5 signs your dog is a good candidate for breeding

5 signs your dog is a good candidate for breeding

Before you decide to breed, it’s vital to conduct a full and honest appraisal of your dog to ensure they’re a good candidate to breed from. This includes health testing, temperament testing and taking an objective view about whether the genetics you’re set to pass down are desirable. In this article, we’ll look at the top 5 signs that your dog could make a good parent.  

Objective evaluation of your dog prior to breeding is vital

It’s easy to suffer from ‘kennel blindness’, we all utterly adore our own dogs, but we need to be able to take a step back and take an objective view. Health-tested parents produce healthy puppies. No one wants to breed unhealthy puppies, right? Make sure you do your research around the required breed tests for your chosen breed and make sure BOTH parents are clear of hereditary disease. We only want to be responsible for beautiful bouncing babies, we do not want to be responsible for puppies who develop health issues that can mean a lifetime of pain and suffering. 

Behaviour problems are the leading cause of dogs in rescue, and a dog's temperament is in part inherited. Being able to critically evaluate your potential puppy parents is a key skill. In a recent report released by the PDSA, a whopping 41% of owners have dogs that are afraid of fireworks, and 11% of dogs show signs of stress when left alone. But how is this important? These traits can be inherited, just like poor health. 

Temperament is passed down from generation to generation, so make sure BOTH parents have a temperament that is true to breed type and that the potential breeding pair are robust, resilient, and well-rounded. Breeding from dogs of sound health and temperament gives a stronger chance of a full and happy life, and that must be our number 1 breeder priority!

Sign #1 - a clean bill of health for breed-related health issues

Let's have a clean bill of health and clear test results for breed-related health issues. Check out your breed club, they will have a health coordinator who will happily walk you through the required tests for your breed. Don’t let crossbreeding catch you out! You should test for all of the breeds that make up your dog! 

Sign #2 - your dog is conformationally correct

Are your pair conformationally correct? All recognised dog breeds have “breed standards” that promote the long-term health and well-being of the breeds.  You will need to learn about the standards that apply to your breed and adhere to them. 

Some examples of conformational requirements include the importance of straight limbs and how they protect the dog from long-term lameness. Appropriate lengths of muzzle to ensure that the dog can breathe effectively and enjoy good exercise and quality of life, and the proportionate length of a dog's back to prevent mobility issues.  

Sign #3 - your dog has a stellar temperament

Does your dog boss life? Do they have a temperament that is appropriate for their breed standard? You should be looking for a sound calm temperament around new people of all shapes and sizes, including children. Your dog should be non-reactive to new and novel objects and sensory stimuli. Most people want pet dogs who are pleasant and easy to live with, so make sure the parents are! 

Sign #4 - your dog is between 2 and 7 years old

Is your dog over 2 years old and under 7 years old? Don’t breed from babies. Your dog should be physically and mentally mature before they are expected to be a parent and raise or sire a litter. 

When you breed from an immature dog, you have not allowed them to fully develop physically or mentally, and so behaviour traits and some medical issues may not have surfaced. On the flip side, breeding from older females carries significant health risks, mating a bitch after her 7th birthday is not recommended for health reasons.  

Sign #5 - your dog has had less than four litters

Overbreeding is just not cool, having a litter is strenuous and takes its toll on your dog. 4 litters should be the absolute maximum for any breeding female, any more than that and are being unethical and risking her health and welfare. 

Male dogs can sire multiple litters, but again, excessive stud duties can affect your boys too!

In conclusion

Just because they can, doesn’t mean they should. When choosing a pairing consider the 360-degree picture. Health, temperament, comparison to breed standard, age and prior breeding history are the minimum points to consider when deciding whether your dog is suitable for breeding. Be honest, take a third-party stance and critically evaluate the dogs you are considering. You may love them to bits, but are their genetics truly good enough to contribute towards the dogs of future generations? If so and you want to learn the next steps on your breeding journey check out our courses at

This article is a guest post kindly contributed by Rebecca Walters of Pupstarts Breeders. Pupstarts provide dog breeding courses to help ethical dog breeders to breed, whelp and raise puppies responsibly, safely and with absolute confidence.



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