AKC Rhodesian Ridgebacks Ethically Bred and Raised in our Home. Therapy and Show Dogs raised with Children.

               To Breed or Not to Breed that is the Question.

No cute pictures of puppies and mom loving on them this page. This is cold hard reality so read it carefully! 

Everyone loves puppies.  It is a plain and simple fact even people who are not dog lovers or who may be allergic to them can't help but smile when they see photos or film of happy healthy puppies tumbling about. 

However a love of Puppies is not in its self a good reason to consider Breeding.  There are many considerations that should be discussed and reviewed before falling in love with the idea of having puppies. I hope if you or someone in your home is thinking of breeding you read this entire page and take it to heart. Breeding is NOT for wimps or amateurs.

We can begin with the 3 classifications of Breeder.  Hobby Breeder, Back Yard Breeder and Puppy Miller. 

Every one knows about Puppy Mills.  Cages, pens  and crates stuffed to over flow with dogs living in their own filth. Never groomed or cared for simply bred over and over until they are bred out and useless. At which time they are either euthanized in a less than kind fashion or sold at auction for people hoping to get just a few more liters out of them.  They make hundreds of thousands supplying pet stores and brokers. The damage caused to the breeds is incalculable. No health testing , no health care, no basic nutrition concerns, no human contact beyond taking the pups away.

Back Yard Breeders do nearly as much damage. They generally ride the flow of what ever fad is happening in the country.  You want a "designer dog" ?  They will hook their poodle up with what ever breed is available.  Doodles are a plague on the country, they are bred with little thought to what the dogs will turn into. A dear friend's  sons chipped into buy the mom a Goldendoodle because they felt it would be hypo-allergenic and mom loved the curly coated photo shown to them.  What they paid top dollar for is the exact opposite of what they ended up with. Rather than a healthy happy dog with a tightly curled coat that does not shed they have a very skinny dog with a long coat that sheds constantly.  It has numerous health issues among them the inability to gain weight or concentrate for training.   A BYB is in it to make some money under the table. They often have litters around the holidays and set up gazebo style tents at swap meets or near malls to take advantage of the impulse buyer. The dogs are rarely house pets first they are basically little furry ATMs When Paris Hilton made carrying a teeny tiny dog fashionable  poodles were once again mixed with every thing tiny imaginable.  Chihuahuas, Maltese, Yorkies, and Shitz zus are are few that come to mind.  Then the BYB decided it was time to up the ante and they took breeds not blended before and began the puggle craze, Beagles and pugs. A High Prey Drive hunting dog with a near sighted Lap dog.   Both may have value as the breed they were intended to be however mixed the rate of injuries has gone though the roof.  The Beagle which is a Scent hound has now been cross bred with a dog who has breathing issues ? Who thought that would be a grand plan? BYBs do not health test. They do not plan pedigrees to produce to breed standard even when they are trying to breed a pure bred dog,  They take short cuts and down the way the owners pay that fee.  It is insane to buy a dog from some one who makes as little effort as possible and believe you will get a dream dog.  Some people become a BYB by accident. They did not secure their girl in heat properly or they wanted the kids to see the miracle of birth. Maybe they are just hoping to replace the older dogs that they are now breeding. Any way you look at it, they are bringing puppies into the world without a plan. They are not guaranteeing them they are just happy to get rid of them when the fun part of puppy hood wears off and they become sharp toothed crapping destructive monsters.  They head for a the nearest swap meet, WAL Mart parking lot etc and do their best to dump the pups on any one who will take them no questions asked.  Pups from this kind of breeding often end up as Bait Dogs for illegal fighting rings.  BYBS and Millers are responsible for flooding the Shelters.

That leaves the Hobby Breeder.  We are the folks who show our dogs or field test them. They  have pets with titles and training.  The dogs live in the house or expensive kennels and are part of family life.  We read voraciously , compare pedigrees for years. Find mentors that steer us away from the basic mistakes that ruin a breed.  Our dogs do more than trot around a show ring , they lure course, hunt, herd, track, the earn therapy titles and do the work!  They are health tested and the Hobby Breeder follows the information and studies to understand what , why and how. We breed with the belief we should do no harm.

