Learning how to become a dog breeder and the basics of dog breeding is difficult so we spent hours & dollars to compile this 19 step ultimate guide to help you succeed.
Become a dog breeder and say hello to sleepless nights, hours of training and countless trips to a reputable veterinary.
Breeding dogs is no cinch and will require a combination of commitment mixed with long hours of feeding and grooming and exercise.
When done well, it’s a rewarding art sure to bring many a smile.
That’s why today, whether it’s a single litter or hundreds of puppies, breeders around the globe are making the choice to intentionally mate dogs and grow beautiful little pups.
Perhaps you’re wondering how to become a dog breeder and join this field of canine lovers?
Below are 19 steps you need to know in starting your very own dog breeding business.
From getting off the ground to selecting quality canines, understanding the breeding process, crunching numbers, growing your business, and more, we’ll guide you each step of the way.
1. Understand the cost of breeding dogs.
Becoming a quality dog breeder takes a lot of dough up front and it’s never fun returning your beautiful canine to the original breeder simply because your funds ran dry.
So do your proper homework before entering the breeding industry and know what’s in your wallet.
Calculate how many dollars are required to bring home your first female dog.
How much will it cost to breed your female?
How expensive is your kennel?
How much are bedding and toys?
What will it cost for veterinary visits?
How much are you hoping to earn on a dog breeder salary?
These are all factors which should be considered prior to ever saying hello to your first breeding canine.
2. Choose your dog breed.
Whether you’ve completed a dog breed selector quiz or not, take time to consider which breed you will specialize in.
What will be your best dog breeds?
Have you had any previous experience with a specific breed?
Are you looking to work with small dog breeds or large?
Will you begin with one breed, or several?
When selecting your breed, are there specific personalities you feel drawn to?
Do you have adequate space for the size of your breed?
What type of veterinary care is required for your breed?
What are the food and exercise requirements for your chosen breed?
Also take note of a breed’s medical history, strengths and weaknesses and keep to the purebreds.
3. Research the best canine breeds for a dog breeding business.
Talk to other dog breeders, join local dog clubs, check out your state’s breeder organization, and find a knowledgeable breeder who can mentor you along the breeding journey as well as point out anything you may be missing.
If you’re located within the United States, consider joining AKC (see their registration costs here) and talk, talk, talk with fellow dog breeders.
In addition, browse through dog related books, articles and online sights to learn all you can about your breed.
4. Complete an on-line course on becoming a dog breeder.
Another way to expand your dog breeding knowledge is to complete an on-line study course.
The American Kennel Club offers courses at no charge in dog breeding anatomy, genetic defects, pedigree and more.
Or you might find interesting the Dog Breeding Master Course available from BreedingBusiness.com.
If you’re looking to accumulate some credits in the process, Opencollege.info offers a fully accredited dog breeding course covering the basics in dog breeding.
5. What are your state’s dog breeding laws?
Each state has its own unique dog breeding laws so be certain to know what is required in your respective state.
Laws vary depending if you are considered a commercial breeder (typically one who grows 20 puppies within a year) or a hobby breeder (often one who has only one or two litters within a twelve month span).
Know in which category you belong and be sure to meet the requirements listed.
A table of state commercial pet breeder laws is listed here.
In addition, check with your city’s department of licenses and inspections or your local county clerk’s office and find out if you need a special license or permit to breed dogs.
Also know if you are required to register your kennel.
6. Get breeder insurance before starting your new breeding business.
You never know when tragedy may strike.
Get a puppy insurance with good coverage that will keep you protected in the case that your dog becomes sick or injured.
Insurance should also cover you in the event that your dog attacks another dog or human.
When your puppies are ready for home, consider including individual puppy insurance with each little darling as they make their journey home.
Companies to consider who offer great coverage include Trupanion and Embrace Pet Insurance.
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7. Choose your first female canine for breeding.
Be sure to select a female that has not been neutered.
