BREEDING YOUR DOG, WHY?

Breed To Improve
Breeding should only be done for the advancement of the breed. If you are thinking about breeding your dog, consult your breeder for advice. Consider all the consequences-and expenses-of breeding a litter before you do so.

I want to make some money!
Breeding, and doing it right, is an expensive undertaking. By the time you've picked out a good bitch, waited for her to grow old enough, picked out the best dog to mate her with, gone through all the health checks she needs (see below), ensured that the dog you want to use also passes the same health checks, pay a stud fee (or give a puppy back), consider payment of all potential extra expenses during pregnancy, and then add in the time and expense of whelping (either you take time off from work or something goes wrong and you have to take her in to the vet) you will have a great deal invested in your litter! Also, bear in mind that you need to keep the puppies for a minimum of 8 weeks before sending them to their homes; you need to advertise and find good homes for the puppies, and also you need to make sure they have had their shots before going. You may have possible vet bills if the puppies require extra attention. If some of the puppies die, or you have a smaller than usual litter, you may not get as much money from the sale of the puppies as you had thought. There are even potential problems later on with dissatisfied customers! You are better off investing your money with your stockbroker on a hot tipů.

Breeders frequently count themselves lucky if they break even.

Potential Hereditary Problems
You will need to research the particular bloodlines you are using to see if they are prone to any additional problems that you need to know about and screen for as well.

Hereditary eye problems. Annual examination of all breeding animals will ensure that he/she is free of hereditary eye disorders. Many conditions do not express themselves until an animal is older so one eye examination, as a puppy, is inadequate. Examination should be done by a veterinary ophthalmologist who is board certified by the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists. The Canine Eye Registry Foundation (C.E.R.F.), located in the USA, registers dogs that are found to be clear of eye problems.

Hereditary orthopedic problems. In Shelties, hip dysplasia is the most common of these problems. A malformation of the hip joint allows increased movement of the head of the femur in the acetabulum (the "ball and socket"). The acetabulum can be so shallow that the head of the femur is only partially in the socket and is described as "subluxated". Over time, the body tries to stabilize the joint by adding bone around it. This causes changes we call arthritis and can be very painful. Some dysplastic dogs may move normally with no outward signs of a problem but still should not be bred. Radiographs are used to look for dysplastic changes in hip conformation. Although this does not guarantee your dog does not carry genes for hip dysplasia it will avoid using dogs that have poorly formed hips. Your radiographs should be sent to an expert for analysis. There are many subtle changes that can occur that a board-certified radiologist will be able to detect. It can take several weeks to process an evaluation so this should be done well in advance of when you plan to breed the animal. In the US, we have evaluation through both the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and Penn Hip (ICG). There are equivalent programs in Canada, Europe, and Britain, but programs differ in the type of certification, age at certification and may require different positioning on the radiographs. Radiographs for hip evaluation will also pick up less common conditions such as Legge-Calve-Perthes disease.

All Breeding Shelties should also be screened for:

Contain Bitches in Heat
If your female dog goes into heat/season, make sure to keep her properly secured. Males can sense a female in heat up to five miles away. An accessible bitch in heat can lead to unplanned breedings, not to mention fights among dogs frantic to get to her.

Spay or Neuter
If you do not plan to show your dog in AKC Conformation events, you should have it spayed or neutered. Spaying or neutering will prevent accidental breedings and may even prolong your dog's life. Spayed or neutered dogs can participate in AKC Obedience, Agility, Tracking and most Performance Events.

Find a Mentor
If you plan to breed or show your dog, you will want to find a knowledgeable person in the breed to show you the ropes. A mentor can be an invaluable source of experience and information, and can help make your "novice" days much easier.

Join an AKC Club

Your local AKC dog club  all breed or specialty is a great resource. Many clubs offer educational seminars and health clinics. It's also a good place to start if you plan to compete in competitive events with your dog.