Breeding dogs

If you are thinking of breeding dogs, then there are several things that you need to consider. Breeding can be time-consuming and expensive, although it can ultimately be emotionally rewarding. In this article, we’ll explore what you need to keep in mind when deciding on whether you want to breed dogs or not. It is definitely not a decision that should be taken lightly: you should consider all the factors very carefully and seek expert advice first. This article is simply a guide for what you may need to keep in mind.
Young puppies in basket
Young puppies in basket
Young puppies in basket

Breeding dogs and the law

The very first thing to consider when weighing on whether you want to breed dogs is the law in your country. In the UK (England, Scotland and Wales), you need a licence to breed puppies if:

You are looking to own a business that breeds and then sells dogs.

You do not want a business, but you plan on breeding more than five litters in a year and selling any of those puppies.

You cannot apply for this licence online. The best way forward is to contact your local council, who will advise you on costs and whether you need a licence. Any licence you get will be valid for a year and must be renewed each year.

It is important to follow these rules closely if breeding dogs. In February 2017, the UK Government spoke about cracking down on ‘backstreet breeders’ so as to better protect the animals of the country. New proposals will state that it is illegal to sell puppies before eight weeks of age and that a licence is compulsory. If you do not have one, punishments include an unlimited fine and/or up to six months in breeders.

What does breeding dogs entail?

The honest answer is: a lot. Breeding dogs can be costly and time-consuming. You need to be dedicated to making sure that you do it properly and raise healthy and happy puppies.

Puppy health: It is very important that breeding dogs leads to healthy and disease-free puppies. ‘Backstreet breeders’ are frowned upon for this reason, as they rarely take care of their dogs in a humane fashion or adequately provide care for them.

If you own a pet, then remember that breeding dogs is like owning several such pets with the same amount of love and care you would give your beloved dog. Here are some factors that the government considers before giving you a license:

Cute puppy sniffing owner's hand

Your dogs should live in clean and comfortable accommodation.

They should be fed well and given enough water.

Exercise is a must; they must be well exercised and healthy.

They are protected against the spread of diseases.

They are protected against fire or other emergencies.

Screening: It is important to screen your dog before deciding to breed dogs. This helps prevent the spread of some diseases and common problems among dogs. The Kennel Club provides tests that they recommend for each breed, so they are a great source to turn to.

Breeding standards: Breeding standards basically refer to the general characteristics your dog should possess to make them suitable for breeding. Obvious conditions or exaggerations should be avoided by both breeders and judges. The Kennel Club is an excellent source for this. They provide a breakdown of breeding standards by breed, which means you can look up information specific to your dog before you choose to undertake breeding dogs. The Kennel Club comes recommended by the UK Government as well, so they are a safe source of information.

Age and health of your dog: Do be aware of your dog’s breed, her age and how many litters she has produced. Agencies usually do not accept dogs that have been over-bred – not to mention it is not very healthy for your dog – so that may be something you should consider.

Pet insurance: As a breeder, you will also need to consider insurance for your litters. This will cost money, so make sure you have the capital to buy insurance for the number of litters you hope to breed.

Additional costs: Aside from taking care of your dog and the litters, there are several areas that require investment. You may need to buy whelping equipment or pay for vaccinations.

Seeking extra help

Breeding dogs is a complicated endeavour and there are many factors to consider, so you may want to try and join an agency or organisation that helps you with the process. The Kennel Club has an assured breeders scheme; it also runs a breed information centre, as well as a Kennel Club Academy, which is an online learning resource for anyone involved in the dog world, be that breeders or dog show judges.

There are also different breed clubs for each breed across the UK, both at the national and local level. Perhaps search these out for guidance on breeding dogs.

How do you decide?

No one can make the decision for you on whether you wish to breed dogs. Expert advice is always recommended, as you can get a better idea of what is involved in the process. Also try and talk to dog breeders and see what their experience has been like. This is likely to give you a good idea of what you are getting into.

Above all, it is important to approach breeding dogs with a conscience and with a clear idea of producing healthy and happy puppies. There is not a large amount of profit to be found in dog breeding and it can be time-consuming and expensive. If you are thinking of going into the profession full-time, be aware of what will be needed in terms of support, both emotionally and monetarily.

The best breeders are those who love their litters as their own and will protect them no matter what. This could range from interviewing potential new parents or providing lifetime support for anyone who buys a puppy from them. If this is something you are passionate about, then breeding dogs may be a good idea.

Read about pregnancy in dogs here.