Research your specific breed and know how to recognize faults and weaknesses in your breed as well as how to correct such things.
Especially among large dog breeds, inquire if there are any OFA certificates for your breed.
Compare potential dogs against their respective breed standard on AKC’s official dog list and enjoy purchasing with confidence.
In addition, be sure your dog includes breeding rights.
Some breeders restrict their puppies from becoming breeding stock; be sure your bitch is not included in this category.
You will also benefit by purchasing a puppy rather than a grown adult dog.
It’ll take some time before that first litter arrives but you’ll be able to nurture a well-rounded dog from little up and be confident your dog is coming from quality stock.
When in doubt, wait for the perfect puppy.
As your canine matures, include dog vitamins in the daily diet to increase good dog health.
Remember it’s your responsibility as a breeder to produce elite puppies at the very core. Quality – in the long run – is sure to carry reward.
8. Find a quality sire to invest your business on.
Whether you’re purchasing a male dog or simply searching for a five-star sire to breed with your dam, compare the physical appearances of both the male and female.
In addition, compare the pedigree and genes of dam and sire, look for mates of complementary size and always avoid inbreeding.
9. Monitor your female.
You’ve dished out dollars.
You’ve covered your back with good insurance.
You’ve joined a local dog breeder’s group.
You know your local laws.
You understand how to become a dog breeder.
You’re finally ready for your female to birth little darlings.
Fortunately, it’s not all chance and there are set rhythms you can know to increase the possibility of your female becoming pregnant.
Before diving too deep, you’ll want to know some terminology.
Bitch and dam are titles for the female dog who hasn’t been spayed and sire is a male who’s ready to breed.
Plus, a few questions you may encounter along the way include:
How often should a dog go in heat?
A female goes in heat (meaning she can then be bred) twice a year, once in the Spring and again in the Fall.
How old are dogs when they go into heat?
A dog’s very first heat cycle can occur any time between six and twenty-four months of age and will vary between individuals, sizes and particular breeds.
Generally smaller breeds will experience their first heat younger than larger breeds.
To encourage optimum health in your dam, it is best to wait until at least her second heat cycle before breeding her with a sire.
How long is a dog in heat?
Once the heat cycle begins, it can last from eighteen to twenty-four days.
During the first stage of the cycle, known as proestrus, a bitch’s vulva (located just below the anus) will become swollen and bleeding will occur.
The bleeding is simply a vaginal discharge and can vary from slight to heavy bleeding.
During this stage the female may appear nervous and clingy, as well as sport a nesting behavior while collecting favorite toys in the sleeping area.
Urination will be frequent, the tail will be held close and the female will show no signs of wanting to breed.
Ten to twelve days later the second stage, known as estrus, is ushered in and your bitch is ready to breed.
The former bloody discharge will become clear or straw colored and the female will be quick to wag her tail to the side, thus making herself available to other male dogs (known as “flagging”).
These sudden changes in behavior are simply a result of fluctuations in hormones.
Your female may also display a mounting behavior as she tries to mount other dogs, objects, or even your leg.
During this stage, you may also consider having your female tested by a veterinary to know exactly which days will be the best to breed your bitch.
A female will give off pheromones during this stage which males can smell and be warned, they’ll come from far and wide in interest of your bitch if allowed.
The final stage is diestrus.
Females are no longer interested in mating and the discharge will be complete.
The vulva will shrink to its original size and your female will either have a womb of little babes or be back to her normal self.
10. Breed your bitch with a prized sire.
During the second stage as described above (estrus) is when a bitch should be bred.
Prior to breeding, however, be sure to have both the male and female checked by a veterinary to insure complete health and no serious hereditary diseases in either male or female.
Mating between a bitch and dam is then a natural process.
A female should wait to be bred until her second or third heat cycle and a male should wait until at least 1 ½ years old.
Provided this is met, breeding can then take place.
Often breeding will occur at the male dog’s residence as to avoid distractions for the male.
