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How to Breed Show Dogs
Show dog breeding is an endeavor for individuals who are committed to the betterment of a breed. Show dogs are essentially dogs that embody the breed standard and have a strong, genetic background. Get informed about conformation shows, breed standards, and dog breeding. Enter your dog into shows to establish it as a high-quality, American Kennel Club-registered purebred. When it is ready, breed your dog with a genetically-suitable stud. Take care of the female and puppies, and register your new purebred litter with the AKC.
Highlighting Your Dog’s Pedigree
Buy a purebred puppy.You should purchase a purebred puppy from a reputable, AKC-registered breeder. Note that a good breeder will ask you a lot of questions, and make the effort to ensure that their puppy is going to a suitable home. Make sure to:
- visit the breeder
- ask detailed questions
- see the condition of the litter’s mother
- request proof of health for mother and puppies
- ask for references
Make sure your dog contributes to the breed standard.An important part of show dog breeding is understanding breed standards, as established by the American Kennel Club. The true purpose of dog shows (also known as conformation shows) is to evaluate breeding stock. Dogs are judged based on established criteria for what is considered the best of the breed; to better understand the best attributes of your dog’s breed:
- attend dog shows
- read books, articles, and other reputable source material about breed standards
- look up your dog’s specific breed on the American Kennel Club’s website: www.akc.org
Learn the ins and outs of dog shows.Whether you learn by attending local dog shows, watching them on television, or reading about them, it is a good idea to get informed before you participate. Dog breeds are generally grouped into seven categories, based on the jobs they were initially bred for – “sporting,” “hounds,” “working,” “terrier,” “toy,” “non-sporting,” and “herding.” Show dogs are also grouped into different classes at shows – “puppy,” “twelve-to-eighteen months,” “novice,” “bred by exhibitor,” “American-bred,” and “open.” There are a series of different ribbons presented to participants that judges choose as the best of a class (e.g. a blue ribbon is awarded for first place in any regular class).
- Many AKC clubs offer conformation handling classes for owners wishing to show their dogs. The classes show owners how to present their purebred dog to judges at a conformation show. Local AKC clubs offering these courses will be listed on the American Kennel Club website.
Enter your dog into local a local conformation show.If your dog meets breed standards, is older than 6 months, and is not spayed or neutered, you can enter it into a conformation show. If you do not feel ready for this step yet, consider entering your dog into a match show first; match shows are informal shows where dogs and owners can socialize and get accustomed to the procedures for official conformation shows. Alternatively, you can hire a professional handler to present your dog to judges at the conformation show, for a fee that should be established upfront before the show.
- The American Kennel Club Registered Handlers Program promotes professional handlers who meet a specific criterion of responsibility and knowledge.
Aim for points.Most dogs entered in conformation shows are competing for championship points, which are essentially credits earned towards championship status. Dog shows are essentially a process of elimination leading to one dog being named “Best in Show” at the end of it; other dogs are able to earn points along the way. Either way, you dog’s participation signals that it is an AKC-registered purebred, whose parents and ancestors are also purebred.
Facilitating the Breeding
Make sure the female is ready for breeding.The best time for your female to start breeding is between her second heat cycle and the age of 7; because of health risks, dogs older than 7 should not be bred. The female will make it clear whether or not she’s ready for breeding by how she reacts to the male – if she is not ready, she will avoid him, and if she is ready, she will move her tail to the side to communicate her consent.
Find a suitable stud.Show dog breeding requires a general understanding of genetics and a desire to better the breed. You can search for studs in the classifieds of dog breeding magazines, online, or by putting up flyers in your area. Look for a stud that is certified healthy, and that offers genetic attributes that will complement your female. Work out a stud contract with the stud’s owner, outlining the details of breeding times, fees, payment, expectations, and guarantees.
Ensure the dogs' health.Both dogs should be tested for genetic disorders, parasites, and possible infections. The female should receive a full pre-breeding exam from a veterinarian about a month before breeding to ensure her health and readiness to breed. Both dogs should be up to date on their vaccinations.
