Note that this document is intended to target the casual "backyard breeder" who is considering breeding their pet. It is not anticipated that the arguments contained in this section of the FAQ will dissuade a potential "puppy mill" person, since they are unlikely to follow any of the recommendations anyhow. Additionally, some SMALL profit was left in the P/L calculation to add some credibility to the arguments. IMHO, if we show a negative return for a breeding, people are less likely to take our estimates of potential costs at face value.
If use of this document or the information contained herein dissuades ONE person from breeding their Rottweiler, then it has been well worth the efforts of all involved. PLEASE disseminate this document as widely as possible. Feel free to paraphrase as needed, or to use sections where applicable.
Contributions from and thanks to (in alphabetical order):
Liz Bauer, Anita Clark, Brenda K. Jones, Barbara McNinch, Paula Nelson
Why do I want to breed?
Let's examine these reasons in order:
Even professional breeders have a difficult time making a living at breeding Rottweilers. Besides, they aren't in it for the money - they are breeding because they love the breed and want to improve it through careful and deliberate breeding of champion quality dogs that exhibit great working qualities, temperaments, and conformation (physical adherence to an established breed standard). Maybe you are just going to breed once to pick up some spare change. Here is what you figure you can make:
Average litter size : 8 puppies Average sale price : $300.00
Keep in mind that breeders of AKC registered champion dogs sell their "pet" quality dogs for $200 to $500. These are dogs with very minor faults (rounded heads, wavy coats, small white spots, or lightly colored eyes) from proven dogs. Can you really expect to sell your puppies for more than they are?
Still, total profit is: $2,400.00 Not bad for you not having to do any work.
WRONG! Did you notice that expenses haven't been figured in yet? OK, how much can it cost - it can't be that bad. Well, let's see:
1.1 Pre-Breeding tests, including OFA certification and a Brucellosis Test (canine VD that can be passed to humans!). OFA certification is critical to the health of the puppies and the long term health of the breed in general. Are you producing a litter of puppies that is destined to live in pain for their whole life? Are you producing a litter of puppies that will have to be destroyed before they are two years old because of genetic problems passed on from your bitch and stud? How happy will that make the puppy buyers (most likely family and friends)? How would it make you feel to see your puppy paralyzed in the rear legs due to extreme dysplasia? OFA certification costs for each dog, not including the x-rays, is $100.00. GET IT DONE!
Pre-Breeding test costs: $200
1.2 Stud Fee: $500.00 is the minimum you can expect to pay for a stud fee from a proven stud dog. You are planning to get the best stud possible, aren't you? After all, a few titles in the family tree will help sell the puppies. Oh - you have a friend who is willing to accept the pick of the litter since his/her dog is untitled. OK, you just lost $350.00 from one of the pups to sell. Also, don't forget the cost of shipping your bitch to the stud dog, or the associated costs with driving back and forth every day while trying to get a successful mating! Shipping costs can run into the $250 range, including a health certificate (required by Airlines).
1.3 Whelping Supplies: Heat lamps, whelping box (keep those puppies warm and close to mom!), miscellaneous supplies: $200.00
1.4 Prenatal care and vet visits for your pregnant bitch can cost from $200 to $400 dollars, more if there is a high risk pregnancy. You do love your bitch enough to insure that the pregnancy is not going to kill her, don't you? Supplemental vitamins and extra food will be required during the pregnancy and while nursing. Average cost: $300.
1.5 Delivery costs can also add up. Do you know how to help the bitch open the birthing sack and cut the umbilical cord? Do you know how to suction the lungs of a newborn puppy that is drowning in its own fluids? Do you know how to extricate a pup that is stuck in the birth canal? How about if the puppy is born breached and your bitch is literally screaming in pain? Hmmm - better have a vet on call for help. Since births invariably come at night, be prepared to wake your vet up. This is going to cost you at least $500.00.
1.6 Puppies are here! Wait a minute - they have tails! They also have an extra toenail up on their leg (called a dewclaw) that looks really easy to tear off accidentally. Well, call your vet again to dock the tails and remove the dewclaws. This will cost you again, at least $10 per puppy - let's say $80.00 total. Don't forget the two vacation days from work you will need to insure that the bitch doesn't accidentally smother her helpless puppies.