It is also important to provide a private and calm place with good footing.
At first, a female may flag her tail and the mail will show high interest.
He may begin licking her vulva and then attempt to mount the female.
The entire process should be supervised to be sure the dogs are compatible and avoid aggression toward each other.
If the male is at first unable to mount the female, you may need to gently hold the female still.
After the male is able to mount, the two will be “tied” together for anywhere from five minutes to two hours.
This process may be repeated again two days later to increase the chance of the female becoming bred.
A second way to breed a bitch is through artificial insemination.
Dog semen is frozen and stored in liquid nitrogen and can be shipped worldwide.
Steps are then taken to thaw the semen and inseminate a female dog during her heat cycle.
11. Monitor your female dog’s pregnancy.
Provided your bitch conceived, you can settle in and prepare for a quick nine week pregnancy.
During the first few weeks, nothing may appear out of ordinary.
Nearing the end of month one, a bitch may show a decrease in physical activity, increased affectionate behavior, “morning sickness” and enlarged nipples.
Beginning in month two, appetite may spike, weight gain anywhere from 20% to 50% can be expected, and visible puppy movement may start happening on day 50.
Month three ushers the final days of pregnancy at which point appetite will decline and the waist line will trim down as puppies transition into the birthing canal.
Body temperature will drop during the final 12 – 24 hours prior to labor and a mother will grow restless as she either paces, pants or digs about.
It is extremely important to provide extra nutrition during those last weeks leading up to the puppies’ birth.
Talk to a vet about proper nutrition and be sure you’re keeping your female healthy and able to pass on nutrition to all her little ones inside.
12. How to prepare for puppy birthing.
Prior to the big day, be sure the whelping box is prepared.
Create a warm, comfortable and quiet space away from other dogs.
Introduce your female to the space ahead of time so she can feel safe within her birthing environment.
Line the whelping box with newspaper as bedding and be familiar with the birthing process.
Have clean towels and a thermometer nearby (remember the female’s temperature will drop prior to labor), and be ready to help your female should there be any problems.
In addition, know your vets phone number and any emergency personnel in the case of unfortunate complications.
Also prior to your little puppies’ arrival you’ll want to have high-quality food, water dishes, bedding, toys and appropriate grooming supplies handy.
A good set of nail clippers and a gentle puppy shampoo is a great place to start.
Also grab yourself a pooper-scooper and quality kennel disinfectant.
After delivery, replace the newspaper with a clean mat or soft bedding and have your camera ready.
Don’t forget to snap lots of photos as you enjoy those first hours together with your littles.
13. When you start a dog breeding business, do those early days right.
During those first days, indulge yourself with lots of puppy time.
You’ll never get a second chance to get it right.
Be sure to keep your little bundles warm and handle each puppy often.
Socialize them with family and friends.
Take them along to grandma’s house, the cousin’s place and that neighborhood party.
Introduce them to young children and teens while making them comfortable around men and women alike.
Ensure they feel safe in a vehicle and familiarize them with a veterinarian office.
Have them play on a variety of floor surfaces including tile, wood and grass so they won’t be shocked when encountering new floors.
Douse them with a whole lot of love and be sure they are getting proper nutrition.
Combine these factors together and you’ll be rewarded with a charming family of pups ready to take on the world.
14. A big part of a dog breeding business is finding loving homes for your puppies.
Don’t wait to get your puppies listed.
While they won’t be going home for at least eight weeks from birth, start lining up their future homes to ensure they will each have a loving place to call home.
You can introduce your puppies to the world and let people know they are available through your local classified ads or a simple sign in your front yard.
Or you can list them through sites such as Puppyfind.com, Puppyspot.com or Lancasterpuppies.com.
If you’re feeling techy, you could even create your very own personalized website through WordPress and grab a helpful breeder plugin here.
Perhaps tech is not your game and you’d like a more cost efficient avenue to selling puppies.
