Unless you are a professional full time dog breeder with lots of experience, making the decision to breed from your dog is not a procedure to be undertaken lightly or on a whim. Many people who own an unspayed bitch often think that it is a nice idea in the abstract to breed from her, perhaps keeping one of the puppies, but in order to be responsible and do the best for both your own dog and the dog population as a whole, there is much more to it than that.
With dog rehoming centres and shelters full to bursting with both dogs and puppies that need a home as a direct result of other people’s irresponsible behaviour when keeping or breeding from their dogs, it is the duty of every dog lover to ensure that they do not contribute to the problem. This also means making sure that your breeding endeavour is not ultimately likely to result in further pressure on already stretched resources.
So, if you think you might want to breed from your dog, read on to learn about some factors you should consider that might not have occurred to you.
If your dog is not pedigree, it is fair to say that breeding from them is almost certainly not a good idea. Unless they have a very distinctive trait that is unique and in demand, such as a considerable aptitude for working or canine sports, then there is no good reason to breed from a non-pedigree dog. Lots of people are already doing this, and there is no shortage of non-pedigree dogs and puppies of all varieties in need of homes, so in effect, breeding from a non-pedigree dog means that they will be harder to home, and might directly take a home away from a dog in a rehoming shelter.
If your dog is not a good example of their breed, again, breeding is to be discouraged. There might be demand for the puppies from people who wish to save a few hundred pounds by buying a pedigree dog that is not a great example of the breed; but breeding poor quality dogs also means that the gene pool of dogs of the breed within the UK will become diluted with the non-standard traits the parent dogs possess.
Many pedigree dog breeds have genetically inherited health issues present within their breed lines, and breeding from dogs that possess these traits is to be discouraged. If your dog’s breed is among them, are you prepared to pay for genetic testing to identify the presence of any potential problems, understanding that you might find the end result is that breeding is not a good idea, and your money has been wasted?
You should check the market before going ahead with breeding, to see if there is demand for dogs of the breed that you own. If you see multiple classified ads for pedigree puppies of the breed you own that seem to be up for ages and offer older puppies that have not been sold early on, you will probably find it hard to find buyers for your own pups.
However, if there are very few ads for your breed of dog and all of the ads that you spot have waiting lists and take early reservations, there is likely to be significant demand for your puppies.
As well as the issue of genetic health testing mentioned earlier on, are you fully informed about how the period of gestation for your dog breed is likely to go, and if there are any breed-specific issues that you might need to know about? For instance, some dog breeds such as the English Bulldog almost always have to be birthed by caesarean section due to the size of their heads, which means having a vet on standby for the delivery and a potentially costly veterinary procedure to bring the puppies into the world.
While you might make a profit from the sale of the puppies, this is by no means a given and you will still need to pay out for a lot of things related to breeding, whether the puppies sell or not. Stud fees, genetic testing, veterinary care, first vaccinations and of course, feeding the dam and puppies can soon add up to a lot of money!
Finally, it is worth thinking about the time of year that you breed your bitch as well, and working out at what stage of the calendar the puppies will be born, and what time of year it will be when they are ready to go to their new homes.
During December, many dog shelters and rehoming organisations suspend their adoption processes to avoid allowing dogs and puppies to be given as Christmas presents, as Christmas puppies are more likely than any other to ultimately end up back in the shelter when they get older and are less fun for the kids.
However, some breeders deliberately plan for Christmas litters, knowing that demand will be high, prices will be high, and lots of people think it is fun and festive to produce a cute puppy with a bow around its neck on Christmas day.
Be a responsible dog breeder- if you have got as far as planning the time of year to breed from your dog, don’t join the ranks of the Christmas litter breeders.