border collie puppies

5 Reasons not to breed from your dog

Why dog breeding is not a casual hobby, or a business

“Responsible owners research their breed before choosing a dog that will best fit their lifestyle.”

“Responsible breeders know that purpose-bred dogs are predictable which helps owners make the right choice for their family.”

These are strange times we are living in, indeed. We are all spending our days differently, whether we are furloughed, redundant or just working from home, online and via Zoom. So it is not surprising that we are reflecting on our lives and how we are living. I am not at all surprised that people are realising that NOW is the perfect time to get a dog.

Border Collie puppies
getting the right dog for you

Everyone should have a dog (or 5!) They simply make life better. Always present whether you need them or not, keeping you company. They demand attention, through affection and play, which is the best way to soothe your soul. Dogs will amuse you every day, through their antics and interactions. And of course walking with a dog is the absolutely best start to your day. Whatever the weather, having a dog by your side is brilliant.

Don’t get a dog NOW?

Sadly, dogs are not toilet roll (it’s a pandemic joke!) We simply CANNOT rush out and buy a dog. We CANNOT demand more dogs are made – it just doesn’t work like that.

Yes, some breeders may be able to bring their plans for the next one or even two litters forward. If you have a number of breeding bitches, you may decide to have the next litter from one of these this year, rather than next year. BUT BEWARE! The more puppies the public demand, the more likely buyers are to get one from an unscrupulous person, who will take your money and lie to you. Heartache will be yours, as your dog becomes ill and dies, or just doesn’t turn out how you thought.

Here are some reasons why it is a BAD idea to ‘just have a litter from your pet dog’.

1. It’s not healthy

dog breeding
before puppies

Having puppies really sucks the health right out of dogs. It is NOT something than can be done on a whim. The Kennel Club require that dogs are only allowed to have litters between the 2 and 8 years of age and they will only accept 4 litters for registration. They do NOT allow more than one litter per year.

Bitches generally have two ‘seasons’ per year, which is the fertile period during which they can be mated. Their first season is at around one year old, so they could potentially then have two litters per year, for 8-10 years. Imagine that? What would that do to a dog? Would you want that for your dog? Think about what that would do to them?

dog breeding
after puppies

I take the utmost care of my dogs. They have top quality food, plenty of exercise, stimulation and training. But it still really takes its toll on them. I only have three litters, if they are able to cope with it. Not four, that’s too many.

2. It’s time-consuming

Having a litter of puppies takes time. A lot of time. I reckon I spend around 5 hours a day, or 35 hours a week, for 8 weeks, on each litter of puppies. Not to mention a great deal of time preparing for the litter before it arrives. Then supporting the new owners once the pups have gone.

border collie puppies
up to no good

This time includes:

  • being there for the labour and birth (usually through the night)
  • getting up several times during the night to check on the puppies, so they are not crushed and are feeding successfully – for a couple of weeks
  • cuddling the puppies (a couple of hours a day should cover it)
  • talking to the new owners and preparing pupdates for them
  • having visitors to the house to show off the puppies (around 150 per litter for me)
  • cleaning up after the puppies (about an hour a day doing this)
  • providing a stimulating and enriching environment
  • taking pictures (obv!)
  • feeding the mum, then the puppies endlessly
  • putting them outside
  • bringing them inside
  • taking them for their microchips and health tests
  • preparing their puppy packs

Sounds terrible doesn’t it? Of course it is brilliant having puppies, but I cannot stress enough what hard work it is! It is exhausting at times.

3. Finding homes

When I started out, over 10 years ago, I was told that finding the homes is the hardest part of the breeding process. I thought ‘well it can’t be that hard, everyone will want one of my pups’. Wrong! It’s a nightmare.

border collie puppies
the perfect home

Yes, everyone thinks your puppies are SO cute. But that doesn’t mean they want one. Or that they are the right home for them. You will be let down by people, who seem really keen, then drop out for no reason. Then there are people who come and look at your gorgeous pups and then say ‘Well I wanted one a bit more…’ God, that’s so annoying!

4. Vetting homes

People lie. All the time, so it’s really hard to believe them when they say they know all about your breed of dog, or that it’s exactly what they’ve been looking for.

I’ve produced over 50 puppies now, over the past decade. I’ve had two go to new homes. One came back to me at 13 months and was successfully rehomed within days. One was re-homed to friends of the owner, as he went travelling. None of my puppies have gone into a rescue.

best boy in the right home

I know that for certain, because I keep in touch with my owners and they with me. I vet my homes rigorously and then support them as required. It’s hard work!

5. It’s expensive

You won’t get rich having a litter of puppies from your pet dog. If you want to do things even half well, they need health testing first, which is expensive and time-consuming.

border collie puppies
special toys are needed

Then you need special food, bedding, runs, toys, and other equipment. It all adds up! I always spend money on bits to add to the puppy pack, partly because I am Assured Breeder, but also because I want my owners to have everything they need for a great experience with their new puppy. A photo book is a lovely keepsake.

the puppy pack

It’s not just the financial cost though. Having puppies takes its emotional toll on you. Things can go wrong, people can mess you around, or cause you worry. It’s really hard and there have been many occasions when I think this litter will be my last.

So why do it?

