Lots of people dream about breeding dogs, luxurating in the idea of having loads of adorable little puppies running happily through their home, barking excitedly before they settle in for a quiet little nap. When the pups turn eight weeks old they sell them to loving owners for tons of money, then go on a well-deserved vacation to Paris before starting all over again.
Responsible dog breeding results in a happy breeder and happy dogs.
The reality, of course, is far from that. While dog breeding can be fun, responsible dog breeding takes lots of time, energy and money. Responsible dog breeders are not just in it for the cash, they care passionately about their animals' health and welfare, and do everything they can to ensure beforehand that they will be able to find safe, happy homes for the puppies once they fly the nest .
If you are thinking about breeding dogs yourself – or buying a dog from a breeder – make sure you read this first …
DOS and DON'TS of Responsible Dog Breeding
If you are considering breeding dogs, here are some do's and don'ts to ensure you get the best – and most ethical results …
DO research the type of dog you wish to breed and decide if it's the right one for you. You will need on that not only ties in with your personality but also fits in with your lifestyle. Do not, for example, decide to breed Old English Sheepdogs if you live in a tiny studio apartment in sunny Florida!
DO pick a breed that is competitive on the market, if you decide your goal is to make money – and ensure the puppies find good homes. Consider not only the breed's popularity but but many breeders in the local area you will be competitive with.
DO check to make sure your bitch is free of genetic defects before you breed. You do not want to breed a dog who gives birth to puppies nobody wants. In the same vein, a dog with a nasty temperament does not a loving mother make. Studies have shown that dog temperaments can be genetic, so if you have a bitter, bitey dog, do not even think of breeding her.
DO ensure that you have sufficient time on hand to devote to breeding. You will have to take care of your breeder until she gives birth, and will have to be there while she whelps and for several days afterwards. You will also have the responsibility of looking after all the pups and making sure their physical as well as emotional needs are met (no, really).
DO NOT push your bitch to breed too often, or start her on her new career when she is too young. Females should not begin promoting until they are at least two years of age, and they need plenty of time to recover from every litter before starting anew. Most Kennel Clubs have policies about how often a dog can be bred and the frequency of litters.
DO NOT jump into breeding too quickly without taking all financial issues into consideration. Breeding is an expensive proposition, and you will be required to pay for everyday expenses – until the puppies are at least eight weeks old – as well as potential unforeseen financial outlays such as emergency C-sections. If you can not afford it, do not do it.
DO NOT expect to make a killing the first time around. Responsible dog breeders are not in it just for the money, and many people lose money in the beginning. In fact, you may never make a profit at all – and be lucky just to break even.
DO NOT forget to get your pure-bred dog permanently identified, either by a microchip, tattoo, or DNA profile. You may also consider joining an accredited Kennel Club, which has health and safety guidelines for breeding to which all members must adhere.
DO NOT breed your mongrel or mutt unless you are sure you have plenty of people who will take each and every puppy. It might not be that easy to get rid of a load of fuzzy Cockapoos. Just because you think your dog is the greatest dog on earth does not necessarily mean that other people will think so as well …
Purchasing a Dog from a Responsible Breeder
Some people believe the only ethical way to acquire a dog is from a rescue home or dog pound. Others say that buying from a responsible breeder is an equally ethical choice.
Responsible breeders do not cause overpopulation, they argument, irresponsible breeders do – either by failing to neuter their pets or by breeding dogs certainly, without making sure they are free from genetic defects or nasty diseases, or that their puppies will have homes.
If you want to purchase a dog instead of rescuing one from a pound, there are ways you can ensure that the dog breeder is a responsible one. They include:
Using a recommendation from an accredited source. You can always learn who is a good breeder – and who is not – from people who have been there before.
Finding someone who is more interested in the animal's welfare than simply finding a buyer. Breeders who ask questions about your home environment and why you want a dog are the ones to trust, ones who are disinterested in anything but unloading the pups are not.
Responsible breeders will often lifetime guarantees, and most will take an unwanted dog even if they did not actually breed it themselves.
Making sure that they have invested a lot of time and energy in the puppies, ensuring that they are properly socialized and have a pleasant, even-tempered and even affectionate temperament.
Becoming a responsible dog breeder, or purchasing a puppy from one, makes an important contribution to the welfare of dogs in general. You want to make sure your dog is free from disease and / or genetic defects and came from a loving home, and in the same vein you want to breed dogs who are happy and healthy. So do the ethical thing – and if you do not want to breed your dog, get it neutered or spayed.