Breeding your bitch puppy is something most people consider at some stage – but should you? And what do you need to consider?
So many people are charmed by the idea of their bitch being bred and being a part of her having puppies – but there is just so much behind the dream. So, I want to run through it with you right now.
Everything you’re thinking right now? You’re probably right! She would make an awesome Momma, and her pups would certainly be gorgeous! It’s some of the most magical things in this world, right?
There is though, sadly, a little bit of reality behind this dream of breeding your pup. There always are… and I am here, as your fairy dogmother, to bust that bubble, and hopefully turn you from a wistful dreamer, to a wise breeder.
Are you ready to walk through what you need to consider before you hit this awesome, awesome aspect of your dogs life? Great, get it!
Ask Yourself Why You Want To Breed Your Bitch
Why are you looking to breed your little lady? This is a super important question because if your why isn’t strong enough, if things do go wrong, you’re going to feel much, much worse. In my opinion? You need a super strong why before you decide to even look into breeding. These are the main things I’d consider in your shoes.
– She Should Have The Experience!
Are you doing it so your gorgeous girl can experience motherhood? Or to have a boyfriend? Well, now… dogs are just like people – not everyone wants to be a mother. Not every bitch wants to be a dam (mum, mom or mother, whichever you choose!) either.
Do consider that. If your little lady has a full and happy life as she is? Does she need that experience? Or is there a slight possibility you’re projecting?
– Because Your Girl is Gorgeous And Has A Wonderful Way About Her!
Admirable! But… you definitely need to do your research on this, just because she has a wonderful temperament and is just divine (and I’m sure your lovely puppy is!) doesn’t mean her whole family is… But we’ll discuss it more later though!
– You Want To Help Better The Breed
Do you genuinely think that your gorgeous girl is going to add to the breed? Again we’ll discuss it a bit more later when we hit Viability, but this should be the ultimate goal of any breeder, in my opinion!
– Do You Want To Be A Professional Breeder?
Is this going to be a serious thing for you? Because if it is? You’re going to take this seriously from the beginning. Do research! Read everything, maybe even see if you can talk to your breeder and see if they have any tips!
– Are You Looking To Make Money?
Be under no illusion, puppies are an expensive purchase – but a breeder is not necessarily raking in money. For example, start up costs are going to be expensive, but the mother will eat more food, have more demands for comfort, and then practical things like whelping boxes. It’s not going to be cheap, and if you only have one puppy? You may not make your investment back – or even turn a profit – let alone get a significant hourly wage.
– Perhaps You’re Breeding For A Colour Or Feature?
If you have an unusual colouration or feature of dog, then it’s sometimes super tempting to breed your bitch for this reason, because there is a desire for the unusual colourations or feature of puppies – but – whilst they are desirable please do make sure that it’s not creating a feature that compromises health, the continued wellbeing or quality of life of the future puppy.
Assessing Your Bitch
I so want to make jokes here about quantifying your inner bitch and how to reign her in. But, I won’t!
Shockingly, when you’re considering whether to breed your puppy? She matters so much! I know you know that, but, let’s just run though it real quick because it’s so easy to overlook things when you’re close to the ‘problem’, y’know? Ready? Let’s get it.
– Is Your Girl The Right Age?
It sounds simple, but it has to be considered! Too old, or too young can be detrimental to their growth or their body in general. You should definitely be looking at whether your girl is fully grown. This bit is really important, because dogs do a lot of developing during this time, both mentally and physically. So, do remember to consider this for your little lady.
– Do You Have A Breeder’s Contract?
So, when you got your gorgeous little puppy? Did you sign some paperwork saying some very specific things about what you had to do, and what you couldn’t do? Well, oftentimes, breeders get concerned about their progeny, so they may dictate you cannot breed or you may breed with permission. This should be honoured. So check back, and either way? Reaching out to your girl’s breeder is rarely going to be a bad thing!
– Health Testing
This is cataclysmically important. I cannot tell you just how important this one is. Please, please, please. If you listen to one thing above anything? Listen to this.
Go consult your vet, and get relevant health testing. You absolutely should only breed your gorgeous puppy if they score well on these. Health scores are required to anyone buying a puppy, and if you are genuinely going to look at this with the mindset of improving your breed – please don’t perpetuate poor bones, and confirmation. You’re setting future owners up for heartbreak and failure if the puppies you sell are not healthy.
In a similar vein to above, you need to make sure they’re healthy. So, having a family history can be super useful? I advise anyone buying a puppy to discuss the family history of their new family member, so you should be prepared for this too. Knowing and understanding things like inheritable eye issues, ligament weaknesses, cancer rates… are all things people should know before breeding or buying because these can be enormously expensive and heartbreaking. So try to know these things about your puppy.
You know how good your girl is (and she’s the bestest, I know!) – but how good are her siblings? What about her Dad? Her Mum? Was there any propensity towards separation anxiety? What about reactivity? Shadow chasing or other obsessive behaviours? These things could be tough for a puppy owner, so try and consider that! Good pets need to be patient and calm and loving! Breeding for health and temperament will mean there are a lot less puppies that end up in rescue!
