Many people think that a puppy from their beloved dog would be a nice addition to the family. This is often true but many factors should be considered before embarking on this potentially hazardous course.

Firstly it is a fallacy to think your bitch should have a litter for the good of her health. There is no evidence that there is any health benefit and in many ways can be detrimental to the dog, for example the risk of mammary tumours becomes greater if spaying is delayed.

Choosing the right mate for your bitch is very important. The stud dogs temperament and health are every bit as important as his good looks! Certain breeds should be hip and elbow scored and eye tested by your Vet if she is of a breed at risk. The resulting litter of pups could be condemned to a life of misery due to hip dysphasia or blindness. This should be taken into consideration particularly when mating for Labradoodles and other designer dogs.

The next hurdle once you have mated your bitch (often easier said than done) and waited the 63 days of gestation, is the birth. If the bitch gives birth easily and nurses the pups well then it has been a success and the majority of births are like this. However occasionally a puppy will get lodged in the birth canal, or the uterus will stop contracting and a Caesarean section will be required. During this procedure there is a risk of loosing mother or puppies or both.

The puppies need 8 weeks of care from mother and owner and the amount of time involved in caring for a litter of 12 Labrador pups should not be underestimated. The final task is finding good caring homes for your babies, quite a responsibility but very rewarding once completed.

There is no doubt that breeding from your bitch can be a rewarding and pleasurable experience. If you decide to go ahead you should get your bitch checked by your Vet and ensure all vaccinations are up to date as this will ensure maximum protection for the pups. It is usually advisable to have the first vaccine given to the pups before they are allowed to go to their new home and a thorough routine of worming is essential for both mother and pups.