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How to be a responsible breeder

  1. Should I breed?

    Responsible breeders do not breed to make money because they know they won’t. They do not breed to show their kids the marvels of reproduction and birth because they know that breeding can be a difficult, and sometimes heart-breaking, process. They also do not breed their dog just to produce some cute puppies- because they know that each of those cute puppies will require many hours of care, and must be placed with a responsible owner who will continue that care even when the cuteness of puppyhood is over.

  2. Understanding the commitment.

    You need to approach breeding with an understanding of the commitment that it will require. Raising puppies is a full-time job. The extra feeding, cleanup, grooming, training, and veterinary care you will need to provide adds up to a lot of hours and not much free time for you. You also need to consider the financial burden of having a litter of puppies. Cesarian section surgeries can be extremely expensive but necessary in some cases. Breeding is not a profit-making activity. From the genetic screening and health tests before breeding, to the extra food, supplies, and medical care required, the cost of whelping and raising puppies can be very high, especially if complications arise. These costs are rarely, if ever, recouped by the sale of the puppies.

  3. Deciding if your dog should be bred.

    The decision to breed a particular dog should not be an emotional decision. There are a lot of genetic problems that can be passed on to the puppies such as retained testicles, bad teeth alignment, dysplasia, and allergies. Breeds that are predisposed to certain genetic abnormalities need pre-breeding tests such as xrays for dysplasia, eye screening, and blood tests. Temperament can also be passed on to future generations, so screening potential parents for aggressive or abnormal behaviors would be strongly suggested. Bitches should be in good health and at a good weight (overweight dogs can have complications with pregnancy and birth). Inbreeding should be avoided because of increased chances of birth defects and damaging recessive traits being passed on to the puppies. Animals are not aware of these risks and will breed within the family unit.

  4. Getting ready.

    One month before breeding, the bitch should have a thorough pre-breeding physical examination by a veterinarian. Her vaccinations should be current, and she should be tested and treated for parasites. You should choose the potential sire carefully, making sure that all pre-breeding screens have been passed and that the male is in good health. You should also take the size of the male into consideration. Especially in small breed dogs, the male should be the same size or smaller than the female to reduce the chances of potential whelping difficulties. The ideal age for breeding is between 2 years to 6 years of age. Breeding a female too early or too late in life can lead to complications.

  5. When to breed.

    A female will start her first heat cycle between 6 months to as late as 2 years of age. Estrus occurs at intervals of approximately six months until late in life. During estrus, which occurs approximately 10-14 days after the onset of bleeding, the female is fertile and will accept a male. You should not breed a bitch on consecutive heats, to allow sufficient time for recuperation between pregnancies. You may need several matings to get a pregnancy. During breeding, the male mounts the female from the rear. After mating the female and male will not separate for 10-30 minutes. This is known as a tie. During the tie, the male may move around until he and the bitch are rear to rear. Do not try to separate the dogs during a tie. They will part naturally.

  6. Pregnancy

    Canine gestation lasts approximately 63 days. Signs of pregnancy include an increase in appetite, weight, and nipple size. However a bitch with a false pregnancy may also show these signs. A veterinarian can usually confirm a pregnancy through abdominal palpation or ultrasound at 28 days, or X-rays at 45 days. A bitch has a higher nutritional requirement during pregnancy and nursing. Using a high quality puppy or growth food is recommended.

  7. Labor

    A few days before the bitch is ready to give birth she may stop eating and start building a “nest” where she plans to have her puppies. You will need a whelping box prepared for her. The whelping box should be located in a quiet, warm, dry place. If your dog decides not to use the whelping box any warm, dry, safe area will do (just make sure it is easy to clean). Shortly before whelping her body temperature will drop to 99 degrees or lower (normal temperature is 100 to 102.5). Approximately 24 hours after her temperature drops, she can be expected to enter the first stage of labor. Most bitches give birth easily, without the need of human help. Each puppy emerges in its own placental membrane, or sac, which must be removed before the puppy can breathe. The mother usually takes care of this by tearing off (and sometimes eating) the membrane, and then severs the umbilical cord. After delivery, she will lick each puppy to stimulate its breathing. If she does not take care of the sac or stimulate the puppies you may have to assist. A puppy can only remain in the sac for a few minutes before the oxygen supply is depleted. The sac membrane should be torn near the puppy’s head and peeled backward until the puppy can be gently removed. then you should remove mucus or fluids from the puppy’s mouth and nose, and gently rub the puppy with a towel to stimulate breathing. The umbilical cord can be tied with unwaxed dental floss, and cut on the far side of the tie away from the abdomen.

  8. TroubleY

    ou will need to watch for signs that she is in trouble. Some indications are:

    1. Extreme pain
    2. Strong contractions lasting for more than 45 minutes without delivery of a pup.
    3. More than three hours elapsing between puppies without contractions.
    4. Trembling, shivering, or collapse.
    5. Passing dark green or bloody fluid before the birth of the first puppy (after the first puppy this is normal).
    6. No signs of labor by the 64th day after her last mating.
    7. The mother is not taking care of the puppies.
    8. The puppies are not nursing or are having trouble nursing.

If any of these problems arise call your veterinarian immediatley.

  1. After whelping

    At the time of birth, the new mother will be busy cleaning her puppies, warming them and allowing them to suckle. It is very important for the puppies to suckle soon after emerging from the womb. The first milk produced by the mother is filled with colostrum, a milk-like substance containing maternal antibodies which help the puppies fight infection in their early days, while their immune system matures. A newborn puppy cannot control its body temperature and must be kept in a warm environment. Chilling will stress the puppy. Some bitches eat very little for the first day or two after whelping. Then their appetite and need for calories rise sharply and peak in about three weeks.

  2. Puppy care

    You should weigh each puppy every day to make sure they are growing properly. A puppy should not lose weight after the first day. Any puppy losing weight is at high risk for death. A poor growing puppy may need to be supplemented with formula.Newborn puppies must be bottle fed if their mother is either unable or unwilling to nurse them. Cow’ milk is not a good substitute for bitch’s milk. A commercial puppy formula is recommended. Carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Also a puppy who is not being cared for by it’s mother will need to be stimulated to defecate and urinate after each feeding. Gently massage the puppy’s genital region with a cotton ball or paper towel that has been wet with warm water. If you decide that your puppies require surgical removal of the tail or dewclaws to meet breed standards, you must have the procedure done at 3-5 days of age.

  3. Weaning

    Most puppies begin the weaning process at about three weeks of age. You can start them out with a pan of “gruel” (canned puppy food mixed with warm water). You slowly decrease the amount of water added until the puppies are eating straight canned puppy food. At 5 weeks most puppies can be offered dry puppy food. To avoid digestive upsets you should feed a consistent diet of high quality puppy food.

  4. Veterinary care of new puppies

    We recommend that all new puppies be examined and get their first vaccination and deworming at 6 to 8 weeks of age. This is generally the breeders responsiblity. You will want to keep a record on each puppy to be given to their new owners.

  5. New homes

    A responsible breeder makes sure that every single puppy goes to an owner who will provide it with a great home. This means careful screening of potential owners. Puppies should not be placed in new homes until 8 weeks of age. The socialization skills that puppies obtain in this time is very important. A lot of breeders home their puppies too early because at this stage they are a lot of work.

  6. The final step

    When your dog has had her final litter, it is time to spay her. The longer she is left intact the higher her risks are for breast cancer, and life threatening uterine infections. She can be spayed approximately 2 weeks after weaning her puppies.

    Keep in mind that you are choosing to bring these puppies into this world and with that decision comes responsibility. Good luck!