Don’t Breed Puppies Unless You Know What You’re Doing

So, you wanna make puppies? ‘Tis the season for dog owners all over America to do just that. But is it really a good idea? The following is a question Steve Dale typically gets on the subject:

Q: Our family purchased a chocolate Labrador retriever and he has his AKC (American Kennel Club) papers. I don’t know how to register him. We want to breed him and sell puppies. My vet said to x-ray Bear’s hips before we breed him. What do we do next? I. D., Tacoma, Wash.

A: Neuter your dog. Done correctly, breeding is a genetically complicated issue and a potentially expensive proposition that should be left up to professionals. While, I don’t doubt that you mean well, and you might indeed succeed with healthy puppies, your chances aren’t nearly as good as someone who, frankly, knows what they’re doing. While I have no problem when breeders are real pros who work with their colleagues in conjunction with sanctioned breed clubs, backyard breeders (that’s how I describe you) and pet stores are the last places I recommend people purchase a pup.

If you want to do things right, you should be affiliated with a breed club, and follow their guidelines. The medical tests a breed club would require for Bear include more than only checking for history of hip and elbow dysplasia. What’s more, do those papers you say you have tell you anything about the health of Bear’s ancestors? This information is exceedingly important. Professional breeders don’t breed all their dogs. In fact, they’re quite choosey about which individuals will be bred.

What if you do find out Bear does have a hip problem? Sadly, in my experience, this doesn’t deter many people who are set on breeding their dog no matter what. I’m surprised your veterinarian is not discouraging you, unless you’re not telling me that part of the story.

You should be aware that these days, I define the best breeders as those who typically lose money – or just about break even. It’s not the money making proposition I bet you think it is. While most of the time, all goes well, and that old line about the kids learning about life does pan out. However, all doesn’t always go well – and the kids could experience a traumatic result – especially if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Having said all this, if you’re serious about learning this craft, ask colleagues in your breed club for assistance; even the best breeders have to start somewhere. Most breeders are at least intermittently involved in the world of showing dogs, so they better understand their breed’s conformation (how the breed should look). Also, temperament should play in important role (although sadly this quality too often takes a back seat), as does function (what a dog was bred to do), which is why Labrador retrievers may be involved in competitive retrieving field trials.

Sloppy breeding has effectively lowered quality of dogs in America, please don’t add to this problem. Incidentally, you can register Bear by sending your papers to American Kennel Club, 5580 Centerview Drive, Suite 200, Raleigh, NC 27606. The fee is $10. For further information, see their web site:

Note: This article is copyrighted by Steve Dale and can be used as source material and for reference only. It cannot be reprinted verbatim. Please contact Steve Dale at if you have any questions.


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