Thoughts on Breeding

Date July 4, 2000
Things to consider before breeding your schnauzer
                                                 By Amy Gordon

It is scientifically proven that the earlier you spay or neuter your companion dog, the less chance of developing certain kinds of cancers.   You also do not have to put up with the twice yearly heat cycles and resultant possible mood swings in females and wandering and inappropropriate behavior such as leg lifting in males.  Spaying or neutering should be thought of as a way to improve your dog’s life and yours.  It is simply an old wives tale that a dog should be bred at least once before it is fixed.  It is actually a case of ‘what he doesn’t know, he won’t miss.’

Considering the amount of unwanted and stray dogs today, by not breeding your pet, you will be making a very real contribution to animal welfare as a whole and the breed we all love.  Most of the unwanted and stray purebreds come from “puppy mills” who breed heavily and without regard for quality or genetic testing or screening.  A second major source is pet owners who breed their animals without realizing the responsibilities of placing the puppies and taking into account hereditary health issues.   Breeding dogs has become a complex, expensive and demanding practice, which should be backed up by genetic information and screening and a thorough knowledge of the desired traits in the breed.

Breeding your pet because you want another just like it or because it has a wonderful personality is not necessarily the best idea either.  If you want one like your dog then I suggest you go back to the breeder you got your dog from.  If you breed to a dog from another line, you won’t necessarily get one just like yours.  As far as your pet having a good temperament, there is more to breeding than that.  Health issues are important also.

For those that are saying to themselves, ‘Well I don’t want to breed show dogs, just nice pets.’.  Don’t pets deserve to be healthy also?  All litters should be planned with health issues in mind and research to see if any relatives are affected or the dogs themselves are affected.

This said, I am sure that if you are going to breed, you want to produce healthy, quality  puppies.   The following are some of the things that serious breeders do to produce puppies that are of the highest quality in conformation, temperament and health:

Experienced breeders do extensive pedigree research and plan each litter very carefully.   They are well-read and experienced in health matters. They have a large circle of experienced breeder contacts who can offer advice  and assistance if needed.  Most belong to local and national breed clubs.   These clubs spearhead health research, offer educational programs, newsletters with pertinent articles, and most importantly offer breeders an opportunity to meet other experienced breeders.  They enter their dogs in competition to be sure they are  worthy of enhancing the breed.  That can only be determined  by competition with others and receiving an objective evaluation by a qualified expert.

There is a general misconception that AKC registration symbolizes quality. The American Kennel Club is simply a registry, not a guarantee of quality, good health, or correct temperament.  There are documented cases of individuals who have faked registration papers.

There are some health issues that affect the breed.   It is recommend that these be thoroughly researched and studied before breeding.  Some of the conditions commonly seen in the breed are allergies, bad skin, pancreatitis, diabetes, epilepsy, autoimmune diseases and bladder stones.  Serious breeders purge from the gene pool dogs that are affected by any of the above conditions. As there are a few hereditary eye diseases seen in the breed, The American Miniature Schnauzer Club recommends having breeding stock tested by a Certified Veterinary Opthamologist once a year.  They also recommend having the pups checked as some eye problems can be seen by a Veterinary Opthamologist at even 8 weeks of age.   Eye problems can not  be detected by your regular veterinarian until full fruition of the condition.  A VO can see the condition before it become apparent to the owner and thus maybe before it is bred.   The American Miniature Schnauzer Club has sponsored research into some of the more common hereditary eye diseases seen in the breed.   A test breeding program was developed to help eradicate congenital cataracts, a very common problem a few years ago.  This condition has been virtually wiped out and eye checks are recommended to make sure the progress made by dedicated breeders is not reversed. Recently, the AMSC has conducted the largest and most successful fundraising effort by a national breed club to date.  The club is using this money to fund research to find the gene
that causes Progressive Retinal Atrophy in Miniature Schnauzers.  If successful, we will then have a simple blood test to detect carriers of the condition.

A breeder needs to be experienced in the matters of taking care of the pregnant and afterwards, nursing mother.  How much and what  to feed her and when.  A breeder needs to be knowledgeable in the actual whelping procedure and caring for the newborn pups.  There are dewclaws to remove, tails to be docked.

Things might not necessarily run smoothly.   The new mother could require a cesarian section, which of course is quite costly, and there is always the chance that the mother does not survive.    There is always the chance that one or more of the pups could be born with a birth defect.   The breeder should have the pups examined by their vet, as a matter of fact, in some states it is the law to provide the new owner a health certificate.

The stud dog owner needs to be knowledgeable about the actual mating.  It is not just a matter of putting a male and in-season female in the same room and letting ‘nature take it’s course’.  The male, especially if inexperienced, might not know what to do and require assistance.  A female could be unresponsive and possibly be nasty to the male.

A reputable breeder shows a general interest in, love for and knowledge of the breed and dogs in general.  He or she cares about placing puppies in good homes and will often interview potential buyers and counsel them on the appropriateness of a Miniature Schnauzer for their situation.

A reputable breeder knows the lineage of his/her dogs going back many generations and will provide you with a multi-generation pedigree. Conscientious breeders strive for their puppies to match the breed standard; that is, be what a schnauzer is supposed to be like.

A reputable breeder will be there to answer questions and to help with any problems for the life of the dog.  The breeder should be willing to take the dog back or help you place it in another loving home if at any time in the future you are unable to keep the dog.

A reputable breeder follows up on the puppies.  He or she is interested in how the pups develop physically and mentally, difficulties in the owner/dog relationship and health problems.

A reputable breeder will not sell puppies before 8 weeks of age or crop ears before 6 weeks of age and will use a knowledgeable professional to do so with proper aftercare. The best way to gain more knowledge on the subject is to contact breeders in your area.  They will be a wealth of experience.

Also, there are many good books on the subject that you should be able to find at your local bookstore.  Some recommended reading material:

  • The Joy of Breeding Your Own Show Dog  – Anne Serrane
  • Successful Dog Breeding: The Complete Handbook of Canine Midwifery – Chris
  • Walkowicz
  • The Book of The Bitch: A Complete Guide to Understanding and Caring for
  • Bitches – J M Evans
  • Breeding a Litter: The Complete Book of Prenatal and Postnatal Care – Beth Harris
  • Canine Reproduction: A Breeder’s Guide  – Phyllis A Holst
  • Dog Breeding for Professionals  –  Herbert Richards
  • Genetics of the Dog – Malcolm B Willis
  • The Art of Raising a Puppy – The Monks of New Skete

Here are some web sites you might be interested in visiting:

Breeding Your Dog:
Breeding, Whelping and Rearing puppies: