A full guide to dog breeding for beginners, for any pet parents considering creating some mini me’s of their furry companion!
If you’ve ever wondered whether having a litter of puppies might be right for you and your doggo - then this dog breeding 101 is for you.
Our dogs are cute - that’s a fact. But what’s cuter than your dog? Only their very own puppies! But while we might all love the idea of a load of furballs running around, breeding your dog is obviously a huge decision.
Whether you are interested in furthering a breed you adore, preserving your dog’s bloodline, keeping their legacy alive within your family, or just sharing their amazing personality with other future pet parents — this article is for you!
This dog breeding for beginners guide will run you through what you need to think about before considering opening your home & your life up to the possibility of pups. Plus we’ll cover those all-important dog breeding laws & the avenues for how to become a licensed dog breeder.
But let’s start by discussing whether this is the right option for you and your dog. Breeding is a complex and intricate process, and irresponsible breeders have given it a bad reputation over the years.
However, that doesn't include the breeders that are full of love and happy to put the time, care & money into breeding safely and ethically from their well-adored pets! So an ideal starting place for beginners is looking at the pros and cons of breeding for both owners and their furry friends.
What Are the Benefits and Consequences of Dog Breeding?
1. Breeding Can Create Great Dogs
If your dog is truly a wonderful companion, then you could share that with future owners. Offering them the chance to start a bond with a healthy & happy doggo.
2. Breeding Can Enhance a Breed’s Health and Skills
Matched with the right co-parent, you can help to reinforce positive traits within a breed, or help to reduce any health issues that the breed is prone to.
3. Creating New Breeds
Usually only undertaken by experienced breeders, creating new breeds can change dog ownership for the good. Take the poodle mixes that allow even those with severe allergies to experience the joy of ownership!
4. Breeding Can Preserve Rare Breeds
Sadly, some breeds are on the brink of being lost, and if your dog is a rare sight, you might want to make sure they aren’t lost forever.
5. Breeding Can Be a Fulfilling Experience
If you’ve experienced the joy of bonding with your dog, you can help others find that too. As a responsible breeder, it may not be a real source of income, but it’s a fulfilling way to express your love for dogs and share that with others who are looking for the same experience.
1. Breeding Responsibly Requires Knowledge
Breeding is not something you should really enter into blindly. As we said above, your breeding ties into the health and welfare of your dogs breed as a whole, so it’s important to find out whether your dog should be bred from or not. Be ready to accept defeat and recognize any of your dog’s flaws. (We still love them :-))
2. Breeding Is a Time Investment
Far from being an easy ‘side hustle’, if you are facing a litter of puppies coming your way expect that to become a full-time job! Plus there’s the time you’ll need for the mating, the feeding, the vet checks, the helping, the puppy socialization, and early experiences…the list goes on! So make sure you are ready and passionate enough to dive in.
3. Breeding Is a Financial Investment
Breeding isn’t any easy way to make money — far from it. There are health tests, genetic screenings, veterinary checks, food, bedding, equipment, a whelping pen….Plus, if anything should go wrong, you could face a large veterinary bill. Are you prepared for that financially?
4. Breeding Can Be a Health Risk
Breeding your female dog is a risk. Pregnancy itself is often fairly easy for most bitches, however whelping can be very hard on them. You need to know what danger signs to look out for and ask yourself whether you are prepared to put your companion through this process.
Sharing your home with a litter of pups is cute, but can also be chaotic. There’s a whole lot of mess, noise & sleepless nights, not to mention home modification to keep the little fluff balls safe!
If the pros outweigh the cons for you, here’s a step-by-step process to breeding from your dog, so that you can get an idea of how to plan & prepare for the journey ahead.
What You Need to Know About Breeding Your Dog
Step 1: Visit Your Vet
Before embarking on breeding, always consult your vet and have a thorough health check of your dog. Your vet can be a great source of information too, about whether your dog is a good candidate for breeding, whether there will be any risks involved, and the common diseases to look out for with your breed’s type.
Purebred dogs and mixed breed dogs will differ here, so get your vet's advice as to the foundation for your breeding plan.
They can organize running tests for issues like hip and elbow dysplasia or eye testing for hereditary eye diseases. These can then be sent off to the American Veterinary Association for scoring.
Your vet will also advise you if breeding is appropriate for your dog’s age.
As a rule of thumb, bitches should only be bred between 2 and 7 years of age.
Step 2: Start Gaining Knowledge
Start building your knowledge of your dog's breed, or its mixes. Attend dog events and meet experienced breeders for advice and support. Research your breed, and join any national clubs relating to them.
One of the best ways to prepare is by reading some extensive guides to the breeding process, so visit your local library or contact the American Kennel Club for a reading list.
Step 3: Find A Suitable Partner
It’s time to start looking for a mate! Most often, it’s the bitch’s owner who will raise and rear the puppies, and often it’s you who will be searching for male dogs as opposed to the other way around.
