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Most shelters and rescue organizations are overflowing with mixed breed and purebred dogs that are perfectly friendly and adoptable, but there simply aren’t enough homes for them. As a result, approximately three to four million unwanted dogs and cats are euthanized each year, according to the Humane Society of the United States. Producing more puppies, for any other reason than to improve the breed, just exacerbates the problem.
Dogs that have temperament problems, such as aggression or excessively submissive behavior, should not be bred. Dogs that have inherited medical conditions, such as hip dysplasia, also should not be bred.
Before you breed your dog, honestly consider if you have the time, commitment, and finances required to raise a litter. Ask yourself the following questions:
Can I afford to raise a litter? Before breeding, both the female and male dogs should be tested for brucellosis, a kind of venereal disease. They should also be screened for genetic problems they could pass to their offspring, including joint problems such as hip dysplasia, as well as eye and heart conditions. The female dog should be vaccinated and dewormed before she is bred. Once she is pregnant, she will require prenatal exams, and possibly radiographs (X-rays) or an abdominal ultrasound. If there is a problem during birth, she may need an emergency Caesarean section. After birth, the puppies will require veterinary exams, vaccinations, dewormers, and heartworm medication before they are sent to new homes.
Can you be there to assist with the birthing process? Do you know what to do if there’s a problem? If there are complications, the mother dog and/or some of the puppies may not survive. Remember, if you want your children to learn from the birthing process, it can be a difficult experience for them if things don’t go smoothly.
Do I have the time to care for the puppies? Some mothers reject their litters, or develop mastitis (a breast infection that can happen after giving birth), so they are unable to nurse the puppies. If that happens, will you have time to feed each puppy several times a day and provide other care at this critical stage? You will also spend a considerable amount of time cleaning up after the puppies that aren’t housebroken, and working to make sure they are potty trained before they go to their new homes.
Good breeders take responsibility for their puppies not just until they find a new home, but for a lifetime. Reputable breeders:
There are always potential risks associated with pregnancy and birth, especially with very young or very old dogs.
Whether you breed your dog or not, spaying or neutering can help eliminate some potential health problems. Female dogs that are spayed are less likely to develop breast cancer and pyometra, an infection of the uterus that requires emergency surgery. Male dogs that are neutered are less likely to develop testicular cancer. Certain types of aggression are also less likely to occur in dogs that are spayed or neutered.
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