Becoming a Breeder

The Facts It is extremely important to learn the facts and possible consequences in advance if you are contemplating breeding your dog.  In today's overcrowded world, we, the caretakers of our domestic pets, must make responsible decisions for them and for ourselves.  The following points should be reviewed carefully


Quality AKC registration is NOT an indication of quality.  Most dogs, even purebreds, should not be bred.  Many dogs, though wonderful pets, have defects of structure, personality or health that should not be perpetuated.  Breeding animals should be proven free of these defects BEFORE starting on a reproductive career.  Breeding should only be done with the goal of IMPROVEMENT of the breed-- an honest attempt to create puppies better than their parents.  If you plan on breeding because you "want another dog just like the one you have", you had better think again.  No two dogs are alike.  The offspring are not always like their parents--their physical and behavioral characteristics will be different.  Ignorance is no excuse--once you have created life, you can't take it back, even if blind, crippled or a canine menace.


Cost Dog breeding is NOT  a not a money making proposition, if done correctly.  Health care and shots, diagnosis of problems and proof of quality, extra food, facilities, stud fees, advertising, etc. are all costly and must be paid BEFORE the pups can be sold.  An unexpected Cesarean or emergency intensive care for a sick pup will make a break-even litter become a big liability.  And this is IF you can sell the pups.


Sales First-time breeders have no reputation and no referrals to help them find buyers.  Previous promises of "I want a dog just like yours"  evaporate.  Consider the time and expenses of caring for pups that may not sell until four months, eight months or more!  What would you do if your pups did not sell?  Send them to the shelter?  Dump them in the country??  Sell them cheap to a dog broker who may sell them to labs or other unsavory buyers?  Veteran breeders with a good reputation often don't consider breeding unless they have cash deposits in advance for an average sized litter.


Joy of Birth If you are doing it for the children's education, remember the birth may occur at 3"00 a.m. or at the veterinarians office on the surgery table.  Even if children are present they may get a chance to see the birth of a deformed puppy or watch the mother dog cry, scream and bite you as you attempt to deliver a pup that is half out and too large.  Some dogs are not natural mothers and either ignore or injure their pups.  Mother dogs can have severe delivery problems or even die during labor.  Pups can be born dead or with gross deformities that require euthanasia.  Of course, there can be joy, but if you can't deal with the possibility of tragedy, don't start.


Time Veteran breeders of quality dogs state that they spend well over 130 hours of labor in raising an average litter.  That is over two hours per day, every day!  The mother dog cannot be left alone during birth and only for short periods for the first few days after.  Be prepared for days off work and sleepless nights.  Even after delivery, and nursery areas need lots of cleaning.  More hours are spent doing paperwork, preparing pedigrees and interviewing buyers.  If you have any abnormal conditions, count on double the time.  If you can't provide the time, you will either have dead pups or poor ones that are dab tempered, antisocial, dirty and /or sickly--hardly a buyer's delight.


Humane Responsibilities It's midnight--do you know where your puppies are?  There are over five million unwanted dogs put to death in shelters across the country each year with millions more dying homeless and unwanted through starvation, disease, automobile accidents, abuse, etc.  Nearly a quarter of the victims of this unspeakable tragedy are purebred dogs "with papers".  The breeder who creates a life is responsible for that life.  Will you carefully screen potential buyers?  Or will you just take the money and not worry if the street to be killed?  Will you turn down a sale to irresponsible owners?  Or will you say "yes" and not think about the puppy's future?  The pup someday may have a litter each time she comes in heat.  This will fill the shelters with more statistics--your grand pups!  Would you be prepared to take back a grown puppy if the owners could no longer care for it?  Or can you live with the thought that the puppy you helped bring into the world may end up dying in a shelter.


Conclusions Because of these facts we believe that dog breeding is best left to the "professional breeder".  What makes a breeder professional?

A professional breeder is one who has made a lifetime commitment to the well-being and IMPROVEMENT of one, or possible two breeds.

A professional has studied and researched the breed and knows intimately its history and standard, its strong points and drawbacks.

A professional has spent time, effort and money researching and proving both the physical and behavioral qualities and health of the potential breeding stock.  Those that do not prove out are  NOT  bred.  A professional plans a litter only with the goal of puppies better than the parents, not for profit, vanity or fun.

The professional has both the time and mental fortitude to BE THERE  for the dogs and puppies.  A professional evaluates the litters and makes every effort to match puppy to buyer in temperment, attitude and energy level as well as physical abilities.

A professional NEVER sells to pet shops or laboratories.  A professional requires and enforces spay/neuter agreements.

A professional is, first and foremost, selling to responsible, loving people.  A professional keeps in periodic contact with the owners of puppies sold, not only to evaluate the breeding program, but also because s/he cares about the pups' well-being.

A professional does NOT have so many dogs that there is no time for individual attention, play and grooming.  A professional also does not skimp on food quality, space, preventative medicine and health care.  A professional assumes responsibility for the life created carefully screening buyers, helping find new homes, making a comfortable life for the retirees, and yes being able to make the decision to euthanize when a puppy born with a physical or behavioral problem has no chance for a quality life.

A professional builds a good reputation slowly based on dedication and consistent quality, not on volume, advertising, or from a casual or self-glorifying attitude.

A professional goes further and assumes some responsibility for the problems of the breed as a whole.  A professional belongs to an organization for the breed, continues to read about new developments, and works to reduce the number of the breed that are carelessly bred, ill-cared for, and discarded.

A professional can look at a bigger picture than dog show wins or puppy sales and contributes in some way to the betterment of dogs as a whole.

Given a choice educated owners who buy from breeders prefer to work with these professionals.  If professional breeding is more of an obligation than you care to take on, choose the responsible alternative of having your pet neutered.

Text adapted from Bonnie Wilcox, D.V.M.


Note This problem occurs with all species, not just dogs.


Copyright 1998.  Denver Dumb Friends League.  All right reserved.