SHOULD I BREED FROM MY BITCH


Should I breed from my pet bitch?

The decision to breed a litter should not be undertaken lightly & needs careful thought about all the responsibilities involved. The would-be breeder needs to ask themselves the following questions:

Can I afford the costs involved & do I have the time to rear a litter successfully? Breeding a litter & caring for Mum & her puppies is expensive and very time consuming. You have to have the funds available for the stud fee, eye testing fee, vet fees (these can be costly particularly if a caesarean section is needed), quality food for Mum & pups once weaned, set up equipment (eg whelping box, bedding, heating, puppy pen), Kennel Club registration fees etc. Bear in mind, if you have a small litter or incur high veterinary expenses, you may make a loss on your litter - breeding puppies is not an easy way to make money unless you cut corners or mass produce pups on a commercial scale as puppy farmers do. Sometimes, it may be necessary to keep puppies for longer than 8 weeks if the right homes are not forthcoming, so you need to be prepared for this & for the extra costs involved in feeding & vaccinating older pups.

If you can bear the financial costs, do you have the time available? Looking after a Mum with a newborn litter requires round the clock attention initially - it is not something you can do if you work long hours. Once puppies are weaned, the hard work really begins: It is very rewarding raising a litter properly, but it takes countless hours in feeding, cleaning up followed by more feeding & more cleaning up! The breeder must also make the effort to socialise puppies by introducing them to common household noises & letting them meet all different kinds of people, including children, all under careful supervision of course. Time also needs to be spent on vetting potential owners, making sure that your precious puppies only go the most suitable homes - this can be one of the most difficult aspects of breeding a litter as enquirers are not always what they seem when they first make contact with a breeder. Sadly not all enquirers can offer a good home environment for a puppy. 

Could I cope if things go wrong? Whilst it is true that most bitches make good Mums & have trouble free pregnancies, there are also occasions when things do go disastrously wrong. Sometimes caesarean section surgery is required to deliver puppies safely & rarely, a breeder can lose both the bitch & all her puppies. Other problems that could arise include a failure of the bitch to produce milk, meaning her puppies have to be hand-reared (requiring bottle feeding every 2 hours round the clock). 

Can I provide after sales help & advice to any puppy owners who might need it? A responsible breeder will always be happy to answer questions & provide advice to new puppy owners should they need it. This means having good knowledge on subjects like puppy training & common health issues. A responsible breeder also has a lifetime responsibility to the puppies they produce. This means being prepared to take back one of their puppies (however old he/she might be) for rehoming should the need arise (unfortunately people's circumstances do change), even if the timing is not convenient for the breeder. Responsible breeders do not "pass the buck" to Breed Rescue or to general Rescue Societies. A breeder must also bear the moral responsibility if any of their puppies develops a hereditary defect. It needs to be noted that sometimes the courts will make breeders legally responsible for such defects - buyers are now much more aware of their consumer rights & puppies are treated like any other "goods" under current consumer legislation.

If after considering the above, you decide that you are ready for the responsibility of breeding a litter, then you should consult your bitch's breeder for advice as to suitable stud dogs, assuming he/she is reputable and experienced. The best stud dog for your bitch does not necessarily live just down the road from you so you must be prepared to travel if necessary. You must also be prepared to have your bitch screened for known hereditary problems where testing schemes are available, including eye-testing by a specialist opthalmologist and hip scoring. More information on health issues in your breed can be obtained from your breed clubs. 

You will also need to read as much as possible about breeding, with your first essential purchase being "The Book Of The Bitch" by Evans & White (available from most good book shops or from internet book suppliers such as Amazon.co.uk). This book is regarded by many as "The Breeders Bible" & covers every aspect of breeding & rearing a litter you are likely to need. If you are interested in further study of all aspects of breeding dogs, a distance learning course is available from the Animal Care College (www.animalcarecollege.co.uk)

By J E Simmonds 2003 


Recommended reading -



The Book of the Bitch