Mumsnet does not check the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you're worried about your pet's health, please speak to a vet or qualified professional.
This is a Premium feature
To breed or not?(55 Posts)
We have the most gorgeous black lab.... she's 2 years old and can't decide whether to breed from her or not.
She is pedigree and we have her pedigree history.
She is the most wonderful family dog, obedient, friendly, doesn't bark, great with kids and other animals.
Can you tell me the benefits? Disadvantages? Amount of work and costs involved.
We know we need to get her hip scored etc so aware of those costs.
Health dangers to her.
You’re not experienced in how to choose the ‘right’ buyers.
The stress/extra demands of it all.
Lots of puppies needing new homes.
The possibility of these puppies having her pleasant nature.
Why do you want to breed from her?
So that I don't sound too negative, I am fully of the opinion that this country needs GOOD breeders, so please just take these as conversation points rather than throwing cold water on the idea ...
From your point of view:
Why do you want to breed from her? Make no mistake, it would be a lot easier to buy another puppy as company.
Are you really fully conversant with how very hard work breeding can be?
Do you have several thousand pounds in a bank account in case you are in an expensive area and she needs an emergency c-section, plus other treatment (this is not an exaggeration!)?
Are you absolutely aware that bitches die in whelping and prepared to take that risk with your family pet?
Are you well set up for if you are not able to find good homes for the puppies at the relevant time and have to keep several much longer - there are a lot of Labradors in this world and they can have large litters. What is cute and containable at 7 or 8 weeks will be a very different proposition at 10 or 12 weeks if you still have half a dozen unsold.
From the dog/breed point of view:
As above, there are a LOT of Labradors in the UK, so really only the good ones should be bred from. As you state above, the tests needed include I think hips, elbows, DNA tests for eye conditions, which won't be cheap.
Is she fairly typical of her breed in looks and temperament? Is her temperament 100% sound?
You say you have her 'pedigree history' - by this, do you mean she is KC registered and has no endorsements which will stop you registering her puppies?
Are there good health results running through her pedigree - even if she gets good ones, you really need a firmer foundation through the generations than that.
As above but including...
- can you commit to the welfare oh her puppies for their lifetime (e.g. be able to take them back if something goes wrong in their new home)?
- do you have good enough genetic knowledge to find the right mate for her, to be reasonably certain her puppies will be as healthy or better than their parents?
- if she has never been mated before, are you prepared that she may panic the first time, cause injury to herself or act in a way that vocalises her distress which can be difficult for an owner? Can you help her through it?
- do you have the time to raise a litter which is 24*7 for the first few weeks and then almost that for the remainder?
- do you have the skills and expertise to raise a litter right so that they have the very best chance of developing into well rounded dogs?
- are you prepared for the long term health risks to the female (increased risks of some cancers)?
Is she health tested? I'm not very familiar with Labs, but I know they definitely need to be hip/elbow scored and eye tested, there are also DNA health tests available for Progressive Retinal Atrophy (causes blindness) , Exercise Induced Collapse and a few others. 'Book of the Bitch' is some good reading material.
Do you know her lines well, and are her original breeders happy for you to breed from her? Many puppies that are homed as pets have a breeding/export embargo placed on them - important to check that your dog does not have this as the Kennel Club will not register any puppies from her. Will you have a waiting list, and will you screen potential new homes extensively? Will you offer a first refusal contract to all of your buyers - that if at any point in their pups life they are unable to care for it, you will take it back so that it doesn't get passed to a rescue? Will you yourself place breeding endorsements on the puppies?
Honestly, if you have any doubts about breeding, I just wouldn't go for it. Perhaps not what you want to hear but people need to be 100% certain and know what to expect. Maybe it would be worth chatting to her breeder and asking if they would mentor you if you're really keen?
Would you be willing to travel to find the perfect stud dog and pay stud fees? She is a maiden bitch - there's a very good chance they may have trouble actually mating - would you be willing to assist them if needed? It's not pleasant! You may need to monitor her cycle. There is only a very small window during a bitch's heat where she is most fertile and actively receptive towards the male's advances - if you try to mate her too early or late she may not stand for him, and some bitches can even become aggressive towards the male. Some people use blood tests to determine whether their bitch is in this most fertile point - another added cost.
