Thinking About Breeding Your Dog ?
by Steven P. Williams
Let me start off with a general statement that will be applicable to MOST of the people that are reading this. It is also going to be something that you do NOT want to read/hear (I did not want to hear it either when I was starting out !). But maybe, just maybe, if you read it here, and if you ask around and talk with other responsible/reputable breeders and they tell you the same thing, then it is my, and all of our hope, that maybe you will be one of the few where "it will sink in" and you will do the right thing.
Please for the Sake of the Dog (whatever
DONT BREED YOUR DOG !
In general, the people that will be reading this will be someone who obtained their dog from a pet store, or from someone who bred their dog down the street, or from someone who ran an ad in the newspaper (or magazine) or was listed on a "dog breeder" website.
How do I know this? Because if you had obtained your dog from a reputable breeder you would have already been required to spay/neuter your dog that you obtained for a "pet" or you would be in close contact and "friends" with the reputable breeder who would be advising you on whether your dog should be bred and to which dog might be the best dog to which to breed your dog.
Some of the reasons that you may have for breeding your dog are:
S/he is so beautiful or has the best personality and should be bred to make others like him/her. Even your friends or family (or worse...your veterinarian) say so !
You just want to breed her once in order to have puppies so you can keep one of her offspring, or one of your friends/family wants one, and/or you want your children to "experience" the whelping. Then you will spay her.
You have been told that by letting her have one litter that it is healthy for her or will help her "settle down."
NONE of these Reasons are Valid Reasons for Breeding a Dog !
In fact, by spaying/neutering your dog when they are young (5-6 months), you will be decreasing the chances of cancer (mammary and testicular). Also, neutering your male dog early may help to reduce aggressive behavior and help in housetraining.
In general, MOST dogs should not be bred ! There are too many dogs in this world already! Thousands are being given-up to rescue, or captured and placed in shelters, and destroyed. If you or your family/friends want a pet, and dont want/require a "pet" from a reputable breeder, then get one from a rescue group or the local shelter/humane society. Then you will be helping with the problem and not contributing to it.
What is the Reason for Breeding?
The only valid reason for breeding pure bred dogs is hopefully to breed a better dog to "advance" the breed. To accomplish this goal, only "breedable quality" dogs should be bred and this should be done under the direction of someone who is experienced and knowledgeable of the breed.
What are "Breedable Quality" Dogs?
In breeding dogs, BOTH the Sire (male) and Dam (female) should be breedable quality dogs. Not just one !
The dogs should be in good health (as determined by a regular veterinarian), been cleared of any transmittable diseases (i.e. Brucellosis), and the dogs should have been subject to and passed certain tests/exams which are used to help ensure that the dogs are clear of specific problems that may already have been identified as being a "problem" in a particular breed.
There are certain genetic health problems that are very common to most breeds and there are some that are more breed specific. Also, the breed specific problems can change with new/different problems being discovered.
With Bichons, in addition to the Sire and Dam being in good general health the:
Eyes of the dogs should have been recently examined by a Specialist (not your regular veterinarian) and have been determined to be currently free from defects (i.e. cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, retinal dysplasia, etc.). This examination/determination should be done regularly for the dogs being bred as eye diseases may turn up over the course of a dogs life. Current CERF Certificates for both dogs are evidence of passing such exams.
Patellas (kneecaps) of the dogs should have been examined by a veterinarian and determined to be free from luxation (looseness). OFA Certificates for Patellar Luxation for both dogs are evidence of passing such exams.
Hips of the dogs should have been x-rayed by your veterinarian and the x-rays evaluated by OFA with the hips being determined to be free from hip dysplasia. OFA Certificates for Hip Dysplasia (indicating Excellent, Good, or Fair) for both dogs are evidence for passing such exams.
Hearts of the dogs can also have been examined by a Specialist and be determined to be free from cardiac diseases. OFA Certificates for Congenital Cardiac Diseases for both dogs are evidence for passing such exams.
The dogs should have good temperaments and have the traits that are desired for the breed.
The dogs should be good representations of that breed. This means that they should be compared to the "Standard" for that breed and should not have significant faults as indicated by the standard. A dog that is a "finished champion" is further confirmation that the dog is within the "standard." Dogs with "weaknesses" in one area should be bred to dogs that may help offset those weaknesses.
