Breeding dogs can be extremely rewarding, but also exhausting and wrought with emotions. The reasons people give may surprise you. In this article, we cover the reasons people give for breeding their dog. Some are valid while some are pure myths and others are not valid reasons.
This article is the first in a series about breeding a Shih Tzu. It is not my purpose to encourage or discourage, but to advise you about the process so that you can make an informed decision.
There are two classes of people who want to breed their dog – those that want to start a breeding business often as a side of another pet related business or hobby, and those that just want to experience the thrill of bringing puppies into the world. We will look at both in the series of Breeding.
There are six reasons that people often give when deciding whether to mate their dog so they can raise a litter of puppies.
In my opinion, these six reasons are not sound and may lead to disappointment.
I want another puppy just like the dog I have now.
Breed Your Shih Tzu because You Want Another Puppy Just like the One you Have Now
There are many people, probably millions that love the Shih Tzu breed. Their loving, loyal disposition hooks first-time dog owners. They are friendly, curious, and can melt your heart simply by looking at you with those big dark eyes.
They are relatively easy to train and require little exercise. The breed is an excellent choice for first-time dog owners, those with children, and seniors who prefer a small, quiet dog.
Not all Shih Tzu dogs are alike. Each has its personality, just like people. But purebred dogs of a breed share a lot in common with each other.
Perhaps you are one of those people who has fallen head over heels in love with your Shih Tzu. You want that special bond that you share with your dog to last forever. You know however that a dog’s life span cannot match your own and at some point, you will need to say goodbye.
Now, wouldn’t it be nice if you could clone that dog so you could experience the love all over again? We are not to the point where cloning dogs is a reality for most of us, and even if it were, the clone would not be like your first beloved dog.
Dogs like humans are products of both our genetics and our environment. We can attribute about 60% of a dog’s overall temperament and physical appearance to genetics. The remaining 40% is made up of environmental factors, either before, during, or after birth. The clone will be similar, but anything can change him into a puppy that is very unlike the original dog.
The next best thing is to breed your dog to another dog hoping to capture some of the qualities you love in your current Shih Tzu. You have an intact male or a female and hope to find a suitable mate. The chances are that it is not going to happen.
Most professional breeders (and here I am referring to anyone who breeds regularly either for show or pet quality puppy sales.) are running a business.
Having a business means having a name, paying the applicable taxes, doing bookkeeping and filing and all the other myriad tasks to go into owning a business.
They screen their dogs for health problems identified in the breed, chose their dogs that conform to the breed standard, and have sound dispositions. Their purpose is to breed sound, high-quality pups.
Unless your dog is exceptional and registered with a reputable organization such as the AKC, and been health checked, breeders are not likely to want to provide stud service, much less have your male breed with their female.
Even if you do find someone that is willing to work with you, there’s no guarantee that without the proper knowledge, you will even produce a litter.
Furthermore, many breeders charge a stud fee that is equal to the price they would get for a puppy. The fee could be upwards of $2000 or more. Some other breeders prefer the pick of the litter. There’s not much that you can do if your girl has a singleton.
But let’s assume that you find a mate for your dog and you mate them. Puppies receive half of the genes from each parent, and the puppy will end up as the product of both parents.
But even then, it is not quite that simple. Genetics is a complicated discipline and researchers are learning more and more about the canine genome every day. There is much more to learn. Some traits from the father will be more dominant, and other traits from the mother may emerge.
Traits from both sets of grandparents can also show up as well as previous generations to a much lesser degree. You won’t know what genes the puppies acquire until long after their birth, and more likely, you won’t ever know.
My female will suffer mental problems if not bred. Psychological stress in the female is a timeworn myth still circulating today. Dogs will not suffer any physical or psychological trauma if not bred.
Dog overpopulation is a problem in the world, and if you aren’t serious about going into the breeding business, it is far more humane to spay or neuter your dog.
Spaying will alleviate the possibility of unwanted litters, and future health problems. Neutering will prevent your male dog from marking in your home and prevent some health problems that intact dogs may get.