Will you buy her a proper whelping pen? It should have pig-rails so that the mother doesn't accidentally sit on her puppies.
Could you afford an emergency c-section if your girl was to have trouble giving birth?
And this is all before she has given birth! Once she's had her litter (keep in mind Labs can have very large litters) you will need to monitor both mum and the babies. Daily weigh-ins for all the pups to ensure they're putting weight on properly. Making sure that the pups are feeding properly - lactating mothers can be prone to mastitis, a bacterial infection that can be fatal if left untreated. If a pup was failing to thrive or the mother had rejected it, would you be up at all hours of the night to bottlefeed it? Would you be able to be at home to regularly watch the pups within their first 1-2 weeks of life where they are most vulnerable - I have seen very sad situations where the breeder left their bitch and litter alone for just a few moments, came back to find a dead pup that had unfortunately been accidentally sat on by the mother and suffocated. You may need to take time off work to watch over them through those first vital weeks.
Prepare for loads of washing - puppies will pee and poo all over their bedding, and themselves! It is very hard work. Once they open their eyes and start walking, that's when things start getting interesting. You'll need to keep them busy with toys, regular handling and socialisation/exposure to family life so that they have those foundations there to build on when they go to their new homes. Pups will need to be microchipped by law, starter vaccinations, weaning onto solid food.. more costs!
Honestly, it's all very expensive to raise a litter (if you're doing it properly!) and many good breeders are lucky to make even when they sell the pups. It can be very rewarding to produce quality pups and see them grow up and the joy they bring to their new families. But it is a LOT of work, blood, sweat and tears. I have seen the sadness when things go wrong - there are a lot of things that can go wrong and can't be foreseen. I've seen people lose their dam during the birth, stillborn pups, accidents resulting in the deaths of pups, fading puppy syndrome, pups born with birth defects.. it's never straightforward. Even the most experienced breeders can have these things happen and it's heartbreaking. Some bitches may not even become pregnant from the mating, or carry the pregnancy to full term, just like with people.
I'm sure I've missed some things out, but ultimately if you're really on the fence about it, I'd say no. A lot of people think it would be lovely to have a litter off their family pet, but there are a lot of risks involved. Not to scare you but you need to be aware of what can happen, worst case scenarios.
Thank you these are all valid points and really useful. I am not keen but DH is far more dog experienced than me and would like to.
More discussions definitely needed
I think you are doing this the wrong way.
If you want to become a breeder you need to select your breed, decide in your breeding goals, come up with some ideas in how to achieve these goals, become very familiar with current lines in your breed and search out one or two bitches that fit what you want to achieve. Then find stud dogs suitable for what you want and begin your breeding program which will take years to see through.
Having a lovely pedigree bitch is not a good enough reason to breed unless your bitch is a stunning example of the breed or a member of a breed with dwindling numbers.
I would question how well bred your dog is. Decent breeders will endorse their puppies so they can’t be bred from without permission.
She might be lovely but that doesn’t mean she is a suitable brood bitch.
How would you select a stud?
What would you do if you lost puppies or even her?
How would you offer lifetime support to puppy owners? And how would you homecheck prospective homes?
I have a friend with a litter at the moment. She’s feeding the littlest every two hours round the clock. She’s managing an hour away from them at the most. I couldn’t do that.
My 11 month old Collie is in season, we will not be breeding, there are far too many unwanted dogs out there, so she will be getting done, and how would I know the pups would be going to good homes? Not something I'm prepared to risk.
DH is far more dog experienced than me and would like to.
No, no, no. Dogs are put to sleep every week in the UK as there are not enough homes for them all, or space in rescue kennels. Please OP, don't do it.
Please don't. I hear fellow dog owners talk all the time about breeding their dogs, and they don't even have pedigrees. Mostly it's because they think it's nice to let them have a litter before spaying, or because it's cute. I hate this attitude but it falls on deaf ears when I advise not to.
I would look online at the amount of dogs currently available for your breed and seriously question this decision.
OP, it might be helpful for you to contact someone who has bred their bitch and just have a chat about the pros, cons, amount of work etc. I have friends who have bred their bitches and have found it very rewarding (not financially, though). They looked for health-tested studs who were not closely related to the bitch (a low co-efficient of inbreeding increases the chance of the puppies growing into healthy dogs) and had no problem finding owners they were happy with - many went to local homes so they see them out and about.
