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Should I Breed My Dog

by: Nancy M. Gerhardt, DVM

Raising a litter of puppies can be a joyful and heartwarming experience, but there are many factors to be considered before deciding to breed your dog. The emphasis here is on “decide”, for unplanned breeding is unwise and all too frequently results at best in unwanted litters and at worst a health hazard to your pet which would have been much better off being spayed or neutered.

First, one should consider the responsibility and risks associated with any breeding. Both the sire and dam should be in good health— free of any communicable diseases or any health problems which could be inherited by the offspring. Some inheritable defects such as hip dysplasia or certain eye problems may not appear until later years, so proper screening of the breeding pair is recommended in breeds prone to these maladies.

One should also consider the fact that certain breeds require or are prone to require Caeserean sections. Even under the best of circumstances and in breeds not noted for whelping problems surgical delivery is occasionally necessary. Furthermore, heavy lactation may result in problems with hypocalcemic tetany or breast abscesses and mastitis. Therefore one should not enter a breeding venture with the expectation of financial gain for if things do not go smoothly, associated costs may exceed the market value of the pups.

Last but certainly not least, there are unwanted puppies turned in to the local pound and humane societies every day and a large percentage, except in no-kill shelters, end up being destroyed rather than adopted. Therefore, for the sake of preventing overpopulation, unless you are involved in a specific breeding program we recommend spaying and neutering rather than producing litters which may end up being “pound puppies” rather than someone’s beloved pet.

The answer to the question “Should I breed my dog?” is, then, unless it is something you strongly desire to accomplish, unless your pets are in excellent health, and unless you are reasonably certain you have good homes available for the offspring the answer is a resounding “NO!”