not
after. Will you have facilities to house these dogs? Will you have time to care for
them? If youre offering your dog for stud service, you have as much
responsibility for the welfare of his puppies as do the owners of the bitches bred to him.
As a breeder,you have the responsibility of controlling the reproductive future of the
puppies you sell. It might seem like having just one litter doesnt add much to the
dog population but - if your dog or bitch produces just one litter of four pups who in
turn each produce just one litter themselves and so forth, in only 7 years your dog will
have 4000 descendants! Just one litter" has serious consequences!
Youll need to learn how to write and enforce a contract requiring the new owners to
spay or neuter their puppies.
You have a responsibility to your puppies and their buyers to produce the healthiest and
most mentally sound dogs possible All breeds have genetic health and temperament problems
that can be passed on to their puppies. 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 pups. Without expensive medical testing and a thorough understanding of
genetics and pedigrees, you could easily produce puppies that will be a heartache to their
owners and a financial burden to you. Reputable breeders check their adult stock for
evidence of hip and elbow dysplasia, eye diseases, thyroid and hormone trouble, skin
problems and allergies, bleeding disorders and other problems before even thinking of
As a breeder, you must be prepared to guarantee your puppies against inherited health
problems that may not appear until adulthood. This can mean refunding money or replacing a
dog years later. Many states are now passing puppy lemon laws that would
require a breeder to refund up to three times the purchase price of a defective puppy or
pay for its medical bills. Temperament is also subject to guarantees. You could be sued if
a dog you produce bites someone! You need to be there to give buyers advice on training,
behavioral and medical problems. Youre the on-line support for your
puppies owners for the next 10-15 years!
Having a litter is expensive
Raising a litter involves a considerable investment in time and money - money that you
arent likely to get back in profit. By the time your bitch is old enough to have
puppies, youll already have more than $1000 invested in her purchase price, food
& upkeep, vaccinations and the medical tests & certification to prove her
suitability for breeding. In order to produce quality puppies, youll need to use a
stud dog thats as good or better than she is. Good stud dogs require a hefty fee.
Most professional breeders wont be interested in taking a puppy in exchange
nor are they interested in breeding to just any bitch.
Therell be pre-whelping exams and x-rays, post-whelping exams and shots, dewclaw
removal and/or tail docking, puppy shots (two sets for each pup before theyre sold),
worming medication, extra food for dam & pups, equipment like whelping boxes, heating
pads, puppy playpens, crates, etc. Problem pregnancies are common. A cesarian section can
cost up to $500.
Youll be taking time off work to help whelp the litter and make sure all is well the
first few days. especially if this is your bitchs first litter. Dogs dont
always know what to do and can accidentally kill their puppies. A problem during whelping
can cost your bitch her life if youre not there to tend her. You can depend on a 25%
mortality rate for newborn puppies no matter how well you care for them. Birth defects
like cleft palettes are also common. Then there will be advertising costs to help sell
your puppies. Depending on your breed and part of the country, it can take up to 4 months
to find proper homes for your whole litter. Even breeders of top quality show dogs rarely
break even on their expenses.
AKC registration requirements
If you plan to register your litter with the AKC, you need to become familiar with their
rules and recordkeeping requirements. You should be aware that they have the right to
inspect your premises and breeding records at any time. If your recordkeepng doesnt
meet their standards, they can refuse to register your puppies, impose a fine and suspend
you from registration privileges for life.
Before going any further, think hard about your reasons for wanting to breed a litter.
Here are some of the most common ones:
Nature intended for dogs to have puppies.
Nature doesnt control our pets reproductive careers any more - people do.
Natures way is very different than ours. Nature never intends for all
animals to reproduce. In the wild, nature sees to it that only the strongest, fittest and
smartest animals survive long enough to have babies. Nature only allows females to
conceive when the food supply and environment is suitable to assure their offspring a good
future. We humans allow our animals to reproduce anytime whether if there is a future for
them or not.
Were doing it for the kids.
Seeing the miracle of birth isnt all its cracked up to be. Its messy,
bloody and usually happens in the middle of the night. Its painful for the bitch 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
We want another dog just like this one."
Your puppies have at least a 50-50 chance of taking after the other parent instead! Your
dog is unique, special. 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.
Its 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! Youll be
amazed at how many people suddenly dont have time for a pup right now or arent
willing to pay your price. Dont count on vague promises!
Placing puppies in good homes is easier said than done. Not everyone should own a dog and
bad owners arent 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 pup untill just the right home comes along?
