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To Breed or not to Breed?

By Charles Hopkins Published 08/1/2007 | Pets and Animals

It is very tempting to think about having a litter of small cuddly puppies from your beautiful bitch, but before even thinking about it, there are important factors to consider.

First of all, you may think your dog is the best in the world, but is it really? Look at her dispassionately, is she of sound construction and reliable temperament? Is she free from any genetic defect? If she is a pedigree dog, is she a good example of the breed, coming from a good pedigree?

Do not be tempted to breed from a dog that has serious defects and do not contemplate breeding as a means of trying to compensate for any signs of nervousness or distress in your bitch or as a way to avoid problems with the uterus. Your dog should be mature enough to physically cope with a litter (in a large breed this can be when the bitch is at least two years old.)

If you are happy so far that breeding is the right thing to do, then you should turn your attention to the pups. Have you the room for a whelping box and then perhaps 12 pups running around? Have you the time to sit with your bitch while she is birthing, perhaps over 12 hours? Then there is the cleaning, weaning, feeding routine for the next eight to 12 weeks. What about money? The cost of the feeds can be large and you really must budget for any veterinary costs that are caused by complications in the birth. Finally, what will you do with the pups? You must be in a position to look after them all. If it is a pedigree dog then you will be looking at selling the pups, if not you will be giving them away or selling for a very small fee. Either way you should be checking very carefully where your pups are going, possibly including a home visit; this again takes time and money. Remember also that you bred the pups and you should always be prepared to take them back, for whatever reason, as a good breeder, they are ultimately your responsibility for life.

If you still think breeding is for you, then your final consideration will be the stud dog. If attempting to breed a pedigree dog, then your ultimate aim will be to produce sound, quality dogs of both structure and temperament, that are ideally as near the Breed Standard as possible. Therefore you should look at your bitch against the Breed Standard, identifying strengths and weaknesses and then look for a stud dog that will complement your bitch, building on her strengths and compensating for her weaknesses. If your bitch has poor pigmentation then do not use a dog that also has poor pigmentation. Study the dogs pedigree and antecedents, do whatever research you can to try to ensure you breed healthy well developed dogs.

Remember you are breeding living animals, their quality of life should come first and not your own interests, especially money!