Advice for breeders


Dog breeding demands careful deliberation for it involves important responsibilities and extensive knowledge. If you are thinking about venturing into breeding English Cocker Spaniels, you should be prepared to face and handle the responsibility of a reputable dog breeder. Remember, you are not there solely for the monetary gains but you are into dog breeding primarily to support the breed. Here are some questions you should ponder on to help assess your determination of becoming a responsible dog breeder.

Are you ready to devote time and effort in carrying out the responsibilities of a kennel operation?

Caring for your dogs and their puppies is a 24/7 job particularly during the first few days of the puppies’ life. You will also need to attend to the older dogs’ need for exercise and grooming. Before new puppy owners come to bring home their puppies, you have to initiate socialization and housetraining as early as possible.

Do you have the capital to finance a dog kennel operation?

A dog kennel operation calls for high initial investment for its establishment including the best dams and sires, infrastructure, etc. Since it is a year-round operation, you have to think about expenses for feeds, stud services, veterinary bills, pet supplies, vaccines, grooming supplies, and even medical emergencies such as C-sections.

Do you have the best English Cocker Spaniels which are satisfactory for breeding and perpetuation?

Registration with a recognized organization such as the AKC or UKC does not guarantee that a dog is perfect for breeding. Indiscriminate mating of English Cocker Spaniels has given rise to congenital problems that can easily be manifested in the offspring. As a responsible dog breeder, you should always keep your most important responsibility in mind, that of strengthening the breed.

Is there a potentially big market for English Cocker Spaniel puppies?

Since you are still starting up, you need to advertise and make a name in the industry. You will also need to get referrals from dog owners. You have to prepare to care for your puppies until they are sold particularly when you are still building up your reputation.

Are you prepared to say goodbye to your puppies?

Your puppies will come and go and you should be prepared to deal with emotional ups and downs. You usually end up getting emotionally attached to the puppies and you will surely have a hard time when prospective owners come to bring home a puppy.

Do you have any idea of the significant humane responsibility of dog breeders?

As more and more dog breeders continue to engage in the business, more and more dogs also end up in the dog pound and animal rescue centres. The possibility of being raised under inhumane conditions continues to exist and as dogs pile up in the rescue centres, many are awaiting disposal. Part of your responsibility as a dog breeder is to screen your puppy buyers to ensure that your puppies go home to families that will love and care for them.

Are you aware of laws that safeguard and promote the welfare of dogs?

In the UK, there are significant laws which have been formulated and implemented to safeguard and promote the welfare of dogs. You should take time to do research and be familiar with all these laws including the Breeding and Sales of Dogs Welfare Act and the Animal Welfare Act of 2006. You must always remember that “ignorance of the law excuses no one”.

These are the following areas that you must adhere to during routine and/or unscheduled inspections:

I. Record Keeping

  1. identifying marks (tattoo/microchip, kennel club registration)
  2. disease and infection control
  3. matings
  4. whelpings
  5. oestrus
  6. numbers of puppies
  7. sales records

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Housekeeping including:

  1. accommodation
  2. construction
  3. cleanliness and disinfection
  4. bedding
  5. exercise areas
  6. kitchen facilities
  7. first aid provision – human and animal
  8. food and water – storage and provision
  9. isolation facilities
  10. staff training and facilities
  11. emergency procedures and fire prevention

Preparing the Bitch

As a rule of thumb, a bitch should be first mated when she is already two years old. This will give adequate time for your bitch to develop physically, mentally and socially in order to make her better prepared to deal with the stress of mating, conception, giving birth and taking care of puppies.

To prepare the bitch for mating and the events that come after, she needs a good exercise regimen and adequate nutrition. To be sure that your bitch is receiving optimum nutrition, you have to seek your veterinarian’s advice. Vitamin supplements may also be prescribed. Before first mating, the bitch needs to be wormed and vaccinated. Passing a final health check is mandatory to ensure that she is free of potential hereditary problems.

Choosing a Stud Dog

If you don’t own a stud, you have to pick out the best one. Stud services are expensive and you have to make sure that you are paying for the best. You should remember that the male contributes 50% of the genotype thus you should select the best that you can afford. You may have to do comprehensive research first including getting referrals from important stakeholders of the industry including well-established dog breeders, experts, and veterinarians.

When choosing a stud, make sure that you take these factors into consideration:

  • Pedigree
  • Temperament
  • Health test results including hip scores, eye certificates, elbow scores, DNA test results
  • His body conformation in relation to your bitch
  • Genetic makeup that will include both his genotype and phenotype
  • Records of awards in competitions
  • His offspring
  • Stud fee and/or other conditions concerning the use of the stud

Paperwork Required

Keep a record of the following important information for each bitch and litter that you produce:

Heat Record

  1. Name of bitch
  2. Litter Number (way to differentiate between litters at your kennel)
  3. Date of onset
  4. Interval
  5. Smear date and results
  6. Progesterone Test date and results
  7. Breeding dates and comments on breeding
  8. Palpitation dates and results
  9. Ultrasound date and results
  10. X-ray date and results
  11. Notes on pregnancy
  12. Track weight gain weekly
  13. Track temperature from day 58-65, 3 times daily
  14. Date and time whelping began
  15. Date and time whelping ended
  16. Notes on whelping

Litter Record

  1. Breed
  2. Registered name and KC number of dam
  3. Registered name and KC number of sire
  4. Sire’s owner’s name
  5. Date mated
  6. Date litter whelped
  7. Number of male puppies born
  8. Number of female puppies born
  9. KC Litter Number
  10. Sex, Colour/Markings, Puppy ID number, Date Sold, Date Died, Name and address of person to whom sold, Dates when following paperwork was supplied: registration application or certificate and bill of sale; name and KC number of puppy.

Additional Litter Information

  1. Time each puppy was born
  2. Ribbon colour or other identifying mark
  3. Colour of puppy
  4. Sex
  5. Weight at birth
  6. Length at birth
  7. A description of any problems
  8. Whelping date
  9. Sire and Dam
  10. Time whelping started and ended
  11. Notes on whelping

Puppy Record

  1. Ribbon colour
  2. Call Name
  3. Registered Name
  4. Sex
  5. Colour
  6. KC Litter No.
  7. KC Registration No.
  8. Date of Birth
  9. Sire and Dam
  10. Weight at Birth and when sold
  11. Vaccinations Given (Date and Type)
  12. Owner (include address and telephone numbers)
  13. Date sold
  14. Conditions of sale
  15. Price
  16. Notes on Development and Temperament
  17. On the back of this form, track the weight of the puppies daily until they are three weeks old and then weekly thereafter.

Litter Registration Application

Its very important to register you new litter with KC (The Kennel Club), this application should be completed as soon as the puppies are whelped so you can deliver the correct paperwork to the puppy buyers.

Puppy Registration Forms

Once your litter has been registered you will receive a registration form so the puppy buyers can register their puppies with the KC.

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