Things to Think About Before Breeding Your Dog

Puppies are adorable, but we'd like to recommend here that no one allow their dog to breed, unless you actually make a exclusive career of it. The pet population, as we've all heard, has swelled to such numbers that dogs are put to sleep in shelters every day by the thousands. Spaying or neutering your dog also imparts health benefits such as a decreased risk of uterine, mammary, or prostate cancer.

The most common age at which to spay or neuter is six months. There are many claims that neutering a male dog can make him less likely to roam or fight, but they are hard to prove. Neutering does, however, lower the testosterone level in male dogs, which may influence those behaviors. There's little evidence that your dog will get fat or lazy after being spayed or neutered, as is also claimed. A spay or neuter may slightly decrease body metabolism. However, proper diet and regular exercise have greater influence over your pet's weight and health than does sterilization surgery.

All dogs should be genetically tested before they are bred -- this means both the sire and dam. Genetic problems that are commonly passed down include Progressive Retinal Atrophy, juvenile cataracts, Entropion and Ectropion (in which the eyelids turn in or out), Hip dysplasia, Osteochondrosis Dessicans (an elbow joint problem), Patellar Luxation (a kneecap problem), deafness, heart conditions, Hemophilia, Epilepsy, and allergies.

A bitch should not be bred before two years of age, and only every other year at most. This is important for the dog's physical health, and a bitch under two years old is less likely to be mentally prepared for having puppies. Certainly, no dog that is not in top physical condition should be bred, as pregnancy takes a very real toll on a dog's body.

The average gestation period for dogs is 60 to 63 days, and most dogs produce an average of six to ten puppies per litter.

Some amazing statistics, and excellent reasons to have your dog spayed or neutered:

Average number of litters a female dog can produce in one year: 2
Average number of puppies a female dog can produce in one year: 12-20
The number of puppies one female dog and her offspring can produce in 6 years: 67,000

Get those dogs spayed and neutered!

Copyright 2001, Steph Bairey -- All Rights Reserved

Steph Bairey is a web developer and pet owner, with 25 years of pet care experience and 30-40 pets at any one time. Get immediate, reliable answers to your pet care questions at Steph's website, Practical Pet Care, located at

[Back to Animal Articles]