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Thinking of Breeding?

Thinking of breeding your golden? There are so many things to consider, I’d like to take the opportunity to answer some of the common breeding questions here on this page. Please consider the following:

  • WHY SHOULD I BREED?: Serious breeders breed dogs in order to maintain and/or improve a breed’s characteristics. Breeding is serious, and it is expensive. If you are considering breeding as a way to make money, you better stop now and find a job. When breeding a litter, you are very lucky if you even ‘break even’. Those that are serious about breeding spent enormous amounts of time studying their dog breed of choice. They study the breed standard, read books, study pedigrees, they talk with other breeders, they attend seminars, participate in dogs shows and trials. They also study genetics. In order to maintain or improve a breed, they have to learn how genetics work in order to maintain some characteristics, and eliminate others. These characteristics make a breeder a GOOD breeder. They will not breed to a stud dog because he is close and convenient, nor will they breed to a dog just because it is popular or it won a trial last month, they will breed to a dog who will be the best genetic match for their bitch, in order to achieve the characteristics they desire in their future litter of puppies.
  • WHAT QUALITIES SHOULD MY DOG HAVE?: There are many ‘bare minimums’ that should be met by any dog before it is bred:
    • Any golden that is bred should meet the breed standard that is set forth by the Golden Retriever Club of Canada. The standard outlines the physical characteristics, temperament, and behaviour requirements that should be met by all golden retrievers. Take a moment to review : The Canadian Breed Standard
    • No dog should be bred until at least 2 years of age. This gives the dog time to mature. Many of the required health screenings can not be performed on a dog less than 2 years of age.
  • WHAT ARE THE REQUIRED MEDICAL SCREENINGS? AND WHAT IS THEIR PURPOSE?: After the age of two, the dog must undergo several examinations to obtain health clearances. Many of these conditions are hereditary, which is why it is necessary to screen your dog before it is bred.
    • HIPS – Any dog that is bred must be scored with a ‘fair’, ‘good’, or ‘excellent’ rating from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) or the OVC, and/or have an acceptable rating when assessed by the PennHip ™ technique (PennHip results are not yet accepted by the Golden Retriever Club of Canada (GRCC) ).
    • ELBOWS – A relatively new clearance is the Elbow Clearance. As elbow displasia is possibly hereditary, it is necessary to do the appropriate screening. The elbow registry is also held by the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA).
    • EYES – Any dog that is bred should have eyes that have been cleared as free of cataracts, and hereditary eye disease such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). This clearance should be done by a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist and then be registered with the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF), or you must have an official ACVO report from a board-certified ophthalmologist exam within 12 months prior to breeding.
    • HEART – Any dog that is bred should have a heart clearance. This test can be done after the age of one. The test is usually done by a Board-certified veterinary cardiologist (if there is one in the area). It tests to make sure the dog is clear of any hereditary heart disease, such as Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis (SAS).
    • OTHER – Any dog that is bred should be of good health. This means the dog is also free of other diseases that may possibly be partially hereditary. This includes conditions such as thyroid malfunction, epilepsy, and serious allergies.
  • WHAT ABOUT THESE DOG SHOWS? WHAT’S THE PURPOSE?: Breeders, and other dog-owners, participate in dog shows to see how their dogs ‘stand-up’ to other dogs in the same category. As people can tend to have a ‘blind-eye’ to some of their dog’s faults, showing their dog in front of a judge is a way to get a non-biased opinion. Dog shows are also an excellent way to meet other enthusiasts of your chosen dog breed. You can view various dogs in the ring as you are searching for the perfect stud for your girl. You will also be able to mingle with potential puppy buyers, and this is essential as you will surely want to find the best possible homes for them.
  • SO WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL COSTS INVOLVED?: There is a break down of various costs that are involved in breeding:
