I am so glad to hear that you want to breed dogs! I can’t wait for you to experience this adventure. First, you purchase your first little fluff of a girl pup. Then, you have to wait for her to get big enough and old enough to have her first litter. Oh yeah! They don’t come out ready for that, you know. Usually, it is two years, maybe longer, depending on the breed. This means you have to go through her first few heat cycles. Don’t know what a heat cycle is? Okay, the female swells and bleeds, sometimes like a stuck hog, and sometimes they vomit for days because of the excess hormones cruising through their little systems. Some females don’t bleed hardly at all (a silent heat) so you don’t know that she is "in season" and, wham, the neighbor’s, unregistered, rescue mutt has bred her and you can’t even identify what type of dog he is, let alone register the puppies. She vomits and mopes and just when you think she might die, because she isn’t eating, she gets all happy, starts dancing around, and becomes Houdini. She gets out of everything in which you put her to keep her from the males. You have to keep her away from males for up to 3-4 weeks. This means that if you have a male already, you have to isolate one or the other and then listen to them cry "Mom, what did I do? Please let me back into the living room" for that entire period of time. "Well, I’ll buy those Doggie Diapers" you say. Oh yeah, well, they don’t work. Many a litter are here because an owner relied on them for birth control. You will have those little "Hot Pants" on that female just thinking "Yep, she’s safe, he can’t get to her." And you will come around the corner, he will be tied to her, and the pants will be lying in the grass. He will have the biggest grin on his face like "Hey Mom, look what I did, aren’t you proud of me?" What if you get this little girl raised and she isn’t big enough to breed or she has some major faults. Then what? You start all over; that’s what. Then, what do you do with this little girl that you have raised and loved for 2 years? The males; now that’s another story. They are surely ready sooner than the girls. Most will mature by 7 months, depending, again, on the breed; but they may not be big enough. They may try their luck and get tied to that female just to have her drag him all over creation. Great harm can come to the little fella. A female can hurt a male. A male can not hurt a female in breeding, unless he is just so heavy that he hurts her back. You will have to monitor the little guy’s first few breeding sessions. You always want to keep a check on your breeding pairs anyway. He gets her bred, then, he is so full of himself, and urine. He pees on the couch, on the table leg, on the wall and your leg. My gosh, he even pees on the female’s head. You don’t know this until you go to give your little precious a kiss and, oh my, how rank! Male dogs that are used for breeding "mark their territories!" This makes your house smell so rosie. Then, you get another girl and another girl and maybe just one more. Well, sooner or later, one little fella just can’t keep up. His penis swells and his little member looks like it has a huge red radish on the end of it. It is blood red and he is crying. You have to give him first aide before the thing gets gangrenous. So, you rush him in to the bathroom, run cool water over it, and ice it to get the swelling down. Poor little guy! You have to squeeze it to get all of the blood back down out of the member and allow the sheath to cover the end again. He gets a rest for a few days. But what about your females who are rapidly going out of heat and, if not bred, will have no litters? So you buy another male. You will need one anyway to keep your lines clean and not inbred. Oh, yes, I forgot to tell you; it will be your responsibility to keep track of all of your dogs’ family trees (pedigrees). You don’t want to be crossing those lines too close. So, you buy another male or maybe two more. That means more urine, more marking, and, then, of course, the males disagree over which females belong to whom. So, you have to keep everyone separated and keep track of when each female is coming into heat. You will need to know "who is breeding whom". Anyway, the record keeping is the fun part; yeah, right. Didn’t anyone tell you about that? Oh, goodie, let me. You must know who has bred whom, and when. Some of the clubs require DNA profiles on the studs, also, don’t you know. You must sign that you saw this male breed this particular female. The pups will be registered and sold as belonging to that particular breeding pair. This is a big responsibility, so you have to keep it straight. No fudging now. You finally get the female bred and she begins to get huge, so you are pretty sure there are puppies in that belly. You give her extra supplements, vitamins, wormings, special foods and, then, she vomits everything and you worry if she is getting enough. Then, she starts eating stool. Oh, my gosh, why is she doing that? You grab every book you can find, you ask friends and family, advice pours in until you are blue in the face. "She’s lacking in something, she’s bored, she’s got worms, etc., etc., etc.", when it is just nature kicking in and she is just doing what she is suppose to do to get her environment ready for her litter. The pregnant mommy is cleaning her area so no predator will know that she will soon have little ones and try to come and eat them. Oh, but then sometimes, not often, but sometimes, the female goes through all of those symptoms and there are no puppies. A false pregnancy, your vet says. She still has milk and carries around her favorite toy, and whines when you take it away just as if there were real puppies. Did you write down the breeding date? Oh, my, you forgot? So, you aren’t exactly sure when the puppies are due. So, you can’t go out nights. Forget shopping at the mall. Grandson’s birthday party ?