If you have a bitch and are considering breeding from her, ask yourself the following questions before proceeding:
- Have I got enough time to devote to looking after a litter of puppies until they go to their new homes (typically around 8 weeks old)?
- Could I cope if she had a large litter that needed extra care and bottle feeding?
- Am I knowledgeable enough to care for the puppies and advise new owners about caring for them, including diet, training and health problems?
- Can I afford to pay for the recommended health test for the bitch prior to mating and possibly also for her litter?
- Do I know enough to help the bitch during whelping?
- Can I afford a caesarean if necessary?
- Would I be able to find good homes for the puppies and take them back or re-home them if necessary?
If you can’t say yes to all these questions, then breeding may not be right for you and your bitch right now. It can be a huge emotional and financial undertaking for you and your family and a massive physical undertaking for your bitch. For most of us, who have a lovely bitch as a happy and healthy family pet, it will not be of benefit to her, or you, to enter into breeding on a whim. If you are really committed to investigating the possibility of breeding from your bitch then we would recommend that you make an appointment to see one of our vets, have your bitch checked over for anything that could affect her suitability for breeding and discuss the full ramifications of breeding from her. We have a number of excellent books on dog breeding you can purchase from the surgery.
Further Information About Breeding
As a general rule, a bitch should be at least 1.5-2 years old before she has her first litter. She should be in good health and of sound temperament without any undesirable or aggressive behaviours, neither over nor underweight, indentichipped and fully vaccinated and wormed regularly. If she is a pedigree bitch she should have had all the available screening test to identify possible inherited diseases within her breed. To find details of breed specific health schemes and testing go to www.thekennelclub.org.uk/health. Once you have identified which pre-breeding test your bitch will need, contact us to arrange those tests we can perform for you here at Rhodes Vets e.g. hip and elbow scoring. Certain tests have to be conducted by specialist vets e.g. eye examinations and we can advise you how to arrange this.
If you have a pedigree bitch we recommend she is registered with the Kennel Club and you follow best breeding practice by joining their assured breeder scheme. The requirements you must follow to comply with this scheme help encourage the breeding of happy, healthy, well-adjusted puppies and in turn you can benefit from the vast experience, advice and support of the Kennel Club to find your puppies a responsible new home . If you have a pedigree dog you wish to use for stud, the kennel club can provide lots of information about this also. They can also help you identify appropriate breeding partners for your dog or bitch at: www.thekennelclub.org.uk/services/public/mateselect.
If you have a non-pedigree bitch, please still make use of the huge amount of valuable information on the Kennel Club website to help guide you in how to provide the best possible level of care for your bitch and her puppies. You can also find lots of excellent information about health screening, breeding and caring for new puppies on the British Veterinary Association Animal Welfare Foundation website (www.bva-awf.org.uk) which has links to many other resources.
The Puppy Contract, is a scheme introduced by BVA AWF and the RSPCA and endorsed by several other welfare and animal charities e.g. Dogs Trust and PDSA. This contract is intended to be downloaded from either their website and can be used for all puppies, pedigree or not, and by any breeder or seller, including rescue centres. It is designed to empower puppy buyers and help them avoid the problems that can arise from buying a puppy from an irresponsible breeder. For breeders and sellers, it records all the effort and attention they have devoted to their puppies’ breeding and care. We strongly recommend anyone thinking of breeding, selling or buying a puppy uses the puppy contract and/or assured breeder schemes to guide your plans and ensure happy, health puppies go to responsible homes.