10 Yes or No Questions to Ask Before Considering if it is Ethical to Breed Your Dog

breeding dogsI feel like sometimes my job as a dog trainer helping dogs with behavioral issues is treating a symptom and not the cause. The cause being, that dogs who have an unknown history or a history of behavioral issues or health problems are bred through ignorance, simply for profit or the breeder is just in a state of denial creating future generations of dogs with issues whose owners end up either putting in blood, sweat and tears to rehabilitate the dog or the dog ends up at the shelter. If all the people who bred the dogs that ended up in the shelters right now had answered these questions first, they might not have bred their dog or they would have taken on the responsibility of caring for or rehoming their dog’s offspring when the issues arose. If all those who bred their dogs took the responsibility of taking back the adults to rehome or keep, there would be no need for shelters. But instead millions of dogs are left at shelters each year.

Just like humans, dogs don’t just inherit 50 percent of the personality traits, health and structure of each parent but also of past relatives. Puppies will be born varied in their personalities and genetics, some traits similar to the two parents of the litter but others coming from past relatives that were not expressed in the parents. Breeding two friendly dogs with good health doesn’t mean you will get a litter of friendly dogs with good health. The best bet is to at least know the health and behavior history 2 generations back for both dogs being bred.

Here are 10 questions to answer to determine if it is ethical to breed your dog before continuing researching about breeding:

1 Are there concerning behavioral issues in your dog’s line?

Has your dog or the relatives of your dog ever been reactive, fearful, aggressive or had other behavioral issues before being trained? (For example, shyness, anxiety, reactive to people or dogs, or biting) Have the puppies of a previous litter, your dog’s littermates, parents, or distant relatives had unwanted behavioral problems? Has your dog or the relatives of your dog before being trained ever guarded food, toys, space or people? (For example, seeming possessive or protective of something or someone)

Yes? Or I don’t know? Best not to breed
No? Continue-

2 Have you researched the physical health of your dog’s line and have the correct tests been done? Have you researched and done all the health tests for genetic diseases common for the dog’s breed and done the appropriate x-rays? (Dogs can look perfectly healthy but can be carriers of genetic diseases or have hip dysplasia with no outward signs). Do you know the health of the dog’s litter mates, parents, grandparents, and great grandparents? Have you checked your dog’s ancestry for specific health issues of the dog’s breed like epilepsy? If you are repeating a breeding, have you received health and behavior reports from all the previous puppies during their lives?

No? Best not to breed
Yes? Continue-

3 Does your dog have good structure? Have you consulted an expert as to whether your dog’s structure won’t cause health issues or pain for the next generation?

No? Best not to breed
Yes? Continue-

4 Will you accept responsibility for the offspring? Will you be allowing owners to return their dog to you if their dog has behavioral problems or expensive health issues for the life of their dog? If a puppy is born with a lifetime health problem, such as being deaf and blind, will you accept the responsibility of keeping or finding a home for the dog?

No? Best not to breed
Yes? Continue-

5 Are you being realistic about rehoming?

Is there a large population of your dog’s breed at shelters already? Will it be hard to find homes if a puppy needs to be rehomed as an adult? (In some locations, your dog’s breed might make up 50% of the dogs in the shelter so there might be no good homes available)

No? Best not to breed
Yes? Continue-

6 Do you realize when done right raising puppies is a full time job? Will you be able to spend 8 weeks socializing and training the puppies? The first 8 weeks of a puppies life are the most important socialization period and the puppies will need to be exposed carefully and positively to everything that they will come across in their everyday lives with the support of their mother and littermates. Training the puppies, for example with toilet training and alone time training will also set them up for a lifetime of success. It is literally a full time job and you will need to research how to appropriately keep, socialize and train the puppies so you don’t inadvertently cause behavioral issues that can last the lifetime of the dog.

No? Best not to breed
Yes? Continue-

7 Are you ok with breaking even or losing money? The time commitment of socializing and training puppies is a full time job. Are you ok with breaking even or loosing money over unforeseen health complications of the mother or puppies due to the pregnancy or birth?

No? Best not to breed
Yes? Continue-

8 Has your dog ever experienced a severe trauma or has had an abnormal life? This can oddly enough affect the next generation. Such as the mother being in a puppy mill, a small crate or a basement for years before being bred.

Yes? Best not to breed
No? Continue-

9 Will you find appropriate homes for the puppies before the birth? Will you research the new puppy owners using questionnaires to see if they are going to be able to care appropriately for your dog’s offspring.

No? Best not to breed
Yes? Continue-

10 Have you researched the health and behavior of the line that you are breeding your dog to?

No? Best not to breed
Yes? Congratulations! You got through all the questions! Continue to research about genetics, breeding, training and socializing puppies.

I am not against breeding. I am also not against rescue. I am against CARELESS breeding. Domesticated dogs are a gift. We should cherish them and not take breeding dogs so lightly as we do. I want the future generations of humans on planet earth to be surrounded by glorious domesticated dogs. The way things are going right now it seems the future will be full of dogs bred without temperament, health or structure in mind. Just like those destroying the planet for the profit for our own generation, people who breed dogs for profit or carelessly are destroying the future of dogs for the next generations.

I also believe that some breeders who breed as a passion also are not helping their breed by the way in which they select dogs for their lines. What can happen is that the breeder will select a puppy to keep from a litter and that dog will be bred in the future. As the puppy grows up, the breeder might go into a state of denial about the behavior issues and health issues the dog has, because they have become emotionally attached to the idea of breeding the dog. Instead of choosing one puppy from a litter and then breeding that dog as an adult, I suggest co-owning all the puppies from a litter, and then when they are all adult, choosing the best from the litter to continue the lines with. I know some breeders do this already, but others have spay and neuter contracts so all the puppies are desexed besides the one they keep. And then the one they keep could turn out to have behavioral problems but could end up being bred anyway.

I feel like responsible owners don’t breed and those irresponsible ones end up breeding the most. There are so many breeds of dogs that have been so carefully bred over time to be able to do such amazing things, such as service work. I encourage people who are interested in breeding to educate themselves more. There need to be more educated breeders out there for the future of dogs! If you really have a passion and an obsession about breeding dogs, training and socializing puppies and learning about genetics, enjoy researching and learning! Don’t just breed your own dog because you feel a passion to breed dogs. Perhaps you can help someone else who is a breeder? Perhaps you can raise foster puppies for a rescue? Perhaps you can become part of a service dog breeding program? Continue your research if you do want to become a breeder, you might be the hope for the future of dogs.

Happy Training!