Along with spring cleaning, April brings thoughts of starting a puppy family to many a dog owner. This time of year, customers ask me about breeding at least once a week. Mr. and Mrs. LoveDog feel that Fluffy Ann would make a terrific mom; or that Gentleman Jim is just the best looking stud around. And they're usually right! So, it makes sense that they would look for a stud (or a bitch) to breed their beloved to... at least once. Often, dog moms and dads tell me they're going to have Fluffy Ann spayed but not before they breed her, just once! It's like a refrain.
So here I come, the (excuse the pun) party pooper. There are already too many dogs in the world. Every year, thousands upon thousands of dogs are euthanized in veterinarians' offices and in animal shelters across the country. Many thousands more are wandering the countryside or the city streets, or living in the woods (barely). The luckiest of the wanderers and wood dwellers get found by kind samaritans who get them to no-kill shelters or animal rescue organizations. I've adopted my canine companions from rescues for years, and I've never been disappointed. And every one of my dog loves has been pure bred! Benny, for example looks like a typical cocker spaniel. However, he is (forgive me, Benny) a perfect idiot. An idiot with attention deficit disorder! Only a dog junkie could love him. And it's likely he was bred by a well-meaning amateur who couldn't bear not to reproduce his or her adorable cocker... or maybe by a puppy mill, but that's another subject. My point is that the endless "just once" breeders, even those who own a dog with an excellent pedigree, are adding to the "unwanted dog" problem. So much so that there are rescues that specialize in particular breeds of dog. If you don't believe me, Google "breed rescues".
So, please, let's leave the breeding to the professionals. Responsible breeders only breed after a dog has become an AKC champion. That means he or she has been shown numerous times, at specified kinds of events, and has won a certain number of points from various AKC-certified judges. The reason for this is that the goal for an ethical breeder is to improve his or her breed. Good breeders match adult mates for body structure, temperment, quality of coat and, most of all, excellent health. For example no reputable breeder would breed a dog with hip dysplasia, even if it had been shown successfully. This is important!! You have to know what you're doing! You have to know what to look for and who to exclude. You have to know your breed inside out and backwards. Cherish your dog, take a zillion pictures, brag about her to anyone who'll listen. But, please, let her off the parenthood hook.