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I have been wanting to breed for years. Did my research and everything like that and I think I might be ready to start seriously considering it and looking for my first breeding dogs. I have done all the research on blood lines, the qualities to look for, etc. What I have not evaluated is the actual costs involved in care of the female. How do I go about getting her OFA'd? Can it be done at any vet? Is it as simple as an x-ray? (That applies to the male too). I am in an area where there's not many REALLY great breeders, so it's hard to learn by example. Are there any secrets I need to know? What are the typical expenses involved in the pregnancy? What are the possible expenses involved in a pregnancy? Any tips for someone just starting out? By the way, I do not have the female yet and this is not something I will be doing in the next few days or taking lightly. I am still researching at this point. Thanks for any help and advice!
 

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Welcome:

Breeding is not for anyone faint of heart or weak in the pocket.

There are many things to consider when it comes to costs.

First is getting a really great bitch. Will you be getting an adult or a puppy? One must remember that puppies are a crap shoot. You may put out $800 and get a great bitch with breeding privledges. You may put out $1200, and get a puppy who has elbow dysplasia or any number of genetic faults. You could put out $2000 and still end up with a bitch whose physical health, temperament, or conformation just does not add up to a decent breeding prospect. So consider carefully about getting an adult female whose hips and elbows are checked, and is physically what you are looking for.

Also now is when you need to decide what you are actually wanting to breed for. I do not mean money or to have cute little puppies. I mean German showlines, Working lines, American Lines, a mix of these, temperament, showing in conformation, SAR, Schutzhund, obedience and Rally, working police dogs, herding, tracking, etc. If you say that you want to breed companion animals, then you will be roasted on this forum (I kind of did that). I have a theory that a great percentage of dogs will be companion animals and nothing else, and of the percentage that are not, it is hoped that they are companion animals a great percentage of the time. Which means (to me) that these dogs need to be able to be great companions first, but that as a breeder, you are not persuing other areas where your dogs are tested and you are knowledgeable. Right now, I have been titling my dogs in Rally obedience, getting CGCs on them, and am putting herding instinct tests on them in hopes of doing herding with them as well. I have two that I would like to put through agility and title them, though for me that is tougher as it is not as available around here.

But as you raise your litters, and keep pups in hopes that they will be good breeding stock, you will find that their personalities are so different that while all of them should be able to acheive basic obedience, some of them will be more apt at obedience, or herding, and others will be more athletic. So deciding what you are looking to breed for is great and necessary up front, but you kind of have to have some working knowledge in other areas so that some of your pups can be placed in homes where they will shine.

It is not up to us to make the dog be what we want, but to make what we want be what the dog is.

So back to getting a puppy bitch. Just because your contract states that you get your money back or a new pup if there is a problem (if that problem is spelled out, ie temperament, hips), it doesn't mean that you will be willing to give up the puppy, and you may have up to two years of expenses in the pup. So it is really a consideration when you go to buy a bitch. You may spend several years acquiring your foundation bitch.

As for expenses once she is two -- that means plenty of top quality food, excellent vet care and tons of training from day one, also entrance fees and costs of showing/competing with the bitch. Oh, and expect her to come into season at all the wrong times. But once she is two, you can take her to any vet and get pictures on her hips and elbows, or you can take her to a specialist and get the hips and elbows and other diseases screened for. I am in the process of that as well. Oh, that is not good to do while she is in heat or right after, usually about a month or so after she is done with her cycle. I have two girls going for their tests here in November. My estimate is over $500 and I am not complaining.

Another consideration is where to have the puppies. Some people have them in their kitchen. But healthy eight week old puppies will eat drywall, wall paper, linoleum, and they also make a ton of mess. I think a lot of times when people give up a litter, they were just not prepared for the amount of fluids and work cleaning. To me, though, this is the easy part. I built a room and built kennels and a puppy pen. I find that letting my puppies take themselves in and out on their own is really helpful. I use a doggy door into a special puppy kennel, and as they get older, I limit their indoor space, so that they naturally figure out that outside is a great place to toilet.