Neither spaying or neutering will cause psychological problems. There is no link between behavioral problems and the failure to experience motherhood or fatherhood.
This is a more common reason to breed your Shih Tzu than you might think, especially for parents who have elementary or even middle school aged children.
"My kids want to see puppies being born."
Using children as an excuse is a typical reason why some people decide to breed their dog. Parents want to provide as many unique and fun experiences for their children, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Breeding to Observe Birth, though is not a good reason for wanting to have a litter. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that the puppies will be born at a convenient time when children are near and can observe. Most litters are born in the middle of the night and if not may be born while the children are in school.
Others may run into trouble requiring an emergency C-section. Some large veterinary facilities especially teaching hospitals may allow you to watch, but the average small vet hospital does not have space or set up to allow children to observe. Beyond that, observing a C-section in progress may be too traumatic for young children.
Breeding your Shih Tzu can seem like the ideal solution for cash-strapped families and it surely must be more fun than working at McDonald's, right?
It is true that you can sell the puppies and make a little extra money. Breeding is not a get-rich-quick scheme, and anyone that tells you otherwise is not providing accurate facts.
Anyone with this mindset, looks at the litter and asks themselves?
What's the big deal?
You may be able to sell the puppies locally, but don’t expect to get the same price as a professional breeder is asking. There is no guarantee that you will make any money at all on the litter.
Sometimes the costs outweigh the profit. Worse yet if the mom should need a C-section to save her life, will you have the necessary cash on hand. My personal experience with C-sections is that they are never convenient and they are never cheap. So, you will want to have some cash in hand before you breed your Shih Tzu, just in case.
You may need to go to an expensive emergency clinic for the procedure. C-sections can cost 2 to 3 times what your vet would charge if performed in a veterinary emergency clinic. Many times, C-sections come out fine, but you could also lose the entire litter.
Beyond the obvious costs of food and medical care for the puppies is the other hidden costs that add up quickly.
Most males are fertile and can mate during the first year of life. Females need to wait longer, often to their second or third heat cycle. Professional breeders will take that into consideration.
There are more expenses but I think you get my point. Breeding is not cheap. The other caveat I must point out is that there are no guarantees. Your female could die while whelping, or your male could be infertile and unable to produce a litter. You could lose the entire litter in the first few days of birth.
All my neighbors want a puppy like my girl.
Will your friends be willing to pay you for your efforts to breed your Shih Tzu? Or are they expecting you to give them a puppy for free? Most people do not realize how much work it takes or how much it costs to raise a litter.
The total costs include prenatal care, whelping and caring for a litter until they are at least eight weeks old. Do they realize that you will probably lose a couple of weeks of work if you work outside the home to care for the puppies?
I met up with a young man when I was taking one of my dogs to the vet. He had a very large cardboard box with 7 English Bulldog Puppies who were 8 weeks old, cute as a button. He was there for the vet to check the litter and provide the pups with their first shots.
I asked him if he were a breeder and he told me that this was his first litter. He hesitated, and then replied, almost to himself,
"And this will be my last - too much work, too much money." Not one of the puppies were sold, so after getting checked out by the vet, the poor man had to come up with a way to sell all the puppies. I also suspect that all the people sitting in the waiting room and the technicians gushing over the puppies would not likely buy one.
Thinking this could be a fun occupation can be a valid reason but only if you plan to do enough research, acquire knowledge and training, and set up a business before you decide to breed your Shih Tzu.
Many people come to my house thinking I have a dream job. I do, but it is a lot of work. One woman told me,
"I'd love to do this, just sit and play with puppies all day."
If it only were that easy and fun. Most breeders will tell you that breeding is not for the faint of heart. I think they may be onto something.
It was never my intent to encourage or dissuade you. That is a personal decision and one that only you can make. If you do decide to breed your Shih Tzu, you should click below to be taken to Part Two of this series, Skills, Knowledge and Rewards of Breeding Dogs