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Doggy Dads: Picking the Best Breeder

By: Dr. Amy Wolff

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You've made the decision to breed your dog. How do you go about choosing just the right father for that litter of precious puppies? Before a mate is chosen, his physical condition, temperament, size and genetics should all be evaluated. Careful consideration of all these factors will increase the chances of a healthy litter of puppies born without complications.

Do Your Research

Doing a little basic research is the most critical part in the selection process. Without exception, all breeds of dogs have health concerns or genetic influences that predispose them to medical problems. Common examples are hip dysplasia, heart disease, urinary tract disease, eye, ear and skin disorders. Before breeding your dog, you need to investigate thoroughly the health problems of the breed of your interest. Ask your veterinarian about the problems that occur most frequently before you begin to look for a mate. It will help you make informed choices and may even change your mind about breeding your pet. No responsible breeder wants to breed a pet that may pass on a serious illness or defect to the offspring.

Begin The Search

If you have a purebred dog and want a litter of puppies, a good place to start looking for a father is your local dog club. Many cities have breed-specific clubs that meet regularly to promote knowledge, health and wellness of their pets. Attending a few meetings and getting to know people who share the same interest will help you in selecting a mate. If your area is not large enough to support a breed club, check out any number of dog magazines at your local bookstore or library. Breeders advertise in the classified sections, and there is a good chance that the breed you are interested in will be represented. If your goal is to find a local candidate, visit your regular veterinary practice. It is very likely that they will know of some clients who have the same interest. And of course, searching the Internet can open up a wide range of possibilities.

Ask The Right Questions

Let's say, for example, you want to breed your gorgeous golden retriever. You've had her health checked; she's fully vaccinated and old enough to be bred. She has a good even temperament. You've found a breeder or individual with a dog you think is a good match. Now comes the time for you to ask important questions and make some general observations. It's best if you see the pet in person, in his home environment.

  • Does he have a good temperament - not too shy, not too aggressive?
  • Are there any signs of lameness, and if so, how are they explained?
  • Does he look well kept and cared for?
  • Can the breeder show you records that prove vaccination, negative Brucellosis test and regular health care?
  • Is he of compatible size with your female? Larger male dogs often produce puppies that cannot be delivered naturally by smaller females.
  • Is he color compatible? Some breed standards impose restrictions on cross breeding certain color variations.
  • Has he been evaluated for the common genetic/health concerns you and your veterinarian discussed? For example, if hip dysplasia is a problem, ask the breeder if the dog has had hip x-rays and ask to see the report. It is not enough to have a verbal assurance that the dog has never had any problems. If pedigrees are important to you, ask to see a copy of the dog's pedigree. It will be a list of several generations of dogs and include any championships or obedience/field trial titles. Remember though, pedigrees and registration papers are no guarantee of quality, health or temperament.

    The Breeding Contract

    Once you've found the mate that best suites your pet, an agreement should be reached regarding compensation for the breeding. Typically, a breeder will either ask for a breeding fee or the right to the "pick of the litter." A breeding fee is based on the merits of the male, how many successful breedings he has accomplished and whether or not his offspring go on to complete championships or trials. Most fees run between $100 to $500 but can be far greater. If the breeder forgoes the fee for the right to choose a puppy, they are given this opportunity before any of the puppies are promised to other homes. Whatever the decision, be sure to write it down and have both parties sign it to avoid conflicts down the road. The breeder should guarantee a pregnancy. If one does not result, repeat breeding should be at no cost. If the breeder requires your female be brought to the male, expect to cover any travel or boarding expenses. Some females are kept 3 to 5 days for repeated breedings. Your veterinarian can confirm the pregnancy with ultrasound or x-rays after about 20-25 days.

    Take the time to choose an appropriate mate for your pet so you can welcome a happy healthy litter into your family and the families of those who will love them.

    The Breeding Commitment

    Each year, millions of animals are euthanized because there are not enough homes for dogs. Breeding dogs is not for everyone. If you plan to breed your dog, you need to commit to:

  • Improve the qualities of the breed by understanding the common diseases and disorders that can be genetically passed through that breed.

  • Research what is involved in breeding, pregnancy; labor and delivery; possible pregnancy and birthing problems; socialization of puppies.

  • Provide proper nutrition and health care to the parent dogs and puppies including vaccines, de-worming, feeding, and proper training.

  • Have good homes already selected for the puppies before breeding.

    Sometimes, it is better to let a homeless dog in a home instead of breeding a litter of unwanted puppies.

    For more information go to: Should You Breed Your Dog?



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