You will spend a ton of money if you do things right, just keeping it clean. But then too is advertising and screening buyers. Getting buyers can be a real problem for new people. You want your dogs to go to great homes, but what do you have to offer to these great owners? I am hoping that what I have learned and my experience in some dog-events will qualify me as somewhat of an expert. On the one hand, you have to sell yourself as well as your dogs. On the other hand, the propective owners will have to sell themselves to you. So expect to have increased phone bills, long distance bills through this. Give people enough rope and they will hang themselves, but you have to give them the rope. Usually telephone interviews are a great way to screen people.

Vet expenses may include an x-ray or ultrasound when the bitch is pregnant to figure out how many pups. I may include an x-ray afterwards to ensure a pup has not been retained (life threatening). It may include an emergency C-section -- haven't needed that yet, but know others with shepherds who have. Of course the pups need to be checked by a vet and given their first shots. Some breeders give their own shots, but I would not trust a new breeder (from a buyer's viewpoint) who is giving their own shots and not taking them to the vet. Much better to get the little health certificates and let the vet check them over. They may find something that you do not see.

If you are planning on having your own male, I would strongly suggest against it. But I have two males. The thing is, that all those things that could be wrong with the bitch, may also be wrong with the dog. But even if you have a decent breedable prospect in a dog, there is no guarantee that he will complement your bitch. No dog or bitch is perfect and we are trying by breeding to breed dogs that are as close to the standard as possible. If your bitch lacks some angulation, you will want a dog that has excellent angulation, not over-exaggerated. If the dog has small thick ears, you want the bitch to have properly sized and placed ears. You are not improving the breed, here. You are trying to improve your stock so that they are closer to what the standard is. By chance and with a puppy getting a dog that compliments your bitch is not impossible, especially if you are not afraid of some line breeding and are very well versed in the various blood lines. However, it isn't the easiest thing to accomplish.

BTW, you will have to have the room to feed and house all of your failures, until you are able to place them or just to keep them.

I am all for new blood in breeding. And I hope that you do persue this, but these are just a fraction of considerations and expenses you may incur in the process. I would not be surprised if I have spent sixty thousand dollars in the past six years between the whelping room, food, vet, puppy packets, food, training, entrance fees, kennels, cleaning materials, food, training, and vet care. I have a chronic kennel project going on. I have repairs to my house (due to the dogs) all the time. I am expanding my fences and always in training. So far two litters have netted me $3200, five bitches and one gift to my parents. Of those five bitches, maybe three have the potential to be breeders, maybe two, maybe 1, maybe none.

I am also not convinced that there are no good breeders out your way. (Of course I do not know and I am not calling you a liar.) But good breeders are not necessarily on the internet, or in the newspaper, or in the phone book. To find good breeders, you have to get involved in dog-activities, specifically GSD club activities if at all possible. And you have to actually find them and go out of your way to get there. But if you cannot find GSD people, then get involved with breeders of other breeds, they can still teach you a ton of pertinent information about breeding and maybe even sit with you through your first delivery.

The good news is that you have picked a great breed to get started with. It is a breed that has many outlets for your interests. It is also a breed that does not require docking or cropping, regularly requiring help in conception, or almost always requiring C-sections. They are much hardier (the puppies) than toy breeds that are very delicate and often have single or very small litters.

Our GSDs often have huge litters, so be aware of that too. It is good to go into a breeding with a healthy waiting list and some deposits. They have long skinny bodies and heads that do not usually create the complications that say bull dogs and bostons have. They are pretty hardy, not requiring a lot of temperature control, etc. And generally (at least from what I have seen) the momma's make great mothers. This is huge, because the amount of time you will spend saving a litter that needs to be tube fed for whatever reason is significant.

Good luck. And welcome to the site.
 