- Well you can’t attend. Floosie is due any minute and, if you think she’s going to birth these puppies by herself, you have another thing coming. That’s your job. Your job is to keep an eye on her. She is going to start, maybe, by going off her food. The mother in labor will start hiding, digging the carpet, digging the dirty cloths into a pile, and making a nest. They dig holes in your yard, holes in your flower garden, and they think it is their duty to try and have those puppies out there in the dirt, rain or snow. You need to purchase whelping supplies: a whelping box, clean towels or rags, a heating pad just in case (got to keep those puppies warm), a good pair of scissors and maybe a nice pair of hemostats -(a clamp). Pant! Oh, my gosh, will they pant, like a freight train. They’ll shiver until you think they have pneumonia. All these are symptoms of labor; some she will do for hours and, just when you think you have to call the vet because there just has to be something wrong, she starts pushing. Her sides will heave like a volcano erupting. This may go on for hours also, until you see a bubble out her backside. Just pray that the little one knows to come nose first. But let’s say it doesn’t. Let’s say it comes feet first and is stuck. She pushes and pushes and all you see are puppy feet. What now? You rush to the vet at 3 a.m. He’s on emergency call. There’s no staff on duty, so you might have to help with things. Yeah, like the surgery? Well, at least the puppies. You might have to help stimulate them after they are born. Many small town vets are short handed and with emergency C-sections, well, you guessed it, you get to be the extra help. Lets say it arrives and the puppy is still in the water sac. Mommy dog is looking at you and you are looking at her like "do something". IF she doesn’t do something quick, then you have to, because the baby will die. So, you have to break the sac. Mommy should chew the umbilical cord through, but not the baby’s belly, so you have to watch her. If she doesn’t, then you have to cut or pinch it about a 1/4" from the baby’s belly. Wait! What’s that nasty looking thing that came out after the baby? Didn’t you read your whelping manual? That’s the placenta. Should you let the Mommy eat it or not? Too late, she just gulped it down. Two puppies later, she is vomiting it back up. Then, she should lick the puppy clean and stimulate it. Yeah, you got it now. If she doesn’t do it, then you will have to rub the dickens out of that baby, head down, with a clean, dry wash cloth until it cries. Put it to the Mommy’s nipple to let it nurse. The babies have to nurse! They need to nurse on Mommy, just as soon as they can, to survive and to stimulate Mommy’s milk and more contractions. You will need to check her often after all of the puppies have arrived. That’s another thing, how do you know all of the puppies are out of there? You don’t want a puppy in the corner getting cold or her laying on one. So, you check her often the first few days. With all these sleepless nights, like having a newborn again right? How many girls did you purchase? How many are bred at the same time? Oh, that’s right, you want to be a breeder. The mommies take care of the little ones fairly well for the first few weeks. But you still have to check them often. By the second week, they should have their eyes open. By the third week, they are beginning to get out of the nest (crawl off of the blanket) and onto the paper to piddle. Worming the puppies starts at two weeks. You can start the puppy food at four weeks. Of course mommy wants to eat all of it and she cries whenever you try to separate her from the babies. You must start taking her away from the little ones a little more each day and night. The babies begin to eat more and more of the puppy food and water, Mommy does not want to clean their rear ends. Oh, you’re good now. Yep, that’s your job. Careful, now, because, if you don’t check them, they can get clogged up and die. So, you wash the puppy poop off of them. Sometimes, depending on the breed, you have to trim the hair away and wash again. The pens need cleaned often, the puppies are getting bigger, more playful, and, no matter how fast you are, they are faster. You try to grab the poopy puppy papers before they get down there and get their feet into that mess again. No matter how fast you are, you can’t scoop it up fast enough without that puppy poop getting all over your hands, the floor, your shirt and oh, my! Place it in a plastic trash bag, tie it tight because -whooooie-eeeee- does puppy poop stink! And you are going to have gallons of it. Speaking of poop, just when you think you have all of your adult dogs trained to go out really well, then they have a brain freeze. Pregnancy does that to them I think. They will squat right in front of your clients and pee or poop on the floor. There goes your "all of my dogs are so well trained" speech. You will have a few runs and pens, because you have males and females that you will need to keep separated most of the year or together while mating. The runs will need cleaned. Guess who gets to haul that waste? You place an ad in the paper to sell the puppies. You have given your sweat and tears, sleepless nights, back breaking hours of cleaning and caring for these precious little ones and then the person on the other end of the phone says "I can get it cheaper somewhere else." That goes through you like a knife, because you know that you are selling it for a third of the price of the local pet store and still they want it for less. Don’t they know how much love you have packed into this bundle. You have held that little one everyday and loved it and kissed it. These are your precious little darlings. I especially like the phone calls that start out "How much are your puppies?" They don’t ask what color they are, how old they are, how big they will get, if they are registered, if they are trained, if they are vet checked. NO! All they want to know is price. They aren’t looking for a loved and treasured pet. They are looking for a commodity. The,n there are the local noise ordinances, dog wardens who make their visits, kennel licensing, and all of the little extras, like special fencing, to keep the little critters in because male dogs, who are not neutered, like to roam. Females and males can climb (as well as jump) fences. Some are so determined, it doesn’t matter what you put them in, they can get out of, or over it, to freedom or that neighbor’s dog with whom they are just sure they are madly in love. You breed for a while and then your animals begin to get older and you think you might retire them from having litters. AKC says you can register litters on a female until 12 years of age. What are you going to do with the ones you retire? And did you plan ahead and purchase more breeding females to have them ready for when the older ones retire? What do you do with the retired or handicapped animals? You can’t keep them all you know or can you? People start calling you "that crazy dog lady" instead of the "crazy cat lady". And think about the WHAT IFS? What if the puppy doesn't breathe, or it is born with a deformity and does breathe! What if's happen a lot and you have to know how to handle them. You need to think about them before they occur. What will you do with the little one that is born with a cleft lip, but lives? The one that no one wants to purchase. What about the little one that has all of his insides on his outdides, but is still crawling around and nursing on Mommy like there ain’t a thing wrong with him? Breeding isn’t for the faint of heart and it isn’t for the lazy. It is hard work. It can touch your soul and break your heart. You sweat, laugh, and cry a lot and, if you don’t, you don’t need to be even thinking of breeding dogs.
Eda Bobo January 2005 COPYRIGHT -10-19-2005