To Breed or Not to Breed

So you just got your new puppy from the pet store. She is an adorable ball of fluff, but the price tag after all the food and collars and such came to $800. To soften the sticker shock the clerk at the store did emphasize that she is a purebred dog and therefore some of her expense may be recovered by breeding her. You may not have seriously considered it before but now the idea is in your head. Should you breed your dog?

The first thing you need to ask yourself is “what is your motivation”?. Are you hoping to be rolling in dough by throwing your intact female in the back yard with your intact male and letting her get pregnant on every heat cycle until she drops dead? That strategy seems to work well enough financially for puppy mills all over the country, but if you actually care about your dog you may find that strategy not to be in her best interest. Are you going to be able to cough up $2000 in the middle of the night for an emergency c-section to save the life of your dog and her puppies? Or will you have to choose to let them die because it didn’t occur to you that expensive complications could happen. Conscientious breeders often say they are lucky if they end up breaking even when producing a good litter of puppies. Do you want your kids to experience the miracle of birth in their own home? First take a trip to the humane society and realize that for every puppy you bring into the world as a casual breeder one of those dogs is going to die. Also remember that along with the cute fun of playing with tiny puppies comes the possibility of very upsetting experiences when one of them dies or has to be euthanized for unfixable problems.

The next thing to ask yourself is whether you have an excellent example of the breed. If you bought your dog from the back of a pickup truck in the Wallmart parking lot or in a pet store then you may have a dog who will make a nice pet, but you do NOT have a dog you should breed. Conscientious breeders know the bloodlines of their breed and carefully select their breeding stock from other conscientious breeders. Do you know what genetic problems run in your breed and have you screened your dog for those things before deciding whether to breed? Conscientious breeders will not use dogs that have even a whiff of a problem because they care about eliminating the significant health issues from their breed.

The last thing you need to ask yourself is whether you have the knowledge you need to see the breeding process through safely. When does a dog first go into heat? How often does she go into heat? What is the best age to begin breeding? What is involved in the process of breeding? How long is her gestation period? What should you expect during delivery? How do you know when there is a problem? What sort of problems can crop up after the puppies are born? If you can’t answer these questions with confidence you need to reconsider your fitness as a breeder.

So enjoy your new puppy. Don’t think of her as a cash cow or as a vehicle for pregnancy for your entertainment and she will be more likely to have a long life as a happy and loved member of the family.