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Should you breed your male dog?

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Breed Selection Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

German Shepherd

Pros and cons of breeding a male dog

Here are the pros (pluses) of breeding your dog:

  • You'll get a stud fee or maybe a puppy.

Here are the cons (negatives):

  • His behavior may change – for the worse.
  • You'll need to pay to have your male tested for specific health issues before breeding.
  • Responsible breeding takes a lot of time and effort.
  • The puppies will be half your responsibility, too.
  • Breeding won't produce puppies just like your male.
  • Breeding takes homes away from needy dogs already born.

Let's look at those negatives in more detail.

His behavior may change for the worse.

Marking territory with urine.  Many male dogs who have been bred become obsessive about marking their territory. To announce their masculinity to the world, they lift their leg and spray their urine as high as possible – sometimes indoors, as well as out.

Toy dogs are especially notorious for hiking their leg on every vertical object larger than a blade of grass. After breeding, this bad habit usually gets worse.

Mounting other dogs.  Male dogs who have been bred may embarrass you by mounting other dogs or people's legs and generally acting "more humpy."

Fighting.  Some male dogs who have been bred are more likely to pick fights with other male dogs.

Ignoring you.  Male dogs who have been bred may ignore you when other dogs are around because they're too busy checking out whether the other dogs might be potential partners – or potential rivals.

Challenging you.  Even worse than ignoring you, some male dogs who have been bred may try to assert themselves by challenging your rules.

Saint Bernard

You'll need to pay to have your male tested for specific health issues before breeding.

You must find out if your male has any hidden health problems that could be passed on to his puppies. Different tests are recommended for different breeds, but include hip and elbow x-rays, and specialized tests for hereditary disorders of the eyes, heart, liver, kidneys, digestive tract, or thyroid.

The proper tests can cost several hundred dollars. But hereditary health problems have become an epidemic  in many breeds because so many irresponsible people are breeding their dogs without doing these required health tests.

Responsible breeding takes time and effort

Learning about genetics.  If you don't know what a coefficient of inbreeding  is, you're not ready to produce a litter of puppies.

Researching pedigrees.  A pedigree is only a written list of names. You need to learn about the actual dogs  behind those names. What health problems did they have? What was their temperament like?

Finding a suitable female.  You'll need to put in time and effort evaluating (and rejecting) female dogs whose owners are eager to breed them. A female's pedigree must be compared with your male's; when bred together, what will the coefficient of inbreeding be for the litter? The female should have the same excellent temperament and health tests as your male.

Sadly, 99% of the female dogs presented to you as "potential mothers" have not been tested for ANYTHING.  All they might have is a stupid general health certificate, which is worthless. It says nothing  about genetic health problems that can be passed on to the puppies. These would-be mothers are not ready for breeding!

Evaluating the female's OWNER.  You'll need to put in time and effort evaluating (and rejecting) OWNERS, too.

  • Does the owner of the female have time to care for puppies all day? If the adults in that family work all day, raising puppies shouldn't even be considered.
  • Does the owner of the female have the knowledge to screen buyers and the confidence to turn down unsuitable buyers? Or will the owner sell to anyone with cash in their hands?
  • Does the owner have a puppy sales contract that you can look at? It should say specifically that they will take a puppy back at any time and find a new home for it.

Managing the actual breeding.  Traditionally, breeding is done at the stud dog's home, where his confidence is highest. But what if he is confused or reluctant? Do you know what to do? Do you know how to tell whether a female dog is truly fertile? There's a learning curve here, and as the stud dog owner, you're expected to know this stuff!

Shih Tzu puppy

These puppies will be half YOUR responsibility.

Oh sure, you can write your stud dog contract so it states that you wash your hands of all further responsibility for the puppies' lives, blah, blah, blah...

But puppies don't know anything about contracts. Puppies are innocent and helpless. They deserve to be well cared for, don't they? If it weren't for your male, they wouldn't have been born so, like it or not, they're kind of.... your granddogs. So to speak.

What if one of those pups needs help 5 years from now? If the owner of the female fails to help, will you step up, even if there are existing health or behavioral problems?

Whether you own the male parent or the female parent, bringing new lives into the world is a serious responsibility and can be a heavy weight on your shoulders if things don't go well.

Breeding won't produce puppies just like your male

If you're hoping to get a puppy just like your female, the chances are slim to none. In each puppy, half of its genes come from its mother. So unless the female is a genetic clone of your male, you can only get half of your male in each puppy.

If you want another dog who looks like your male, go back to the breeder and get another pup from the same parents.

Also, much of what you love about your male is his personality  (his habits, quirks, idiosyncrasies).

But personality is not inherited. Certain behavioral traits  (herding, hunting, protectiveness) can be inherited. General temperament  (confident, shy, outgoing, nervous, independent) can be inherited. But personality is unique to each individual dog.

Breeding takes homes away from needy dogs already born

  • Visit your humane society and walk along the rows of cages.
  • Attend one of the "Adopt a Dog" days sponsored by your local pet store, where local rescue groups bring some of their dogs who need homes.
  • Visit the web sites of rescue groups and animal shelters and look at the photos.
  • Watch a few videos on the Hope For Paws rescue channel on YouTube.

After looking at the hopeful faces and wagging tails of all those dogs who desperately need homes...

Do you really NEED to create more lives and take homes away from these dogs who are already here and running out of time?

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

My best-selling books – now available  FREE  on my website

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book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say. Click here to read for free.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life. Get my honest advice about all 11 Things before you bring home your new puppy, because some mistakes with early health care cannot be undone. Click here to read for free.