The Brood Bitch

If you are serious about breeding, and wish to do so responsibly and to a high standard, then there are a number of factors that must be taken into consideration. These standards apply to all breedings, especially those of puppies intended to be “just” pets (or, in other words, life-long and very important members of a family).

One of the first considerations is whether or not your bitch is good enough to breed. What does that mean? Your girl looks lovely and has a wonderful temperament, she is always getting compliments from everybody who meets her so she MUST be good enough to breed from! Well, not necessarily.

Even if you are not trying to breed a dog that can win in the show ring, you should still wish to breed puppies which are true to their standard in respect of appearance, physical ability and behaviour. This is an official standard issued by The Kennel Club, to which all dogs are judged against. If bitches and dogs which do not conform with the standard are used in a breeding programme, very soon the quality of the breed will be lost, and with it the breed you originally fell in love with. Therefore the first place to start is to learn the breed standard and to understand it. This knowledge is best learnt around the show ring. You don’t even have to show if you don’t want to, but sit around the ring, watch the dogs being shown, try to see and understand why the judge has placed the dogs in the order he did. Talk to other people sitting around the ring, you might strike lucky and happen to be sitting next to a very experienced breeder!

Another place to learn is through one of the official breed clubs. They will be able to give you advice and information and also put you in touch with a local experienced breeder.

The next step is to have somebody experienced evaluate your bitch. If she originally came from a responsible breeder, then that is obviously the first place to start. However, if this is not possible, you must find an experienced breeder/judge who is willing to evaluate her and give you an honest opinion. The important thing is to listen to this opinion, even if it is not what you wanted to hear! If you don’t understand anything they say, then simply ask them to clarify what they mean or why they say it. Be sure you understand what they say and why they say it. If you do not like their opinion, or do not agree with it, do not simply ignore it and breed anyway — get a second opinion! But if that second opinion agrees with the first, then, please, do not breed from your bitch. If you are intent on breeding you should try to find another bitch, one that IS suitable for breeding.

So, you have had your bitch evaluated and was told that they believed her to be a good representative of the breed. What next?

Next come the tests! The majority of breeds have defects which are inherited, such as hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, epilepsy, hypothyroidism, etc., within the breed. It is not possible to tell if a dog is a carrier (one who does not show the defect but carries the gene and can therefore pass it on to its progeny), but the goal of responsible breeders is to try and prevent serious genetic diseases and defects. They do this by having their veterinarian perform tests their breeding dogs and only breeding from those with favourable results. To find out what problems are common in your breed, which tests are usually run, and at what age they are done, contact the breed club or an experienced breeder.

Finally, you must decide WHEN to breed her. Bitches must not be bred before they are mature enough. At what age they mature tends to differ greatly between breeds. Toy breeds often mature quicker than large breed, but whatever your breed no bitch should be mated before it is one year old. With medium and larger sized dogs it is usually after two years of age. Once again ask either the club or an experienced breeder which is the best time to mate your bitch.

So, you have had your bitch evaluated by an experienced person who has intimate knowledge of your breed, and had all the necessary health checks done, and she has “passed” with flying colours, she is in excellent condition, fit and healthy, and mature enough to breed from — now you must find a stud dog which is suitable for her!

About Jill Terry

Jill Terry together with her husband, Ian, began exhibiting and breeding dogs in 1986 under their Kennel Club affix of Babrees. Their first breed was the Dalmatian. They then went on to breed Papillons and, finally, Canaan Dogs. They are both now retired from exhibiting and breeding dogs, but retain a keen interest in dog breeds, canine genetics and health.

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