Most dog owners simply enjoy having dogs as pets, enjoying their companionship and playfulness, and choose to spay or neuter them so that they never have to worry about puppies. That being said, some dog owners eventually find themselves interested in breeding their dogs. This can be a daunting task, from ethical concerns about backyard breeding to the time and research that goes into breeding dogs in a safe and healthy way. Another challenge is finding the perfect mate for your dog. This article will explain dog breeding basics and help you find the ideal stud or bitch for your dog. For additional information on whatever breed you are working with, check the websites of their specific breed clubs for breeding guidelines. (German Shepherd Dog Club of America)
Does finding a mate for my dog make me a backyard breeder?
"Backyard breeder" has become a loaded term, especially with backyard breeders being put in the spotlight for the past several years. Backyard breeders are often blamed for the overpopulation of domestic animals and accused of animal abuse. Dog owners interested in breeding for the first time may worry that breeding their dog will have this label attached to them. Anyone with this fear should understand that the term "backyard breeder" doesn't apply to everyone who breeds dogs on a small scale; the name has a specific connotation.
Backyard breeders are people who breed poor quality dogs, keep their dogs in poor conditions, or breed dogs in irresponsible ways. Backyard breeders do not prioritize the health and wellbeing of their animals. They often prioritize money or may simply be lacking the knowledge it takes to breed responsibly. In any case, the way to avoid becoming such a breeder is to take the time to do the proper amount of research and be confident that any breeding has the dogs' best interest in mind, which includes the parents and the puppies. As long as you are taking care to do things in a humane, healthy, and ethical way, you are not a backyard breeder.
Dog Reproduction: Heat, Litters, and the Importance of Skipping Heat Cycles
The first step to breeding dogs is to understand their reproduction. One of the essential topics to understand is the way that heat cycles work. A heat cycle is when the bitch can become pregnant, and she cannot become pregnant any time outside of a heat cycle. The frequency of heats can vary from breed to breed, but dogs typically come into heat twice a year; each heat cycle is usually around six months apart. Large breeds may only cycle once a year, while small breeds may cycle three times a year. Any potential breeders should research the dog breed they are interested in breeding to learn more about their specific heat frequency.
A bitch can theoretically produce one litter per heat, but breeding a female more than once a year is typically frowned upon in the dog world. This is because breeding a female every other heat cycle is the best for her health. Producing puppies is understandably hard on a bitch's body, so back to back breeding can drain her energy or even cause her to become less healthy. This could lead to difficulties for the dam and lead to complications or smaller litters with subsequent pregnancies. With this in mind, many breeders generally decide to skip a heat cycle to ensure that their females have ample time to recover from the process of pregnancy, birth, and nursing puppies.
Genetics, Health, Temperament, and Age of Parents
The most important thing to consider when breeding is the health of the parents and puppies. Potential mates for your dog should be evaluated on their genetics, health, temperament, and age. Genetics are essential for the appearance and health of the puppies. From a genotypic standpoint, some gene combinations are actually lethal. This is something to be aware of and look into to avoid stillborn pups. Each breed has its own genetic deformities to look out for, so it is always a good idea to research the genetics of whatever breeds you are working with. You should also find out whether the dogs you are breeding have any family histories of illness or other health issues, as this could show substandard genetics. Dogs can have DNA tests run on them to find if they are carrying any problematic genes.
The overall health of the parents should also be considered. Some veterinarians offer pre-breeding health checks. Both parents should have general wellness exams, such as testing for heartworms. The bitch must be up to date on all vaccinations to ensure a healthy litter. To ensure healthy litters, it is also advisable to make sure that the bitch has ample exercise, a high-quality diet, and is not overweight. Breeding dogs that are unhealthy in any way could lead to unhealthy pups.
Temperament is another crucial matter to consider. Breeding aggressive or unfriendly dogs is likely to lead to pups with the same issues. Breeders will also need to find a mate that will get along with the dog they are trying to breed. Like health, it's best to find mates with good temperaments to produce the best puppies possible. Dogs who are openly aggressive should never be bred.
