How to Breed The Best Family Dogs
If you want to breed the best family dogs to sell as pets, the first step is to understand that dog breeding is a science and an art. It requires total devotion and commitment, and the process is fraught with many challenges.
Breeding puppies that will grow to be the best family dogs also requires knowledge, time, and effort. It is important to study all that you can about canine genetics and breed health. Only if you are willing to do so should you commit to it.
In this best family dogs breeding guide, we tell you all the steps involved in breeding high-quality family dogs.
Table of Contents – Breeding the best family dogs
Step-By-Step Guide for How To Breed The Best Family Dogs
Start by learning all you can about your dog breed. You can visit the breed’s official club website, where you can find detailed videos and information about its traits, health defects, etc.
If needed, speak to other dog breeders who have that breed or your vet. If possible, attend dog shows and events to meet championship dog owners and watch the breed in action.
Your local library will also carry books about the breed and dog breeding (as a profession and hobby), so you know what to expect. Breeding the best family dogs is never a fluke, it requires careful planning and concerted effort.
Every ethical dog breeder will want to improve the breed and that should be their final aim. You must examine your breeding stock and note their good and bad points. Accordingly, search in the stud dog directory to find a breeding male that will balance out or negate those flaws. Again, please seek help from other reputable breeders as well as the breed’s official club experts to help you select the right stud dog for your female dog.
Step 3 – Prepare to Commit To The Process of Producing the Best Family Dogs
Many hobby breeders believe that dog breeding is easy, but they lose enthusiasm when it comes to taking care of the puppies. Sure, the dam will do most of the work once the pups arrive but you also need to train and socialise the pups before finding them good homes.
Litter sizes can range from 1-to-12 puppies, and you must provide them all with veterinary care, nutritious food, and training until they go to their forever homes.
You must learn all the pros and cons of your breed and take the time to explain all the care these dogs need to every potential owner.
To raise the best family dogs, you must look for suitable breeding stock. It is important that the dogs are registered with a canine club. Only if the dam and sire are club registered, can all the puppies in the litter be registered as well.
Here are some pointers to keep in mind when selecting a mate for your dog:
- The pair should complement each other. Find a dog with a good coat and stable temperament.
- Choose a bloodline that will strengthen your dog’s weaknesses (overcome their defects) while emphasising their strengths.
- It is better to pair an experienced female with a young, inexperienced stud, as she will be calmer.
- Females also tend to be less inhibited than males, so you could take your female to the stud if the dogs do not live together.
- Select a dog breeder close to where you live as it can help make meet-ups easier. However, modern breeding technologies enable us to ship frozen and chilled semen Australia and worldwide.
The best family dogs need to be child-friendly, affectionate, intelligent, loyal, trainable, and easy to groom. The parent dogs should both have these traits.
Canine temperament is hereditary but it can also be influenced by the environment you provide the dogs with. If you breed dogs that have had generations of dogs with stable, friendly temperaments, then it is likely that the pups will be mild-mannered, loving, trainable, and stable too. These are all traits that are highly desirable in the best family dogs.
One thing is for sure – you must never breed dogs with questionable temperaments.
Always evaluate health issues and defects in the dogs and avoid breeding ones with known defects. If you are having a stud dog from another breeder come to mate with your bitch, ask for the genetic and hip score test results conducted on him to ensure he is fit.
Every responsible dog breeder should have basic knowledge of canine genetics. After all, genetics will determine how your puppies look and behave. Ultimately the genetics of a dog, determines it’s potential to develop the traits of some of our best family dogs.
Never select a dog for mating with your pet solely on the basis of its looks, temperament, or soundness. You must also understand how the dog’s genetic makeup will affect the puppies.
For this, you must understand the pedigree of the mating dogs.
Here are some points to keep in mind:
- Dominant pattern – any trait or disease that follows a dominant pattern needs just one abnormal gene. This means that even if only one parent is affected, that condition/trait could appear in successive generations.
- Recessive pattern – the condition/trait could be passed down through many generations and may manifest in the offspring of the two dogs that carry the same genetic mutation.
- Polygenic pattern – this is highly complex as it sometimes follows the dominant pattern and sometimes the recessive pattern. This often leads to erroneous conclusions about the underlying genetic abnormality.
- Chromosomal abnormalities – these are also important to watch out for. Never breed dogs with major defects in chromosomal structures and numbers.