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there was a very very enlightening post done about a year or maybe even 2 years ago by Chris Wild on the ups and downs in breeding and the expenses that can be incurred in breeding. Maybe she can post a link to it for you.

Lee
 

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Excellent, excellent post by Selzer.
 

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Wow Selzer, you are just one step under Google and the Wikipedia in my religion.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Selzer, you covered everything I needed and more! I am printing this out so I can look back at it.
I've been researching the lines, what I would want to breed for, and such for ages. I want German working lines. I might eventually getting into showing, but I am young now and all about the sport. I love all Shepherds, but the Germans have my heart.
We are well known for not having any good GSD breeders around here. No dog clubs, nothing. On the positive side, that means I have something major to offer people here, awesome working line dogs who are breed and raised right, but the prices won't be as cheap as the local puppy mills due to the investments I will be making.
I've already been fixing up my basement for the "delivery room" I can't bare the thought of having a female and pups outside...especially not my first litter. As I said, this is something I have been planning for years, so I will be EXTREMELY excited when babies arrive. I want everythign ready before I even get a female.
I need to learn the basic rules of breeding or actually post-breeding (like what to do after my female gets pregnant, which you outlined very well). Maybe I can find some legit breeders of other breeds. Unfortunately, we have no local humane's society or anything here so it's mostly puppy mills here for all breeds. So I am depending on the internet to get me a lot of the info I will go by.
Thanks so much for your great write up!
-Nichole
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Oh yeah, I am planning to get a female who's had a successful litter already. I don't want my first pups to be heart breakers. I also want to insure that the dog I buy will have good hips and elbows and I figure the best way to do that is to buy an adult.
Thanks again.
Nichole
 

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Originally Posted By: Nichole WOh yeah, I am planning to get a female who's had a successful litter already. I don't want my first pups to be heart breakers. I also want to insure that the dog I buy will have good hips and elbows and I figure the best way to do that is to buy an adult.
Thanks again.
Nichole
You are in the right direction there Nicole. You say you have no dog clubs around you, how do you plan on titling the parents of the pup? Of course if you buy a titled, proven bitch and go to an outside titled proven stud, that's not a problem.......
What about a pup you keep from one of your litters to continue your lines? Do you plan on getting them the correct titles to prove their breeding worthiness?

I think you are headed in a wonderful direction, keep asking questions and keep learning!
 

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Hi Nicole-
As a rescue person who supports ethical and reputable small scale breeders I would like to suggest that you check out the rescue section for your first mom and pups. If you could foster one litter for a reputable rescue you'd get a great education and develop that mindset in the placing of your puppies (application, references, vet reference, home check). It really helps to see that process, I think. If you are working with a good rescue you'll also see how to do puppy testing and get all of this experience while helping a family that was not lucky enough to belong to someone who cared enough about them.

Maybe intro yourself in the general rescue section-I think there may be some people with legit rescue contacts in Alabama somewhere!

And keeping those puppies inside where you can interact with them will be huge-thanks for doing that. I was just reading a thread where someone mentioned that's how they do it at Wolf Park-they handraise the cubs for sociability.

So that's my thought! Good luck and thank you for trying to do the right thing down there!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Gypsy, I love to travel and my dog always goes with me so we are going to travel to title. Every dog should have a little culture! It's about 3 hours to the nearest club I can find so we will be doing some riding.
Jean, I've done rescue for years, and it has taught me A LOT of valuable information about the breed, taught me about all the different blood lines, taught me the heart break of a puppy who grows up to be in bad health, taught me about puppy mills, and also taught me about SCH, basic training, and CGC titling. Rescue has been a tremendous experience experience for me and I don't think I would place such value on breeding a high quality litter. The last dog who came to me had been used for a puppy mill and I will NEVER forget her....she was so close to death from not being fed right and nursing 10 pups through. I've learned how to supplement puppies because of her (besides actually feeding my dog right) because I would never, ever want one of my babies to have go through anything like that. If I could find a rescue female who had all her papers, pedigree, etc, I would consider that.
Thanks so much,
Nichole
 

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I think what Jean meant was to offer to foster a pregnant mom and deliver the litter/raise the pups, or take in a mom with a litter and foster it for the rescue while you are waiting to start. This way you get hands on experience and learn (making mistakes, etc)and it is before you attempt a breeding program.

