As a veterinarian, I tend to hear this often: “my dog is so wonderful, we are thinking of breeding her/him.” They love their dog, and they think that creating more little versions of their dog will be a great thing to do.
I’ve agreed with those owners a few times (and only when I see an absolutely amazing dog with owners who are smart, experienced, and knowledgeable about the process), but far often than not I tend to begin listing reasons to the owners why they shouldn’t breed their dog.
Why Shouldn’t You Breed Your Dog?
- They have a medical issue that would be passed down to the litter
- The owners have no idea what they are doing
- Potential financial burdens that breeding a dog could incur
- Dangers to the mother
- What If You Can’t Find Homes For The Puppies?
Medical Issues That You Shouldn’t Breed Into The Next Generation
When people love their dog fiercely, they tend to over-emphasize the personality of the dog at the expense at looking at their physical/mental issues. However, it’s these very issues that can cause future puppies much hardship in their lives. Let’s look at what some of these are:
- Orthopedic Issues – if you adult dog is already having issues such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and luxating patellas – you shouldn’t breed your dog.
- Obvious overbite/underbite
- Allergies at a young age – If your dog is under a year old and already exhibiting signs of having allergies (whether to something in the environment or food), you shouldn’t breed him/her.
- Insecurity/Fearful/Aggression – If your dog’s personality isn’t wonderful and loving with every person it meets, don’t breed it.
- Cryptorchidism – This is a condition in which one or both of the testicles have not descended properly into the scrotum after birth. It’s bad because the testicle(s) left up in the abdomen are in an environment that is hotter than it should be. That testicle exposed to an abnormal environment for a long time can turn cancerous.
Dog Owners Have No Idea What Goes Into Breeding Management With Their Dog
This is the most common reason of all I cite as a reason to not breed a dog. This doesn’t really matter if your male dog is the one doing the breeding, but far often than not we are discussing the female dog.
You hear all the time about how easy it is to breed a dog and have a multitude of puppies. Certainly, there are many dogs out there that have no problem conceiving, carrying, and then delivering their own puppies.
However, that does NOT mean that you won’t have issues. Some of the most common ones I see are:
- Owners unwilling to do even the most basic research on how to manage the mother when she is pregnant
- Under-feeding the mother which in turn causes issues with the puppies
- Puppies that have worms at 5-6 weeks of age because the mother wasn’t dewormed properly
- Skin diseases because the environment the puppies are kept in is dirty and improper
- Not knowing that their dog is likely to have difficulty delivering the puppies because of either their small physical size or the puppies being relatively large compared to the mother. This difficulty can result in the death of the mother and/or the puppies and likely will result in a trip to the veterinary emergency room. This is where the next big issues arrives.
Potential Financial Burdens They May Incur By Breeding Their Dog
Your French Bulldog is adorable and sweet and..well, why shouldn’t you breed her? Her puppies will be adorable!!
Let’s tally that up:
- Cost of a scheduled C-Section at your vet (this is if you truly know what you’re doing and know when the deliver date is supposed to be) – $1,200 – $1,800
- Cost of a trip to the ER for an unscheduled C-Section because your pregnant dog is in labor and she’s unable to have the puppies on her own – $2,500 – $4,000
- Some dog breeds are just going to be unable to deliver naturally. They will require C-sections or they will likely die in labor.
- Once the puppies are old enough to be adopted, they should be examined by a veterinarian and given their first vaccines before they go to a new home. That’s the responsible way to do it. This could cost as much as $30 per puppy (or more depending on where you live).
You Are Putting Your Female Dog At Risk
You love your female dog so much that you thought that she should have a bunch of little puppies that are just like her. You might even want to keep one or two of those little beauties.
So why not try and get her pregnant just this one time for one litter?
There are many potential health risks for a female dog who is pregnant:
- She could be injured in the mating process itself. I once had a dog patient that tore an ACL during breeding. I’ve also seen wounds when the male dog attempted to breed a female who wasn’t quite receptive to him.
- There are sexually transmitted diseases that can be passed from the male dog to the female during breeding. Brucella is the most common one that we diagnose.
- The physical strain of carrying a litter of puppies to birth can be painful and difficult for some female dogs.
- The act of giving birth can be dangerous if there’s a rupture of the uterus or uterine horns. This can happen with females who are carrying very large puppies.
- What if the mom aborts the puppies because she’s unable to care for them? I had a German Shepherd once who had this issue and she got septic from having a uterus full of dead puppies. Thankfully she pulled through after an expensive and dangerous surgery.
- There’s also a condition in which nursing mothers can develop a low calcium level (hypocalcemia) because they are nursing so many puppies and not eating enough to maintain their own health. This is a potentially life-threatening condition.
What If You Can’t Find Homes For The Puppies?
For many people, breeding their own dog is a way to make some side income. That may not be why you are doing it, but for most people the act of selling the puppies is the primary goal of breeding.
Even if you have the best intentions, what if you are unable to find homes for all the puppies that your dog gives birth to? Some breeds can have a dozen puppies or more with one pregnancy. That’s a lot of homes to find.
I’ve met clients who ended up adding multiple puppies to their home after not being able to give away or sell the puppies after a pregnancy. While they were somewhat happy to do it, you may not be. That’s another financial burden that some people won’t be able to deal with.
You might be forced to take those puppies to a shelter and hope that someone will adopt them in the future. Depending on where you live and how many people in your area adopt dogs from shelters, that may end up resulting in a puppy or two being euthanized after not being able to be adopted.
I know that sounds harsh, but there are limited funds that most shelters have and, unless they are designated as a no-kill shelter, euthanasia is a possibility for any dog that ends up in a shelter.
If it sounds like I’m trying to scare you into not breeding your dog – you’re right! There are plenty of risks (both to your dog and to your wallet) that should prevent you from wanting to do this.
If you’re willing to do the research, have the money to cover any expenses, and have a top-quality dog, then go ahead and breed your dog! Just make sure that you’re doing this for the right reasons and that you’re protecting your own dog from unnecessary health issues.