Are You Thinking of Raising Puppies?
We often hear from people that they would like to breed dogs for a
variety of reasons. A few main reasons seem to be:
- To earn money
- Because it would be fun, especially for children
- To repay us for the cost of buying our puppy
There is a lot of thought that should go into this before you decide
that breeding dogs/puppies is a viable option for you. It's so easy to
just think of the fun and good aspects of breeding and raising puppies.
But unfortunately, the path isn't just filled with happy events. There are
many setbacks along the way.
Are you set up and knowledgeable enough to
raise healthy puppies?
A Smelly Mess: Having a female dog in your home that is in heat
for 3 weeks with a smelly and colored discharge is damaging to your home.
Females are in heat twice per year, and during this 6 weeks (3 to 4 weeks
each time), your female will have a giant swollen vaginal opening that is
not only embarrassing to look at, but that also drips colored discharge
that can stain and be "fragrant" on your carpet and furniture.
Even worse is the discharge that occurs after she has her puppies. That
can last for 2 to 3 months!
Yet if you have your female outside, you risk neighboring dogs jumping
your fence to breed her...and therefore, you may end up with puppies of
If your puppies or their mother roam your property, you will just about
guarantee yourself of a litter that gets coccidia and/or giardia, fleas,
ear mites, and a host of other health issues. How will you try to ensure
that your puppies leave you healthy, and not infested with bugs, bacteria,
and protozoa that will immediately cause its new owners to incur vet
Are you squeamish? First time moms or even tired experienced
moms may not take care of their puppies when they are born. Sometimes we
have to break the sack so the puppy can take its first breath. Sometimes
we have to remove mucus from their noses and mouths. Sometimes we have to
clean the slime off of the puppies completely. Sometimes we have to help the placenta
come out. Sometimes
we have to palpate/check for puppies in the birth canal. All of these things take
a strong stomach and willingness to do them.
Even with excellent care and facilities, these things can still be a
problem. Just allowing the mother dog to be in the yard for a potty break
creates the opportunity for her to bring germs and protozoa right back to
her puppies. If you don't have a clean, protected place for your puppies
and their mother, you should not plan to breed.
Is your dog a good-quality representative of the breed?
Just because your dog is registered, he/she may not
be "breeding quality." Before breeding make sure your
veterinarian has examined her to make sure she is breeding quality.
Although your vet might not know beagle breed standards, he or she should
be able to evaluate the correctness of her conformation as far as bone and
joint health goes. It's important that her legs and back are correct, and
that her hips are correctly made so you don't pass along a high potential
for puppies to have hip displaysia.
Do you have an excellent veterinarian close
by to assist
with emergencies (and the money to pay him/her)?
Health care for puppies and pregnant/lactating bitches can be costly.
If you scrimp on health care, you are opening up a terrible set of
potential events...sick puppies, unhappy customers, etc. If you can't
dedicate yourself to providing GOOD health care for your puppies, you
should not breed.
Some of the health care expenses you can expect to incur if you raise
- Dew claw removal for every puppy
- Antibiotics for uterine infections
- Antibiotics (oral, injectable, and topical) for injuries and
- Disinfecting cleaning products
- Caesarian section surgery (can happen at any time, even if the
mother has never had a problem whelping before), typically $300 to $1300
- Sterile equipment for whelping
- Hernia surgeries
- Milk replacer (formula) for puppies
- Medicine to treat/prevent coccidia (60% of all puppies have coccidia)
- Medicine to treat/prevent giardia
- Vaccinations twice yearly for adult dogs
- Vaccinations for puppies
- Frequent deworming using a rotation of at least 2 different
deworming medicines to avoid resistance in the worm population for the
- Deworming all puppies every 2 weeks (from 2 weeks of age until they
- Heartworm medicine for adults
- State licensing fees (not health related, but mandatory in most
states for breeding)
- Higher-cost puppy food formulations
- Higher-cost adult dog foods for pregnant and lactating bitches
- Sanitary bedding for the litter that can be cleaned/replaced
- New (not used, to avoid parvo) fencing and weather-ready footing for
play areas that is safe
Despite excellent health care, sometimes puppies do not live. In fact,
more often than not, at least one puppy from each litter will die within
three days. Expect potential loss of puppies at any time due to accidents,
congenital defects, etc. Have a plan for what you will do with the puppy's
body in these events.
How will you market your puppies and try to
ensure that they go to good homes?
It would be devastating to learn that a puppy you sold ended up in a
puppy mill, living life in a tiny cage with several other dogs and never
being loved or able to get exercise. How will you prevent this? Be aware
that people will lie to you, never admitting that they own/operate a puppy
mill. One way to avoid this is to make sure you charge high prices for
your puppies. While this won't eliminate the potential for your puppies to
end up in a puppy mill or a home that can't properly provide for the
puppy, it may help.
Have a plan for what you will do if your dog has 8 or 10 puppies so you
can find good homes with people who can afford to give their puppy
proper health care. I always hate it when people ask me if I have
anything for sale for $100 or less because they can't afford any more. How
do they think they'll pay vet bills for 3 more puppy vaccinations, plus a
rabies vaccination and 3 dewormings in the first 2 months they have their
puppy? What happens if their puppy gets sick or hurt and they can't afford
to take it to a veterinarian? It's very sad to have to say "no" to someone
because of the fear that they can't take proper care of a puppy, because I
know they would love a puppy so much. But, a responsible breeder must put
the puppy's welfare first.
And, you can't get high prices for your puppies unless they are worthy
of earning high prices. This requires good quality as well as excellent
health care for the mother and the litter. Do you have a solid plan to achieve this?
What will you do if you sell a puppy that
develops unforeseen health issues?
A simple fact of raising puppies is that this can happen. It doesn't
matter if you know that for 4 generations, no dog in the family has ever
had a health issue. A cropout problem can occur, and occasionally will
occur. Getting a call from a crying pet owner whose dog has to be put to
sleep due to an inherited problem is something you must be prepared for.
And if that happens, and it is determined that the problem is genetic,
what will you do with the parents of that puppy? Is it worth the risk to
Is the whole family on board?
Is everyone ready for the chores, the extra dog poo, the extra noise?
Mother dogs, while nursing, eat 3 to 10 times their normal amount of food.
All that extra food equates to a tremendous increase in the amount of dog
poo that must be cleaned up.
Who will stay up all night if the mom-to-be begins whelping at 1 a.m.?
Will this affect the quality of work/school success the next day? Yes.
What if whelping occurs during the planned family vacation? A weekend
where the family has plans to be away from home for a family event such as
a wedding, graduation, etc.?
What if the puppies need to be fed around the clock with formula if the
mother can't or won't nurse them? This could be a few days to a few weeks.
Will someone be home to care for the puppies if that happens?
Children under 5 years of age should not be allowed to handle small
puppies. Rules must be followed to keep the puppies safe, from "No
running" when puppies are around to "No riding your tricycle."
Be prepared also for phone calls that almost always come between 6 and
11:30 pm from people that see your advertisement, or from customers that
have a puppy you sold and that have questions or emergencies.
Think and Plan Before You Breed
It's so easy to just think of the fun and good aspects of breeding and
raising puppies. But unfortunately, the path isn't just filled with happy
events. Be sure that you have a plan in place and that you are mentally,
physically, and financially capable of dealing with the curves and dead
ends you'll run into if you decide to breed.
for information about spaying and neutering.