This does NOT mean that your dog should be bred because you think your dog is beautiful or that everyone tells you how beautiful it is. You also may say that you are not trying to breed a "show" dog, just a pet. But, it IS very important to breed within and toward the standard and try to improve any "weaknesses" that one dog exhibits. Breeding within the standard is what makes and keeps a Bichon a Bichon, a Poodle a Poodle, etc.
Also, because of the lineage of your dog (even if there are a few champions in the pedigree... which does not mean anything !), there is a "mish-mash" of breeding that occurred behind your dog (i.e. there were not "planned" breedings by breeders who knew the strengths and weaknesses of their "lines"). This means that the chances of producing a dog within the standard are greatly reduced and it will be much more difficult to correct and breed toward that goal.
Who Should be Breeding?
As you can see, to meet the objectives/goals of "advancing the breed" set out above, it takes someone who has extensive knowledge of the breed which has been learned from showing dogs, by being involved with other breeders and breed clubs, and by breeding dogs. So in short, the breeding of dogs should be left to people with such knowledge and experience !
Also, reputable breeders understand that every time they breed their dog they are taking the risk that something will go wrong in the whelping process where there could be complications for the mother and puppies. Are you prepared for the additional veterinarian expenses and possibly the loss of your pet?
So, if there are already too many dogs in the world and if any additional dogs are to be brought into this world, it should at least be done with the best possible chances of "advancing a breed":
and if the chances of doing this are greatly reduced with dogs that are not screened for specific health problems or which are not within the standard;
and if the chances of doing this are greatly reduced by someone mating dogs with little or no knowledge/experience;
and if the chances of doing this are greatly reduced with dogs that don't have any "planned or goal-oriented" breeding behind them, or even worse, the chances of increased health problems may be greater because of there being a lack of monitoring for specific health problems behind them;
Then, the conclusion is that the breeding of dogs under the aforementioned conditions or with those attributes should NOT be done.
The Right Thing to Do
If you really thought about and were receptive to the aforementioned, then you probably have realized, or are beginning to realize, that the right thing to do is to spay/neuter your dog and not breed him/her. You also may be feeling a little "down" because you had all of these expectations/plans and this may have "burst your bubble." I want you to know that I, along with many other breeders, empathize with you. Many of us have experienced what you are going through. Just remember that by spaying/neutering your dog you are not contributing to the overpopulation of dogs and possibly increasing the number of inferior specimens. If you want another dog, then try to obtain a "pet" from a reputable breeder, or check into rescue or the local humane society.
Still Very Interested in Your Breed/Breeding ?
If you really are interested in your breed of dog, and you think you have the financial resources, time, stamina, and understand the risks involved, and still want to get into breeding for the enjoyment of showing and to "advance" the breed (and NOT TO MAKE MONEY !), then I suggest that after you spay/neuter your dog you:
obtain and read everything about your breed of dog;
learn about the ''standard" for your breed;
start attending all breed dog shows in your area and meet with other breeders;
and, if there is one, attend and become a member of the local club for your breed.
Then, you should be in a position to seek out a reputable breeder and obtain a potentially "good" show (breedable quality) dog. Once you finish him or her, you can then possibly think about breeding (if, of course, all the specific health checks turn out ok).
It will not be easy obtaining a dog from a reputable breeder as you will have to "prove" yourself. This is done by getting to know the breeders closely, being patient, and demonstrating that you are interested in and are increasing your knowledge of the breed.
Still in Denial and Going to Breed Anyway
I know that some of you, if you even made it this far, are in complete denial that your dog is not breedable quality, or are thinking how elitist these "breeders" are, or maybe even thinking: good grief I cant believe all this...they are only dogs! I am going to breed my dog anyway.
If this is you. Then right now, today, I know that there is probably nothing more that I can write or that anyone can say that will get you to change your mind about breeding. It is my hope that maybe one day you "will come around." For some of you this WILL happen....even if you can not conceive of it now. And that makes putting this here worthwhile.... as maybe, in some small way, I may have had a part in that revelation that will occur and the benefits to the dogs therefrom.
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