Things to Think About Before You Breed Your Dog
A revised version of the original pamphlet by Bonnie Wilcox, DVM
American Brittany Rescue, Inc. does its best to encourage responsible breeding practices, and to educate and inform breeders and owners in order to help reduce the number of irresponsible breedings. We have a large network across the U.S. and we are always able and happy to provide referrals to responsible breeders and rescue groups for those looking for a Brittany. Thank you for reading, understanding, and passing along this information.
There is no medical or psychological reason to breed any dog. It will not settle your dog down (although neutering very well might!), and females do not need to have a litter or go even through one season before being spayed.
You will not get an exact replica of your dog. Puppies are a combination of their ancestors. You can just as easily get another dog of similar lineage from an established, responsible breeder, which will get you about the same results and will cost you a lot less!
AKC registration is NOT an indication of quality. Most dogs, even purebred, should not be bred. Many dogs, though wonderful pets, have faults of structure, temperament or health that should not be perpetuated. Breeding animals should be proven free of these faults and common genetic defects (such as hip dysplasia, epilepsy, eye and heart disorders) BEFORE being considered for breeding. If you do not know what genetic defects to beware of, please contact a reputable, responsible breeder who will be able to answer your questions. Breeding should only be done with the goal of IMPROVEMENT - an honest attempt to create puppies better than their parents, for a positive contribution to the breed.
Responsible dog breeding is NOT a money-making proposition. The average litter is 7 puppies, all of which need veterinary care, food, tail and dewclaw surgery, and a good home. The dam must be vaccinated, wormed, and cleared of genetic & communicable diseases before breeding. An unexpected Caesarean or emergency intensive care for a sick puppy will make a break-even litter become a big liability. And this is IF you can sell the pups.
First time breeders have no reputation and no referrals to help them find buyers. Previous promises of "I want a dog just like yours" evaporate. Consider the time and expense of caring for pups that may not sell until four months, eight months, or more! What WOULD you do if your pups did not sell? Send them to the pound? Dump them in the country? Veteran breeders WITH good reputations often don't consider breeding unless they have deposits in advance for an average-sized litter.
JOY OF BIRTH
If you think seeing a litter of puppies born would be good for your children's education, remember the whelping may be at 3 a.m. or on your vet's surgery table. Even if the kids are present, there may be severe delivery problems, pups may be stillborn or have defects that require euthanasia. There can be any number of problems after whelping, especially for inexperienced breeders. Of course there can be joy, but if you can't deal with the possibility of tragedy, don't start. Please remember that there are lots of videos that can show your children everything they need to know about birth, without aggravating the problem of pet overpopulation.
You should count on spending AT LEAST two hours per day, every day caring for a normal litter. The dam should not be left alone at all during whelping, and only for short periods for the first few days after. Be prepared for days off work and sleepless nights. Even after delivery, mom needs special care and feeding, puppies need daily checking, socialization, and later feeding three times a day, then grooming and training, and the whelping box and puppy areas need LOTS of cleaning. More hours are spent doing paperwork, pedigrees and interviewing buyers. If you have any abnormal conditions, such as sick puppies or a bitch who can't or won't take care of her puppies, count on at least double the time. If you can't provide the time, you will either have dead pups, or pups that are bad tempered, antisocial, dirty and/or sickly - hardly a buyer's delight.
Obviously, the world doesn't need any more dogs. Nearly 1,000 Brittanys go through Brittany Rescue every year! Most of them are products of "backyard" or one-time breeders. It is not enough to breed because one or two people say they want a puppy. What happens to the rest of the litter? One quarter of the millions of dogs put down in shelters every year are purebreds “with papers.” Remember that every puppy you create is YOUR responsibility for its entire lifetime. This means you take back a dog you sold if the owner can't keep it anymore, and you keep any puppies you can't find the right home for. Will you carefully screen potential buyers? Or will you just take the money and not worry if the puppy is chained in a yard all of its life, or kept in an outdoor kennel and taken hunting just once or twice a year? Will you turn down a sale to irresponsible owners, or will you cash the check and not think about the puppy you held and loved now having a litter every time she comes in heat, filling the pounds with more statistics - your grand-pups! Would you be prepared to take back a grown puppy if the owners can no longer care for it? Or can you live with the thought that a dog you brought into the world will be destroyed at the pound?
If you care about our breed, you will think long and hard before you breed any dog. Breeding should be done only with two genetically, mentally, and physically sound dogs. AKC registration guarantees none of this! It should only be done because you expect the resulting puppies to be an improvement to our breed.
If you still wish to breed your dog, take the time to do it right -- learn how to be a responsible breeder. There are enough dogs (including a surprising number of Brittanys) in the pound. Most are products of "breeders" who breed for short-term results, such as "profit" or because they thought their pet or hunting dog should have "just one litter". If you do breed, find a reputable breeder and talk to them about breeding to a healthy, proven stud dog.