There are many things that should be considered when thinking about breeding your dog. Breeding should not be taken lightly or by the faint of heart. This page is long, but I hope it is very informative as well. It's not all fun and games. The second half of this page discusses problems that can arise, even with the most of care.
Just because your friends all say they would love to have a puppy out of your dog doesn't mean that they will step up to the plate when the time comes. They could also get one somewhere else in the meantime.
You can guarantee that a puppy from your favorite dog will not act just like it. Also, sometimes new owners are unable to keep their new dog for life. Are you willing to take any of the puppies back for whatever reason and rehome it or keep it for the rest of it's life? If the answer is no, you should seriously reconsider as our shelters are overflowing with unwanted animals.
Second, is your dog "worthy" of breeding? Now that you have 6-10 (could be more) puppies to find homes, what are your "selling points"? Is your dog titled? Are the parents of your dogs titled?
You have decided that your dog is "worthy". Now you should know about the diseases that labs can have and transmit to thier offspring. A lot of the diseases can be screened and prevented. I have listed some of them below and an estimated cost of these tests--they will vary depending on your area. DNA tests do not include vet fees and shipping fees. Links for testing agencies and information for listed are on the Contacts/Links page.
$300 Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD)
Elbow Dysplasia (ED)/Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD)
$ 50 Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia (TVD)
$ 50 Canine Eye Registration Foundation (Cerf)
$ 67 Centronuclear Myopathy (CNM)
$ 65 Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC)
$195 Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
$100 Retinal Dysplasia (RD) introductary price until 9/30/08
$130 Narcolepsy (NARC)
Canine Epilepsy Still in research
$907 for each parent just for testing. Most of these are DNA tests for recessive genes that you will not know your dog is carrying and cause malformed, blind, or puppies that collapse when they get excited.
Micro Chipping is not required before testing, but is highly recommended. It is noted on their clearances if they are chipped or not. Cost of having the chip done by the vet starts at $40.
There are costs that could be added if you test to see if she is ready to be bred, if you decide to do artificial insemination, etc. A conservative starting point for ovulation testing and having artificial insemination done is $2000.
If you own the female, you will need a safe place for her to have her puppies. You will need two sheets of plywood and a couple of 2x4's as a minimum. If you raise the puppies in the house, you may not need a top on the box. If they are outside, you will want a hinged top for ease of cleaning. Plan on using at least two blankets a day, possibly more as the puppies get older. The blankets will need to be washed and dried every day to keep the puppies clean.
$125 should cover whelping box and simple blankets in most areas.
During the pregnancy, the female will need up to twice her normal food consumption. After the puppies are born, she may need even more. Just for the sake of estimating, we will assume double the whole pregnancy and nursing. Four months at an extra 40 lb bag of good food is approximately $180 (this is in addition to the normal $180 worth of food that you would feed her even without puppies).
The puppies will need to start eating at some point. Mine start tasting a mash of soaked food around three weeks old. Last litter of 10 ate at least two whole 40 lb bags. That runs about $90. That was at 8 weeks old. Remember, you may have some after that.
You will need to deworm the mother and puppies several times while they are young. Recommended is currenty 2, 3, 4, 6 weeks and shots starting at six weeks. Conservative estimate on this I would say is $25 per puppy.
For this litter, you will have $1,200 already not counting gas, electricty, time or vet fees. Also shipping for the DNA tests were not included. Micro chipping is also not figured in.
So far, we have covered just the basic costs. What if emergencies come up. I have had or know some one who has had at least one of the following to occur.
Assuming everything has gone good so far, it's delivery time! All has been going well, Fluffy has four puppies, but now she has been straining for four hours and it's obvious that she's not done having puppies. It's Saturday night and now it's time to go to the vet for an emergency c-section. The remaining puppies could be alive or dead at this point. That can run in the neighborhood of $600 to in excess of $2500. Without the c-section, Fluffy's uterus could rupture and she dies as a result of it. I personally have had three c-sections done on dogs, fortunately all were in business hours and resulted in all puppies living. I have also been in the vets office where a mother died two days after birth from a ruptured uterus after having all of her three of her puppies.
Hopefully Fluffy made it. If she didn't you now have puppies that need bottle feeding every two hours. There are also other times that you may have to bottle feed. Mastitis is an infection of the mammary glands. The milk contains bacteria and turns brown and is no longer safe for the puppies to drink. Trip to the vet approx. $60-100. If the infection is severe enough, the infection will rupture to the outside for draining, leaving a gaping hole that must be taken care of several times daily. I have seen this happen more than once with a friend's dog.
Sometimes accidents happen...Fluffy could get out of the yard and get hit by a car, and you still have to feed the puppies.
Sometimes, especially with small litters that tend to be overweight, you can get what is called a swimmer puppy. The puppies will lay on thier stomachs so much that their chest will grow flat. The front legs will be "spread eagle", the back legs will be stiff. They may not be able to walk around. The puppy could have a neurological condition that causes it not to be comfortable on its side. Much time is needed to encourage the puppy to sleep on it's side, bend it's legs in the proper way, etc. The first puppy I bred (litter of 2) that had this condition had to have a surgery on one side. The sire of this puppy was OFA Excellent, the dam OFA Good with all four grandparents having passing OFA scores. I have had another that I knew what to do with that turned out fine.
Coccidia and Giardia is a concern, especially for the water breeds. Both are found in damp areas--can be in the yard after a rain or a pond, etc. Either can be carried in the mother's body shedding to the puppies. Both cause diarrhea and cause death to the puppies as they are more easily dehydrated and need plenty of nutrition to grow. This would entail all puppies and possibly the mother being treated with antibiotics or antiflagellet depending on which they have. Again this is a trip to the vet, hard to say how much it would run, but I would guess over $100.
There are several viral diseases that puppies can catch. Parvo and Distemper are very prevalent in the south. Both can cause death quickly in puppies. Best guess is a minimum of $300 per puppy should they catch either one--without vet care, they will most likely die. I have seen puppies in shelters dying of parvo--that is a sight I will never forget and never want to see again. Vet bills for a litter can easily run over a thousand dollars.
If you have to advertise your puppies, one week of a basic ad will probably run in the vicinity of $100. Even this will not guarantee you sell all of your puppies. I have run an ad for a week in a large city with FC/AFC sire and not gotten a single call about puppies I had--everybody either wanted a different color or males when I had females. Again, you could have multiple puppies after 8 weeks of age. At this point, they are eating somewhere in the neighborhood of two cups of food a day. That's as much as my adults eat a day. The puppies will need more as they grow at 3 months old they can be eating 3-4 cups a day, 6 months 5-6 cups. Another thing to remember that the puppies will still need their booster shots and wormings at 9 and 12 weeks, heartworm prevention also needs to be maintained. Rabies vaccinations are required in SC and most other states for any dog or cat over the age of 16 weeks. Some areas such require licensing as well that can vary from $3 dollars for spayed/neutered dogs to $20 or more for unspayed/neutered dogs.