To Breed, or Not to Breed

To Breed, or Not to Breed

Even though most professional breeders have their own rules, what about us dog owners who aren't running a full-scale kennel?

When deciding whether to breed your dog or not, it's important to consider the level of commitment it will take. Breeding your hunting dog, or any dog for that matter, should always be thoroughly thought through. Do you have the time it takes to take care of the puppies? Do you have the funds it takes for veterinarian visits for the puppies or if by chance an issue arrives before, during or after delivery?

A responsible breeder understands that each new litter should be an improvement over the last. Just because you think you have the best dog in the world doesn’t always mean you should breed her. Plus you need to realize that you just might not get the results you were hoping for in the litter. Because genetics play such a key role in health issues, a good breeder would make sure that he didn’t breed a dog with serious health concerns and since most serious health conditions have surfaced after about five years you shouldn't breed a dog that is too young to tell if he carries any negative genes. Even though health concerns can prove harmful for all dogs, it is especially pertinent that you consider how certain issues would affect your sporting dog, problems like bad hips, allergies, skin disorders, thyroid problems, these issues can all but crush a sporting dogs’ spirit. Having a pup you have to bench because of a health concern is heartbreaking to you and your dog.

Only the best at their job will do.

You should also consider any job related issues your dog has. Does she perform her hunting tasks with ease? Does she love to hunt or is she just a friend to you? Not that your dog shouldn't be your friend but, if she’s driven to hunt then she’s motivated to please you which in turn creates a stronger friendship. How about your dog’s natural abilities? Are they strong or weak? Depending on the breed, does she have the natural ability that other dog owners are looking for in that breed, like pointing, running, tracking, swimming or prey drive? Is your dog above average intelligence? If your dog displays only mediocre hunting skills but, she’s the prettiest lab you have ever seen, is breeding her as a hunting dog the right choice?

Is your dog focused and ready?

Once your dog has passed these tests then you should next consider her temperament. Is she friendly towards other people and other dogs? Even though it is certainly okay to be protective over you it’s not okay to have a dog who you can’t trust on a hunt, no matter how great a retriever she is. How she acts in social settings can tell you a lot about whether you should breed her or not. Also, is she trainable? Sporting dogs have to be trained and stubborn untrainable dogs need not reproduce. How about her willingness to hunt, to sacrifice for you?

That's one good lookin' purebred.

One additional thing to consider before breeding is their appearance. Your dog’s conformation is so important in keeping with the pure standards for her breed. If your dog has obvious physical faults that, even though she is pretty to you, it might take away from her value and degrade her breed’s written description.

It may seem unfair and biased that there are so many traits to examine when deciding whether to breed or not. But, when you consider the negative consequences of haphazardly breeding it makes things clearer as to why so much preparation and thought should go into the decision. As responsible dog owners and breeders we should place a high standard on ourselves and our dogs so we can maintain pure breeds and continue to have quality hunting dogs for generations to come.

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