Fosters for moms with babies are few and far between and a good start in a foster home can make a huge difference in these puppies lives. Plus you don't bare the financial burden and you can see first hand the pitfalls of placing the pups.

While you have lofty goals, breeding German Working lines requires alot of knowledge not only of the bloodlines, genetics, and structure, but of the working ability of the dogs. I suggest you imerse yourself into Schutzhund and learn about the different ways working a dog will help you evalute nerve strength, temperament and working ability.
 

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The whole point of rescues is to NOT produce more dogs but to find homes for unwanted dogs. Looking for a titled papered female to breed via a rescue is contradictory to the goals and spirit of most rescue organizations.

Setting out with a goal to breed good working pups and researching it is all well and good. I would encourage you to get a good female pup from a good breeder and with good bloodlines known for the qualities you want in your dogs, and get that dog titled yourself before you start having litters. Learn what it takes to title the dog, and what qualities your dog actually possesses that are indicated in its pedigree, BEFORE you enter the breeding end of it. Watch the trial results in teh magazines, see what pups are being titled here that are bred here. The market for 8 week old working pups is not as strong as that for show line pups, and many buyers who want a companion pup are not going to want a sable or black puppy, they want that classic "look" of the black saddle on a tan/red dog. Most new owners have not had a GSD before and many are not going to be able to make the committment to the work even a companion puppy with drive needs. The majority of experienced working people want dogs who are older with hips and elbows checked, rather than spending time on a pup and taking chances. If someone has some experience, then they know what lines they prefer and most have some contacts in Europe to help them bring a puppy over. Occassionally, non-novices will buy a puppy, but most pups of working lines go to novice handlers or people just starting in the sport, and many of those buy dogs as recommended by their trainer or bred in their clubs. You have to consider the future of the pups and the suitablity of homes for their characters.

You say there are no dog clubs and no "good" breeders in your area. Where are your puppies going to go? Who is going to train them? Most people do not want, nor can they afford the expenses, to drive 3 hours to train regularly for several years before having the gratification of titleing their dog. Are you experienced enough to help owners train pups who are high drive? You have to gain that experience IMO before you produce a litter.

Many many people have bought titled dogs, bred them and advertise pups for sale. They do not train, they do not trial, and they do not sell many pups to sport homes. You need to consider what type of homes will be available for your pups before you commit to producing puppies, and take into account what level of expertise your future buyers will bring to the table.

Lee
 

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Lee,
That's very good advice. You're right most "pet folks" only want the "traditional black/tan or black/red".

I have my 13 month old girl in AKC conformation (Am showlines), and I want to get her titled in tracking.

I know in my particular area you don't see a German workingline. Either Am bred showline, German showline, or byb.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Lee,
You make some excellent points.
As far as placement, I already have a primary questionaire that would disqualify a lot of people from being eligible to buy a puppy from me. I do not expect to sell my pups in the local area, maybe a few, but I expect most of my pups will go to areas with more resources and to the few people locally who would really value a GSD who is bred for the improvement of the breed. I already have one buyer in CA who's been around my personal, spayed dog, if I go through with breeding who is willing to wait for one of my dogs. I also have to look into the legal side of things (like what if one of my pups ends up in bad hands, can I do a contract where the dog comes back to me immediately?) I want to be prepared from every angle. I know of fine breeders who's dogs have ended up in bad situations so I know it can happen. Also, I don't care if I have to keep every puppy and do my best to title to insure good, experienced home. I would keep my pups before I would risk them going into a bad situation (which to me includes just being a "yard dog"
I really appreciate all the GREAT input as this is all things I want to know and cover before I even really start looking for my first breeding female. I want all bases covered. Everyone has to start somewhere and I finally feel life I am ready....I just want all issues I could face out in the open beforehand.
Also, any suggestions on good sources of information on SCH training, videos, books, etc? I am a novice to intermediate trainer so I am wanting to gain knowledge. Which magazines do I need to be watching?
Thanks so much to you all,
Nichole
 