VIP Puppies offers a personalized webpage where you’ll be able to grab your own web address and display all your prized canines for the world to admire without dishing out excess dollars.
Simply become a VIP breeder and enjoy connecting your puppies with loving homes.
15. Send each puppy home with confidence.
In addition to getting your puppies out there for the public to see, be sure to vet every single buyer and ensure your puppies will be going to loving homes that have what it takes to care for a dog.
Never send a puppy home until at least eight weeks old and be honest about any issue your puppies might have.
Provide regular veterinary care from a licensed vet prior to your puppy leaving and create a selling contract which includes health guarantees, limitations and any requirements for spaying or neutering.
Also considering sending a puppy FAQ sheet or puppy parenting e-book home with new puppy parents.
You might even wow the new family with a plush puppy package designed to celebrate a puppy’s special homecoming.
16. Get your dog breeding business numbers crunched, clean and concise.
Along the way, be sure to keep track of every dollar earned and spent.
Record your expenses, know your profits, keep those receipts and don’t let a dog sale happen without having it in writing.
Create invoices or receipts for each puppy placed, and know where your money is going.
One app designed to help you out and keep the books straight is Wave.
At Wave you’ll be able to keep track of receipts, expenses, profits, invoices and more all in a single location.
While talking dollars, know that a female will not get bred more than twice a year.
So if you’re looking for a steady stream of income through the breeding industry, you might consider having several females for breeding purposes.
Although don’t expect to pocket a ton of cash as a canine breeder.
If the dollar is all you are about, success as a dog breeder is nowhere to be found.
You’ll soon grow weary as you discover the grit needed to successfully grow little pups.
So before you bring home that very first dog, be certain you’re about more than just the dough.
17. Keep things clear with a great dog breeding software.
Fortunately, when it comes to breeding dogs, you’re not alone.
Over past years thousands have journeyed through the field and today folks are working hard to make a breeder’s job more enjoyable.
If you’re like most, you’ll probably prefer time spent with your puppies rather than hours of book keeping, note taking, and in depth research.
DogBreederPro offers a web-based software which allows you to manage your kennel, view pedigrees, track health and more. Try it free for 30 days!
Or you might consider ZooEasy where you can follow bloodlines, print breeding cards, list pertinent details, record medical history and know genetic information.
18. Grow your dog breeding business.
Perhaps working with dogs, caring for puppies and investing in lives will prove to be your sweet spot and all you want to do is grow your business.
While a breeder will typically remain in a single location, his or her puppies can be sold locally, regionally, nationally or worldwide.
So if you’re loving the breeding world, go ahead and hire a few employees to aid you along the way.
A dedicated breeder will often hire at least part-time help to assist with births and keep the kennel thriving during the occasional vacation.
Before your kennel expands too far, you may consider creating an LLC in order to protect yourself from potential lawsuits.
How to start a dog breeding business LLC
An LLC, or Limited Liability Company, is the simplest way to structure your business and protect your personal assets all in one.
LLCs prevent businesses from being taxed twice, make businesses appear more credible, cut back on paperwork (in comparison to other business types), and protect owners from getting sued.
19. Are your knees shaking at the thought of becoming a dog breeder?
Perhaps you’ve read this far and are suddenly convinced breeding dogs is not your cup of tea.
If that is you, you’ve got no need to worry.
Fortunately, the dog world is full of other possible work ventures.
Rover.com offers possibilities including boarding dogs, providing doggy day care or just taking a dog for a walk.
You could also opt to become a professional pet sitter through Pet Sitters International or start schooling to become a veterinarian or veterinarian’s assistant.
Final takeaways on becoming a dog breeder.
As a dog breeder, know there is no perfect dog.
Rather, it is your responsibility to strive for as close to perfection as possible.
Breeding is indeed an art that will take time, resources and energy.
When done well, it will no doubt have its rewards as you nurture little lives before connecting them with excited and loving families.