I had a question posed to me after someone read this post about questions to ask in a breeder interview, and I would like to take the time now to answer that question.
“Why is breeding dogs more than twice a horrible sin?”
It’s not the breeding itself that is so horrible, but rather what breeding more than two or three times implies. Pregnancy does carry serious risks and is not to be taken lightly, as any number of things can go wrong to threaten the lives of the pups and the mother. Those risks increase with multiple litters and with the age of the dog. Unless the bitch has consistently produced high-quality, physically sound, and exceptionally healthy puppies, additional pregnancies are not usually worth putting the mother at risk. Of course, in addition to genetic health testing, the bitch should pass preliminary bloodwork and a physical before any pregnancy is initiated!
Breeding should happen no earlier than two years of age, when the bitch is fully mature and they can get a full set of health clearances. A bitch should not be bred back-to-back in heat cycles, as it poses an ethical concern—if a bitch is pregnant all the time, when will she have the time to just be a dog? A bitch generally gets two heats a year, so it follows that a bitch should only be bred once a year. Skipping heats is in question, however, as some studies show that the uterus is healthier when it is producing puppies every heat. Reproductive health is not the same as overall health, however, and pregnancy/whelping/raising a litter does take a toll on the mother, and sometimes a drastic one. Some bitches bounce back very quickly and it would be fine for them to be bred again at the next heat, but ethical breeders usually prefer letting the bitch rest. There are times when a back-to-back breeding is ethical, and there are times when it is not. It’s up to the breeder to determine when it is and is not appropriate. An average bitch bred every heat cycle is generally a sign that the “breeder” is not breeding with a higher purpose in mind.
If the breeder in question does health testing, takes dogs back, is there for life, treats the dogs as members of the family, but breeds between three and five times a bitch, that’s passable provided the breeder shows attentiveness towards the health and soundness of the resulting litters and the bitches in her program are of above-average or excellent quality. Some people have more time and money than others, and their dogs may be in excellent health—all factors which facilitate breeding more often. These people and dogs are usually exceptions, but if you can find them, they should not be written off as unethical, irresponsible, or irreputable. As long as the breeding program is successful, ethical, and carried out to better the breed and breeding stock, then all is well. Continual breeding from a bitch despite average or below-average pup quality is a sign that the “breeder” in question may be breeding for all the wrong reasons.
The whole package must be considered when identifying a reputable breeder. The answers to the questions in my previous blog post never determine a reputable breeder in black-and-white. They must be weighed against the other qualities and credentials of the breeder in question. Healthy and health-tested stock, high quality of life, and a dedication to their animals no matter the age, wellness, or time away from the breeder is what makes a breeder responsible above all else. You will generally find details like health guarantees and limitations on the times a bitch is bred in a reputable breeder. They should be used to provide confidence your decision, not make or break it.
Thank you for reading. I will now continue with regularly scheduled updates. I will also go back and edit the post in question for clarity and understanding. Education is my top priority, after all.