So You Want A Litter Of Puppies? Why?
"To make a lot of money." Do you realize the expense involved in such items as advertising, vet bills, stud fee, food, etc., to name a few?
"Because it would be good for the children to watch the birth and play with the puppies as they grow up." Actually, the "gory" parts of the whelping repulse most kids, who are all too anxious to just skip the viewing of the miracle of birth you have planned for them to see. And a litter growing up is too rowdy for most kids who are usually totally disinterested or absolutely terrified of the leaping creatures with the sharp nails and teeth. If you want the kids to see a puppy grow up, it's usually better to buy one.
"Because we love Fido and we want one just like her." The chances of getting one "just like her" are slim indeed.
"Because everyone who comes to the house and sees Fido wants a puppy when she has a litter." Just wait until your litter of 12 is ready to go to their homes and watch all those people back out with excuses like...."The kids aren't old enough."...."The kids are too old now to be bothered with caring for a dog."......"We are going to have a baby."...."The rug is too new."...."The house is too small."...."We'll be moving in 3 months."....."Grandma doesn't like dogs."...."Our old dog hasn't died yet."....."It might not get along with the cat.".....and the list goes on and on!
"Because we really love little puppies." You'd better be sure you love them. You can't fully imagine how much is involved, such as the mess a litter makes. Can you put up with the cleaning that is constantly needed in caring for the litter? There is no way to explain how tired you get of scrubbing up after the puppies, their whelping box, the yard, kennel, or wherever they are kept. They dump their food and water the minute you put it down, step in it, and drag it through whatever else may be in the puppy box, and with 6 or 8 or 12 puppies, there's always something else to be cleaned up too!
Do you understand the RESPONSIBILITY you will have with a litter? It's not just Fido having the litter and caring for it until they are ready to go. Most of it is up to you and you're tied to the litter like any new mother, only you can't take the litter with you to your in-laws for the weekend, or any place else for that matter, so you'd better be content to spend all too long, because you have to be there to feed the puppies four times a day.
Now that you have some idea of what is involved other than playing with those cute, cuddly puppies and are still determined to breed, here's something else that should be considered.
Is your bitch of QUALITY to breed? Do you know her faults as well as her virtues? Does she meet with the standard of the breed? Is she in good health? Has she been tested free of the genetic defects associated with the breed? Do you have customers so you won't have to sell the puppies at a price below market value or take them to a shelter?
If you can answer "yes" to the above and haven't lost the determination to try your hand at raising a litter, then read on.
Get an opinion of your bitch from a few reputable breeders. Find out what they think are her faults and her virtues.
Learn about any problems that exist in your breed such as hip dysplasia, eye disorders, etc. Study the breed standard yourself so that you are familiar with it when looking at and evaluating possible stud dogs. Get several reputable breeder's opinions of a stud dog who will enhance your bitch. Go to see as many of the stud dogs and their offspring as you can.
After you have decided on a stud dog, take your bitch to the vet and have all necessary health clearances done ($$$$). She should have a general health check-up and the vet will let you know if any vitamin supplements are necessary. This exam should include: a worm check (take along a stool sample), a heartworm check, brucellosis test, updating of vaccinations, blood panel. Don't forget, all this is going to cost money, but it's necessary, part of planning for a healthy litter.
Now while you wait for her to come into season, read all you can on your particular breed, breeding, whelping, and rearing puppies.
Start saving all your newspapers and have your friends do the same (remember what we told you about clean-up?) You'll need all the newspaper you can get your hands on.
Have a whelping box built or, if you are handy, build one yourself. More $$$$.
When the bitch comes in season, contact the stud dog owner with whom you have previously made arrangements regarding the breeding. You will be advised on when to bring your bitch. Plan to pay the stud fee at the time of breeding ($$$). There may also be a boarding charge if your bitch is to stay with the stud dog's owner ($$$). Be sure you understand in advance what the payment of the stud fee is guaranteeing. The suitable stud for your bitch may be some distance away involving additional traveling expense ($$$). Getting your bitch bred isn't always as easy as you might imagine and may require repeated trips to the stud dog.
After your bitch is bred you have about 63 more days to do more reading and thinking, and laced with the good thoughts about the precious darlings will be some horrible thoughts about what can go wrong and how much it will cost you, both financially and emotionally.
We hate to keep dwelling on this but things DO go wrong occasionally and you should be prepared in case it happens to you.
- What if your bitch has problems and requires a Cesarean section or other extensive vet services ($$$)?
- What if the puppies die?
- What if she is not in whelp or has a miscarriage?
- What are you going to do with 10 six-month old puppies that you can't sell, give away, or have the heart to put to sleep? Do you have adequate facilities?
- What if your bitch can't or won't nurse the puppies? Are you prepared to feed them every two hours for the next three weeks?
- And worst of all, what if Fido dies while whelping or afterwards? Will it have been worth it?
The days pass, and Fido whelps her puppies without any problems, but you still have to take her to the vet to be checked over within 24 hours of delivery. She will probably get injections to prevent infections ($$$). Lucky for you, Fido whelped 10 healthy puppies.
They are almost 6 weeks old now and in two weeks it will be time to sell them. First they will all have to make a trip to the vet. Their check-up will include shots and a worm check with medication if necessary (10 x $$$).
Now that you know they are healthy and ready to go, you'll want a breeder to see just how gorgeous they are and how great you did on your first try. Of course, you think they are all show quality and worth show prices. But again be prepared because you might be told the following:
- The best male has only one testicle.
- The next best male toes out badly (but has both testicles.)
- The really pretty bitch has a bad bite.
- The smaller bitch has a proper bite but her topline is bad.
- The bitch with the prettiest head is cowhocked.
- There are four who are average, nothing really wrong but nothing outstanding either.
There is one who is show quality. The "show quality" one is the one you were going to keep just as a pet because the kids liked it best (another mouth to feed $$$) and you're feeling down at the breeder's opinion of your litter. But you're told to cheer up, one outstanding puppy is better than a lot of people get out of a litter and you should consider this a successful breeding, Some consolation when you were going to sell them all as show puppies!
Now you have your litter graded and priced accordingly and you are ready to sell them. By this time, are you knowledgeable enough about your breed to be the expert every buyer assumes you are? Are you prepared to answer questions on training, housebreaking, feeding, grooming, etc.? Are you prepared to answer these questions not only at the time of purchase, but months later or when someone calls at midnight because the dog isn't eating right? Can you direct buyers to obedience classes, breed handling classes, help them get into showing, recommend a vet, etc.? Remember, you are now the breeder and the responsibility doesn't end when a puppy is carried out the door. Do you have a pedigree ready to go with each puppy, as well as the registration forms? Are you prepared to advertise extensively ($$$) if needed?
If you have a good bitch and have bred to a stud dog owned by an interested breeder, they may send referrals to you, but don't depend on others to sell your puppies, and advertising expenses can really add up. Don't expect the buyers to flock to your door the day the puppies are ready to go. It may take weeks, or even months, before they are all sold. This results in lots of food costs and more trips to the vet ($$$).
We hope that if you breed your bitch you do it the right way and only for the right reasons and put lots of time, thought, and love into your decision.
THERE ARE TOO MANY UNWANTED PUPPIES PUT TO DEATH EACH YEAR DUE TO IRRESPONSIBLE AND IGNORANT BREEDING. DON'T LET ANY OF YOUR PUPPIES END UP THIS WAY.