Breeding for Pet Owners - The Pros and Cons of Breeding Dogs

By Krista Williams, BSc, DVM, CCRP; Ernest Ward, DVM

Should I breed my dog?

Many owners find the companionship of their dog so rewarding that they want to breed their dog, to continue the bloodline and/or to keep a puppy. Others, especially first time dog owners, acquire a female dog with the intent to breed her when she is old enough.

Whatever the reason, there are important considerations you should think about before embarking upon any breeding program. In this, and several other educational handouts concerning dog breeding, we will outline some of these considerations.

I obtained my dog from a rescue organization but he is so lovely I would like a puppy from him. How do I go about it?

Remember that, just like people, dogs are individuals and although we say "like father, like son" this does not necessarily always apply. If you really are intent on mating your mixed breed dog, you must remember that female dogs, unlike people, usually have more than one puppy at a time. You have to consider how you are going to find good homes for the other pups in the litter. You also need to consider if your pet has a chance of passing on a health condition that may affect the puppies and their new owners.

"You have to consider how you are going to find homes for the other pups in the litter."

The first step is to find a female dog to mate with your male. The owner of the female dog will be the person with the primary responsibility for finding homes for the puppies that you do not want. Unfortunately, this is not always easy, due to the number of unwanted dogs in animal shelters.

Owners of male mixed breed dogs frequently search for suitable mates amongst their neighbors or other members of local dog clubs. If you obtained your dog from a shelter, pet shop, or a neighbor's litter, think about what will happen to the puppies your pet will produce. Will you be comfortable if some, if not all, of the rest of the litter end up in an animal shelter, puppy mill, or other unhappy home? This is a serious decision with the future puppy's life potentially at risk. Make your decision wisely and carefully.

If I do decide to go ahead and breed my dog, is it likely that the offspring will have the same desirable traits?

Truthfully, the odds are against it, although training and environment helps mold puppies just like people. It is rare that the puppies, especially mixed breed puppies, are identical to either parent, especially in terms of behavior and personality.

I want to breed my dog to reduce his sexual activities. Does this work?

Mating your dog may actually make these behaviors worse! If your intent is to control or curtail your dog's sexual behaviors or proclivities, breeding him will not solve that problem.

What will reduce my dog's sexual activities?

Neutering your dog will reduce some unwanted behaviors, such as roaming to find a mate. The advantages of neutering far outweigh the disadvantages. Neutering your pet eliminates his risk of developing testicular cancer and reduces his chances of developing prostate disease. It is well-proven that neutering does not cause negative behavioral changes in your pet. Neutering will only make your pet healthier and may even save his life!

If I do not breed my dog, how can I get another dog with similar characteristics?

Start by contacting the person or organization where you obtained your dog. There is a good possibility that they may have similar pets that would make an excellent addition to your family.

"Visit a local animal shelter and rescue a homeless pet."

Alternatively, visit a local animal shelter and rescue a homeless pet. You may be pleasantly surprised by what you find. Finally, talk with your veterinarian. They will be able to direct your search and provide you with assistance in finding the "perfect pet partner".

I obtained my female dog from an animal shelter and they suggested she should be neutered at six months. She has turned out to be such a lovely pet that I would like a litter from her. Can I do this?

Spaying is the right choice for mixed breed dogs. Five to ten million pets are euthanized in shelters nationwide each year.

"The pet overpopulation problem can only be resolved through spaying and neutering programs."

Since each female dog may have six or more puppies with each mating and they may mate twice a year, the pet overpopulation problem can only be resolved through spaying and neutering programs. With the abundance of homeless pets needing good homes, you will have no difficulty adopting a pet with the same wonderful qualities when you decide to add to your family!

I realize that, but she has turned out to be so special that I would really like a puppy from her.

Dogs, like people, vary greatly. No matter how careful you are in selection of a mate, there is no guarantee that you will get the puppy of your dreams. Is it really worth risking up to twelve or more additional lives? There is tremendous cost involved when breeding your dog responsibly: your dog will need to be screened for hereditary diseases to try to prevent producing puppies with lifelong medical conditions; you need to be prepared for the large financial expense of an emergency resulting from the breeding or worse, losing your dog because of this; you need to be available 24 hours a day for at least the first 3 weeks after whelping to monitor the puppies and provide nursing care if needed; and you need to care for and socialize all the puppies until you have found good homes for them, including providing veterinary care such as vaccinations and deworming.

Is it possible to mate my mixed-breed female dog, short of letting her run with any dog in the local park?

Owners of pedigree studs will sometimes allow mating with a non-purebred dog. This is particularly useful if you want to concentrate on a particular characteristic or conformation.

For example, if you have a mixed Boxer female, it may be possible to mate her with a purebred Boxer stud. Inquire at your local dog club or breed society, or contact the secretary of the appropriate breed club. This information is available from the American and Canadian Kennel Clubs, both of whom have websites.

I am a member of a local dog-training club and there are many people who would like a puppy from my female. Why wouldn't breeding my dog be a reasonable course of action?

That is fine. Unfortunately, there is a great difference between initial enthusiasm and final acceptance of the puppy. Many people change their mind in the period between birth and weaning and even more lose their enthusiasm when they have to deal with housetraining a puppy. This is the primary reason there are so many puppies and young adult dogs in animal shelters everywhere.

What then, would you suggest?

Have your dog spayed and select a similar type of puppy from your local animal shelter. It is the right decision for you, your dog, and the millions of dogs in desperate need of adoption. Remember all service dogs —Guide Dogs, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, and Dogs for the Disabled—are sterilized.

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