Things To Know Before You Breed

There are several questions to ask yourself before you should breed from your bitch. The first question, which you probably already know the answer to, is why you want to breed your dog. However, there are other questions, which we have addressed below, that you should think about.

Why do you want to breed your dog?

If people answer this question honestly, many people say they want to make some money. If that is your answer, then you should probably reconsider. Breeding can be expensive. Costs include:

  • Vet bills – your bitch may need help before, during or after whelping
  • Food – your bitch could eat up to six times more than usual whilst pregnant, and you will have to feed the puppies. You will also need specialist food, such as lactol milk
  • Equipment – you need somewhere to keep the puppies, bowls, feeding bottles and more
  • Advertising – this can be quite expensive, especially if the puppies don’t sell straight away

All these costs mount up even if everything goes according to plan and can double or more if complications happen, which they often do.

Do you have the time?

In the days just before your bitch is due, you will need to monitor her closely all the time. You will also need to be present for the whelping itself and that usually takes up most of a day and sometimes longer. In addition, the puppies need to be looked after until they go to their new homes.

During the pregnancy, your bitch needs special meals and needs walking more often. She’ll also need a lot of TLC. When the puppies are a little older, you need to feed and take care of all of them as well. Then there’s the time spent taking them to the vets, worming them, weaning them off their mum and grooming them. Potentially, there could be ten or more puppies and they will all be with you for a minimum of seven weeks, if not up to twelve weeks.

Do you have the room?

Make no mistake about it, puppies are messy. For the whelping, you need a whelping box and run that is large enough to house your bitch and up to twelve puppies, dependent upon the dog breed.
The bedding needs to be washed and changed several times a day. The puppies will not be house trained so you need a hard floor that can be mopped easily. You also need a safe garden or area where the puppies can run and play.

Do you know what you’re doing?

If this is the first time you have bred a bitch, then research, research, research. You must ensure that you know everything you need to know, including what to do in the case of whelping complications, the health problems that can occur and how to spot them, how to look after the newborn puppies and more. If you do not know what you are doing, then you could endanger the puppies and even your bitch.

Bear in mind that the new family that your puppies go to will be looking to you for information and guidance on the dog breed and recommendations on bringing up their puppy.

What about the legal responsibilities?

There are several legal responsibilities to be aware of:

Breeding License

If you are going to breed as a business, then you will need a breeding license from your local council according to the Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999. This involves completing a form and then the council will inspect your premises to confirm they are suitable. In general, if you have more than five litters per year, you will need a license.

Working dogs

If you will be breeding working dogs, you must find a qualified vet to dock their tails and remove the puppies dew claws.

The Kennel Club (KC)

You cannot breed from a bitch if she:

  • is under one year old at the time of mating
  • is over eight years old when whelping
  • has already had six litters
  • has had two litters within twelve months

There are no restrictions, however, on the sire dog in terms of his age or the number of litters.
A litter of puppies can only be registered if both the dam (mother) and sire (father) dogs are KC registered dogs of the same breed.

Kennel Club (KC) Endorsements

Be sure to check the pedigree of both the dog and the bitch to be sure there are no breeding endorsements. An endorsement is usually added to the registration by the breeder to protect the dog and the breed, and is a restriction on the registration. The most common endorsement is placed to stop people from breeding the dog. Normally, the endorsement can only be removed by the breeder who originally placed it.


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