After acquiring a puppy, many people think about breeding their Italian Greyhound. The reasons for this are many. Some people love their dog so much, they want another one “just like Fido.” Some people want to “recover” the money that they paid the breeder for their puppy. Some peole want to show their children the “miracle of nature”. If you are thinking of breeding your dog for these reasons, or any other reasons, please consider the following before you do so.
Your dog’s Genetics
If your dog is so wonderful you want another one just like him/her, congratulations! You’ve clearly done a good job raising your puppy, and have created a terrific canine companion. But, breeding your dog is NOT the best way to get another dog just like yours. Remember, breeding your dog means that the resulting puppies will only have 50% of your dog’s genes. How can you be sure that the dog you breed to is going to possess the qualities that you are looking for? Can you be sure that the dog you are breeding to has a good temperament? What about his/her relatives? Is the dog and his/her relatives free of genetic disease? How can you know?
The only way to know if the dog you want to use is free of health and temperament problems, is to go to a reputable breeder who knows the background of their dogs, and who does all the necessary health testing. But, unless you have proven the quality of your dog in the show ring, a reputable breeder is not going to breed to your dog. They are striving to improve their breeding programs, and no matter how wonderful your pet is, the chances of it offering a breeder what they are looking for is minimal. A reputable breeder is deeply concerned about the future of Italian Greyhounds, and is not going to allow their stud to be used on a dog who does not have health clearances. Have you had your girl’s eyes CERF checked? How about her knees? Do you know why these clearances need to be done? If you don’t, you’d better find out BEFORE you bring a litter of puppies into the world.
If you want a dog just like your dog, why not contact the breeder that you got your dog from, and get another one from her? You are much more likely to get the dog you are looking for that way, instead of trying to breed another one just like your dog.
Let’s assume you find someone who is willing to breed to your girl, and you just aren’t worried about health concerns. What happens if you get a litter of puppies, and within a year of their birth, you find out that some are crippled because they have luxating patellas? The cost to fix a patella will be at least $2000. In state with puppy “lemon laws”, you as the breeder are legally required to either refund the price of the puppy, provide a new, healthy puppy, or pay the cost of surgery. Are you willing to do this? Can you afford to do this?
What if you sell a puppy that ultimately goes blind from PRA or juvenile cataracts. Are you ready for a phone call from an angry puppy buyer who has to euthanize their dog at a young age because you bred irresponsibly?
You could get lucky. There could be no genetic disease and all the puppies could be healthy. But, what do you do if someone who bought a puppy from you no longer wants it? According to an article recently published by Janice Sparhawk Gardner in Dog World magazine, dogs bred casually (i.e. by someone who is going to just breed their dog once) have a higher incidence of relinquishment to animal shelters. Frequently, this is due to behavioral problems related to poor breeding or poor socialization of puppies at an early age. Are you willing to take back a puppy you bred, even if it is now 6, 8 or 10 years old and the buyer no longer wants it? That is what good breeders do. If you are not willing to take back a dog you bred when it needs your help, you should not bring it into the world to become one of the 2.4 MILLION dogs killed each year in the United States.
Maybe you think you have terrific homes lined up, and none of your puppies will ever wind up in a shelter. Have you thought of what will happen if some of the people who told you that they’d love a puppy from your dog aren’t ready for a puppy when your litter is ready to go? What if your girl has 6 puppies, and two or three people back out on you? (It happens to breeders every day!) Are you ready to bear the expense, time and work it takes to keep these puppies until you do find good homes for all of them? What if they are now 6 months old and they are still in your house? Do you have the time to socialize and train multiple puppies? What if a year later, you still have them? Are you willing to do this?
Speaking of time and expense, have you thought about how much a time and money a litter of puppies will cost you? As a general rule, a pregnant dog will go into labor in the middle of the night. Do you know what labor in a dog looks like? Will you be able to tell is your girl is in distress, and will need a C-section? If she does need a C-section, are you willing to make a middle of the night run to the emergency clinic, and pay the thousands of dollars it will cost you to save the mother and the puppies’ lives?
Assuming your girl is whelping by herself OK, do you know how to free the puppy from the sack, cut the cord, and ensure it will start nursing? Do you know how to check for a cleft palate? Are you ready to euthanize any deformed or clearly unhealthy puppies? If your children are experiencing the “miracle of birth” with you, are you ready to explain any puppies born dead (not uncommon)? Do you know how to revive, or keep alive a puppy who is experiencing difficulties? (VERY common)
The whelping went OK, and now you have a number of healthy puppies. Do you know how to keep them healthy? Toy dogs have very small, fragile puppies that take a great deal of monitoring and care. Are you ready to commit to watching this litter 24/7 for at least 3 to 4 weeks until they are big and strong enough to not be killed if the mother sits or lays on them? Are you ready to feed and potty them 24/7 if the mother is unable to nurse them, or rejects the litter? Not all females make good mothers, and many dogs are pretty clueless with their first litter.
Assuming they live to be 6 to 8 weeks old, are you ready to give them their first shots? IGs mature slowly, and should not be placed until they are 12 to 16 weeks old, with 16 weeks being the ideal. That means that you will need to have puppy shots done at roughly 8, 12 and 16 weeks. At $50 per puppy per shot, that is $600 for a litter of 4 puppies. Is that in your budget? Is cost of feeding multiple puppies for 16 weeks (plus the cost of extra food for the mother during pregnancy and nursing) in your budget? What about the removal of dew claws? It should be done for IGs, and you’ll need a trip the vet for that. Are you ready to buy wormer for the whole litter? If you can afford the expenses, can you afford the time? Not only do puppies need to be monitored very closely, they also need to be kept clean and warm. This is not a breed that you can leave in the garage to have pups. They need to be in the house, where you can watch them and keep them healthy. Very young puppies are like very young babies – they eat and poop A LOT! Are you ready to clean the puppy area many times a day? Are you ready to clean puppies who have walked through their food, or trampled through their poo? Are you ready for your house to smell like puppy poo no matter how often you clean up after them? Do you have time to handle each puppy every day, and to give each one the stimulation they need to grow to be happy, well adjusted dogs? Are you ready to socialize multiple puppies to ensure that they are ready for new homes, and are less likely to wind up in a shelter?
Finding Good homes
If you are truly ready to bear the expense and time it takes to raise a litter, please take the time to think about the number of dogs abandoned and euthanized every year. 2.4 million dogs killed every year is a huge cost to our society in terms of pain and suffering inflicted on helpless animals. Dogs are not killed because of THEIR problems. They are killed because of OUR failures and inadequacies. Please be very very sure that you are not adding to the problem before you decide to breed your dog. You will be morally responsible for every life that is created by your actions. The blood of every dog that YOU bring into this world that winds up getting euthanized will be on YOUR hands. Can you live with that?