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The Real Cost of Breeding your Dog...


Everyone LOVES that furry ball of fluff, the puppy smell, those sweet little puppy squeaks. It is enough to make any one of us squeal with delight about the cute little bundles!


Since the pandemic started, a trend of staying home has resulted in many people seeking out a new gorgeous pup to join their families. This has resulted in the price of puppies, even mixed breeds sky rocketing. If you are lucky you might find one under $1000, but more likely $2000 -$3000, and if you want something that is currently hard to get or trendy you might end up paying twice as much! If you don't believe me - have a quick look on trademe!

With this trend in exorbitant prices for pups there is a very worrying trend with a number of people seeing this as a great chance to make money. I personally fear that in the coming couple of years this is going to see another trend which is going to make things much worse. I foresee a population explosion, not enough homes for all the new puppies being bred. This resulting in shelters being over run, which might be a more obvious outcome.

The other problem is much larger, with so many people breeding dogs without the right background knowledge. There WILL be an increase in problem behaviours, I frequently hear from people that have picked up new puppies at just 5 or 6 weeks old! This is much too early and can result in future problem behaviours.


If that alone isn't enough to reconsider breeding your dog I'm going to lay down some other facts to help you see the big picture.


Breeding Age

Your dog (just like us) has a recommended age to breed at, which will depend on your dog's breed. Generally, the ideal age to breed your dog is between ages 2 and 5 years. Younger than 2 would be like your 13 year old daughter getting pregnant - it will be hard on your dog. Instead of putting energy in to her own growth she will be growing babies instead. And breeding from a dog older than 5 is similar to your elderly mother or grandmother having a baby. Often these situations don't have great outcomes - resulting in complications which can include supplement feeding, emergency c-sections, or puppies that are not viable.


Complications

When you go down the path of breeding your dog you have to be prepared for any number of complications that may occur.


Supplement Feeding - If your dog does not produce enough milk, or has too many puppies for the amount of milk produced. In the worse case scenario - your dog doesn't make it, and you are left to raise a litter of puppies on your own. In those first few days and weeks it will be tough! Trust me - I have helped hand-rear puppies before, and truthfully I am glad I did it with a team of people so I got some nights off duty! In the beginning pups will need to be feed every 2-3 hours, you will also need to toilet them as they will not be able to do this on their own. They will need to be kept warm and clean, they will need care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. How would you manage this situation with your life and work commitments?


Milk Fever/Eclampsia - this is a drop in calcium blood levels in your nursing female dog. This can most likely occur when she has not been feed premium diet that is formulated for nursing mothers and puppies. Inadequate nutrition can not only make it tough for the body to keep up, but it can also lead to significant weight loss. Most dogs will typically develop eclampsia when their puppies are 2-4 weeks of age. Every case of eclampsia can vary, here are some of the most common symptoms to look out for: Lethargy, weakness, muscle stiffness, unsteady gait, restlessness, pacing, fever, appearing confused or disoriented, aggression and other personality changes, twitching, muscle tremors and inability to stand. Being aware of the symptoms, and the importance of feeding appropriate food, is just one of the important things you need to be aware of if you are planning to breed your dog.


C-Sections - If you are breeding from a female dog that is not the appropriate age having to have a c-section is much more likely. Often if your dog does need to go through this surgery it will occur after-hours fees. Most people are not aware of the cost of this kind of surgery or of the risk it poses to both the dog and pups. Historically, in the veterinary industry the cost of surgery for a routine spey or neuter procedure is greatly reduced to help encourage owners to go ahead with this surgery. So it may come with quite a shock that a c-section is likely to cost close to $2000 if not more. And if the procedure needs to be done on after hours - think about double that cost again! Have you got the funds to cover this? What if none of the puppies survive? You will be left to fund this yourself and you won't be able to rely on the selling of pups to cover it.


But breeding my dog will help him/her settle won't it?

Actually NO! This is a common 'old wives tale'. Letting your dog have puppies will not have any effect at all on their behaviour. If you are looking to have a dog that is more trainable, and more settled, breeding is not the answer! Training is what your dog needs!


Side note about behaviour - If your dog has any tendencies to be aggressive towards other dogs. And let me be clear - ANY other dog. Not "oh she just doesn't like (insert breed here)"! Or aggressive behaviour towards any people - again any people at all! Likewise if you have a dog that is fearful or anxious, and again - "oh he is fine at home it is just when (insert issue here)." These are behaviours that can be passed down to the puppies. If you do breed with a dog that has any of these issues are you prepared to take the puppy back? It is likely that some new puppy owners will return puppies to you and ask for a refund if they are unhappy with the pup's behaviour.

Behaviour is also one of the main reason pets are either surrended to shelters, rescues or euthanised at an early age.


Still want to breed your dog?

If you still want to go ahead with breeding your dog, I recommend you do some research! Chat to your vet, make a list of potential homes before breeding so you know that the pups will have amazing homes to go to. Have a fund available to care for any needs they may require, have a plan in place if you need to supplement feed or take over raising the puppies yourself and consider behaviour tendencies of both dogs before going ahead. Preparation is the key here, it is a big responsibility, you have to be ready for any circumstance I have mentioned (or others)! Including having a puppy returned to you to raise, or not being able to find homes for them all.

Ultimately, any of these little lives you bring in to this world will be your responsibility. Make an informed decision before you go ahead.

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