She needs to experience sex" ... or ... itll settle him
No, on both counts. Sex in animals is governed by hormones. There is no love,
emotion or thinking involved. A bitch only thinks about sex when shes in
season. The experience is forgotten once her season is over. Males only think about sex
when theyre near a bitch in season. Breeding wont settle your dog down at all
- it will make your male dog worse. Hell become more territorial and aggressive
toward other dogs, may lose his house manners, and will become uncontrollable if
theres a breedable bitch in the neighhorhood. If theyve never had it, they
dont miss it! Settling a dog down male or female. is a matter of
maturity and training, not sex!
Theres no truth to the old wives tale that bitches need to have a
litter before spaying. Veterinarians who still give that advice are behind the times!
Research shows that even baby puppies may be spayed or neutered with no ill
effects. Spaying a bitch before her first heat cycle eliminates the risk of breast
cancer and life-threatening uterine infections. Neutering a male dog wont make
him a wimp! In fact, neutering will make him a better, more trainable pet by allowing him
to channel what used to be sexual energy into other, more constructive, areas.
We want to get back our investment in our dog.
As I pointed out earlier, youre not likely to make a profit from raising puppies. In
fact, raising a litter will probably cost more than you ever imagined! You probably bought
your dog to provide companionship and pleasure. Even you paid as much as $500 for it,
thats only an investment of $50 a year if your dog lives for 10 years -
less than $1 a week. Isnt the companionship. pleasure love and loyalty your dog
gives you worth that much?
Learning how to breed responsibly
If you sincerely feel that you have exceptionally good reasons for breeding your dog and
can live up to the great responsibility involved, your work is just beginningl
Your first step is to call the American Kennel Club for a
referral 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 and the AKC GAZETTE. Read everything you can find pertaining
not only to your breed, but all breeds. Youll 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.
One of the most important parts of your education is learning what the breed
standard means. Each AKC-recognized breed has a written standard of
perfection. It describes what that breed should look, move and act like.
Serious breeders constantly measure, test and compare against this standard before
deciding whether their chosen dog is good enough to breed. They show their dogs in order
to compare them with others of high quality. Standards arent easily
understood in one reading. It takes study and exposure to hundreds of dogs before you can
really see why certain characteristics are important and whether or not your dog has them
to such a degree that breeding it would improve the overall quality of the entire breed.
Thats the real goal of serious dog breeding and the ONLY reason to breed any dog -
to produce animals that are exceptional in appearance, health, temperament and
It can take years to gain this kind of knowledge and along the way, you might learn that
the dog you have is a fine pet, but not good breeding stock. If so, youre in good
company. Some of todays most successful breeders began by finding out the same
thing. They discovered that getting a dog of suitable quality meant a serious financial
commitment and a lifetime of dedication to do their very best even though there would be
no real monetary reward for their effort.
Breeding dogs today is a serious matter. Before going any further, visit your local
pound or animal shelter to see what happens to the dogs that were raised by people who
thought it would be fun to have a litter. The miracle of death by
euthanasia is just as educational as the miracle of birth! If you intend
to breed your dog, then you should be fully aware of what the consequences may be.
Will it be worth it? Most of the time, the answer is no. The decision NOT to breed your
pet is one of the most intelligent, educated and loving decisions you can make.
For more information on your breed, registration requirements,
or to find the dog clubs closest to you, visit:
The American Kennel Club
This article was written by
Vicki DeGruy and published as a service of the
Chow Chow Club, Inc. Welfare Committee. It may be reproduced for non-profit,
non-commercial use provided the content is not changed.
For more information, write to:
The Chow Chow Club Inc. Welfare Committee
9828 E County Road A
Janesville, WI 53546
Related Reading -- Web Pages
Should I Breed My Chow Chow?
Related Reading -- Books
My Puppy is Born
.... Barbara Miller
excellent color pictorial for children on whelping
Canine Reproduction - A Breeders Guide
... Phyllis Holst DVM
The New Art of Breeding Better Dogs
... Kyle Onstott
Better Dogs ... Dr Carmen Battaglia
Medical & Genetic Aspects of Purebred
Dogs ... Clark/Stainer
The New Knowledge of Dog Behavior
... Clarence Pfaffenberger
stages of puppy development, essential
The Art Of
Raising A Puppy ... Monks of New Skete
Purebred Dogs - American Kennel Gazette
monthly magazine for dog fanciers
AKC Book of Dog Care & Training
AKC Breed Standard Videos