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  • April 2018

 There are lots of issues to consider before you go ahead and get your bitch mated. Probably the most important question to ask yourself is:

“Why do I want to breed from my dog?”

Listed below are some points to consider when you are making this important decision.

 

  • Dozens of Weimaraners are rehoused each year and the numbers are on the increase, so do you want to add to the burden on the rescue services? Could you take back and rehome any puppies that you have bred?
  • Too many people think that breeding a litter of puppies is a quick way of making some money. Wrong! Although the puppies sell for between £850-950, there are lots of costs involved in raising a litter of puppies - stud fees, vet expenses before, during and after whelping, whelping boxes and fleeces, food, vaccinations etc. Also, there is a chance that the bitch will produce a small litter of just 2 or 3 puppies or require a C-section (quite common in the breed and costing upwards of £700) and in the worst case scenario you could lose the bitch and puppies. It’s not always possible to find puppy buyers, especially for the male pups, and breeders often run on the puppies for 10 weeks or more.
  • Is your bitch worth breeding from? Take a critical look at your bitch. Does she conform to the breed standard? Has she any faults? What is her temperament like? Has she suffered from any illnesses that could have been inherited? How fit is she? Have you had her hip scored and eye tested?
  • Breeding is a risky business – there is so much that could go wrong. Could you bear to lose your bitch? There are many reasons why a bitch may not be able to raise her pups – some bitches take an instant dislike to the pups, she is ill (meningitis, bloat, infection etc can all result in the mother being unable to look after her pups) or she dies as a result of whelping or complications from a C-section. For what ever reason, you could be left with bottle feeding a litter of pups which is a huge job. 
  • How old is your bitch? Most of the Weimaraner clubs have a code of conduct that requires a bitch to be two years old before she has a litter. Probably the best age to have a first litter is about three years of age. Bitches should not be mated after they reach the age of 8, and there should be a clear year between litters and no more than 3 litters in a bitch’s lifetime.
  • Have you got the time? Don't underestimate the work involved in raising a litter. Believe me, it is exhausting! You will have to care for them for at least 8 weeks, possibly longer. They may get you up in the middle of the night. They make an amazing amount of noise for their size so you will need understanding neighbours. You will be tied to the house, only able to escape for a few hours unless you get somebody in to watch them. And, for the last few weeks all you seem to do is pump food in at one end and clean up the mess created by the other! Can you put up with the noise and smells!
  • Have you got the space? Where will you raise the puppies? It’s not too bad for the first weeks as the puppies stay in their whelping box and are cared for by mum. But from three weeks they will be running around and demanding attention. You will need somewhere inside the house for their bed and play pen and somewhere outside where they can run around. Many people find that a utility room near the back door is ideal. It’s not in the main part of the house so the smells don't fill all the other rooms and it gives quick access to the garden after a meal.

There is more to raising pups that simply feeding and cleaning up. You need to carry out a programme of socialisation so that your pups are ready to face the world confident and well adjusted. This involves ensuring your pups are handled, exposed to different sights and sounds, textures, and other experiences. The Kennel Club’s Puppy Socialisation Plan is an excellent programme to follow (www.thepuppyplan.com)

Choosing a stud dog

If you have decided that you definitely want to breed from your bitch, the next step is to find a stud dog. You could look for a show dog with a proven track record or use a working dog or even a pet dog. If your aim is to produce healthy puppies for pet homes then you need to look for a good quality stud dog, but this is not necessarily a top show dog. However, one of the most important criteria is finding an owner of a stud dog who is prepared to help you and offer advice before and after the mating as well as support during the time when the puppies are being raised and be prepared to help you rehome any dogs in the future.

