Whilst the idea of breeding from your dog may sound idyllic, resulting in cute puppies and possibly some cash, be warned, the reality is often quite different. Before deciding to have a litter there are lots of things to consider.
Firstly, does your dog have any conditions that could be passed on? The most common example we see is hernias. If your dog has or had a hernia at birth then this defect can be inherited should they breed. Another common condition is hip or elbow dysplasia – scoring is a Kennel Club recommendation in many breeds.
Certain breeds are more likely to be born with certain conditions. A very common example is in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (CKCS) with chiari like malformation (a disorder of the skull), which can lead to problems later in life. Some conditions can be tested for, such as Progressive Retinal Atrophy in springer spaniels.
Vets would advise researching the common disorders of your breed and learning the risks. This applies to both bitches and dogs. While it may not be obvious at birth, it is important to consider what problems we could be creating.
The second thing to think about is what dog to put your bitch to. If she is small then common sense should prevail and suggest you don’t take her to a large stud dog. The main risk is that she is more likely to require a caesarean.
In an ideal world every breeder would put aside £1,000 before mating a bitch as a caesarean is a very invasive and risky procedure in an animal and you will have to pay for it. There is no pet NHS. Bitches at particular risk are bulldogs, pugs and CKCS, where the heads and shoulders are disproportionate. If you are breeding from these animals then consider that your animal is highly likely to need surgery.
The Kennel Club will not register any puppies from a bitch that requires a third caesarean so if you are breeding for commercial reasons this is a serious consideration.
Further problems you may encounter include the bitch rejecting one or more puppies, which is not uncommon. If this happens you will need to be prepared with milk replacer and lots of time to look after the pup until it is able to feed itself.
In conclusion, breeding can be very rewarding, but should only be undertaken after careful consideration and preparation. This is not a complete list of potential problems. For more information ask your vet.
By RICHARD FLOOK, Vet