To breed or not to breed?
The first thing you need to know about breeding dogs,
is that there is a strong argument for NOT breeding!
Many people feel there are more than enough dogs alreadyóthe world is
in fact overpopulated with dogs. Every
day thousands of dogs are destroyed by welfare societies because there are not
enough homes for them. There may be a demand for puppies, but we need to think
carefully as to what future those pups will have once they become adult dogs. If
we bring dogs into the world, we aught to take responsibility for finding a home
for them for as long as they live. If the new owners can no longer look after
the dog, we need to be willing to take our dogs back and keep them until a
suitable home may be found. The more litters we produce, the heavier the
responsibility grows. Imagine if you had produced a hundred dogs and they all
came back for re-homing!
The second argument against breeding dogs is that we should never breed with dogs of unknown pedigree, or unknown health record in case we are multiplying mediocre or unhealthy dogs.
ďWhatís one litter?Ē we protest. We need to think this through. One litter is five dogs on average (all breeds considered.) In a year or less, those five dogs could each have had a litter, which is 25 dogs. By then, the first two dogs have had another litter, making it 30 dogs. The next year, those 30 dogs may produce 150 dogs, plus 30 dogs from second litters from last yearís dogs. In three short years, we would have about 1000 dogs related to that one original litter!
Now, if the original happy couple had no papers, then not
one of those 1000 dogs can have papers, and no-one will know which dog is whose
However, since many dog-owners have a strong desire for their dogs to become parents, the fact remains that many of us dog-owners WILL allow our dogs to have puppies, so lets try to be the best, most responsible breeders we can possibly be.
FINDING A MATE
Itís important to start out with the best breeding stock we can possibly get. Where will we find a perfect specimen of a breed? Itís a good idea to frequent the dog shows. KUSA (the Kennel Union of South Africa) will tell you when the next one is in your area. There you can see what a champion looks like. You get a chance to talk to exhibitors and find out more about the breed. Maybe they will put you on their waiting list for a puppy! Exhibitors do not over breed. They only breed to improve the breed. For example, they might import a dog for breeding purposes, to introduce new blood to the gene pool. They donít have an endless supply of puppies, so you may not get one.
Even if they do have a litter, the top breeders may not be willing to sell you a puppy if they think it will be used for breeding purposes. They are against overpopulating the world with dogs. Also, they donít want their own bloodline to be mixed with other bloodlines, which they may perceive to be inferior. If they DO agree to sell you a puppy, ask if there are breeding restrictions on the papers. This prevents any offspring from being registered. Some dog-owners have bought dogs under the impression that they will get papers posted to them, but the papers never materialised. They were very disappointed. Get all the facts in writing before you agree to buy. Buyer Beware!
If you cannot obtain a dog from champion stock, the next best thing is an ordinary registered dog. The great thing about registered dogs is that they have a pedigree. In other words, their family can be traced back three generations. Donít settle for anything less than a registered dog if you are going to breed. Many breeders will airfreight a dog to you if you live far away. Delivery can also be arranged through a pet courier service at your own expense. The breeder usually makes the travel arrangements. Itís always better to see the parents before you buy, of course, especially if you intend to breed. If the adult dogs have faults, you can be sure the puppies will have them too. Ask the breeder to e-mail a photo of the parents first to see if they are up to the breed standard.
There is an international standard laid down by the kennel clubs to which dogs should conform if they are to be called a certain breed. You can get a copy of the Breed Standard from KUSA, or read up about it in books or on the Internet. Make sure you know exactly what the breed is supposed to look like, and what the temperament should be. Donít buy a dog if the parents donít conform to the Breed Standard. Some breeds are known to have breeding difficulties: those with large heads, for example. Some breeds are usually born by Caesarean Section. Research can help us prepare for what lies ahead.
Should you already have a female, and want to hire a stud dog, before rushing into marriage, ask to see the stud dog, and ask to see his registration certificate. He may be a relative! Ask how old he is. He may be too young to breed! The larger the breed, the longer it takes for a male to mature and become fertile. Ask if he has fathered puppies before. Most dogs are fertile at the age of two years.
Once you have found a suitable stud, you need to discuss the terms with the owner before the marriage. Itís a good idea to put it in writing to prevent misunderstandings later. Thereís a widely accepted convention that the owner of the stud dog is offered the pick of the litter. If he does not want a pup, he is usually offered the price of the pick of the litter. That is something that needs to be discussed before the wedding. Many breeders insist on the stud fee being paid in advance. It should be made clear whether the money will be refunded or not in the event of there being no puppies. Some breeders refuse to refund money, but offer a second mating when the bitch is in season again. You also need to discuss what you will do if there is only one puppy. It should be understood that the stud fee is for the service and the inconvenience caused, not for the results.
Then thereís the risk involved. If there is a dogfight and the dogs need to be rushed to the vet, who foots the bill? What if one dog dies? These are things you need to be aware of, and to discuss with the stud owner before the dogs get together.
Both dog owners should ask for proof that inoculations are up to date in case one dog is carrying an illness that could be transmitted. Ticks, fleas and worms should be dealt a fatal blow before the wedding.
Another consideration is whether or not you like the owner of the fiancť. Money can spoil any relationship.
Itís customary to take the bitch to the male. The male feels more assertive on his own turf. He may be shy if he is taken to a strange place and separated from his beloved family. She may need to stay there for up to two weeks. A nice gesture would be to leave a bag of her favourite food. You should also leave your phone number and your vetís phone number.
If you have
your own male dog, be sure to give him plenty of good food during the mating
season. Mating takes a lot of energy!