    • FINDING THE YOUR FOUNDATION BITCH – So you want to breed the right way, you better have a quality dog to start your breeding. It will probably take a year to research the pedigrees, find a breeder having puppies, and reserving one. You won’t want to spare any expense when purchasing your future breeding bitch. Expect to spend $800-$1500.
    • RAISING THE DOG UNTIL IT IS AT LEAST 2 YEARS OLD – This includes all the various costs of raising a pup (refer to our article on puppy raising costs). Of course you will want to evaluate how your dog stands up to the breed standard. She will be entered in shows, and trials. Budget for travel costs, show entry costs, possibly the cost of a professional handler, and don’t forget the grooming supplies, you’ll want her to look her best.
    • CLEARANCES – Usually around $320.00. (Potential breakdown of costs: OFA Hips $125.00, OFA Elbows $25.00 if done with hips, Eyes – $45.00, Heart – $125.00).
    • FINDING THE ‘PERFECT’ STUD DOG FOR YOUR BITCH – So you were *very* lucky to get this far, your golden has proven herself very worthwhile to breed, and it’s time to fine her a stud! Costs include phone calls, the time it takes to do endless pedigree research, flying to various shows, trials, and specialities to view and meet dogs and their breeders in person.
    • THE BREEDING – Will you breed the natural way? or with Artificial Insemination? The actual breeding is very expensive. Costs include shipping your bitch to be bred at the stud dog’s kennel, or collecting/preparing/and shipping the semen for Artificial Insemination. There will also be the stud fee paid to the owner of the stud dog. You’ll probably incur more long distance phone charges. Current stud dog fees range from $700.00 -900.00 not including the extra board if your bitch is shipped to dog’s kennel.
    • PREPARING FOR THE BIRTH – Before the birth, you will want to purchase a whelping box and the necessary birthing supplies. Supplies are usually around $200.00, these include: whelping box, notebook for record keeping, heat lamp, scales, cleaning supplies and disinfectant, towels/blankets for bedding and clean-up. Costs include vet check ups, increased food, possibly an ultrasound.
    • THE BIRTH – Be prepared to rush to the vet if the need for an emergency C-section arises. Many things can go wrong at the birth, you could lose all the puppies, or the mother, or even both. A c-section can run from $300.00 – $1000.00 depending on the individual circumstances.
    • RAISING THE PUPPIES TO 8 WEEKS – An enormous amount of your time will be spent socializing and supervising the puppies. You will temperament test the puppies and get a feel of which puppy matches with each approved family.Costs included: Vet bills, dewclaw remove if you choose to, worming, vaccinations, micro chipping or tattooing, food, supplements, and the registration of the puppies with the CKC (48.00 + GST per dog with Non-Breed Agreement). Every person who sells a dog as purebred, must identify the dog for registration by either a tattoo marking or a micro-chip. The breeder must take the necessary steps to register the dog with the Canadian Kennel Club at no additional cost to the buyer. If the certificate of registration is not provided to the buyer at a reasonable length of time (6 months), the seller can be charged for violation of the Canadian Livestock Pedigree Act.
  • FINDING HOMES FOR THE PUPPIES – Screening puppy buyers will take hours. You will have to answer phone calls, answer questions, visiting with potential buyers, interviewing them, showing them your home and kennel set up. Meanwhile, you should be preparing a puppy package for each of the puppies, which should include copies of the parent’s health clearances, the pedigree, photos of the parents, CKC papers, a copy of the CKC non-breeding contract which you will have each of your puppy buyers sign, and information on future vaccines, crate training, and other training articles.
  • THE LIFE OF THE PUPPIES – Your job isn’t done yet. You should be available as a source of information and mentoring during the entire life of the puppies. You must keep in contact with the families of all your puppies, so if for any reason, they need to give up the dog, the dog will come back to your safe hands.
  • WELL THIS DOESN’T REALLY APPLY TO ME, I HAVE A MALE DOG AND I WANT TO FIND A BITCH TO BREED HIM TO: Well as the owner of the stud dog, you have just as much responsibility. You dog will have to have all the appropriate health clearances because the litter of puppies will have a genetic make-up coming from both their mother, and their father. You are responsible for that litter if for any reason, the owners of the female can not continue. This includes hand feeding the puppies if required. You may also be responsible for finding good homes for the puppies. If any of the puppies need to be returned, you can also be responsible to care for them, and rehome them.


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