BREEDING YOUR DOG
by Nadine Seals Tare

As a member of a family who has been breeding and showing miniature schnauzers for over 35 years, and also being involved with schnauzer rescue, I would like to ask you to please consider these things if you are thinking about breeding your dog:

Breeding is something never to be undertaken lightly, or without a lot of education, care, planning, and forethought. Reputable breeders do lots of health screening on their dogs prior to breeding them. At the least this includes several specialized blood tests, as well as annual checks by a Veterinary Ophthalmologist (specialist) to screen for any of the potential eye problems found in schnauzers. Are you aware that there are several genetically inherited eye problems in schnauzers, some leading to blindness at a young age? Since these problems are recessive traits, a schnauzer can pass them on to its offspring even if it does not have the problems itself. Has your dog ever had his or her eyes checked by an ACVO eye specialist? How about your dog's parents and grandparents? Does your dog come from stock that has been "test bred clear" for Congenital Juvenile Cataracts? Other inherited genetic defects, not just eye problems, occur in the breed as well. Have any of your dog's relatives developed bladder stones or diabetes, both of which may demonstrate a genetic predisposition? Are there carriers of the gene for susceptibility to the fatal disease Avian TB among your dog's ancestors (http://amsc.us/avian-tb.html)? Has your dog been DNA tested for Myotonia Congenita (http://amsc.us/myo-test.html)? for Type A PRA (http://amsc.us/pra-dna.html)? Additional health screens are also needed, such as CBC, blood chemistry panel, urinalysis, and testing for Brucellosis (a kind of "doggie VD," this disease is life threatening to puppies, which contract it from their parents at conception).

Besides genetically transmitted defects and undesirable hereditary traits, is your dog free of communicable diseases and parasites? Do you know your dog's lineage at least 5 generations back? A good breeder knows the pedigree (family tree) of his/her dogs going back MANY generations, along with any attendant problems in the lines. From where did you get your schnauzer.... from a knowledgeable, responsible breeder, a "backyard breeder," a pet shop? Breeding a pet shop dog is especially risky, since virtually all pet store dogs originated in puppy mills, which do no health or temperament screening whatsoever. As far as registration or your dog having "papers," please remember that AKC is just a registry and not any sort of guarantee of quality or health. According to the AKC web site: "There is a widely held belief that 'AKC' or 'AKC papers' and quality are one and the same. This is not the case. AKC is a registry body... It in no way indicates the quality or state of health of the dog... Many people breed their dogs with no concern for the qualitative demands of the breed standard. When this occurs repeatedly over several generations, the animals, while still pure-bred, can be of extremely low quality." Attend some dog shows and find a reputable show breeder who can evaluate your dog; if your dog is of breeding quality, an experienced schnauzer breeder can mentor you through the entire breeding process.

Please consider your reasons for wanting to breed. In today's world of extreme pet overpopulation, just desiring puppies is not reason enough; it is much too big a responsibility for that! Does your dog closely match the description of perfection outlined in the official miniature schnauzer "Breed Standard" (http://amsc.us/standard.html)? This is what keeps a schnauzer, a "schnauzer." It is much more than just a pretty face or an affectionate personality. Are there several champions in the pedigree? The more champions in a pedigree, the more likely the dog will exemplify what a schnauzer is SUPPOSED to be like, relative to conformation, temperament, and so on. Breeding should always be done with the goal of improving the breed as a whole.... with health, temperament, conformation, and intelligence as paramount.

Finally, if you do breed your dog, regardless of whether you own the male or the female you are responsible for the pups you bring into this world, for their entire lives. Will you carefully screen all people wanting your puppies, to make sure they are going to appropriate homes? You have an obligation to guarantee your pups (health, temperament, and against congenital defects) and to educate the new owners. Are you willing to keep any puppies you are unable to sell? A responsible breeder will take back or help place in a new home any dog he/she has produced, at any time, for any reason.... even years later.

There are lots more questions you should ask yourself before breeding your dog. Several helpful Internet resources are listed below:

Two more things to keep in mind:
 

  1. Please remember that things do not always go as planned... Not only is it possible to lose puppies during labor or afterwards, but your girl could suffer serious complications and possibly even die in whelp. Breeding is expensive; even a common C-section will cost you over $1000 and can be life-threatening.
     
  2. As for breeding your male.... it is very common for a dog used for stud to start "marking his territory," lifting his leg on the sofa, doorways, all over the house. And this is true even of a dog which has been housebroken and has always been immaculately clean in the house. Essentially, his activated hormones take charge! He may also become more aggressive. His motivation becomes breeding, rather than being a good family pet.

There is a lot to consider before you breed your dog! If you do decide to breed, please be sure to do so RESPONSIBLY.

Nadine Seals Tare
Tare Miniature Schnauzers
American Miniature Schnauzer Club "Code of Ethics" breeder and
President, New Jersey Schnauzer Rescue Network, Inc.
e-mail: seals@exit109.com


 

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