That sweet puppy you got last spring has grown up into a young adult. Your vet advises you to spay or neuter them around 6 months, on average. But you’ve been putting it off, because you’re trying to decide if you want to breed them, right? There can be a number of reasons involved in breeding your dog. Some are valid, while some are not.
It seems so easy, right? Just put the dogs together, let them do their thing, and watch your business grow. But breeding dogs properly requires a lot of responsible decision-making, work, and expense. Realistically, the best idea is to learn more about what you’re getting into first, in order to be a successful and responsible breeder.
Checklist for Breeding your Dog
1. Females should not be bred until they are close to two years old. This allows their bodies and temperaments to develop properly. So that means going through a few heat cycles before you breed her. If she has puppies while she’s still a puppy, she may not be a good mother. And she should not be bred more often than every other year
2. Both dogs involved should have yearly veterinary exams, vaccinations, and regular parasite- testing and control. Your veterinarian should be familiar with whelping puppies, or refer you to one who specializes in reproduction. They can be a huge resource for you, because once that labor starts, you’ll have questions and fears. When breeding your dog, knowing ahead of time what to expect prepares you to help the dam, if needed.
3. Specific tests should be conducted. There are multitudes of inherited diseases carried by certain breeds: diseases such as von Willebrand’s, a bleeding disease that affects Doberman Pinschers, or Exercise-Induced Collapse, found in Labrador Retrievers. Another commonly-known inherited disease is hip dysplasia, which affects any type of dog, and requires x-rays for certification. Potential breeding dogs must be tested via DNA cheek swabs, or be x-rayed by a veterinarian. Some breed registries encourage proof of these tests before they certify a dog.
4. The two dogs must possess healthy temperaments. Dogs who are shy, fearful, or aggressive should not be reproducing. These traits can be inherited, so if proper training does not resolve them, the dog should be neutered. Some breeders even do behavior testing on their dogs, to be thorough.
5. Both the dam and sire should possess excellent physical features of their breed, such as conformation and performance. If you are breeding to continue the future of a type of dog you love, there are guidelines by their registry you may be required to follow. The American Kennel Club is a good resource for contacting your specific breed registry.
It needs to be said that no purebred dog is immune from ending up in a shelter or animal-control facility. There will always be people who get puppies, then later part with them for many different reasons. Most breeders would rather take dogs back than see them go to a shelter, so screening potential buyers is important. You don’t have to interrogate people; rather, work with them to be sure they are getting the best possible companion for their life.
The Tip of the Tail
If you’re considering breeding your dog, it’s essential to do so responsibly. The future of everyone’s favorite breed depends on the wisdom of humans.