When we have truly bonded with our dogs we know just how special they are. We can't help but to think of how nice it would be to make more, just the same. I would worry if you weren't so proud of your dog that breeding didn't at least flit through your mind. Knowing that, I understand how easy it would be to take offense at some of the advice here. Some people might take it as saying "your dog isn't good enough;" well, the right question is "good enough for what ?" Your dog is undoubtedly good enough to be a wonderful companion. Unfortunately there are a very great many such dogs, and some never get lucky enough to have an owner who cares.
It is my hope, and my goal, to do what I can to reduce to zero the number of dogs that die for lack of homes. I can't do it alone, but I can hope to encourage people to fully consider the part they play when they decide to breed. I hope that I can persuade you to take great care in deciding whether to breed your dog. I just ask that you read all the way through before mentally arguing.
Unfortunately many of the people breeding dogs either are not aware of how many existing dogs lack homes, or they don't care. Since you love your dog I'm sure that you have no idea how many nice purebred dogs die in animal shelters in the United States. Even if you think there is a ready market for your very special breed I recommend checking with the rescue group for your breed, just to be sure that your puppies won't be pushing a deserving dog out of a needed home.
Many breeds of dogs have genetic health problems. Responsible breeders make sure that they use all the tools they can to make sure the puppies they produce are healthy and free of genetic defects. And the caring breeder will take every reasonable precaution to make sure the puppies have a suitable home. It is easy to understand that these are good goals. The way you accomplish this is by having puppies so special that people are willing to be interviewed and to sign contracts in order to get one of those special pups.
In order to breed healthy dogs, and to avoid heartbreak for new puppy owners the responsible breeder will do every thing possible to make sure that the puppies will not have genetic health problems.
The first step is to make sure the parents are healthy. This means getting certain tests done because some of the health problems will not become obvious until the dog is older. To decide what tests need to be done you need to know what genetic health risks exist for your breed. Of course these tests can get expensive, which is one reason why well bred puppies can cost so much. The tests include both genetic disease indicators, and for acute disease such as brucellosis
The second step is to obtain records of the health of the parents, grandparents, and the siblings of each. It is actually advisable to obtain health records for as much of the family tree as you can. A responsible breeder does this because they understand the science of genetics makes this very important. Does it surprise you that a good breeder will do this? I know it surprised me. Just because your dog is healthy doesn't mean the pups will be. To have the best chance of getting healthy pups you need to know your dog's genetic background.
Do you plan to give these puppies away for free? or do you plan to charge for them? How will you set the price? What is it, besides being a wonderful companion, that makes your dog's puppies worth paying for? There are lots of wonderful dogs around, how are you going to show how special yours is? Responsible breeders involve their dogs in activities and competitions that help demonstrate the specialness of their dogs. The activities and competitions show that the dog has good working temperament, and many other attributes that are important to producing dogs that are both physically and mentally sound.
OK now lets assume that you can be quite confident that you will be producing healthy puppies. You know how wonderful your dog is, can you imagine one of its puppies being killed for the lack of a home? I'll bet that is not a pleasant thought so . . . what are you going to do to make sure that doesn't happen? Well a responsible breeder will always accept the return of any of the dogs they bring into this world. That is a rather startling concept to lots of people since they often deal with puppies obtained from pet stores, or from puppy mill breeders, or breeders who never really thought about the long term health and welfare of the puppies.
So are you ready to take back the dogs you created, for any reason, and to give it a home until you can find it a new appropriate home? Will you be the one to make the decision to kill one of your puppies that turns out to be unreasonably aggressive? If you decide that the (now) dog turned out bad because of bad treatment by the owners, but that it can be changed is that a responsibility you are ready to take on? What if the person who gets a puppy from you finds out after the dog is about 18 months old that the dog is more work than they anticipated, and they don't want it any more? Will you accept it back? Even if it was never house trained? Even if it can't get along with your dog because it was not properly socialized? If you are not ready to take the dog back at anytime you need to be ready to accept the idea that one of your dog's puppies could be killed for lack of an appropriate home.
I'm sure much of this never occurred to you. I hope that you understand that exploring these questions are just the start of your exploration. I think it is clear from your post that you are seeking to breed for love of your dog, not money, so you will want to make decisions based upon the risk and your ability to cope with those problems. You might want to work with a responsible breeder to help you understand what is involved.
You have lots of time, so why not take a deep breath and do some research before you make this big decision. If you do breed, and then learn things that make you regret it, it will be too late. I know that twenty years ago I made a breeding decision, now I wish I hadn't because I learned all the things I did wrong. Unfortunately what they all boil down to is that even though my dog was the most terrific dog in the entire world, she should never have been bred at all.
A good source of information are the rescue organizations. They can tell you if there is an oversupply of your breed, and if they are seeing health problems born of puppies from apparently healthy parents. You might want look at some others views on responsible breeding. Start with my breeding ethics page. Explore the various views in the links collected there.
After you do your research you will, at the very least, be making your decision with knowledge. The right to exercise choice means very little in the absence of such knowledge. There really is a lot more to responsible, caring breeding than it first appears. I urge you to investigate further before your heart is committed.
If after all your research you are still considering breeding then for the safety of both sire and dam be sure you fully inform yourself. For a place to start look at some breeder's resources.
Visit the DogPlay Mall. Great dog tee shirts, sweatshirts, and tracksuits. Also mugs, magnets, buttons, stickers and more. Special sections for rescue dogs, anti-breed specific legislation, herding and dog agility.
Copyright © 1997-2003, Diane Blackman Created: August 18, 1997 Updated November 12, 2007
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