BREEDING YOUR PET
by Georgia Alyce O’Boyle
So you’ve decided that it might be nice to breed your pet dog, Lady. After all, she is a purebred, and has many wonderful qualities. She’s special… sweet and cute, and you just love her. Keep in mind that as soon as Lady is bred, you ARE a dog breeder, and are responsible for what you produce. Will you be a responsible and ethical Breeder, or the kind that brings discredit and causes harm to the breed? Let’s look at a few of the responsibilities of the Dog Breeder…
Breeding should not be entered into lightly, or on a whim. Millions of dogs are euthanized each year, many of them purebreds. There just aren’t enough homes for them all. And of course, breeding should not be undertaken to “teach the children about birth”, or to “have one of Lady’s puppies – just like her”. If you want to teach the children about the birth process, read them a good book on the subject. They would probably be asleep when the puppies came anyway, or too “grossed out” to watch. Dogs do not clone themselves; so even by breeding Lady, you will never get another one exactly like her. If what you want is a new puppy, contact a reputable Breeder (perhaps the one that produced Lady), or adopt a homeless pet from the local Shelter or a Rescue organization. Breeding should be undertaken for only one reason – to IMPROVE the breed!
So how do you improve the breed? Well, there are many things to consider! For each AKC breed, there is a “Standard”. The Standard is a written description of the size, head type, body type, type of coat, temperament, working ability, etc., that every dog of that breed should possess. These characteristics are the things that distinguish that breed from any other, and allow the dog to perform the task for which he was developed. A Breeder must thoroughly understand the Standard, and plan any and all litters to produce puppies that fit the Standard. I have seen dogs that I thought were mixed-breeds, until the owners told me that their dog was indeed a registered Dane, or a Chow, or a Sheltie. The reason that I could not recognize the breed, was that the “breeder” was mating one dog that did not fit the Standard to another dog that did not fit the Standard. How can people who supposedly love and admire their particular breed, breed so indiscriminately that their dogs no longer even resemble that breed? Ethical Breeders spend a lot of time and money showing their dogs (in Breed Shows, Field Trials, Herding Trials, and Obedience) to solicit different Judge’s opinions, and to allow the dog to prove its quality by earning titles. They also evaluate the dog’s temperament, and never breed a dog that is aggressive, fearful, or otherwise unstable. Does Lady have a stable temperament? How does she compare to her Breed Standard?
The ethical Breeder must have a thorough knowledge of genetic defects. In every breed there are certain problems that must be screened for, and prevented. These can be severe defects that could shorten the dog’s life, or turn him from an enjoyable pet into an emotional and financial burden for the family that loves him. You can’t prevent these problems, if you don’t even know about them. What hereditary health problems are common in Lady’s breed? What type of veterinary screening is necessary to detect them? Is Lady free of hereditary defect?
A Breeder must also have a thorough knowledge of proper whelping procedures. But even armed with this knowledge, tragedies can still occur. Lady could have trouble delivering and require a C-section, or the unthinkable could happen – she could die from whelping complications. The puppies could require almost constant hand feeding, or they could have abnormalities that make euthanasia a necessity. Are you prepared to deal with these situations, no matter how heart-breaking?
The real work truly begins after the puppies are born. Needless to say, mom and her babies should not be left to fend for themselves in the garage or backyard. A Breeder must have appropriate indoor facilities to raise puppies. The proper care, feeding, clean-up, and socialization of the puppies is a must, if they are to grow to be healthy and stable. Sometimes it’s hard to find just the right home for the last one or two (or more). The Breeder must be willing to keep them, and train them, until the right home is found. And speaking of finding the right home, that is a job in itself! The Breeder has a responsibility to all the puppies produced, to find them each a good home and ensure that they are well cared for throughout their lifetime. He also has a responsibility to educate the puppy’s new owners about the care and training that their new family member will require. Sometimes, for one reason or another, a placement just doesn’t work out. The Breeder is responsible for helping to find a new home for that dog. After all, the dog would not be in this world if it weren’t for you, the Breeder. Will you be able to live up to your responsibilities as a Breeder?
If you are the owner of a male dog, and wish to breed him, you should understand that many dogs do not instinctively know how to breed, and many females do not want to be bred. That means that all breeding must be supervised, and in many cases it is necessary to “help”. Many male dogs (and their owners) have been injured when the female has struggled, pulled away from the dog, or bitten. Are you prepared for this possibility? And remember that, as the owner of the stud dog, you are just as responsible for the quality of the puppies, and their welfare, as the Breeder is.
Also, if you think that you are going to make money raising dogs, think again! Ethical Breeders are lucky to “break even” on a litter, and many lose money. If you are planning a breeding, make sure that you have several hundred dollars saved just for the unexpected or emergency expenses. Dog breeding is definitely a labor of love, not for profit!
Does this all sound like a tremendous amount of work? Well it is! If you cannot commit yourself to all that might be involved, by all means HAVE YOUR DOG SPAYED OR NEUTERED! A spayed female will not have heat cycles. That means no messy floors to clean up, and no stray male dogs hanging-out at your place for six weeks out of the year. A neutered male is much less likely to try to leave home, fight with other males, and exhibit overly sexual behavior (mounting, marking, etc.). It is also much easier to train him to be a trustworthy companion because his hormones are not distracting him. A spayed/neutered pet also has definite health advantages. Spaying reduces the risk of mammary cancer, and eliminates the possibility of pyometra and uterine cancer. A neutered male has less risk of developing prostate cancer, and no risk of developing testicular cancer. And the only way that an altered dog will get fat, is if he/she is over-fed and under-exercised. Check with your veterinarian as to when is the best time to spay or neuter your dog.
I hope that this information has helped you to make the decision to have your pet dog spayed or neutered. If you have any further questions about spaying or neutering, please contact your Veterinarian.
Copyright © 1986 & 2012 ~ Georgia Alyce O’Boyle, HAVENLEA DOG TRAINING CENTRE