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so you want to breed dogs

Do you think you want to breed your bitch? If so, here are some questions to ask yourself.

There is nothing more adorable than a puppy. Breeding a beautiful litter is definitely rewarding. However, experienced breeders have learned over time that breeding can have unexpected challenges. When the owner of a bitch is interested in breeding her for the first time, he or she must plan ahead and learn about the breed and all that is involved in breeding before making the final decision to produce a litter.

Important questions to ask yourself include:

Does my bitch meet the standard of excellence as described in the official breed standard?
Why do I want to breed my bitch? Will I be improving the quality of the breed?
Are my bitch’s age, condition, quality and temperament ideal for breeding her at this time?
Has my bitch had a thorough veterinary exam to be sure she is in excellent health?
Are my bitch and the potential sire OFA certified (hips, elbows, etc.)?
Have I made an in-depth study of the conformation, temperament, and pedigree of the potential mate?
Do I know what inherited defects (allergies, hip and/or elbow dysplasia, or other conditions) my bitch might pass along to her offspring?
What plans are in place for puppy placement? (For example, do I have a website to aid in screening potential owners? Have I placed ads in reputable dog journals? Do I advertise in the local newspaper?)
Do I have reservations for at least half of the litter? If not, am I willing to wait to breed my bitch until I have enough homes lined up? Remember, you can’t predict the size of a litter.
Do I have the facilities, time, and financial resources to provide optimum care for whelping a litter? Will I be able to handle the substantial veterinary expenses if medical intervention is needed to whelp the litter?
Am I able to answer, with authority, potential buyers’ questions about the breed?
When I screen potential buyers, do I have a prepared list of questions that will allow me to determine the following?

the potential buyer’s motives in purchasing a puppy (whether to be a livestock guardian, family companion, show dog, or serve in another role);
if the buyer plans to breed in the future;
if the potential buyer has sufficient property, with proper housing and fencing, to contain a large-breed dog;
if the buyer understands the demands of socializing, training, and managing a livestock-guardian breed;
if there are children in the home;
and if there are other animals on the property.

Having a puppy application for potential buyers to fill out is an invaluable tool to assist the screening process.

Further questions that must be considered include:

Am I committed to keeping the puppies as long as necessary until good homes are found?

Am I willing to say “no” to an unsuitable home?

Will my litter be registered with the AKC?  (Remember, Limited Registration is an option.)

Do I have a contract for the sale of the pups?

Am I willing to be available for my puppy people for the life of the dog, and am I willing to take back a pup should it become necessary?

Breeding dogs is a complicated and costly affair. It involves a lot of time, motivation, resources and commitment to ethics. Like most breed parent clubs, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog Club of America posts on its website ( a list of Code of Ethics Breeders, many with years of breeding experience. First-time breeders can call on these Code of Ethics Breeders as mentors, knowing that successful, ethical breeders will plan ahead and do all in their power to produce quality, healthy puppies.

—Marilyn Harned, Anatolian Shepherd Dog Club of America
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