The parents should also be at appropriate breeding age. Many females can have their first heat at four months, but their body is not yet ready to have a healthy litter at such a young age. The age limits vary from breed to breed. Still, the American Kennel Club has the following restrictions on age: bitches must be a minimum of 8 months and a maximum of 12 years to breed, while studs have a minimum breeding age of 7 months and a maximum of 12 years. Certain breeds are recommended not to be bred until they are two years old. Whether you have a younger or older bitch, be aware of the age and consider how it could affect the breeding process.
Pure breeding and Crossbreeding
When selecting a mate for your dog, you will have to decide between finding another member of your dog's breed for purebred puppies or intentionally crossbreeding. Pure breeding has the benefits of individual breed clubs that may have resources to find bitches or studs, and pure breeding is typically seen as more acceptable. Pure breeding will also allow breeders to know exactly what health and genetic issues their breed has. They can focus on producing puppies that will help improve the breed.
Crossbreeding can also be done successfully, and some popular "designer breeds" have been made this way, such as the Pomsky and Labradoodle. Crossbreeding can come with some extra challenges, though. You will need to consider how the respective breeds will mesh together. Consider the potential pool of health issues, the different possible temperaments that could result from the pairing, and how size differences could impact the breeding process. For example, breeding a large stud to a small bitch could lead to puppies too large for the female to carry safely. Crossbreeding is also frowned upon by many people in the dog community, so advertising for a mate that is a different breed than your dog could lead to shaming, ridicule, and difficulties finding a match.
So, How do i find a mate for my dog?
Advertising your dog as a stud, or advertising your bitch for breeding, can primarily be done online.
There are a plethora of websites dedicated to such services.
If you plan on pure breeding your dog, you could also utilize your specific breed club's studbooks and advertising services.
Local dog or breed clubs and even some veterinarians could also provide advertisement services, so research what opportunities are in your area.
We do not endorse advertising on sites such as Craigslist due to safety concerns and the possibility of scams.
Puppy Expectations for Owners
Before any breeding takes place, the owners of both dogs should reach an agreement on how the puppies will be handled. Stud owners will often request having one or more puppies from the litter as part of their payment. Both owners should agree on who gets dibs on which puppies and the order in which they get to pick the puppies. This can be accomplished by creating a contract where all the terms of the breeding are laid out. Once the agreement has been written and agreed to, both parties can sign it to avoid any attempts at trickery or unnecessary drama once the puppies arrive. Another issue that should be considered is the price at which the puppies will be sold once they are born. Pricing is an important issue to consider since undercharging and overcharging both come with problems. Undercharging for pups will lead to a loss of money since the process of breeding dogs and raising pups is quite costly. Selling pups for too little can also lead to puppies landing in households that may not be as high quality, which leads to more dogs in shelters. On the other hand, charging too much for puppies can lead to unsold pups, which can be a massive inconvenience for the breeder. Try to charge enough to cover the costs of breeding and pup-rearing, as well as making a bit of profit if you can.
Another good idea to ensure the pups go to good homes is to make new owners sign an agreement with the dam owner. If new owners find themselves unable to care for the dogs they purchased, it's often better for them to be returned to the breeder than surrendered to a shelter. The breeder can require an agreement to this condition, and any other care expectations, by drafting a contract that buyers must sign. Ensuring that puppies go to high-quality homes and stay out of shelters is another excellent way to avoid the label of a backyard breeder.
Courtship is essential for the dogs and the owners. Owners must have the same expectations and intentions. If your goal is to breed puppies that improve the breed's health and quality, make sure that your breeding partner shares the same purpose. Once owners have agreed that breeding will occur, the dogs should be watched closely when introduced to watch for any signs of aggression. Owners should stay with the dogs throughout the breeding process. Intervention may be needed if either dog seems uninterested in mating, and sometimes bitches need to be physically supported when they are mounted. The bitch may also need to be prevented from thrashing around once the copulatory tie has been established so that she does not injure the male. Keep a close eye on the dogs to ensure that everything goes well and step in when necessary.
Breeding dogs can be a time-consuming and costly venture. Despite this, it can also be incredibly rewarding for the breeders, the dogs themselves, and the owners of the new puppies as long as care is taken to ensure the wellbeing of everyone involved. By taking the necessary steps, breeders can produce puppies that will improve their line or breed quality and live long lives. This article serves as an overview rather than a detailed step-by-step guide, so be sure to consult the resources of kennel clubs, breed clubs, and veterinarians to make sure that your breeding endeavors go smoothly!
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