So You Want to Be a Breeder
No matter how you look at it, breeding PROPERLY is an expensive and time consuming business. Lots of people successfully manage to have a litter of mixed-breed puppies in their closet or perhaps under the bed, throwing them out in the garage or down in the basement when they grow to the smelly and active stage. The puppies are then given away at garage sales or perhaps to friends and acquaintances and are forgotten.
This is NOT being a breeder.
A breeder cares about the lives that they are responsible for bringing into this world. A good breeder doesn’t just throw any two dogs together and hope for the best…breedings are planned with careful regard to health, temperament, longevity and quality. More often than not a breeder won’t use a local dog, or even one in their own kennel, but will rather go to the VERY BEST dog that they can find and afford. A breeder studies pedigrees, and has knowledge, not just about the dogs that are being bred, but about the dogs in the background of those dogs for several generations. When the litter is born you will most likely find the good breeder taking vacation time. Its funny that you will never hear good breeders talking about their cruises or trips to Europe (unless its to England to go see Crufts!). Most breeders take their hard earned vacation time to babysit mom and puppies, or if none are expected to travel to dog shows to exhibit what they have produced.
Having a litter is constant laundry, paper changes and keeping a watchful eye. It is imperative that a breeder quickly catch the puppy that isn’t nursing as vigourously as its littermates, or the puppy who has caught a chill, or has become trapped behind Momma and can’t find its way back to the “wet bar”. What do you mean “vacation time”, you ask? Don’t professional breeders make a living from their dogs? You will find that most caring breeders work full time to support their kennels, not the other way around. To raise a litter properly is usually a break-even proposition at best – and that is if all goes well. Sometimes there are horror stories – and some of the links below describe some of the possibilities that you may face.
Breeding dogs is not as you see it on TV – pristine female with half a dozen happily nursing contented babies in a spotlessly clean box in the kitchen. The truth is your female will have bleeding for a few weeks after the puppies are born, as the sites where the placentas were attached heal. She will spot your floor, your carpets and if you aren’t careful your couch. You will go through mountains of bedding – you will need to beg every person on your block to start saving you newspapers. Keeping the whelping box clean is very important, and an almost continuous job.
Most breeds will need to have dewclaws removed at 3 days. So you will now need to pack up all the babies, keep them warm and truck off to the vet for this procedure, and if all went well with the delivery and a C-Section wasn’t required – this is the beginning of the mounting vet bills.
For the first 3 weeks Momma will feed the babies, but then it is necessary for you to begin the weaning process. Keep the mop handy to wipe up the floors as the babies track through the dishes more than eat the food for the first week. Now it is also important to socialize the babies, to spend time one on one playing with them and teaching them interaction to make sure they are mentally fit to go to their new homes. After 5 weeks of puppy feeding you’ll feel you should own shares in your dog food company as you are sure that you have just paid off some monstrous bill for them.
At 6 weeks you will need to have your vet give the puppies their first inoculations. Unless you are fortunate enough to have a vet who makes house calls this means once again packing up all the babies in your vehicle for a trip to the vets office – only this time they are a lot bigger, can see what they’re doing and don’t want to stay in the box!
At 8 weeks your little darlings are ready to leave the nest. Did you have reservations before you bred your litter? If not you can add the expense of advertising to your costs. In Canada the CKC requires breeders to individually identify each puppy before it leaves your premises by tattoo or microchip. If you have decided you never want to do this again you won’t bother to register a tattoo combination with the CKC so you’ll use the microchips. Add to your costs – the costs of the microchips, and the cost for your vet to implant them. Are you ready to screen potential buyers? How are you going to keep tabs on these babies after they have left? A responsible breeder is a 24 hour a day/7 day a week resource for the guardians of the lives they are responsible for bringing into the world. Are you ready to make that commitment? Are you knowledgeable enough to talk to a purchaser intelligently about medical options they may have to chose between? And are you strong enough to be there for support when the last difficult decision must be made?
So now you are ready to add up your profits:
Puppy #1 – the sale of this puppy covers the cost of the stud fee
Puppy #2 – the sale of this puppy covers the cost of the food the litter consumed
Puppy #3 – this puppy is sold to cover the vet bill (IF there were no complications!)
Puppy #4 - this puppy covers the cost of advertising to sell the puppies you didn’t have reservations for
Puppy #5 – this puppy covers the incidentals – the microchips, the whelping box, pehaps the new linoleum to replace where they found a loose corner and ripped it back, Mom’s health clearances prior to breeding, and if you are really lucky, maybe the cost of the registrations.
Puppy #6 - well with any luck you are going to recoup the cost of purchasing mom!
Puppy #7 - and lucky #7 will repay part of your costs of raising mom to breeding age, but probably not include your expenses to show her to her championship.
So if you don’t have 7 puppies – you have no hope of even breaking even on the litter – and remember these costs did not take into account any of the multitude of problems which could have occured. Take the time to browse through the links below – they all explore the darker side of breeding – which, there but for fortune, may go you or I.
Breeding is not a decision to be made lightly. Be sure you have the commitment, the knowledge and the resources to take this on – because once the puppies are on their way there is no way to return your order for a refund.