Soem dogs are bred for a purpose, so are they good at that purpose? Do they have a great propensity? Do they have the capability to be a phenomenal hunting dog? What about a great show dog? Or Flyball woof? Maybe an agility pup! Breeding for a skill is definitely a thing!
We just spoke about work-ability but if there is recognition? Awards? Prizes? Especially national prizes? That’s definitely the sort of thing that puts a super positive spin on things for a breeding context! If your little lady has an exemplary skill? Then definitely puts a great big check on your wonderful little lady!
Assessing Your Ability
You are going to have a big, or even huge part of this process. It’s really not like matchmaking your puppy. It’s not Lady & The Tramp, sorry to bust your bubble! But you are going to be so so important in this process, the little lady and potential future momma is going to need your support! So here’s some considerations for you….
– Do You Know Enough About The Breed To Guide New Puppy Parents?
I mean, you’ve successfully raised your puppy! So you definitely know some things, but are you happy to help your new puppy parents through all sorts of initial issues they’re going to face, or even having some great resources in the right spot (cough cough, hey!) for them to reference!
(Caveat here! I mean, I’m more than happy for you to point them to us! And you’d be right to do so – because I think Rebarkable has really covered most of the subjects your new puppy parents could need… there’s a reason you’re here right?!! But you can add in some awesome personal touches your puppy parents need, because you know their mum. So, you’ll definitely have faced some of their issues personally!)
– Do You Have The Ability To Take The Puppy Back If The New Owners Can’t Care For Puppy Too?
You’re planning on being a responsible breeder, which is why you’re really reading this blog! But part of that is usually a contract. Wherein, you’re usually going to likely have a clause saying that if your new puppy parents cannot cope with their wonderful new addition (and it happens no matter how well bred puppy is or how prepped the puppy-parents are) are you going to want to take them back? Would you be okay with puppy being sold on, or put in a rescue? After all the time and effort you’ve put into puppy? I’d be heartbroken. So, you may need to be ready to take the entire litter back?
I mean, ok, the entire litter is sincerely not likely to happen! But, plan for worst case.
– Do You Have A Good Vet?
I know… I know I ramble about this – but honestly – in this instance your Veterinarian is your back up. They’re your emergency. Not only do they need to be a good vet that supports your way of living, but you have to come to an agreement for emergency procedures. Make sure that you’ve discussed your options so you’re fully aware of what happens in the case of an emergency. That way? You’re prepped! They might even bring up some breed specific stuff to help you along the way.
– Do You Need Insurance In Place?
This is not my forte for sure, but do you need to look at your insurance? Does it cover the breeding of your bitch? Or are you going to have to extend the policy? Do you want to extend the policy? What does the policy cover? Emergency C-section perhaps? Is there anything that you need to do to make sure that the policy is in place?
It’s prudent to check this out before you get there so you can accurately cost the breeding!
– Financially, can you afford to have these puppies?
I literally just touched on this? But the breeding is going to cost money. Whether it’s the sirage cost (aka, the cost for Papa to do his thang), the whelping box, extra food for mum, food for puppies when weening, or formula if Mum struggles to make milk… or perhaps trainer to help you form a plan on how to socialise young lil’ puppies, or insurance. It’s going to be a good idea to cost the whole project and see if it’s realistic for you and your family.
– Does Your Local Government Have Any Requirements Of Breeders, Such As A Licence?
I know laws and guidance varies – for example in Virginia, you can’t have more than 50 breeding dogs (whaaaaat??) but they also have to be older than 18 months, younger than 7 years and certified by a Veterinarian before they can breed – in the UK a potential buyer must be able to meet both parents (That’s Lucy’s law!) but some research will be necessary to make sure you’re complaint, don’t end up with a massive fine, or worse…
– Are You Confident In Understanding What Your Bitch Will Need During Both Her Pregnancy, Labour And In Motherhood?
So, if you’re looking to breed your puppy, there is different needs for your bitch during her pregnancy, labour and motherhood. One of those things that is universal across these categories is that her food intake is going to be higher, little lady will need more calories! Beyond that, Momma is going to need peace, happiness, warmth and comfort during her pregnancy – it’s super super important she doesn’t get stressed, because there is a proven link between a stressed mother and anxiety in her puppies.
There is a huge amount of risk involved in this entire process, from start to finish. They’re risks that you need to think through and see if you’re happy tackling during this process. Please read and consider whether they’re risks you’re prepared to take in order to go through with the potential plan of breeding your bitch.
– During Mating
If you opt for natural, and your bitch decides not to accept the mate you’ve chosen for her? Then, it can result in a fight – which we all know can end badly even when you have the best of intentions. You can of course go for an artificial insemination to avoid this!
– To Life
Well… given the risk during mating, and during birth? There is a chance you could lose your beloved girl to the rainbow bridge… it may happen, it might be due to a complication or to a health condition that’s not that obvious. Terrifying.
