Before You Breed

  • Why do you want to breed
  • Do you have the time
  • Do you have the room/facilities
  • Do you have the knowledge
  • Have you checked your legal responsibilities
  • The Kennel Club
  • What health test do you need 

Why do you want to breed - If your answer to this question is 'because puppies are cute' or 'I could make some money', then you need to seriously reconsider. Puppies may be cute, but dogs are not so cute. As for making money, breeding is an expensive business. Costs you can expect include vet bills, food, equipment and advertising. These can be expensive if everything goes according to plan, but complications can, and do, occur. See 'Prepare a Whelping Area' on the After Conception page.

Do you have the time - Your bitch will need to be closely monitored during the days leading up to labour and you will need to be present for the whelping, which could take up the best part of a day. Also, the newborn pups will need to be cared for until they have been successfully rehomed.

Your bitch will need special meals, short and frequent walks and lots of TLC. Later on, when the pups are a bit older you will need to feed, walk and take care of them all. Not forgetting, of course, the all-important trips to the vet for innoculations and worming. Remember there could be 10-12 puppies and they are going to be with you for at least seven weeks.

Do you have the room/facilities - Puppies are a messy business. You will need a whelping box and run large enough to comfortably home your bitch and up to 12 puppies (depending on the breed). Bedding will need to be changed and washed several times a day. Hard floors that can be mopped easily are essential as the puppies will not be house trained. Having a safe and secure garden or outside area is essential to let the puppies run and play.

Do you have the knowledge - Research is essential. Make sure you know all there is to know, such as immediate care of the newborns, whelping complications and health problems that can occur. Lack of knowledge could endanger not only the puppies, but your bitch too.

Your puppy's new owners will look to you for information regarding the breed and upbringing recommendations for their new family member.

Have you checked your legal responsibilities - According to the Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999, if you are going to embark on a career in dog breeding you will need to obtain a licence from your local government office. This involves having an inspection carried out of your premises to determine suitability. This is only required for breeders who are going to breed as a business, not a hobby. Generally this means that breeders whose dogs produce five litters or more a year will require to be licensed.

Also, if you are breeding working dogs you will need to find a qualified vet that will dock the tails of the puppies and remove their dew claws. See Dog Health for more information.

The Kennel Club - The Kennel Club will not accept an application to register puppies from a bitch that was under one year at the time of conception, over eight years at the time of whelping, has had more than four litters or has had two litters within a twelve month period. There are no restrictions as to the age of, or the amount of litters sired by, the dog.

A litter of puppies is eligible for registration if they are the result of a mating between a KC registered dog and a KC registered bitch of the same breed.

Also, check the pedigree of the dog and the bitch to make sure there are no breeding endorsements. An endorsement is a restriction that has been placed on the registration by the breeder to protect the dog and the breed. An endorsement can usually only be removed by the breeder who placed it.

What the health tests do you need - you'll need to look into your particular breed and ascertain what health tests need to be done before you consider breeding your dog.