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Should you breed a litter from your bitch?

So you have owned a bitch for some time and have heard the old wives tail "Every bitch should have at least one litter". Well in my opinion, this is absolute rubbish. There is no medical reason to my knowledge to support this theory, there are too many unwanted dogs being put to sleep in this country already and you never miss what you have never had! I have owned bitches myself who although have been mated, have missed each time (not come into whelp) and have enjoyed life to the full without ever having a puppy.

If you decide that you really want to mate your bitch, then first consider the following questions;

1 - Is she a good enough specimen of her breed to be mated? (if in doubt, consult the breeder from whom you purchased her).

2 - Is she free from any major hereditary defects that may effect your breed ? (check with her breeder if you are in any doubt)

3 - Is she old enough to be bred from? You must consider her condition, confirmation, pedigree, maturity and disposition. She must not be too fat nor too thin. The age to breed is dependant on the individual bitch, if she is completely grown and developed, you could breed her on her first season but preferably not before she is about fifteen months old.

4 - Are her inoculations up to date?

>5 - Have you got her Kennel Club Registration and is she registered in your name?

6 - Are you sure that you are able to sell the puppies she will hopefully produce, are you capable of vetting prospective purchasers to ensure your pups end up in suitable homes and will you re-home any pups returned to you in the event of their new owners having to part with it?

7 - Have you got the time, patience and ability to whelp her and raise the puppies ? (helping her whelp is not for people who don't like the sight of blood, rearing the pups is most time consuming, see file on whelping)

8 - Have you a quiet area where you can place a whelping box, keep her and her pups warm and out of draughts, where she can have privacy yet still get outside to relieve herself and where you can handle the puppies "doing their business" all over the floor as they are weaned off mum?

9 - Can you afford the veterinary costs if she fails to have her puppies naturally and has to be opened up by the vet! Costs of such an operation often exceeds 200 pounds (depending on your locality) and this is in addition to the stud fee which depending on the quality of the stud dog and breed, can also be in excess of 200 pounds. Feeding the puppies as they are weaned off mum is another expense to bear in mind and gets dearer as the pups get older (just in case they do not sell as fast as you had hoped). Having puppies is not a cheap exercise and can often cost more than the value of the pups!

10 - Breeding your bitch is not a recipe to getting rich quick. It should not be approached lightly as not only are you the custodian of the breed, you are also responsible for the future of the puppies you produce. Think on these questions carefully and only when you are absolutely sure you are doing it for the right reasons, check out my file on Choosing A Stud Dog and another on Whelping.