Should I breed my dog?

Many people consider breeding their pet for a variety of reasons, but breeding is a big decision and puppies are a huge responsibility. Please be a responsible breeder. Millions of dogs are killed in shelters across the country every year. Responsible ownership and breeding is the only way the unwanted pet problem will be resolved.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before you proceed:

  • Will breeding your dog provide high-quality puppies that improve the breed?
  • Has your dog been screened for hip and/or elbow dysplasia, heart diseases, eye problems, or other genetic disorders that should not be passed on?
  • Have you checked the health records of your dog’s parents and grandparents for hip and/or elbow dysplasia, heart diseases, eye problems, or other genetic disorders that should not be passed on?
  • Have you checked these same records for the dog to which you plan to breed your pet?
  • Does your dog have a desirable personality, with no signs of aggression towards or fear of people (including children) or other dogs?
    Many fearful or aggressive tendencies are hereditary.
  • Is your dog in an appropriate condition to safely and healthily go through pregnancy, whelping, and lactation?
    A dog that has ongoing medical concerns may not have the energy reserves to develop or raise healthy puppies. An obese dog is more prone to complications with whelping than one in fit condition. An underweight dog may not be able to support herself and her litter adequately, and may have problems producing enough milk, or may “milk off” her own muscle and reserves, possibly leading to long-term endocrine or muscle problems.
  • Is your dog of an appropriate age to breed?
    We do not recommend breeding dogs on their first heat cycle. Most dogs will start cycling at 6-9 months old, while they are still growing rapidly themselves. While they are capable of getting pregnant at this time, keep in mind that this is the equivalent developmental age to a 14-16 year old human girl. It is preferable to allow your dog to finish growing before putting her body through the stress of breeding. Conversely, a dog that is too old may not conceive well, and should be screened for kidney, liver, or endocrine issues that may be developing and aggravated by pregnancy and lactation.
  • Do you have an appropriate area for your dog to whelp and raise puppies?
  • Do you have the time to care for and clean up after a whole litter of pups for 2 months?
    Remember that some large breed dogs can have more than a dozen puppies in a litter; that’s a lot of space and a lot of mess.
  • Do you have a good home lined up for all of your expected puppies, with at least 2 extra homes in case you have more pups than expected or someone decides not to get a pup at this time?
    Remember that any pups not adopted will be your responsibility.
  • Do you have the money on hand to provide your pups with a veterinary check, vaccinations, and deworming?
    We recommend starting puppy vaccinations at 6-8 weeks of age, with boosters every 3 – 4 weeks until 16 weeks of age. This means at least one and possibly 2 vaccines will be given before you can sell or adopt out your pups. Pups also usually need to be dewormed.
  • Do you have the money ready if your dog requires a c-section?
    Emergency surgery if your dog has trouble whelping can run up to $1000. Remember that most veterinary clinics request payment at time of services, so you can’t count on paying for this after you sell your pups.
  • Are you expecting to make a profit selling your puppies?
    Unfortunately this is usually not a realistic expectation. The market for puppies has been significantly depressed by the recent economic upheavals, and unless you have high-quality, pure-bred puppies with impressive bloodlines, you will most likely not be able to sell them for very much.

So you’ve considered all the responsibilities, and decided that your dog is a good candidate for breeding. You’ve set money aside for expected care and emergencies, and lined up an appropriate mate for your dog. What’s next?

Short version:

  • Before breeding, make sure your dog is up to date on all recommended vaccinations. Recent booster shots help ensure that mom’s colostrum will contain adequate antibodies to protect her puppies from such threats as parvo and distemper viruses.
  • Make sure your dog is current on flea prevention, and plan to deworm her during her pregnancy. Try to time her deworming for 2 weeks before her delivery date, with a second deworming dose a day or 2 before whelping.
  • Accustom your dog to the whelping area, so that she is comfortable and relaxed in the area you want her to go to when it’s time. Provide clean bedding for “nesting”. A whelping area should be quiet and secluded without being so far from the family that it stresses the dog to confine her there.
  • Consider having your dog x-rayed about 5 days before her due date, to get an idea of how many puppies are coming, and how big they are, and an indication of any problems that may be developing.
  • Normal gestation length is 61-63 days. Plan ahead to be available during your dog’s delivery dates in case there are complications.

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