Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Someone wrote to me to ask me if I could write about what it takes to breed of litter of puppies. He belongs to my list and said he sees how excited some people are when they send pictures over the list sharing and bragging about their newest litter of “hopefuls.” He said that he would be interested in just what it takes to be a breeder from the time the puppies are born until they are sold.

Well what it takes is a lot of blood, sweat and tears and a lot of luck! In other words, it’s a lot of hard work. Most breeders are real excited once the puppies are born and nine times out of ten, most happy, grateful and exhausted by the time the puppies leave for their new homes.

For the non-breeder that views the pictures of the fluffy little butterballs, they think what a wonderful thing this must be to have all these little guys to play with. They are adorable and you just want to pick them up, hug and kiss them. That’s the fun part. But more than anything else, having a litter of puppies is a full time job. No actually it’s more like putting in overtime, because you’re on 24 hour duty when you are raising puppies.

So alright, let’s take a look at the process that takes place when breeding. Before you do anything else, make sure you’re breeding for the right reasons. And no, breeding to let the kids experience what birth and new born life is all about is not the right reason to breed a litter of puppies! And it’s not about thinking you’re going to be able to make a fortune to pay your mortgage payment that month or put a down payment on a new car. Think again. IF you’re lucky, you just MIGHT break out even. Other times you end up losing money when you breed a litter of puppies. That is if you are doing it right. Breeding is expensive.

The only reason to breed a litter of puppies is to help improve the quality and promote the betterment of the breed. With each new litter, the good breeder is looking to improve on the quality of her last litter. She takes from that experience all the best and worst of her lines and tries to improve on it with her next and subsequent litters. Hopefully, she will know the strengths and weaknesses of her lines and will breed accordingly in her future breeding.

So when does the breeding begin? It is not when the two dogs mate that it begins. The good breeder has planned her litter long before the “honeymooners” meet. The good breeder will have spent countless hours and research of the pedigrees of the dogs that she wishes to breed. The good breeder doesn’t just wake up one morning and decides to breed her bitch to “Joe Schmoe’s” dog down the street. No she’s been planning her bitches breeding from the time she bought or bred her.

Foremost in one’s mind if they want to be a good breeder is the acquisition of a well bred bitch that is properly structured and possesses an undeniable character according to the breed standard. She also should have been x-rayed or that she is quarantined to x-ray well. Ideally, it would be to your advantage to know something about the pedigree she comes from. Is there good temperament, hips and elbows in her line? Does she come from lines that have the proper breed standard? What about the health problems in her line? And don’t let her breeder tell you that there is nothing in her line that carries any health problems. EVERY line has some health concerns in the pedigree. The trick is to stay away from those lines that are known for producing a multitude of health problems. It would be wise to investigate the health problems of the German Shepherd Dog BEFORE you start breeding into it. There are many articles all over the internet that can help educate you on this breeds predisposition for genetic health problems.

If you can’t see her parents, at least see pictures of them and what’s behind your bitches bloodlines. Does the breeder have her sisters and brothers or other relatives that you can look at? This will give you an idea of what to expect with your own bitch as far as temperament and structure is concerned.

When you are looking to buy your breeding bitch, do you know what good German Shepherd temperament is? If you are buying a puppy, look for the puppy that is outgoing, confident and just darn right sure of herself. Does the puppy greet you? Is she freely sharing her kisses with you? Watch to see how she interacts with her littermates. Does she play “nice” with them or is she the “boss” over the rest of the litter? If she’s the boss, then you are looking at the “alpha” of the litter. She will be the one that has the most dominate personality. She will be strong willed and will challenge you for the alpha position in your home. She is the one that must know at all times that it is YOU that is the alpha in your home. In other words you are the boss and not her!

Don’t be swayed by the cute little fluffy pup that sits over in the corner or hides under the table. Sometimes people have the tendency to want to “rescue” the shy little pup. “Oh look how cute that one is over there. The poor little baby is scared. Come here sweetheart.” If she is shy, this is not what you want to introduce in your breeding program. That shy puppy may turn into a fear biter or become aggressive later on in life. Temperament of the puppies started long before they were born. It’s in their genetic make-up. Shy away from the shy puppy.

If you buy yourself an older puppy or a young adult, the same requirements should be in place as far as temperament goes. It’s even more important now as their personalities are already set in. So get familiar with the breed standard which you can read about on the Parent Club website (The German Shepherd Dog Club of America).

Alright then, you’ve just purchased your foundation bitch. This is probably the most important thing that you can do when establishing your breeding program. Buy the best bitch that you can afford. She will determine your future success as a breeder.

Take her home, love her, play with her, train her, socialize her and feed her the best food that you can afford. The breeder that you bought her from has done her part as far as breeding the best quality that she could. Now it’s up to you to make sure that she realizes her genetic worth and that you too breed her to the best of your ability. Don’t forget to “pick the brain” of the breeder that you bought her from. She should help guide you because she is familiar with her bloodlines. If she’s a good breeder, she likes to see her kennel’s bloodlines being utilized in a good breeding program.

(To be continued)….

From the book: "BREEDING BETTER DOGS".............. Highly recommended as a basic reference in every breeder's library. It should be required reading for all breeders. -- Helen Sondrel - breeder

It is fascinating and easy to understand. I can now hope to master the methods and ideas that will really make a difference. -- Patricia H. Riepe

The text focuses on the fundamental aspects of producing better dogs. It was written for those interested in upgrading their stock and producing quality animals. The author anticipates the type of information that most breeders need and presents it in a clear and easy-to-understand style.

Some of the unique methods which have proven to be of great value are the color charts and stick dog figures that are designed to help breeders plan their future breeding on paper to see what they are likely to produce. The pedigree charts and stick dog illustrations provide an easy method for interpreting the pedigrees of potential dams and sires, and for predicting the qualities in their expected litters.

My rating: Breeding puppies: (1 - 4)


  1. Wow!!!!! And that is just the preparation... Thanks Barbara..

  2. You're welcome Bruce. You see it's a lot more than people think..........that is if you do it correctly!

  3. I look forward to seeing this one finished. It's very interesting to me. I've lost count of the number of people who have said "oh it must be so much fun to have puppies" or the breeders who are jealous when I get 12 puppies in a litter. They have no idea how much work goes into raising a litter of 12 IN THE HOUSE! I'm lucky to get 5-6 hours of sleep with that many puppies and forget free time for myself. I'm cleaning the whelping box (done at least four times a day), potty training puppies, starting basic obedience, feeding, grooming (coat, nails, ears, eyes, and baths), socializing, constantly saving their lives as they try to eat everything that a puppy should not... Not to mention making sure their new families have constant updates and photos of their babies. By the time they go home, I'm asking myself what the heck I was thinking! LOL

  4. Yes Erica, no matter how much we all love our puppies, by the time that they are ready to go to their new homes, "we're so over it!!!"