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Originally Posted By: WolfstraumThe whole point of rescues is to NOT produce more dogs but to find homes for unwanted dogs. Looking for a titled papered female to breed via a rescue is contradictory to the goals and spirit of most rescue organizations.
I don't think this is what Jean meant at all. Certainly not to look for a breeding dog through a rescue.

I thought she was suggesting that hooking up with a rescue needing a foster home for a pregnant mom, or mom and pups, would provide Nichole with some good experience in whelping, raising, care and development of puppies. Kind of a win-win. Gain some hands-on experience that will be valuable when she does start breeding, while at the same time helping a good cause. Rescues are always in need of fosters, and ones willing to take on a whole litter at once.
 

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I would suggest getting out to trials, looking at dogs, seeing what YOU like. Talk to different breeders, competitors, look at as many dogs as you can-....I think that is the best way to get started. People are very opinionated, we all have our favorite bloodlines, ones we don't like etc. You have to learn to sift through the information then and form your own opinions. That can help you set your own goals for your breeding program so you can get started. Then when you get started, I think you have to constantly evaluate your program to make sure you are still moving in the direction you wanted.
As far as buying an experienced female...that is a good way to start. That way you know the health clearances are done, what type of mother the female is, and how she has produced. A younger proven titled female is going to be expensive. So you have to be prepared for that. But then you have to find either a reputable importer or go look at the dogs yourself and know what you are looking at. Everyone selling a dog is usually going to tell you it's the best thing since sliced bread
Many people get taken. I'm not trying to paint a bleak picture, but it's always buyer beware..Again talk to many people to get there experiences and hopefully with all your research you will be able to avoid alot of pitfalls and select a great female
 

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Yes I agree Chris - that is what I understood too. The OP said she has fostered a mother and litter and if she could find one, she would consider taking a titled female with papers from a rescue as a breeding dog.

Lee
 

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Sorry, I must agree, it looks like if she could find a papered pedigreed female, she would consider that too. The way it is worded makes it sound like she would take a titled mother from a rescue as her bredding bitch.

Rescues will NOT let you breed any bitch/dog you acquire from them, it just doesn't work that way.

I commend you for already fostering tho, that's great!
 

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just thinking here on the OP's question and something that hasn't been mentioned.
Is the OP prepared that if something goes wrong she could lose the bitch that cost her $5000+ and the entire litter. There isn't just start up costs to worry about. What if you have a litter of 14 and you can't sell any of them? What if your stud throws megga pups or your breeding pair produces pups with EPI?
just a few things to consider.
 

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I guess my concern is that most of the poster's posts seemed to be geared toward just breeding and getting that litter?

I mean no offense but while I think we all came into this rhelm of the fancy with that goal we all know truely how much education it takes to get to that point to honorably fullfill that goal of our first litter..... IMO the poster needs to be more involved with a club (since they have expressed interest in working lines) and learning about drives and training as well as individual dogs.

I guess what I am saying is that serious breeders have more goals to having a litter other than just to make puppies....I know it sounds crass but it is not meant that way. The poster needs to figure out what she wants in a breeding program and learn to be very specific so that when she chooses her foundation bitch it is with reason and purpose....not just because she had "papers" and was available. Any bitch can have puppies.....but we all know not all of them should and we all know we all have our likes, dislikes and preferences when it comes to lines, temeperament and purpose.

Personally I would like to see the OP develop her opinion and desires as well as knowledge before jumping into a breeding program......I hope that makes sense? That is my very well intended advice on this thread.

JMVHO
Cherri
 
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