Bullmastiffs are almost always C-Section dogs so be prepared to
spend BIG $$$ on whelping a litter.
The following are just some things you may want to keep in mind.
1. Is the animal free of inherited defects? No dog or bitch should be
bred before the age of two years. Early detection of potential genetic problems is often
impossible. Conditions such as Hip Dysplasia, entropian and thyroid problems, typically do
not appear early in the animal's lifespan. They can also go unnoticed by the owner. Some
will eventually be detected through a special examination done by a vet. If you breed
early and neglect to have your animal tested, a more severe form of some of these diseases
can appear in puppies. This causes heartache for both you and the new owners of your
puppies. Two deadly diseases that are associated with breeding dogs are pyrometria and
brucellosis. A brucellosis test should be run before breeding your dogs. This is a
sexually transmitted infectious disease that can deform puppies, abort puppies, and
sterilize males. Brucellosis is incurable and dogs with this disease should be altered.
Pyrometria affects females. This disease causes an infection in the uterus that can go
undetected until too late. It is commonly seen after a bitch has puppies, but can appear
at anytime in an unspayed bitch.
2. Why do you want to breed? The novelty of having a cute litter of
puppies can wear off very quickly when the reality of extra work begins to intrude.
Breeding is not a financially profitable venture. Breeding, whelping, raising and selling
a litter is a serious committment that requires a great deal of time, work and worry and
MONEY. Being a breeder can mean making life and death decisions for and about the animals
you love (this means your female could die).
3. Are you ready for the change in lifestyle? There will be much more of
your time involved with animal care and as a consequence less time for other people. You
can also count on extra trips to the vet for pre and post-natal care. There will be
frequent trips outside for your bitch (her bladder will hold less because of puppy
pressure) and extra feeding. Dogs generally whelp puppies in the middle of the night. It
is NOT uncommon for Bullmastiffs to need C-Sections and a trip to the emergency vet can
prove very costly( around $600+). After the puppies' birth more of your time will be
needed in monitoring their health and the health of the mother. Most Bullmastiff bitches
are NOT good moms and this means bottle feeding 1-12 pups every 2 hours around the clock!
Eclampsia is the dreaded fear of all breeders and a bitch can develop this overnight. If,
as the breeder, you are unaware of the signs, death will inevitably result. Be prepared
for your bitch to be sick after whelping and she won't be particular about where she
chooses to vomit. An expensive new couch may well be the chosen spot! The first two weeks
after birth involve extra precautions in the monitoring of both mother and pups. You may
need to interrupt your own sleep many times during the night in order to make sure all is
well. Once the litter is up and running a lot of your time will be spent cleaning the
house (after they redecorate), cleaning their whelping box, socializing them and
experiencing the joy of listening to them whine at 2 a.m. for attention. As puppies enter
the weaning stage you are needed more than ever! Pups need to be fed a special blend of
dog food 4 times daily. Pups being weaned make huge messes and more time than ever will be
needed in order to keep them clean. You'll need an hour from start to finish for each
feeding alone, as you won't believe the chaos!
4. What about facilities? Where will you whelp your puppies? Bullmastiffs
are not a breed that can be whelped in the garage or outside. Your house will become a
nursery for at least 8 weeks and the noise and odor level will persist during this time.
Some bitches are not good mothers and will abandon their pups. Your time will then be
needed in the hand-feeding of these pups. Occasionally there is a bitch who needs
exceptionally careful monitoring as some have been known to kill puppies or lay on them
accidentally and crush them. Post-whelping discharge on the mother can stain any kind of
carpet. Furthermore, puppies need lots of contact with people. Someone needs to be home
full-time during the 8 weeks of their infancy. Failure to do this can result in
temperament problems and hard-to-place puppies.
5. Can you afford it? At least $2,000.00 is necessary to cover the basic
costs of having a litter. Stud fees, veterinary care (which includes shots, litter care,
pre and post-natal care) feeding, advertising, etc. can add up fast. Should the mother or
babies develop serious problems you will need to spend even more money. People may
tell you that they desperately want a puppy but disappear when it's time to actually buy
or they assumed you would give them one. In an average 2 week-running ad you may expect
about 4 phone calls, three of which are just people calling to ask questions. As a result
you may have puppies in your home much longer than you originally intended and the costs
keep mounting. If you're not a good financial planner and neglect to anticipate the
$2,000.00 up-front investment then you will find that creeping costs play havoc with your
budget and perhaps even put you in the hole. Are you able and willing to underwrite such
costs without the guarantee that your puppies will sell?
6. Are you ready to select homes? After spending weeks with your puppies,
you may find that when it's time to let go there will be an emotional price to pay. It's
easy to get attached to these little critters. Interviewing new potential owners can be a
less than delightful experience also. People need to be carefully screened and educated.
Not everyone is suited to own a Bullmastiff. Interviewing and making wise choices for your
babies can be stressful. There is nothing more devastating than to have someone you have
chosen call to tell you that the puppy died when it was hit by a car. As a breeder you
have the further obligation and sometimes legal responsibility of guaranteeing your pups.
Many states have puppy "lemon laws". If you are not prepared for the costs of a
lawsuit you might find yourself in jail. It is also possible, a few years down the road,
to receive a phone call asking you to take the puppy (now adult dog) back. This type of
phone call is preferable to hearing that the cute bundle you sold is now in the local
pound and/or was put to sleep because the owner didn't want it any more. WAY too many of
our dogs are ending up in rescue....ask yourself if you want to contribrute to this
7. Are you prepared for the personality changes in your dogs? Breeding
may bring about some personality changes in your dog. Some females become extremely
protective of their pups and a neighborhood kid can be bitten as a result. Lawsuits are
NOT FUN! (They are also not cheap.) Some bitches go through a post-partum depression after
the puppies have been taken away. This may even get to the point of destructive behavior.
Males can undergo personality changes after being bred. Whereas a male may have never
lifted his leg in the house he may decide to begin this behavior after breeding. Weight
gain can occur in both males and females after being bred and the sleek look that you once
loved so much can suddenly disappear - sometimes never to be seen again.
8. How important is pedigree and structure? Pedigrees are an asset and
can help you make decisions on how to breed. Making the right choices in breeding can be
hard, even if that choice is not to breed. Temperament and health considerations are
important but so is structure. Each breed has a standard of perfection and dogs should be
bred for that standard. It is what makes a Bullmastiff a Bullmastiff. If not carefully
bred, it is possible to end up with giant Bullmastiffs or midgets. Pedigrees alone cannot
tell the whole story. A good mentor or knowledgeable person can tell you the history of
your dog's ancestors. You need to find out about seizures, leg problems, temperament
weaknesses, etc. This information cannot be found by merely glancing over a pedigree.
Structure is extremely important. A basic understanding of genetics, a sense of
responsibility, a commitment to the endeavor and a little luck are involved in breeding
dogs of outstanding quality.
While this did not cover all the details of breeding, whelping and rearing a litter of
puppies, it does give you some idea of the time, expense and emotional input that is