By Kristy Fike
After some gun dog owners witness their dog mature into a great all-around dog, they consider breeding them. Other owners purchase their gun dog with the intent to breed them. Many people don’t understand the amount of time, sweat, labor, money, love, and research that is invested when breeding dogs. Whatever your motives are for breeding your gun dog, there are things you need to consider before making this important decision.
The importance of healthy bloodlines cannot be stressed enough. Many people view health clearances as pricey and unnecessary because their dog has never had a problem afield. Just because a dog seems healthy and is up to date on all vaccines does not mean that the dog is free from underlying health issues.
If your gun dog passes underlying health issues onto puppies, that can affect the puppies and their new owners in various ways. Depending on the health issue, the pups can be in severe discomfort as they grow older, become disabled, which puts an end to their career in the field, and in some cases, the dog can die. The owner of the pups loses not only a huge amount of money in vet bills while trying to ease the condition of the dog, but they lose their partner.
Before breeding your dog, have your dog go through a series of health clearances. Research what underlying health problems your dog’s breed is prone to. Make sure both the dam and sire undergo health clearances.
Some stud owners may also require that your female has specific health clearances before allowing the breeding to take place. Study both the dam and sire’s bloodlines and make sure their ancestors have health clearances too. See what health clearances your vet recommends for your dog. Consult your vet about whether you should breed your dog or not and what age is best to breed your dog. Most vets will tell you that breeding a dog before they are two years old is not a great idea.
There is a lot of time spent planning a litter, let alone actually having one. Evaluate if you have enough time to invest in breeding your dog. Do you have enough time to travel to vet appointments or stud owners, do any necessary research before breeding your dog, spend time with potential clients, and provide adequate care to pups?
The time spent at your local vet and traveling to their office adds up quickly. Factor that time in and add any time at the vet for unseen medical reasons. Owners that are planning to breed their female must factor in the time spent finding a stud and traveling to him.
For my upcoming litter, we spent at least sixteen hours on the road traveling to and from the stud. Researching can consume an enormous amount of time depending on how knowledgeable you are about breeding dogs.
There is more involved with caring for your litter than many people realize. You must clean your facility regularly, monitor the pup’s weight, provide medical care to include taking the litter to the vet, socializing them and taking them out to play, bathing them, and weaning the pups off the dam. You will also spend a lot of time on the phone speaking with potential owners for your pups, and meeting with them.
Consider what space or area you have for a whelping area. This may require you to rearrange your space or to build an ideal environment for the litter. It is a good idea to contact friends or local breeders you know to ask them what type of facility would be ideal for a litter of pups. They can provide valuable insight, especially if they have the same breed of dog that you have. When building or evaluating an area for the litter, factor in space for growing and older pups just in case you must keep the pups longer than you planned.
Consider if you could financially support a litter of pups. Do you have the means to finance health clearances, foreseen and unforeseen vet bills, travel expenses, a stud fee, a facility, dog/puppy food, cleaning supplies, keeping the pups longer than anticipated, and any other expenses that may arise? It is wise to consult other friends or breeders to get an idea of what expenses they have. Comparing the prices of services that local trusted vets provide will help you save money.
Planning a litter of pups is exciting, but make sure you do your homework to find out what is involved behind the scenes before diving into breeding your dog.