If you’re thinking about dog breeding, you will need to consider whether breeding your dog will improve the breed’s genetic traits and how to find a mate for your dog. However, the concerns don’t stop once your dog is pregnant. You must also be prepared to provide puppy care, which includes paying for vaccinations, vet care, and food. Dog breeding should not be merely pursued as a way to make money. Rather, breeding dogs should aim to produce offspring as close to the breed standard as possible.
Reasons Not to Try Dog Breeding
With literally millions of abandoned dogs destroyed at animal shelters every year, dog breeding shouldn’t be pursued if you’re not prepared for the financial costs and the responsibilities of puppy care.
Many people have the mistaken impression that dog breeding is an easy way to make money. It isn’t. In fact, trying to make money is one of the worst reasons for breeding dogs. Once you factor in the costs of finding a mate, vaccinations, puppy care, breed registrations, food, and advertising, most breeders would be lucky to break even. Dog breeding is a labor of love, not a money making scheme.
Other bad reasons for dog breeding include:
- Wanting a “copy” of your dog for yourself or a friend: No pup is a clone of its parent.
- Educating children about birth: There are better, more cost-efficient ways to do this.
- Breeding will settle down the dog: It won’t.
- Wanting more puppies: Are you prepared to find homes for six or seven pups per litter?
Reasons for Dog Breeding
Dog breeding should only be considered if you truly love the dog breed and want to improve the breed’s genetic traits. The breeding program works to create offspring that are closer to the breed standard, the original breeding stock, by breeding out hereditary disease and undesirable genetic traits.
The breed standard is the set of characteristics that define the breed. In the United States, the American Kennel Club sets most breed standards. However, no breeding program ever produces a dog that meets all the breed standard requirements: the goal is to meet as many of the breed standards as possible.
Is Your Dog a Candidate for Dog Breeding?
Even if your dog is a purebred, he or she may not be a candidate for dog breeding. To be a good breeding candidate, a dog must conform to the breed standards. While the presence of hereditary disease rules out some dogs, coat faults, odd size, malformed bone structure, and dental problems rule out others. A dog breeding program can only succeed if it starts with the best quality stock.
How do you determine if your dog is a good match for dog breeding? Talking to other dog breeders and reading books and magazines about breeding is a good start. As your considerations get more serious, try attending or competing in dog shows to further help you determine whether your dog should be bred.
Costs of Breeding
Make no mistake: dog breeding can be costly. As a dog owner, you probably have some idea of how much food, vaccinations, and puppy care cost. Multiply that figure by seven (the average number of pups in a litter). Now add stud fees that start at $250 and can be upwards of $1,000. If the male is not local, then there are also shipping and boarding fees of about $250 to pay.
What if there are birthing complications? An emergency caesarean section can cost anywhere from $250-$500. Then, there are also registration fees and veterinary tests that vary in cost according to the number of puppies. It costs about $1,000 (without the stud fee) to care for four puppies from birth to eight weeks of age.
Along with this $1,000, a dog breeder usually has to pay to advertise that he or she has puppies for sale and for annual maintenance of the bitch ($1,000-$1,500 without professional grooming expenses). On top of all of these costs, there is always the possibility of not selling some puppies because of lack of buyers or stillbirths. If you’re considering breeding, remember that, although dog breeding can be a deeply rewarding, it is also an expensive hobby.
Finding a Mate
Finding a mate for your dog takes time and effort. You want to find a mate with genetic characteristics that your dog lacks and that will improve the breed standard in puppies. For example, if your dog’s jaw structure does not conform to the breed standards, look for a mate with a jaw that does. Hopefully the pups will inherit the best characteristics of each dog.
Finding a mate that fits your breeding plan can and should take time. Possible avenues for finding a mate include national dog magazines, breed clubs, breed specific newsletters, and online forums.
Because stud fees can exceed $1000, it’s best to get the stud fee in writing, along with any other breeding details.
If finding a mate in your area proves difficult, broaden your search. You may wind up finding a mate halfway across the country. However, if shipping and boarding a potential stud is a concern, look into artificial insemination.
Purebred Puppy Care
After securing a stud and birthing the puppies, puppy care is one of the largest parts of a dog-breeding program. Caring for purebred puppies includes getting them the proper vaccinations, making regular vet visits, getting puppies spayed or neutered (if they’re not going to be used for breeding in the future), and paying for microchip implants for identification and breed registration.
When registering puppies, the breeder selects those puppies that come closest to matching the breed standard and, therefore, would be best for future breeding. Those pups that don’t meet the breeder’s standards are usually sold as “pet quality” purebreds.
Remember, puppy care does not end with the sale of the puppy. A dog breeder has a responsibility for the puppies he or she breeds. If a sale doesn’t work out, a breeder has an ethical obligation to take back the puppy. Alternatively, if any puppies aren’t sold, then the breeder must raise them him or herself. Consequently, a dog breeder must make sure that he or she has adequate space. If you live in a small house, you shouldn’t be running a dog-breeding program for large breeds: larger breeds are usually bred on ranches, farms, or acreages.