Breed the dogs.It is usually best to bring the female to the male for breeding, as females handle new environments better. Depending on your stud contract agreements, you can either bring the female for multiple visits, leave her in the custody of the stud owner for the duration of the breeding period, or stay with your dog throughout the process to observe. Though the process should come naturally to dogs, some assistance from the owners might be needed.
- For instance, dogs usually remain “tied” after mating, staying together for anywhere from 2-30 minutes. This process is integral to conception, but if your dog is new to breeding, it might get nervous and try to pull away. In this instance, stepping in to reassure your dog can rescue the breeding attempt.
Welcoming Your Puppies
Monitor your dog’s pregnancy.A veterinarian can confirm your dog’s pregnancy around day 28 of a typically 63-day gestation period. Your vet can advise you on breed-specific care for your pregnant dog. Start setting up a whelping box (i.e. a box for your dog to give birth in) a few weeks before the expected due date to ensure that your dog is comfortable with the spot. In general, make sure that your female remains comfortable and healthy during her gestation period.
Be present for the birth.Approximately 24 hours before whelping begins, the female will begin to show symptoms – her temperature will drop and she will usually stop eating and drinking. When whelping begins, she will show signs of distress (e.g. whining, visible restlessness). While dogs are generally capable of giving birth without assistance, it is best if you are present to monitor the situation and call a veterinarian in case of emergencies.
Take care of your female.After whelping occurs, monitor your female closely. Make sure she receives adequate Vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorous in order to avoid post-natal eclampsia. She will also need two or three times more food to provide sufficient nutrition for her puppies when nursing. Experts recommend giving the female a period of rest and regeneration instead of breeding her again at her next possible breeding cycle.
Monitor the puppies’ health.You should check and weigh the litter every day to make sure they are healthy and developing properly. Keep the puppies warm (with a heating pad or heat lamp, if necessary) and make sure that they are nursing properly. Once the puppies are weaned, you will have to feed them and begin to socialize them.
Looking After Future Show Dogs
Register the litter.A few days after whelping, you should register your litter with the American Kennel Club. This will allow you to provide new owners you buy your puppies with a registration application, and establish you as a responsible breeder. You can register your litter online at , or print out a form and mail it in.
Screen potential owners.An integral part of breeding puppies is finding good owners for them by interviewing potential buyers and choosing the right person, or family, to give one of your puppies a good home. Look for people who are knowledgeable about your dogs’ breed, and who have the time and means to provide a dog with the best care possible. An ideal candidate would be someone who is passionate enough about the breed to participate in dog shows, allowing one of your puppies to reach its full, show dog potential. Screen potential owners with questions like:
- ”Why did you choose this specific breed of dog?”
- ”Who will be the dog’s primary caretaker?
- ”How much time can you devote to exercise, obedience training, and feeding a dog?”
Encourage new owners to register with the AKC.Convincing your puppies’ buyers to register them with the AKC is a step towards ensuring that your litter grow into show dogs. While the AKC funds many initiatives devoted to canine health, safety, and rescue, it also sanctions more than 20,000 competitive dog events each year. Dog shows shows can be a fun, educational experience for pets and owners alike, but a dog must be registered with the AKC to participate.
QuestionHow long does it take for a dog to get pregnant and give birth?Cricket ProctorCommunity AnswerDogs may become pregnant after having intercourse one time. Once the breeding has been accomplished, the normal gestation period is 63 days till birth.Thanks!
QuestionShould dogs be fed before mating?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerDogs may eat as normal before mating.Thanks!
QuestionCan you induce heat in the female artificially?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo. The female will have to go into heat naturally. This will happen every 5-6 months in small dogs and every 7-9 months in large dogs. Some dogs have irregular heat cycles, though this is unlikely.Thanks!
QuestionHow old do I have to be to become a breeder/dog handler?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerUsually 18 at least, unless you have an experienced adult who is willing to take you on as an employee/apprentice at a younger age.Thanks!
Video: How To Become A Dog Breeder
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