Becoming a Responsible Breeder

Becoming a Responsible Breeder
Author unknown
(this article was sent to me via email from a friend)

Dear Potential Breeder,

Why all the concern about breeders? Because Bullmastiffs (being the best dogs), are becoming more and more populare and this means that people are starting breeding for dollars, with little thought to quality puppies and quality homes. This results in a lot of suffering, by both people and dogs.

People suffer because they may fall in love with an animal that is unsound, temperament or health wise. There is nothing more heartbreaking than giving your heart to a Bullmastiff who dies young, suffers greatly or needs to be destroyed. These things happen every day, and we on the list who witness it are very vocal about the need for responsible breeding.

What is responsible breeding? It begins with knowledge - lots of it! This knowledge comes from learning about the breed. Going to shows, obedience competitions, etc... to learn the conformation, temperament, structure, purpose, and drives that make a Bullmastiff a Bullmastiff. Also it helps to cement your own goals for a breeding program. This takes lots of time. I have been showing and competing with my dogs for a 15 yrs and still figure that I have lots to learn. A mentor can also provide lots of knowledge, so step two would be to find a breeder exhibitor that you admire and make a new friend. This may take some time and patience on your part. Most breeders are more than willing to share knowledge and teach, but you need to appreciate that these people have lives also and common courtesy will go far.  Also books on the breed, learn some bloodlines and start to decide what you like and what you don't.

Next comes learning about genetic problems and how to avoid them. Canine hip dysplasia is a problem in our breed.. Learning about all of the problems and finding bloodlines that are relatively free of them takes some in depth research.

Which brings us to the next step. The search for your foundation bitch. She must be top quality, for she will become the heart of your breeding program. Spare no time and expense looking for her. Be prepared, once you have decided on the breeding you want, to get in line and wait. Also be prepared to spend some money. Breeding quality Bullmastiffs will start at around $1200-$2000.

Once you have her you will need to wait for her to grow up (age 2 minimum). Also, you will want to compete with her to see if she has the "right stuff". Titles aren't a guarantee of quality, but they help you to see if she measures up and also they help to assure that you will be able to have access to the right stud dog. He is the other half of the equation and equally deserving of a grand search. Also competition will give you visability to potential puppy buyers. You want great homes lining up for your pups.

Now you are ready to breed, but you still need to do more research. You will need to know about limited vs. full registration. You'll need to write an airtight contract, assuring that YOUR babies will be safe, loved and protected. You will need to make sure that your circumstances allow you to take back ANY puppy you produce for its entire life. You need to consider guarantees. Those great puppy buyers will want to be protected. You will need lots more research on caring for your pregnant bitch and on potential whelping problems. Also don't forget raising the whelps, which is an art in itself. A quick course in canine gentics can't hurt too.

Next thing you'll need is $$$$. Money for a fantastic brood bitch, a top notch stud dog, costs for raising your gal, testing for all those genetic problems, whelping supplies, emergency vet bills (have you priced the cost of a c-section??), money to hand raise pups or supplement if needed, money to vaccinate the puppies,  health checks, FOOD!! etc... Most of us figure we can, with a little luck, break even on a good litter IF we are lucky!!!

Then you just cross your fingers and wait. Wait for your puppy to be born - "What if there are all boys!", wait and sweat for all the clearances to come in "What do you mean there's a problem!!!. Wait for the puppies "The longest 63 days in history". And hopefully not have to wait for good homes. Next you need to screen your buyers carefully. I figure I refuse or talk out of buying a bullmastiff about 70% of the people who come to me looking for a puppy. Next you need to follow up and make sure that all puppies are doing well, answer a million questions on everything from housebreaking to feeding to grooming to...well you get the idea.

And there you have it, getting started in Bullmastiffs in 1000 word or less.

Seriously though, this just skims the surface. I'm sure there are lots of things I've forgotten. I think every would be breeder should volunteer with their local rescue for a month. This is a real education. Raising Bullmastiff puppies can be wonderful but it is a BIG commitment on your part. It should never be done on a whim or impulse. We have too many of those already. So if you decide to pursue this wonderful hobby (vocation? passion? obsession?), stick around, but be prepared for the heartaches that also come with being a breeder.

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Last Updated Sunday, April 01, 2001