For the love of your pet: Is breeding dogs for you?
I'm considering purchasing a female dog for my male to breed so that I can sell the puppies. I have never bred dogs but it seems like a pretty easy way to make some spare cash. Do you have any advice for a novice breeder before I jump in with both feet?
Just like anything else you try and do, you can do it perfectly to the T or you can try and get by doing the bare minimum. The time of "good old ma and pa breeding a good pup" is gone. People who spend good money on puppies expect to get what they have paid for. I've heard many, many times from the breeders who use me as their vet: "Breeding is not for those who want to make money but for those who love the breed."
There are multiple types of breeders out there. I'll hit on the two extremes and the middle of the road. Let's start from the bottom up.
Unfortunately, the majority of people breeding dogs do not put the proper time and effort into it. They go get a male dog, a female dog, let them breed and pray for puppies. They may or may not give any vaccinations, deworming or see a vet before being sold. Sometimes they are not even aware that their dog is pregnant or who she got pregnant from.
This makes record keeping a non-existent thing. The quality of dog then becomes questionable. The sale price of these dogs has to be low because they have not received appropriate care and do not have a recorded background. The purchasers of these pups should expect to foot the bill in medical care that hasn't previously been provided by the breeder, not to mention, you have no idea what makes them up genetically.
Are they carriers of hip dysplasia, demodectic mange, eye problems (entropion), cryptorchid, parrot mouth/under bite, cleft palate, cleft nose, umbilical/inguinal hernias, liver shunt, heart defects?
The middle-of-the-road breeder is pretty responsible. They usually have a well-documented history for both the male and female showing no diagnosed genetic mutations or defects. They are fully aware of who bred who and when. They start deworming the puppies at 10 days of age and have a history from a veterinarian accounting for at least one wellness exam and regularly scheduled vaccinations until the point of sale.
These breeders usually make great puppies that are free of most genetic defects and are partially socialized before headed for a new home. These puppies usually sell for a reasonable price to cover the costs of medical services and proper record keeping.
Finally, there is the tip of the top. These breeders breed for a living. They will get an extensive lineage history of both the male and female before they breed. Not only are these two dogs tested for any diseases, they usually have their hips and eyes certified before being bred.
They come from parents who received the same testing and treatment. Pregnant females receive regular radiographs and/or ultrasounds multiple times during their pregnancy to ensure proper development of puppies and monitor mom incase a C-section is needed. Once born the puppies are taken to the vet within the first 24 hours of life and usually once monthly until sold.
All vaccinations, dewormings, genetic screenings, etc. are documented and given to the new owner at time of sale. Obviously, these puppies make very expensive pets and are usually purchased with the idea of making them a breeding dog.
Breeding is a tough business when done right and profit is usually slim to none (especially when starting out). Consult with other breeders, your veterinarian or me if you have any other questions.
Dr. John Beck has a veterinary practice at Hillcrest Animal Hospital in Victoria. Submit questions to Dr. Beck at email@example.com.