1.7 Puppies will need two set of shots for parvo and other boosters. This will cost you about $50.00 per puppy before you let them go. Without these shots, the puppies are very likely to contract a disease or infection and die very young. How happy will that make the puppy buyers (most likely family and friends)? Total cost: $400.00
1.8 AKC litter registration will also cost you. If your litter is not registered, forget about selling them for $300 - you will be lucky to get $150-$200. This is a cost of $18.00.
1.9 The puppies will need to start getting fed before they leave the dam. They will also need gruel consisting of rice cereal, baby meat, and supplemental milk powder (at $25 per can!). The cost of puppy food must be factored in for a few hungry mouths over a few weeks. Total cost about $100.00. Add in $$ to keep the whelping box at a constant 80 - 90 degrees with heat lamps and heater pads - say an additional $50 minimum.
Total costs (items 1.1 -1.9): $2348.00 Hmm - profit margin is down to $52.00! Is it going to be worth the time, effort, and associated risks? What if someone sues you for selling them a dog with a genetic defect? Sounds like you may want to take out insurance on your "business" of breeding your dog!
Of course, a larger litter has the potential to generate more revenue. There are no guarantees regarding litter size. Indeed the litter may only consist of 1 or 2 dogs. If a large litter is produced, be ready to take vacation days from work to bottle feed puppies for several weeks. Additionally, larger litters mean increased costs, and more difficulty placing puppies with good homes.
Keep in mind that these are generally the minimum costs! What if your bitch contracts mastitis, uterine infections, or viral infections? More $$$! What if the puppies all get sick and require long term vet care? What if an emergency C-section is needed? These costs can be very significant. Many breeders will tell you that they LOSE $$ on litters where problems like these surface. What if the bitch or stud (or both!) attack the human handlers facilitating the mating. You are aware of the need to supervise a "tie" aren't you? I hope so - an improper mating can cause permanent damage to either of the unlucky Rotties!
Are you going to be able to sell all the puppies? To good homes I hope - you wouldn't want them getting beaten, abused, or used for dog fights would you? Rule of thumb - have good homes ready for all your potential puppies BEFORE you even make the initial mating. Do you? Have your researched the potential buyers? Written a contract stating what you expect of the buyers and what the buyers can expect from you (midnight calls because the puppy is sick!)?
2.0 To let the kids witness the miracle of birth.
This is one of the most common reasons given for wanting to breed a dog. Stop and think about this for a few minutes. Here are some considerations:
2.1 Will your bitch allow the children to witness the birth? Most dams are VERY nervous and upset at birthing time, particularly the first whelp. It is always recommended that only the one most trusted companion be present to avoid upsetting her further.
2.2 Ever seen a breech birth? How will your kids react to her screaming and howling in pain during a difficult birth? Probably scared and crying for her - that's how I would be, and I can't imagine children being less upset!
2 .3 How about the puppies? Any deformed or DOA? Here is a sampling of what might be seen:
2.3.1 There can be puppies that are born with parts of their internal organs on the outside of their bodies,
2.3.2 Without any or missing some legs,
2.3.3 With 2 eyes on one side of the head,
2.3.4 The body being so bloated that it looks like a it has a diving suit on,
2.3.5 A puppy that has no bones in the body,
2.3.6 A puppy that is green.
Sounds pretty disgusting to me - what will your 4 year old think? Are you sure that you are not setting your children up for what will be a traumatizing experience?
2.4 Will you children appreciate you shortening the life of their pet? Typically, spaying a female will extend her life 2-3 years due to fewer health problems, mostly related to cancers and infections. In fact, the family pet may DIE during the process, leaving you with large vet bills, no puppies, and heartbroken children.
2.5 Are the kids ready to pick up after 6-10 unhousebroken and very active puppies? Are you? Hmmm - maybe we should add paper towels to the list of expenses in section #1!
A final suggestion: take your children to the humane society or canine rescue organization in your area. What will they want to know? I'll tell you - they will want to know why all these dogs are alone with nobody to care for them and love them! Children are sometimes wiser than we would believe. Are you willing to accept one of your puppies back at any time for any reason? If not, you are probably going to add to the population at that humane society. Do you really want to???