So now that you have decided you want to breed let's say you own the girl.  After you have had her tested for hips, elbows, patellas, eyes, ears, cardiac and thyroid and she passes on all of them then you may opt to test for DM  there always seems to be a new test on the horizon when you are a Breeder.   You have chosen to breed after your girl is 2 years old ( so she can be tested) and before she is 7.   You keep her supplemented with folic acid to reduce the chances of dermoids. You take her pedigree in hand and you carefully match it to a stud's pedigree. Knowing if you go too large the pups may have to be delivered via C Section. If you go too small you may harm the breed by producing out of standard puppies.  You must be there when the breeding happens, girls will often fight a male when they are maidens. The male may become too rough with her. The breeding needs supervision to make sure once a tie is acquired the male is not injured by the bitch bolting. Males have been torn requiring hundreds of stitches to put them back together and their breeding career is now over.  You are feeding a high quality feed or raw to maximize her health. Finishing her in the Conformation Rings may have cost 2000.00 and up. The tests and feed alone can cost you several thousand as well.  When you approach the Stud you negotiate the breeding to see if you will have a fee or a puppy back. If they want a puppy back and you only have a single puppy what then?  You need to have enough credit or savings to assure if your bitch gets in trouble you can take her in for a C section.  Many fine bitches have been lost by owners praying they would not have to pay the exorbitant fees for emergency vet care. Puppies rarely are born during business hours. A bitch who dies in whelp dies in agony , remember this simple fact , she trusts you to bring her safely through her pregnancy and whelping.  Puppies are often lost in the whelping.  You may have owners lined up who want to show but have a litter of companion quality pups. Do you have owners for them as well?   Post whelp puppies may fade , your girl can develop mastitis, pyometra  and a dozen other complications. All expensive and potentially fatal.  Many times the best out come is you save the girl but she had to be spayed on the table.  Can you even picture the cost we are discussing now?  Your bitch may decide she is not maternal and refuse to nurse the pups.  If you think hand feeding a litter of say 6 is easy you have no clue.  It takes a team to get a litter to prosper if the bitch decides to have nothing to do with them. It is not as simple as holding her down and trying to attach a puppy to nurse.  She may lose her milk even if she wants to have her puppies.  You need to know in your heart if a pup is born with it's intestines on the outside what you are going to do.  Or if you have a pup with a profound cleft palate or any of the hundreds of other issues puppies can be born with.  Is it worth losing your girl to try to breed a litter?  Do you have the knowledge and skill to care for her and whelp the pups? If you work who will be with them during your shift?  Even after the pups arrive safely they can die, they wander too far from mom and get cold or they get trapped in the bedding and are stepped or laid on.  They may be too small to get to a teat often enough to prosper and will need you to take a larger pup off to allow them a chance to nurse. 

Let's say you are on day 3 and you must decide if you are taking the pups to have their dew claws removed.  There are differing trains of thought on removing them. Our kennel always will to prevent injury in sporting events.  You are now palpating the pups several times a day checking for dermoids. If a dermoid is discovered you will need to have it removed prior to sale.  Dermoid surgery runs from $500- 1500.00 on a pup that must be sold as a companion.  The dermoid may be discovered ANY time in the first 10 weeks.  You need families and owners now for your puppies. Do you take an ad out in the paper, use an online service or have you done it right and have a waiting list of more people than you will have puppies?   Basically you need 2 people per pup, a show home and a companion home. So the owner is not settling for a pup that was not exactly what they wanted.  You have to be willing to place a show prospect in a companion home and forfeit the ribbons and continuing titles you may have dreamed of.  You will be the pups main life line in the world after their mom.  So you will be cleaning up , changing and rotating pups, weighing them and keeping track of progress. You'll decide when it is time to supplement or begin training them to gruel then softened food.  You must know what kind of feed you want your pups to start their lives on and make sure that it is a feed available for them when they go home.  You must decide on a vaccination protocol based off of research and an educated opinion. You are paying for each pup to have dew claws removed, be wormed, have a microchip implanted , have health check ups and vaccinations. You are also encouraged to purchase a small bag of food to send home with the pup to start them off correctly.  No owner wants to take a new puppy home to strange food and then suffer the diarrhea that will result !  The routine puppy costs run an average of 200.00 to 500.00 apiece  and I have a very kind vet who gives me a wonderful discount. Get the picture? Have you made any real money yet?  You can not charge top dollar if you are breeding pet stock to pet stock. You have to prove your bitch and stud prior to the breeding as in standard and working dogs. Intelligent owners are hard to come by.  and you want the smart ones. they will value your puppy for life, raising them well and loving them with open eyes. You will pick your owners carefully after spending much time with them and then pray you did the job right. Otherwise a phone call may come from Rescue telling you they pulled your puppy from a shelter or an owner may call and tell you the puppy isn't working out as they had hoped. You must have the room to take that pup back whether it is 12 weeks or 12 months or several years old. We guarantee for LIFE.   At the end of the day if you decide to breed and you do it ethically without shortcuts you will be able to write a list like this...if your are lucky. If not you will be remembering the sweet girl you bred who died or the sweet natured stud that is now a dominate dog because the bitch's owner let her injure him.  Your life as a dog owner is changed forever if you decide to breed.  My best advice is simple if you can go to a shelter and look at the faces of the dogs there and still breed you have either a stone heart or a great commitment to your dogs and pups.  You will have planned for everything and then some . Breeding is not for everyone. Doing it right is neither inexpensive or easy. But done right you are doing no harm to the breed or the dogs. You want to know that you name is not bandied about among ethical Breeders and Rescue as that problem person who pushes out litter after litter in search for their next champion.  Look at your dog, do you love that sweet face that would do anything for you? What kind of risk are you willing to take with their life? 


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