I carry on because for me, it is a passion. Producing amazing dogs that enrich people’s lives and bring joy every day; it’s a brilliant thing to have in your life. Under the right circumstances.

border collie breeder
best job ever?

But when I’m receiving 5 enquiries PER DAY for puppies I cannot produce, I get frightened that people will be conned into buying puppies that have been carelessly, thoughtlessly brought into the world, only to be just as carelessly dumped when things don’t turn out to be the cute, fluffy dream you imagined. Please take care?


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13 thoughts on “5 Reasons not to breed from your dog”

  1. Thanks for a really interesting article. I haven’t owned a dog since I was a child. My little dog Chappie was run over by a car on Xmas day back in the 60s. It was heart breaking, so I couldn’t bring myself to own a dog since. I’m 60 years old now, and I’m thinking of dog ownership again. I have more time on my hands now. I would love to own a Pomeranian puppy. However, I have read so many horror stories about puppy farms. I wouldn’t know how to find one. Any advice? Thanks.

    1. You’re right, it is a real challenge, especially at the moment. I recommend contacting your local rescue centres, as lots of puppies and dogs will be getting dumped as people have to go back out to work, or have lost their jobs and can’t afford a dog now.

      If you want a puppy, I always tell people to start by looking at the Kennel Club list of Assured Breeders for the breed you want:
      Contact all those breeders with details about yourself and they will put you on a waiting list for the next year.

      Finally, please read these articles to help identify the difference between responsible and commercial breeders:

  2. Thank you for very interesting and useful article! People don’t understand what does it take to be a breeder. They think: “Gee! 3 grands per pup is good money!” It’s a hard work, however it’s a “seasonal” one and a breeder has to do something else between litters.

  3. Why are they so much .money to buy i was looking at a lasso puppy’s 2 grand for a puppy’ has the world gone mad or his it me some are not council license i wonder if some can explain way thanks

    1. Thanks for your question Angela. The reason the prices have gone up so much is simply down to demand! If people are fighting over a small number of puppies available, the breeders can afford to charge what they like. You don’t need a council licence to be a responsible breeder – much better to be a KC Assured Breeder, as this is a far more reliable and rigorous test of good breeding conditions. See my post about how to spot a puppy farmer.

  4. I agree it is emotional and time consuming. We have our 4th litter of dobermans pups. I am the one who is up at night with them and weaning them. My partner works and my son has school work but they help when I really need it. It is the most amazing experience. We havent had any problems with homingnours in to great family homes. Not been messed about to much. Although we do get people wanting them for guard dogs and to be aggressive. That’s definitely a no way from us. We are in contact with all our litters, its is amazing to watch them growing and what amazing dogs they have become. Breeding definitely isn’t for the faint hearted. I’m glad you have put these things on here so people know definitely not do it on a whim. I also worry that people get ripped off with either fake pups or ones that are not high standard. I wish I had been able to read something like this b4 I started breeding. It would have helped us a lot. Thank you

    1. Thank you so much for your comment Donna! It is great to hear another breeder’s experience. I always think responsible breeders should have better access to peer support. I don’t belong to a breed club because I am not into showing. Thanks again.

  5. This is a great article. I didn’t ever think I would breed from my labradoodle, but she has brought us such joy and as my vet recommended letting her have one season before getting her spayed it got me thinking. That and the fact I got my puppy from a friend who decided to have one litter from her lovely dog . She absolutely loved the experience and was easily able to find good homes ( only 4 pups) and like you stays in touch with us all. However recently my partners niece decided she wanted to keep the line going from her beautiful black Labrador. As they live nearby we were all keen to be updated. The births turned out to be quite a stressful experience as the first puppy born was a breech birth and despite having another experienced breeder on hand this puppy died. Three more were successfully born – then there was a long gap – too long before her dog went into labour – so the dog and 3 pups all had to to be taken to the vets to have her checked over. This vet advised there were no more puppies! However following my partners neice going to bed at 2 am in the knowledge that Mother and 3 pups were doing well – she heard her dog barking and came down in time to rescue the 5th born pup who was struggling to survive but following quick action did and is now a very healthy puppy. Then another 2 puppies arrived.
    Therefore 7 puppies in total with 6 surviving. My partners neice loved every minute caring for the puppies but she was completely exhausted . Family members have had 4 of the pups and two couples friends have had the other two puppies so she knew exactly where they all went and will remain in touch.
    Hearing about all this and visiting the pups made me realise that it would be irresponsible for me to breed from my pet. For a start my house is tiny so where would I have a run ?
    Maybe not insurmountable but it would cause a strain on space. Secondly I don’t think I could cope with the stress of the births particularly if things don’t go to plan . Thirdly at this stage my dog is 14 months old and is still puppy like . How do I know if she will make a good Mother? My partner’s neice knew that her dogs temperament was totally right and she has been a fantastic Mother.
    I don’t want to pup my dog through this on a whim because I fancy the idea of breeding.
    I think people in general don’t realise how much hard work it is and how committed you have to be . It is so worrying there are so many unscrupulous breeders who see these dogs as a way of making money .
    Thanks for writing this article Penny.

    1. Thank you for that really helpful insight Sue. You’re absolutely right, it’s hard work, emotionally challenging and not always a great experience for the dog – Luna’s cry for her dead puppies will stay with me forever.

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