3.0 Because my Rottie is the BEST, and he/she will produce great puppies.
Is he/she truly the best? What titles do you have to prove it? Is he/she a good physical representation of the breed (you have read and understood the breed standard, right?). What about temperament? Is he/she good with people (NOT just your family!)? Can children, strangers, and other animals approach him/her at a park without you worrying in the slightest? Or do you grab a tighter grip on the leash "just to be sure"? Have hips, eyes, elbows, thyroid & heart been checked by a certified vet to be free of genetically inherited defects?
Consider this: A well-bred, socialized, and trained Rottweiler will almost ALWAYS have a wonderful temperament. A gentle, loving nature is in and of itself not enough reason to breed your pet. What else can your dog or bitch offer to this magnificent breed?
3.1. Conformation titles are a reflection that your dog/bitch is a good representative of the breed standard. ALL potential breeders (and even owners) should read and understand the breed standard. See elsewhere in this FAQ for information regarding the breed standards. Common faults in pet quality dogs include: White markings, overshot and undershot (overbite and underbite), lack of pigment on the nose and mouth (pink mouth), lightly colored eyes, and missing undercoat.
Is your dog free of all possible disqualifying faults? Not all dogs are good representations of the breed, no matter how "cute" they may seem. Do we really need further dilution of the Rottweiler line from breedings between animals who do not measure up to the standard? Consider the case of overshot. How severe is this really? Well, one dog I know well has to have his lower canine teeth (the long ones in front) GROUND DOWN to avoid puncturing the inside of the roof of his mouth! (He has been neutered.) Doesn't sound like fun for the dog, owner, or the vet!
A professional breeder will select only the best representatives of the breed standard to breed or provide stud service for, thus maintaining or improving the breed as we know and love it. Can you say the same?
3.2 Has your dog/bitch been awarded any titles in any recognized field (such as but not limited to: obedience, agility, herding, carting, Schutzhund, French Ring, therapy)? How do we measure the value of any dogs contribution to the breed? Remember, this is a working breed!
If you can't answer yes to either of the above (preferably both!) then ask yourself how you have measured your Rottie against others that may be bred. Does he/she really stack up? Great pets are not required to achieve any of these awards, but may not be the best choice for breeding.
Look at it this way: If you are hiring someone to do some work for you, what are qualifications you look for? How about a high school diploma? Membership in a professional organization (e.g. Master Plumber)? College degree? Outstanding achievements in a related field? How should you evaluate the requirements of two dogs before you decide to bring more lives into this world?
Aside from these qualifications, have you evaluated your dog for potential genetic traits that can at the least cause disfiguration and at the worst death? How about the partner? Example: some lines of dogs when combined will invariably produce offspring with physical defects and abnormalities. Does your bitch have this risk when mated to your chosen stud?
4.0 Any combination of the above.
Take a few minutes to read all of the above material. Still convinced that you want to breed your Rottweiler? I hope not....
1. Make sure both partners in the breeding have had hip x-rays taken and been certified by the O.F.A. (Orthopedics Foundation for Animals) Ask your veterinarian to help you get the x-rays to the OFA. CHD, or Canine Hip Dysplasia is a crippling degenerative disease that has been proven to be genetically inherited (passed on from Sire or Dam or both). Severe CHD will cripple even a young puppy at its worst and cause severe arthritic pains and discomfort to older dogs in the least. Nothing could be sadder than to watch your loved pet try to rise from its bed someday just to greet you and not be able to. Imagine watching the puppy struggle to get to its feet, scared and confused as to why it cannot move. CHD has caused paralysis of the hind legs. Short of getting a wheelchair for the back legs, this poor puppy will have to be euthanized. GET THE HIPS CHECKED!
2. Make sure to research all potential puppy owners to insure a good home. Due to its destructive potential, the Rottweiler is a favorite for drug dealers, dog fights, and other irresponsible owners. If you have any doubts, DO NOT sell, give, or barter a puppy away to such an individual. Use a legal contract for the sale and make sure the terms are understood by the purchasing party.
By JoRett Redman