Dog Breeding For Beginners - How to Breed Dogs Responsibly
Dog breeding can be extremely satisfying but does require dedication and passion to be done well. Do you dream of having cuddly and cute puppies running around? Do you want to start breeding dogs for a hobby or business? In any case, you have come to the right place.
But wait! Dog breeding is not just cuddles and cuteness (although there is plenty of that!). In this article, we tell you all about responsible and ethical dog breeding- its basics and the steps involved therein.
Let us dive straight into it.
Table of Contents – Dog breeding
Dog breeding is the purposeful mating of healthy dogs with stable temperaments and complementary traits to produce offspring with specific characteristics. This might seem like a straightforward process, but, in reality, it requires careful planning, a thorough understanding of complex canine genetics, proper selection of the breeding stock, and meticulous preparation.
Ethical dog breeders always prioritise the health and well-being of their dogs. They emphasise not just beauty and conformation but also health and temperament. They make sure that their breeding programme is aimed at reducing hereditary diseases and promoting the breed’s welfare.
Good breeders who breed professionally also have the responsibility of finding loving homes for their puppies. They should aim to create lifelong relationships with all their customers and provide them with guidance for raising well-behaved, healthy dogs.
The Basics of Dog Breeding
You need to weigh several aspects when selecting a dog breed for breeding. There are more than 400 purebred dog breeds in the world. Some breeders also experiment with crossbreeding dogs to bring the best traits from each breed into their offspring.
Dogs come in various sizes, from toy breeds to large working dogs. Some breeders are known to create teacup dogs but you must understand that teacup dog breeds tend to have many health issues.
Dog breeds vary greatly in temperaments, from energetic to calm to hyperactive to protective. If you are breeding your dogs purely as a hobby, make sure your puppies’ energy levels align with your lifestyle.
Considering the purpose of the dog is also very important. You can breed a dog for herding, protection, companionship, etc.
Based on these traits, thoroughly research the breeds. Start by reading as much as you can about their traits, health issues, genetic defects, etc.
As a responsible dog breeder, you must learn about canine health, genetics, and hereditary diseases. Find out all you can about recessive and dominant traits. If needed, speak to other dog breeders or a veterinarian. You need to take all these factors into account to get the desired traits like coat colour, hair length and texture, eye colour, temperament, etc.
You must also study the common health defects and hereditary diseases in the chosen breed. Your breeding dogs must undergo genetic tests for those conditions. Such canine health screenings and genetic tests can help you avoid passing the diseases on to the puppies.
It is important that breeders empower themselves with this knowledge, as it can help them improve the breed and create healthier and happier puppies.
Female dogs undergo a heat cycle every 6 months (although some dog breeds come into heat only once a year). The female dog is fertile during this period and it is the optimum time to conceive. Breeders should keep track of their dog’s heat cycles for successful mating.
The male dog should also be ready for breeding. This is usually determined by the dog’s age, overall health, and sexual maturity. In general, puppies become sexually mature between 7-10 months.
Adhering to both legal requirements and ethical standards is essential for responsible dog breeding. If you plan to breed dogs as a business in South Australia, you need to acquire a licence from the government. This will prevent you from getting into legal trouble and also ensure the safety and welfare of your dogs.
Ethical guidelines will ensure that you are breeding dogs only after taking into account the welfare of the breeding dogs and the puppies. This also means avoiding puppy mill-like breeding practises and finding loving homes for every pup.
Preparing for Dog Breeding
When selecting your dog breeding stock, it is important that the dogs have all the traits mentioned in the dog breed’s guidelines and standards. This includes size, conformation, coat length, colour, etc. You must also evaluate the dogs’ behaviour, temperament, and trainability. Dogs with friendly and stable temperaments will pass on these traits to their offspring.
You must screen your breeding dogs for hip and elbow dysplasia, eye issues, and heart conditions. You also need to conduct genetic tests to rule out progressive retinal atrophy and specific types of cancer.
It is important to get the dogs regularly checked by a vet. Your dogs should also be on a deworming schedule since worms can be passed on from the mother to the puppies in the womb.
The Dog Breeding Process
The optimal breeding time is determined by the female’s oestrus phase- usually between the 10th and the 14th day of her heat cycle. You can have your dog tested by the vet to determine peak hormone levels. In some cases, you may have to use artificial insemination if the precise timing for mating is not achievable or if the stud dog is away or the female is too big for the male to mate naturally with.
The female’s scent will arouse the male dog. He will mount the female from behind. It is natural for the dogs to remain locked in this position for several minutes and sometimes even hours. This ensures that the sperm travels to the egg and leads to the possibility of pregnancy. Slip matings can also occur, where the dogs don’t lock, and result in pregnancy.
Your vet can confirm pregnancy with an ultrasound test.
A pregnant female dog has a gestation period of around 63 days. She will show several physical changes, such as swollen nipples, an enlarged abdomen, and slower movements.
She will also show appetite changes – usually increased appetite in the first few days and, later, a reduction in appetite as she prepares for the birth. She will also show nesting behaviour and collect papers, clothes, etc.
In addition to regular vet checkups, prenatal supplements, and a healthy diet, provide your pregnant dog with a calm, loving environment. Make sure she gets optimum exercise.
- Designate a whelping area – this should be a well-ventilated, clean area where the dam and puppies can rest. You can also add in a whelping box lined with clean, soft bedding. Make sure it is spacious enough for the dam and puppies.
- Stock up on newspapers, towels, tissues, old blankets, a thermometer, etc. You also need sterile scissors to cut the umbilical cord, although the dam might do this herself.
- Add in heat lamps, heating pads or room heaters to keep the pups warm.
As she prepares to deliver, your dog might start pacing and panting. Her breathing might be laboured. Be prepared to assist, and, if needed, have a vet come over to help.
If you are able to see the puppy but the dam is unable to push it, you might have to assist her. Use a clean towel to gently pull the puppy – make sure to use steady, gentle traction. This will stimulate further contractions. Once the pups are out, clean the membranes and cut the cord if the dam hasn’t done it.
Some inexperienced dams tend to chew the umbilical cord too close to the pups, accidentally injuring the pups. Gently remove the puppy if that seems to be the case.
- Clean the area and remove soiled bedding.
- Monitor the pups and have them examined by the vet.
- Your vet will provide deworming and vaccination schedules – follow them.
- Ensure the puppies are gaining weight.
Good breeders raise the pups at home, where they will get exposed to everyday sounds (TV, blender, vacuum, doorbell, etc.). They ensure that the puppies are used to other dogs and animals. This early enrichment and socialisation is important for creating confident, affectionate, and trainable dogs.
As a breeder, you must also find loving homes for all your puppies. Set up a buyer-screening process (through a website form that potential buyers can fill out). This will give you valuable insights into their lifestyle, whether they have owned dogs before, and know what it entails to raise dogs.
Encourage potential dog owners to come and visit your puppies. Provide them with breed-specific information and assure them of lifelong guidance about training and healthcare. You can also use these visits to ask them questions. This will help in building a life-long relationship with your customers and also establish your reputation as a dependable breeder.
Do provide a puppy package with each puppy – a blanket with the dam’s scent, some dog food the puppy has been eating, toys, etc. This will make the pup more comfortable as it adjusts to the new environment.