If you have a male dog, you can register them with the AKC or other online registries and wait for a matching owner with a bitch to contact you.
If you're the owner of a bitch and looking for a stud, choose a dog who will complement and strengthen your lady’s qualities. For example, if your girl’s coat isn’t her strong suit, then find a partner with a history of great skin and coat health! Or if your bitch has a very laid-back temperament and you’d like a more active puppy, consider choosing a more upbeat male.
And of course, ensure the stud is fully health checked and be sure to meet them in person before arranging any dates for the doggos! This way you can be sure they are the right fit for you and your four-legged lady.
Step 4: Finalize The Contract
Before breeding takes place, make sure you have a contract with the co-parent’s owners all finalized. This should be in writing, clearly stating all the obligations, signed by both parties.
It will usually include:
Information about the dogs
The stud fee (usually set by the stud dog’s owner.)
The mode of payment - a fee, pick of the litter, one or more puppies from the resulting litter
Amongst other items. You can find a useful template for this here.
Note that if you aren’t a member of the AKC, they can’t help you with any disputes around stud fees, so if you are breeding two purebred dogs it might be worth getting a membership.
Step 5: Prepare For Mating
Female dogs are fertile during their ‘heat’ windows (known scientifically as ‘estrus’), which happens approximately every six months. So take some time to get to know your bitch’s cycles.
To catch the peak fertile period, it’s a great idea to get the help of your vet, who can perform hormone tests to give you the ok.
It’s common for the bitch to travel to the male dog for mating, as they are generally less phased by an environmental change. As long as the bitch will accept the male dog, mating every other day, 2 or 3 times in total is generally considered effective.
Breeding your dog for the first time is a big step, so don’t worry about taking it slow and talking everything through with the stud’s owner. You’ve got this!
Be prepared to help guide the dogs together, especially if they are inexperienced — but be sure to watch for any signs of stress or aggression. Once the mating has occurred, the dogs will be connected for around 15-20 minutes - known as a ‘tie’. Do not try to separate the dogs here, as injury can occur. After some time, they will part naturally.
Step 6: Care For Your New Mum
Signs of pregnancy include increases in your lady’s appetite, weight, and nipple size. But be sure to check in with a vet visit, who can confirm pregnancy through ultrasound or X-rays at around 28 days.
Once pregnancy is confirmed, be sure to discuss your new mom’s nutrition, and what to look out for in the coming months to keep her safe.
Be sure her food is top-notch, and understand that her food intake only needs to be increased as her body weight increases — so no overfeeding is needed! Your vet may also recommend some extra supplementation.
Step 7: Connect With Future Owners
As a responsible breeder, you’ll want to make sure your puppies have excellent homes to go to before they are even born, and some breeders start building a list before conception! The last thing you want is a puppy of yours ending up in a shelter or being overrun with more dogs than you can handle.
This means making sure you fully screen and evaluate anyone interested in your puppies. Make sure you have a chance to meet with them in person (or via video call) and let them interact with your dog. Be sure to ask them some of the following questions:
Why do they want this breed/kind of dog in particular?
Does their lifestyle suit the breed? Do they want an adventure buddy or a couch buddy?
What is their work like? Do you have the time to devote to proper dog care?
Are there any children in the family? How will they introduce and teach their children about how to behave around dogs?
Does anyone in the household have allergies?
Are the new owners committed to the cost of a dog’s upkeep?
How do they plan to train and exercise the dog?
It’s also your job to be honest with potential pet parents about the responsibility of dog ownership, and your breed’s characteristics and energy levels. After all, the right home is the beginning of a bright future for your pups!
Some breeders choose to sign a contract with the new owners, which makes sure they commit to taking proper care of the dogs, and that you will assist in re-homing or taking in the puppy should the need arise. This can help protect your pups from being rehomed without your consent.
For more on how to give your pups the best start, check out our guides to Whelping and Raising Puppies.
Dog Breeding Laws And Regulations
Are you wondering how to breed dogs legally? Good! It’s important to be aware of the laws around dog breeding so that you can breed ethically and responsibly.
However, most dog breeders do not need any form of license or permit to breed dogs, unless you would be classed as a ‘commercial breeder’ with over 4 mothers in your care. If you are considering having several litters, it’s important to check the dog breeding laws by state as these can differ.
The biggest thing to remember is that any income you make from your breeding is still income! So make sure you register this income on a tax form, otherwise you could be in trouble. Keep a record of your income and expenses throughout the breeding process for later use.
Breeding Your Dog For The First Time - The Wrap Up
We hope this guide to dog breeding for beginners has been helpful, and that our products can come in handy too. Everything we design is built with you and your pooch in mind - whether it’s our reusable pads for puppy mayhem, our paw cleaner to pamper a new mom, or our training spray for those first housebreaking lessons. We’ve got your back!
Learn how Potty Buddy™ products help pet-parents keep their homes clean and their pets comfortable.