  • Your bitch's pedigree is a good place to start. A responsible stud dog owner will ask you about the pedigree. Become familiar with the names of the parents and grand parents. Make a note of any show champions on the pedigree. You are probably aiming to find a dog with a pedigree that has some dogs in common but is not too similar. You don't necessarily want to breed to a close relative unless you are sure you know what you want to achieve. The Kennel Club’s Mate Select is a useful tool. It will allow you to do test matings and will tell you the co-efficient of inbreeding. You are looking for the coefficient to be as low as possible and definitely not more than 12.
  • What are you looking for in a stud dog? Look for features that compliment those of your own dog or features that would improve those of your own bitch. For example, if you have a bitch with a short back you may want to find a long-backed dog. If your bitch is at the tall end of the standard (standard states 56 and 64 cm at the withers) you may want to use a medium-sized dog to ensure that the puppies are within the standard.
  • A good starting point is the breeder of your bitch who may be able to give you some suggestions regarding suitable stud dogs.
  • Our advice is to find a stud dog owner who is a member of one of the 4 Weimaraner clubs as all the clubs operate a code of conduct. A club member will be in a better position to help you find suitable puppy buyers and may even have a list of people waiting for a puppy. Also, many puppy buyers are wary of buying a puppy sired by a dog they know nothing about. They want to be able to talk to the stud dog owner to find out more or learn about their offspring.
  • You could go to a championship dog show, a breed club event or Crufts to look at the dogs. See if there are any offspring being shown that have been sired by the dogs that interest you. And don't be shy of asking for advice. There will be a lot of experienced people around the show ring who will be happy to help.
  • If you can’t find a suitable dog owned by a club member, then a reliable site to look for a stud dog is champdogs.co.uk
  • Be very wary of the many stud dogs listed on the free-to-advertise stud dog sites. The low cost may seem attractive but could prove to be false economy in the long run. Many of these dogs are owned by people who have no interest in the breed, often make false claims about the quality/pedigree of their dog and simply want to earn a fast buck. Do you think they will help you if you have problems or offer to help rehome a dog in the future?
  • Try to use a dog that has been 'proven' i.e. used successfully before. This will make things a lot easier if you own a maiden bitch. A local pet dog may seem a good option as they can be cheaper to use but a pet owner may not be in a position to offer advice or help when it comes to getting two novice dogs mated!
  • How much should you pay? The rates vary depending on the quality of the dog and whether or not it has already sired puppies. A good quality proven dog that has not necessarily been shown will probably cost £600, up to £1,000 for one of the top sires. 
  • There are a number of essential questions to ask the owner of a stud dog before you even visit - is it kennel club registered, what is its registered name and KC number, check that there are no endorsements that prevent it from being bred from (a common problem!), how old is the dog, has it sired any litters, has it been hip scored and eye tested (and if not ask why), has it had any recent illnesses or prostate problems that could affect his fertility, has it been given antibiotics recently, ask about its general medical history, ask about the dog's parents and grandparents (their age, medical history etc). If it is a proven dog, ask about the litter sizes and the ratio of bitch to dog puppies. Ask when the last litter was born. If the litter was local and recent you could have a chance of seeing some of the dog's offspring. And be very clear about the stud fees, can you visit several times, what happens if there is no litter, can you return when your bitch is in season again. Under what circumstances are you entitled to a refund. Ask to see the contract – and this is important, you need to sign a contract so both parties are clear on what has been agreed.
  • If the potential stud dog is local, ask to visit. Its best to visit on your own without your bitch or any children. Have a good look at him. As well as asking questions, get the owner to run him around so you can check that he is sound. Look at his teeth - check that the dog has all its teeth and that the jaw is not over or undershot. What's his temperament like? Does he mind being handled etc.

Once you have found a suitable dog, the next stage is to tell the owner when your bitch is due to come into season and check that the stud dog will be available. If the bitch is due to come in season during the summer months there is a chance of holidays clashing with your dates. Hence a reserve stud dog is a good idea. At this point you need to confirm the fees and check on the procedure. The bitch normally visits the stud dog twice during her season in increase the chances of a successful mating. It is usual for there to be an agreement which allows the bitch to visit the stud dog again during her next season if the first mating proved to be unsuccessful. However, the stud fee is not usually refundable if a mating takes place but no puppies result. The stud dog owner is required to sign the KC registration form or approve an online registration of the litter.