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What You Need to Know about Breeding Dogs
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Be Prepared to Breed
People have been breeding dogs for many years. Purebred dogs have kept lineage over generations, and we’ve managed to cross-breed to produce mixed, or ‘designer’ breeds. Whether purebred or a mixed breed, many breeds are popular for families to adopt as pets. Breeding, however, is not without its challenges and costs. If you are thinking about breeding your dogs, be sure to prepare yourself for any issues that may arise during the breeding process and pregnancy as well as familiarize yourself on the breed(s) you will be mating so you can be an educated source of knowledge for your customers. You’ll want to know as much about the breed as you can before you dive into finding a mate for your dog or mating two dogs you own.
What You Should Know
Familiarize yourself with the breed before you choose the two dogs you’d like to mate. Be sure you understand the breed, typical characteristics of the breed, and typical health problems with the breed. A common rule for breeders is to make the breed better overall. Therefore, you should also know common traits of a well-bred dog compared to the traits of a dog not well-bred based on the coloring, typical marks found in the breed, and any other flaws your dogs have that don’t match the best of the breed.
Educate yourself on common health problems, and know the two dogs you plan to mate well enough to know if they have faced issues with their health or have unique problems the breed is not susceptible to facing.
Ensure you and your family have the commitment to see your dogs through breeding, pregnancy, and puppyhood with a litter of puppies. It will be your responsibility, as a breeder, to ensure the health and safety of the puppies. If the mother does not support the litter or some of the litter, you may be required to ensure the puppies are getting the food and supplements they need. Raising puppies is expensive, especially if there are health problems with any pup in the litter.
Know Your Mating Pair
If you want to breed purebred dogs and sell them as such, your mating pair will need to be AKC registered. You will most likely be looking for a mate for a female dog you own. In looking for this sire, you’ll need to be aware of traits in the sire which are not consistent with the breed. You will want to look for a sire and a dam which have the typical temperament found in the breed. Your mating dogs should also be in good health.
Find a mating pair who complement one another. If one dog in your pair has a weakness such as coat or coloring, be sure to find a mate with exemplary traits to create balance within the litter. Health is an important factor to consider for your mating pair as well. Both dogs should be young and healthy without showing signs of illness or of common health problems at the age of breeding. Temperament is a trait passed down within a breed. Be sure both mating dogs have a good character and will make great pets.
Follow the ACK lineage for your mating pair to ensure the pair doesn’t have a family health history which might cause concern. Because certain genetic defects affect all breeds in various ways, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with each common health problem and search the history of the mating pair and their individual parents. Talk to your vet before breeding for advice on the pair’s health history and possibly genetic testing. You will want both dogs checked out by your veterinarian before breeding to ensure the dogs’ health.
Once you have your mating pair vetted and chosen, you should begin familiarizing yourself with the mating process. Talk to your veterinarian about your female dog’s heat cycles and ask for advice on how many cycles your dog should enter before breeding. Most veterinarians will recommend at least one full heat cycle before breeding. Some breeds may take more cycles to ensure the female dog is old enough to bear a litter.
You might want to consider a contract with the sire if you do not own him. This would cover any expenses for you and the sire’s owner, costs covered by you for pre-breeding preparation such as genetic testing, the cost of the pregnancy and care for the litter, and any profits from the litter once they are ready to leave the mother. You may also want to cover the time the sire is allowed around your female dog and around the litter once they are born.
It will also be time to educate yourself on the duration of the pregnancy, caring for a pregnant dog, preparing for whelping (delivery of the puppies) and any issues that could arise, and caring for the puppies once they are born. You’ll need a schedule of planned visits with your veterinarian with the female dog as she is pregnant and for the puppies once they are born and until they are weaned and ready for their new homes.
Enjoy the Risks and Rewards of Dog Breeding
Breeding dogs can be a lucrative business. You may also want to breed your dogs because you know they are a fabulous breed and have dogs with amazing traits and temperament. Whether you are breeding once or twice or getting into the business of breeding several dogs, be sure you know what you are getting into with the lives of several dogs in your hands.
Educate yourself as much as possible before you decide to breed your dog with another or breed a pair you own. Be sure the new owners who choose your puppies are also educated and aware of the breed and common traits, temperaments, and health issues. Breeding can be fun for your family. There are risks. There are expenses. But there are also beautiful, healthy puppies at the end of the cycle.