“Should I breed my female pet?”
If you have to ask yourself that question, it is probably a sign that you should not. In fact, I don’t recommend breeding any animal unless you are an experienced breeder who is dedicated to that breed and wants to help improve upon it.
Don’t get me wrong- I can understand wanting to breed your female pet- you love her, and feel like she has great genetics. Plus, wouldn’t it be cool to have one of her offspring, or grandchildren, once she’s gone? And puppies and kittens are adorable! Those ideas may seem attractive, but I recommend that you consider the following questions before you get serious about this.
- Do you want to breed your pet to make money? If the answer to this question is yes, you may need to do some more research. It is very difficult to make money breeding most species unless you are “cutting corners” and not doing the proper genetic testing or recommended care for your breeding stock. Breeding is, essentially, an expensive hobby for individuals who are fanatical about one or two breeds.
- Are you willing to put your pet’s health at risk? Just like in humans, pregnancy can be dangerous for many pets. If your female pet is a family pet, I would not recommend risking her health to produce offspring. Health problems can arise during and after pregnancy, and even years later if she is never spayed.
- Do you have the financial ability to pay for an emergency c-section or other pregnancy complications? Remember how I said that it was difficult to make money breeding animals? This is especially true if there are complications or if your pet is a breed that will likely require a c- section, such as Persian cats or bulldogs. These bills can easily pile up, coming to hundreds- and sometimes thousands- of dollars to save the mom and her babies. Remember that most veterinary clinics require payment at time of service, so you should have at least $1000 saved in case of emergency prior to breeding your animal.
- Is your pet a purebred animal with papers? Please consider that thousands of mixed breed animals die annually in US shelters. I beg you- please don’t add to that number. Please only breed an animal that has been registered with a legitimate breed organization or kennel club.
- Is your pet a breed commonly found in shelters? The top three dog breeds euthanized annually in shelters (behind mixed breeds) include pit bulls, Labrador retrievers, and chihuahuas. Other popular pure-bred dogs, such as dachshunds, beagles, and poodles, are only a little further down the list. Remember economics class? Don’t add to the supply if there is not enough demand!
- Does your dog have genetic traits that should not be passed down to offspring? The list of possible genetic traits that your pet may be carrying may surprise you. This could include anxiety, behavioral problems, skeletal or joint problems (such as hip dysplasia), environmental allergies, ocular disease, or heart problems. Not sure if your pet has genetic problems? Talk to your veterinarian and get her genetically tested prior to breeding her.
- What will you do if you’re left with extra puppies or kittens? The best breeders have waiting lists for litters that are yet to be born. They will also keep extra puppies, and even take back puppies that don’t work out with their new homes, if need be. If you don’t have a plan that allows you take responsibility for the lives you help to create, you should not breed your pet.
Remember, I am not here to judge you. I will be cheering for you and helping you and your pet live your best lives, even if puppies or kittens are in your future. However, I encourage you to think through these questions and consider multiple angles. If you can answer the questions above honestly and conscientiously, then you may be in a situation where it would be acceptable to breed your pet.
As always, before making any big decisions, I encourage you to discuss the pros and cons with your family veterinarian. They’ll assess your pet and help make the best recommendation for her and your family.
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Questions for readers: Has your female pet ever (purposefully or accidentally) had offspring? What was the hardest part of trying to care for her and her babies? What did you learn?
Resources for pet owners:
- American Kennel Club: Responsible Dog Breeding
- Possible Complications of Pregnancy in Dogs: Petwave and Medic Animal
- Recommended Genetic Testing by Breed: Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA)