I'm often asked how someone can get started breeding dogs. I started my journey showing Chinese Cresteds, believe it or not! While I don't agree with everything in the conformation show dog world, going to conformation classes did help give me a basic understanding of canine structure, and how that structure impacts the way they look and move; It's not about putting two dogs together and making something cute. You can find a breed mentor, read books, read club standards, attend shows, but the first step is deciding on the type of dog you'd ideally like to create. I've since moved away from small dogs and into the northern breeds and wolfdogs, and had to adjust my goals accordingly. I want a moderate to large sized dog, of sound mind and hardy body. For the wolfdogs, they don't tend to have as many structural problems, but many breeders out there are making dogs with genetic health issues, like malocclusion, while others just breed ill tempered wolfdogs, with any amount of wolf content as the excuse. In my opinion, there is no excuse to breed a dog with defects or an unpredictable, or aggressive nature. You can have reasonable expectations of your northern breed or wolfdog of course, I never guarantee that they won't try to eat small animals, or will stay in your yard, but breeding a good pet isn't as easy as it sounds. It also isn't as lucrative as it may seem.
So, you've purchased your male and female dog, you've done the testing you intended to do, their temperament has been evaluated, they reach 2 years of age, and you're good to go! After all that, are you prepared to possibly lose your female during pregnancy, labor, or shortly after? Are you prepared to lose an entire litter of puppies? Do you have the funds for an emergency c-section, should it become necessary? Can you bottlefeed puppies every 2 hours for 2 weeks? Can you even miss that much work without losing your job? Can you afford wormer, first shots, puppy packs, and vet visits for the puppies? Are you prepared to listen to your male pace, howl, and attempt to destroy anything in his path for the 3-5 heats she may go through before she's ready to be bred, and any time afterwards you aren't ready for more puppies? Are you prepared to have puppy poop in your hair, under your nails, and forever embedded in your carpet? Are you prepared to miss holidays, vacations, family functions, and nights out with friends? At the end of those 8 weeks, will it break your heart to send those puppies off to their new families? Are you okay with the idea that you might never make ANY money off breeding?
If you've answered no to any of these, you might just be better off buying your puppy from another breeder and enjoying the more fun aspects of owning a puppy, and there is definitely no shame in that. Honestly, there are days where I've just had enough of puppies barking, adults howling, shredded toys, dumped water bowls, annoyed husband and upset children that I'm just plain ready to throw in the towel. But then, someone sends me a picture of their puppy from me growing up, and I dust myself off, scrub the floor, feed the puppies, and get ready for another day of being a breeder. Happy puppies and happy owners make it all worthwhile, it puts it back into perspective for me, and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel again.
So, if you've read all this and I haven't completely deterred you, the next post will be about the almighty dollar. Stay tuned!