2, 4, 6, 8, How Many Puppies Can You Appreciate?

May 21, 2013

Your puppy, Fiona, is really cute. She came from a nice pet store on the thoroughfare and is a special new breed called a “MixiMuttiPoo”. You would like to have more, just like her. And maybe it would be nice for the kids to witness the miracle of birth. So maybe you will breed Fiona, just once. And sell her puppies to earn a little profit, on top of it. I agree that Fiona is pretty darn cute, and you have the best intentions for her. BUT- this is not the best idea. Let me tell you why.

1.) There is a massive pet overpopulation problem in America, with 3 to 4 millions of unwanted cats and dogs euthanized in shelters every year. This says it all; additional casual dog and cat breeders are not needed.

2.) Breeding Fiona may unknowingly propagate congenital or genetic defects, especially since no information is available regarding Fiona’s parents’ health, disposition and whether they have been diagnosed with preventable heritable conditions such as hip dysplasia, cleft palates, umbilical hernias, aggression and/or anxiety.

3.) If Fiona is not spayed before her first heat cycle, she has an exponentially greater risk of developing mammary cancer as an adult. Later in life, she will also be at risk for a life-threatening uterine infection known as a pyometra. Plus, she will have regular heat cycles during which every intact male dog in town will seek out her affections.

4.) Some dogs, particularly if inappropriately young while bred, and those of certain breeds (English bulldogs, Chihuahuas) have a high incidence of requiring emergency Cesarian sections, instead of being able to deliver puppies naturally. This can be a significant expense (generally in the thousands of dollars) and may present serious health risks to Fiona and the puppies.

5.) Caring for neonatal puppies requires a lot of time and expertise, particularly if Fiona is an inexperienced and inattentive mother. Some puppies need to be bottle-fed around the clock, as well as manually stimulated to urinate and defecate multiple times daily. They need to be weighed regularly, to ensure they are gaining weight, and require frequent trips to the veterinarian for weight checks, deworming and vaccinations. This can be an exhausting and expensive endeavor. Even experienced breeders rarely, if ever, make any profit on the sale of puppies since there is so much expense involved in their care before the puppies are old enough for adoption.

6.) Are you prepared to find caring, responsible homes for 10 or more puppies? There’s no predicting how many puppies Fiona may have; some dogs have small litters, and some have very large litters. Responsible breeders thoroughly investigate all prospective adoptive parents, ensuring they have excellent veterinary and personal references, copies of a lease to prove they are allowed to own pets (or copies of a mortgage to verify they own a house), and in some cases a home visit to verify the puppy will be placed in a clean, safe home. You wouldn’t want one of Fiona’s babies to end up in the wrong home, would you?

The bottom line is that casual breeding of dogs (and cats) can be fraught with unexpected medical crises, expenses and stress. It contributes unnecessarily to pet overpopulation, and may perpetuate preventable inherited medical conditions.

Fiona is cute. Maybe instead of breeding her, she would appreciate an adopted “brother” or “sister” from the local SPCA?