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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Should I Breed My Dogs?

I talk to people about spaying and neutering their pets on a daily basis. And almost every day I talk to someone who has an interest in breeding their dogs, and don't want to have them "fixed" because of this desire. However, most of them really shouldn't be breeding, and have misconceptions about breeding. Which brings us to today's question from a reader.

I bought a male teacup poodle and a female tiny toy poodle. It turns out that the male is now 7 pounds at 6months and the female is a very petite 4 pounds - just the opposite of want I thought. Can I breed these two poodles? I really wanted to poodles I could mate.

First, I would recommend and going back in the archives to ready my entries on breeders and spaying or neutering. These posts will give you a good idea about my opinions on this area. In your specific situation, I would first ask if you have experience with breeding. If not, you need to contact a breeder who is or has shown their dogs, and/or is actively involved in a breed club. Good breeding is not merely a matter of putting two dogs together and getting puppies. You also need to consider the quality of the dogs you are breeding. Which brings me to the second point, and that is to assess whether or not the dogs meet breed standards. Your vet and a responsible breeder/shower will be able to help you with that. If the dogs have any common genetic or physical disorders, or simply aren't good breed quality, you shouldn't mate them.

Consider the cost to your dogs. These are living, caring creatures, and not simply dog factories. There are absolutely no medical benefits to allowing dogs to breed, and numerous hazards to doing so. True, health concerns are uncommon, but they do happen. This can included increased risks of cancer, risks of prostate disease in males, uterine infections in females, and so on. Again, go back and read the previous entries I mentioned.

There can be financial cost as well. A couple of weeks ago I was speaking to a groomer I know and found out that she breeds Australian shepherds (which really have nothing to do with originating from Australia). She completely agrees with my opinion of casual breeders, and shares my distaste for them. She also talked about how she has champion quality dogs, shows and competes with them, and because of all of this she is lucky to break even when she breeds puppies. Usually she looses money. This is very typical of the responsible, quality breeders. They enjoy the breed and the hobby, but realize that they make enough money to support it and won't really make anything more than that. So don't start to think that you can make a lot of money by breeding, especially with something as common as poodles.

Now let's assume that you have talked to your vet and a good breeder, have determined that your dogs are good breed standard and are healthy, you wait until the female is 18-24 months old before breeding, and are otherwise doing everything right. These dogs are too young to be bred, and haven't finished growing. They will become reproductively mature at 7-9 months old. However, you SHOULD NOT breed them then, as that's the equivalent of a 13-14 year-old girl getting pregnant. Yes, it's biologically possible, but it's more risky that someone in their 20s. So you have some time to figure out if they're going to grow much more. If both dogs are small like this, differences in size aren't as important. However, whenever the male is significantly larger than the female, there is a chance that the puppies will be too large for her to give birth to. This can lead to problems during labor and delivery, often requiring a Caesarian section. Once these puppies are at least a year old, talk to your vet about whether or not they should be bred. And please go into that discussion with an open mind, being perfectly willing to not breed if that is what your vet recommends. If you have your mind set to breed these dogs and aren't willing to listen to advice from people who know more than yourself, then you are in danger of becoming one of these people that vets and responsible breeders speak against.