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Should I Breed My Chow Chow?

Almost everyone who has a dog thinks about breeding it at least once. Raising a litter sounds easy and fun -- but having puppies isn't all it's cracked up to be. Breeding dogs actually involves more work, responsibility, and expense than most people are prepared for.

Before you breed your Chow, please consider some important facts: Chow Chows aren't rare any more. During the 1980's, as many as 50,000 Chow puppies a year were registered by the AKC. This is about half of all Chows born during that time, the height of the breed's recent popularity. For awhile, Chows were one of the most popular breeds in the country and puppies were easy to sell. But the public is fickle and fads pass quickly. The Chow isn't the "in" breed to have anymore and puppies are becoming hard to sell at any price. Chow Rescue groups all around the country have been overrun with abused, neglected and abandoned Chows in need of permanent, loving homes. In the past ten years, more Chows have been "dumped" by their owners than ever before. Many of them come from what you might consider to be "good" homes. With so many homeless Chows already in need, Chow Chow club members know that raising puppies just to sell as pets is unnecessary. 

As a breeder, even of only one litter, you have an obligation to the Chow Chow breed, to your puppies and to their buyers to produce the healthiest, most mentally sound dogs possible. Knowing how to recognize defects takes experience and knowledge. As a breeder, you must be prepared to guarantee your puppies against health problems that may not appear until the pups are grown. You have a responsibility to check your breeding stock for inherited hip dysplasia, entropion, eye diseases, thryoid, hormone and skin problems. Tests and x-rays to check for these problems are expensive. Understanding pedigrees also takes experience. Your dog may carry hidden defects from its ancestors that will appear in your puppies. Breeding your pet without adequate knowledge can result in puppies that are a heartache to their owners and a financial burden to you.

Nature didn't intend for all animals to reproduce. In the wild, only the very fittest animals survived to have litters. As responsible breeders, we take Nature's place. As much as we love all our dogs, we have to face facts and understand that our pets may not be good breeding stock. Even some show champions may not be good enough to be used for breeding.

With puppies selling slowly these days, you'll need more space and time to keep them until they can be placed in proper homes. Even after they're gone, you have a responsibility to keep track of them throughout their lives to make sure they're being well cared for. Most importantly, you must be there to take them back if they are ever unwanted or abandoned. This can mean taking back an adult dog years later and keeping it until you can find it a new home.

Breeding good dogs and raising healthy puppies is expensive when you add up the stud fees, veterinary bills, shots, wormings, food, vitamins, advertising costs and time off work to whelp the litter. Instead of making money, you'll be lucky to break even! Chows often have problem pregnancies, difficult whelpings, small litters and cesarean sections. The financial return for your costs, risks, work and lack of sleep are usually not worth it. Most people who raise a litter vow never to do it again!

Before you make the decision to raise puppies, spend time with a Chow Chow club member or rescue volunteer to fully understand the time, effort and responsibility involved. The future of the Chow Chow breed depends on the actions of each of its breeders whether they produce one litter or twenty. Spayed and neutered dogs are healthier, happier, live longer and make better pets than unaltered ones. Unless we can live up to all the responsibilities that breeding involves, we owe it to our dogs, the breed and our society to do the right thing and not breed a litter.

This article was written by Vicki DeGruy, chair of the Chow Chow Club Inc.'s Welfare Committee.  For permission to reprint, contact us.

Related Reading -- Books

My Puppy is Born  .... Barbara Miller
excellent color pictorial for children on whelping

Canine Reproduction - A Breeder’s Guide  ...  Phyllis Holst DVM

The New Art of Breeding Better Dogs ... Kyle Onstott

Breeding Better Dogs ... Dr Carmen Battaglia

Medical & Genetic Aspects of Purebred Dogs  ...  Clark/Stainer

The New Knowledge of Dog Behavior   ...  Clarence Pfaffenberger
stages of puppy development, essential   socialization,
temperament testing

The Art Of Raising A Puppy   ...   Monks of New Skete

Purebred Dogs - American Kennel Gazette
monthly magazine for dog fanciers

AKC Book of Dog Care & Training

AKC Breed Standard Videos