– To Personality
You know I mentioned sometimes your little lady won’t want to be a Momma, and it can end up having some affects on her personality. It’s a stressful process and it can definitely change your dog, sometimes for the better? But not always…
– To Puppies
Your gorgeous bitch isn’t the only one with risk to life, the little ones do too, there’s also risk for these little ones of being rejected. Then you’re going to have to hand rear them. Or if Momma’s milk doesn’t come through, you’re going to have to buy formula and feed them with syringes. Also illness… a sick puppy that is only a few days old is going to be just so hard to process, emotionally speaking. So, do consider it, please.
Nature’s miracle, for sure! But nature is cruel sometimes, and often we humans are very sensitive to it. So, do be prepared… this one is definitely aimed at the emotional sensibilities, mainly.
– Are You Prepared For Still Births?
Mother nature sometimes has her own plan, and this can happen. You have to be ready for that both emotionally and financially. Please do not count on the money from the puppies, and prepared to be so very sad. The one tip I will say with this? Is sometimes you have to believe (right or wrong) that mother nature made that happen for a reason. It’s tough no matter what, but there’s a reason, even if it feels cruel.
– Are You Ready For Unwell Puppies?
Again, whilst there’s a financial impact, there’s also (again) the emotional drain of an unwell puppy and then having to look after another half dozen other pups and Momma… that’s a lot of responsibility and pressure.
– Are You Ready To Nurse Half-A-Dozen Puppies If Momma Rejects Them? Or If Momma Has An Exceptionally Large Litter?
Whether your gorgeous girl rejects her puppies, or if there are too many little fluffers to where Momma cannot cope with the size of a litter – it may come to the point where you have to help. If your girl is an exceptionally fertile lady – she may be prone to extra large litters! Whilst this is great from a few points of view, you are going to have to play nurse maid and help out with feeding because Momma’s body won’t be able to cope with exceptionally large litters. Or, indeed if Momma rejects them – will be the same result.
– Do You Have The Time It Takes To Help Raise A Litter?
Puppies are demanding – and not just of Momma, but of you.
I’ve heard people say “But the mother does all the work” and that’s just so sadly not true, and a really naive perspective.
You need to understand that goes beyond the actual birth. You not only have to help wean them onto solids, try and begin toilet training, and take them to the vets for microchipping and vaccinations… You have to socialise them which is imperative because we know that 42% of a puppy’s mental growth happens before 8 weeks of age).
This means that you have to familiarise them with different surfaces, different noises, wobbles, and things touching their back. All sorts! And you’ve got to do it individually. That’s going to take you a lot of time.
– Are You Ready To Give Up The Puppies?
This… would kill me. You can get them well rounded! Well, happy and thriving, and then you have to give away these gorgeous puppies to new homes and trust them to raise them responsibly… oh my gosh, the going home day would break my heart – emotionally speaking, you really do have to be ready to give them up – or you’re going to have a lot of woofs in your home!
You also have a responsibility to find the best homes for these potential puppies, you have to home them well, and if you’re choosing to be a high quality, responsible breeder, you have to provide after care too. You have to keep puppy and it’s new family happy, learning and on top of the situation – you will of course have help (with resources like Rebarkable’s puppy emails!) but you do have a social responsibility to these people, and a responsibility to put your puppies in homes that best suit them. That’s not going to be easy.
Then What About Being Your Own Business?
So you’ve finally gone “okay, I understand the gravity of what I want to do, and I’m prepared….” well… now you’re looking at the fact that it could be a sizeable income source, which means it’s almost a business by most legal systems.
When you’re looking at the task list of stuff you have to do? And you’re assessing it’s viability for you and your girl, there’s not only all of the above, but how do you find responsible puppy parents?
How do you reach people?
How do you file the taxes?
How do you do it legitimately?
How do you keep an audience if you’re intending on breeding more puppies?
I mean… I can tell you that being in business for yourself is a daunting task. You wear a lot of hats… and it gets very stressful at times.
I am! It’s a lot to consider, huh? There’s a huge amount to raising puppies, there is such huge potential to be a massively positive person in a puppy and puppy parent’s life.
Sadly, the flip side of that coin is there’s also huge potential to do damage to your family and a bunch of others.
A Few Home Truths
A huge reason that trainers have a job is because of a poorly bred dog.
A huge reason dogs end up in shelters and rescues? Is because they’ve been poorly bred.
A huge reason that dogs end up unwell is because they’re a poorly bred dog.
So, if you want to breed?
I am by no means against people breeding their dogs – it just has to be done well because a dog can be such a monolithic part of a family! It’s why we love them! But if you’re breeding? You’re entirely responsible for that part.
Remember what we love?
Set Up For Success
Do it. Honestly. Because if you’re doing this for Momma? For Puppies? And for your new puppy parents? You’re going to be an awesome breeder.
If you think I’ve missed something? Let me know! And if you’ve loved it? SHARE IT! Share share share! Because if we keep sharing? We keep educating.