|Beginners Guide to Breeding Dogs|
Breeding dogs is for some an interesting hobby which reflects their love for their canine friends and for others a very serious occupation. If breeding is something you are considering, there are some factors to consider before plunging ahead, as breeding must be done with proper care and attention to detail to make sure you are treating the breed and of course the animals themselves with the respect they deserve.
To begin with, you really will need a good breeding guide and/or an experienced mentor. Both will be invaluable in helping you avoid some of the problems that often beset new and inexperienced breeders such as: missed pregnancies and small litters (both are costly mistakes) and large vet bills for complications like caesarian whelping, milk fever, or diseases transmitted through breeding like brucellosis. Pyometra, a uterine disorder is anther common problem in bitches who have not been neutered, and again good advice is crucial.
Another very important point is the ability to screen potential owners of your puppies and to be firm if you’re not happy. You may not feel a particularly elderly owner, or those with full-time jobs may not be the ideal parents for one of your precious puppies. Where possible do try to match the puppy to owner by personality too, as a gregarious puppy may need a strong-minded owner, whereas a quieter puppy will be better matched to a quieter family.
Firstly you must ask yourself whether dog breeding is compatible with your current lifestyle. Proper breeding is very time consuming. Although dog breeding will not necessarily take up all of your time every day, there will be times when your dog will need your full attention such as just before and during giving birth, known as whelping. You will then have to be on hand for 8 weeks to help the mum raise her litter, with tasks including regular feeding and general puppy care. Puppies need human playtime, as well as doggy play, to ensure socialisation, meaning that the puppies need time and handling to become used to human company so that they can become happy, well adjusted pets.
If it is your bitch that is being mated, you will have to organize the mating. Making sure it happens at the right time and enough times for a good chance of pregnancy.
Breeding dogs must be kept fit and healthy so they need to be exercised daily.
Most breeders like to make their own feed mixes, which can be done in advance but will still require more of your time.
Secondly, you need to be sure that you have the correct environment in which to breed dogs. You will need a clean, spacious and secure area for your dogs to live, play and grow. Puppies need fresh air, within a secure enclosure to run around in. At all times adult dogs will need some form of shelter from the elements.
Keep in mind that small children and very young puppies are not always a good mix, and consider the effect becoming a breeder will have on your neighbours. Bear in mind that you will need to separate your dogs from each other at certain times e.g. when a bitch is whelping or, with young pups, other bitches must be kept away as they might attack the pups, and when the bitches are on heat male dogs must obviously be kept away unless mating is desired. This means in essence that you need plenty of space in order to provide separate but still quality, living areas.
Choose your breed
Once you have decided to breed seriously, you will then need to choose your breed. It is likely that you will have had a breed in mind when you first decided to become a breeder, but do consider if it the right breed for you and your lifestyle. Research your chosen breed thoroughly, and find out about the pregnancy and whelping associated with that breed. Some breeds for example are prone to requiring caesarians, which are expensive, and controversially, some breeds have now been ‘over’ bred to the point that certain desirable feature have become exaggerated, which means that the animals can face a lifetime of pain and misery, which of course equals both distress and expense for the owners. Think about the potential size of the litters, and desirability of puppies, because if they are hard to place you may end up with the remains of an unwanted litter. It is wise to know as much as possible about your breed, and most breeders become an advocate for that type of dog. Attending any shows or events, studying pedigrees, and joining online forums to speak to any other breeders of your chosen breed will all give you good insight into the nuances of the breed.
Breeding dogs should always be registered with the Kennel Club. Whether or not you plan to show the dogs, you will need to choose a good example of the breed which is not always easy to see in puppies. You will learn this skill quickly, so do your research. Make sure the dog not too small and not too large. Check the puppy’s bloodline for previous champions, and ask to see both parents of the litter and check their temperament as puppies can inherit character traits. Look at the pup’s mouth and bite; it should be clean with no over or under bite.
Ask the breeder whether the parents were screened for any of the likely genetic problems associated with the breed, although a responsible breeder will probably have done this already. Also be sure that they’re not too closely bred, or related, as this can lead to genetic and reproductive problems. Ask how the whelping went, as a good whelper should produce bitches who are also good whelpers.
Few breeders will be willing to sell you a good standard puppy without a no-breeding clause so it may take a while to find one that will. When you do ensure you befriend that breeder, as their future support and advice may be invaluable. Do remember that breeding will be hard work at first and you will need all the help you can get but the happy outcome of your first healthy litter will make it all worthwhile.
Dog Breeders click here for a full list.