IMHO, it is much, much better to buy a puppy bred by a caring owner than to get one from a puppy farm. That is the trade that needs to be cracked down on (including imports). Yes, there are a lot of dogs in rescue, but they are not for everyone.
I’m a caring owner with a lovely dog.
I don’t know enough about genetics and health testing and whelping and weaning and liver shunt testing etc etc so I won’t breed.
It’s a huge undertaking to do it properly. And I haven’t the time or expertise to do that.
Do you think there is a shortage of dogs in the world?
Do you not like your dog? Why would you want to risk her life?
If she’s not a show or working champion then my advice would be no. There are so many really good pet labs that you really don’t have anything exceptional to add to the breed pool.
The op is yet to tell us why she (or rather her dh) thinks breeding is a good idea.
DH is far more dog experienced than me and would like to
Really curious to know what his reasons are.
For money? Wrong reason.
Because your dog will find it fulfilling? Nope.
Because there's a shortage of labrador pups? I think not.
Benefits? Um.., well you get puppies, if you want a puppy that’s a benefit, that’s it really.
Your bitch’s health will be affected even if everything goes well, she’s still going through pregnancy, birth and feeding a litter, it’ll be a good while before she’s fully recovered.
If it doesn’t go well she could be left with serious health problems, or die.
You have to raise a litter of puppies
You have to find homes for them, because you’re not likely to be keeping a whole litter... and find good homes for them when you’ve already ruled out really stringent puppy buyers by breeding a bitch that’s got no outside verification she’s worth breeding from (no showing or working background) and a load more by breeding without any actual reason to.
Costs and time involved come under disadvantages as well tbh.
Raising a litter is pretty much 8 weeks of full time work, plus the time and work of actually breeding and looking after your bitch.
By the time you add up, hip and elbow scoring, dna testing, stud fees, whelping boxes, food, worming, vets visits, microchipping... 4K isn’t an unrealistic figure.
You’d also need to put aside at least another 4K in case anything like an emergency section is needed, or there are any other complications - medical issues related to breeding aren’t covered by pet insurance.
Basically it’s a whole lot of work and money done right, which is why most people don’t breed...
#Booboostwo, there are not enough 'responsible breeders' (by your metric), though, are there? Which is why so many puppy farmed dogs are imported to supply the market for dogs in the UK. In convincing people to never breed pets, we have rather shot ourselves in the foot.
When I went looking for a working-line dog, I didn't want the progeny of a field trial winner. I wanted a puppy from proven parents, that was all. When people want a pet, they don't need the offspring of a show-winner: they just want a dog with a decent temperament and good health. Besides, if only show or field trial winning pedigrees are bred, the gene pool will be narrowed even faster than at present.
I'm not saying everyone should just stick two pets together and see what happens. I am saying that there is a place for for one-off litters from domestic pets, provided the owner has the money and time and is prepared to learn.
I say that as someone who won't breed her dog unless she makes it as a useful worker in the field.
Plenty of breeders breed for temperament as a family pet, what breed do you want that you couldn't find one? Some breed show or working or competition dogs as well but it's not exactly like the family pet market is undersupplied!
It's a difficult thing really, and the OP has very sensibly answered the question and is hopefully listening to the less aggressive answers.
Unless we want the wonderful diversity of dog breeds, fit for very different purposes, to disappear - and I certainly don't - then the UK needs good breeders who are prepared to sink time and money in to what is mostly an exhausting, often costly rather than money-making, but ultimately very rewarding task.
What we need to stamp on in this country is puppy farms before anything else.
If we don't have good breeders, we don't have well-bred and reared puppies for pet owners to buy, and then they go to bad breeders.
Not everyone wants a rescue dog, so suggesting that anyone who doesn't rescue doesn't love dogs is neither sensible nor productive.
What is needed is continuing education on how to buy dogs well. Even then, there are loads of homes that good breeders would not consider selling to, making a ready market for the poor breeders, so we need effective legislation and prosecution for them, which is sadly lacking at the moment.
All that said - while some breeds are in very sad decline, there is certainly no shortage of Labradors, so it is a breed that warrants careful consideration and good reason before adding to the population.