You must perform veterinary checks, pre-breeding tests, and genetic tests on the dogs. Here are some general points to keep in mind:
- The bitch should not be overweight, as it could cause problems in breeding
- She should be current with deworming and vaccinations
- Both dogs should be ruled out for a bacterial infection called brucellosis known to cause miscarriage.
Male dogs become sexually mature at 6 months and reach full sexual maturity between 1 – 1 ½ years. They can be used as studs until 7-8 years of age (although this is breed dependent).
Most bitches will have their first heat cycle (oestrus) between 6-18 months of age, depending on the breed. Many canine clubs do not allow registration of puppies if the dam is less than 8 months of age or more than 12 years of age at the time of mating.
Here are some things to know about the female reproductive cycle in dogs:
- Proestrus – this lasts for 9 days after the day she first bleeds. She usually won’t allow mating during this phase. Her vulva will be swollen and she will bleed.
- Oestrus – this is the fertile window between the 9th and 14th days, and she will want to mate. This can vary from female to female, hence why progesterone testing is recommended to pinpoint when ovulation occurs.
- Dioestrus – this lasts for 2-3 months and is a time when the bitch could show pseudopregnancy.
- Anoestrus – lasts for 3-4 months and no sexual activity takes place.
You can now mate or artificially inseminate the selected dogs.
During mating, the male will clasp the female from behind. Some dog breeds need assistance for this step, so you can discuss it with the other breeder/dog owner.
Once the male has ejaculated inside the female, they will tie. The dogs might also move and reposition themselves so they are connected back-to-back. Never separate tied dogs, as that can result in injuries. The tie will release on its own after 10-30 minutes. Sometimes the dogs will not tie and this is called a ‘slip mating’. Slip matings can still result in pregnancy and sometimes a tie cannot be achieved. Under these circumstances an experienced stud dog owner will perform an AI (artificial insemination) to ensure a full collection of semen is deposited into the female.
Step 11 – Artificial Insemination
In some cases, you may have to go for an artificial insemination using fresh or frozen semen. Please follow the guidelines given for the procedure by the breed’s club or consult an expert breeder or reproduction specialist vet for the same.
A bitch has a gestation period of 60-63 days. Always consult the vet to ensure pregnancy and rule out false or pseudopregnancy.
Once the vet confirms pregnancy, you must follow dietary recommendations for her and feed her supplements as needed. Vets often recommend goats milk, eggs, meat, and liver rich foods for pregnant bitches.
Buy or make a whelping box where your dam can give birth. Add newspapers, blankets, and towels to the box. Make sure the box is large and spacious for your particular breed. It should have low-sides. You can add small shelves for the puppies to crawl under and rest.
Add the following items to the whelping area: bath mats, newspapers, old towels and sheets, paper towels, a thermometer, dental floss to tie umbilical cord, clean scissors to cut the cord, and iodine solution to disinfect the abdomen.
It is best to have your vet come over when your dog goes into labour. She will start pacing restlessly. Her temperature will drop a bit. She will pant and appear restless. Once her cervix dilates, the pups will start coming, and she will strain to deliver them. She will clean and eat the placenta.
Make sure no placenta is retained in the abdomen. You may also have to assist her in cutting the umbilical cord. The pups should start suckling her soon after so they get the antibody-rich colostrum.
Keep track of the puppies’ weight, have a vet examine them, and start a vaccination/deworming regimen. Puppies need to be wormed at 2, 4, 6 and 8 weeks of age. The mother dog should also be wormed at the same time. Keep the pups warm, and make sure the bitch is healthy and eats a lot of food while nursing.
Sometimes, bitches do not nurse, in which case you need to feed formula to the puppies.
Register your puppies with the canine club if you are a member of one (this is not compulsory). You can start weaning them after 3-4 weeks after birth. The vet will recommend the right time for weaning and also recommend a formula and puppy food.
As they get older, you can reduce the formula and increase the dog food.
Step 17 – Socialise The Pups
Breeders of the best family dogs always raise the new puppies at home where they are exposed to regular household noises and also get desensitised to other humans and animals. You can also focus on early enrichment for the puppies and start their potty training.
As a responsible breeder, you must also find good homes for your pups. Do a thorough check of the potential customers before sending the puppies to them. Commit to the lifelong care of the puppies.