Should My Dog Have Puppies Before Being Spayed?

The short answer to this would be No.  It is a common misconception (no pun intended!) that female dogs should have a litter of puppies before being neutered in order to meet their, ‘motherly’ needs.

But dogs simply do not think or reason like we do and your dog will not be pining for the chance to become a mother or have any regrets about not producing puppies during her lifetime.

There are absolutely no physical or mental advantages for a bitch to have a litter before being spayed.  A common myth surrounding the question about whether or not a bitch should have just one litter before being neutered is the belief that it will calm her down.  However, there is absolutely no evidence to back this up and indeed, a hyperactive dog will calm down only with maturity and proper training.

Breeding a litter of puppies is an extremely time consuming and costly enterprise that shouldn’t really be undertaken lightly, especially if the only real reason is a belief that it will, ‘do your bitch good’ to go through the experience of having puppies.

Unfortunately, there are many risks involved in allowing your dog to become pregnant and produce puppies and on top of this there are other considerations such as health checks (which can be costly), stud fees and veterinary treatment should things go wrong with either the mother or the puppies, as well as deciding whether you can be at home for eight weeks constantly to rear the litter.  You need to make arrangements well before a litter is planned for homing the puppies to suitable new owners – this in itself can take time and it isn’t always easy when it comes to turning unsuitable people away.

Finally, you need to prepare for the possibility you could be left with unsold puppies well after eight weeks and it is only right that you are prepared to provide life time back up for new puppy owners should their circumstances change.  It is quite possible you may end up having a puppy returned sooner or even years later, should the new owners’ circumstances change.

Certainly, when contemplating breeding a litter of puppies, most people would agree that there is a certain moral obligation for breeders of dogs to do their utmost to produce, healthy puppies that will grow into happy, healthy and trainable dogs.  However, fulfilling this obligation is quite a responsibility particularly when you consider the many thousands of dogs already homeless or in rescue centres, not just UK wide, but worldwide.

There are various minimum requirements for health checks depending on the breed of dog you own – and it goes without saying that nobody should consider breeding mongrel dogs for any reason!  These tests are to ensure that the health of certain breeds as a whole is monitored and more importantly, improved.  Some of these costs can be quite substantial – in addition to the charge made by your vet for anaesthetic and x-rays which could be two hundred pounds plus, the cost charged by British Veterinary Association for assessment of the x-rays is currently £57.

If you do not carry out the recommended tests for your breed you will have less chance of selling the puppies if they come from un-tested parents and more importantly you run the risk of producing un-healthy pups.  It is becoming increasingly common for breeders to be sued for selling unhealthy or sick puppies and even if this doesn’t happen, you still may have a sickly puppy returned meaning you will have to meet the cost of veterinary attention.

It is essential that your bitch is in tip top condition both physically and mentally.  If your bitch is nervous or aggressive in any way, she will almost certainly pass these traits on to her puppies.

Since you will need to oversee the birth of the puppies when the time comes, ideally you need to be able to call on someone more experienced to help you – even if whelping begins in the early hours of the morning.  And, if things do go wrong with the birth out of hours, the cost of intervention such as the bitch needing an emergency caesarean is going to attract a sizeable fee; not to mention the possibility that the bitch may even reject her puppies after the operation, leaving you with a litter of puppies to hand rear.

Finding homes for the puppies won’t necessarily be easy either.  Friends and neighbours who appear terribly enthusiastic about having one of your pups may well rapidly find good reasons why it’s not a good idea as soon as the pups are born.

When people purchase pedigree puppies they are often looking for quality and are interested whether the bitch has been successful either in the show ring, obedience or other working capacity.  That said, in the current economic climate there is no guarantee that even the best bred litter of puppies will find suitable homes and this is another factor to take into account.

No matter how nice you think your bitch is, others may not be so impressed and there is a real possibility that you could be left with several quick growing puppies that will take over your life and your wallet at an even greater rate of knots!

The nitty gritty of rearing a litter of puppies is, broadly speaking, messy, tiring, smelly and extremely time consuming. For the first three weeks a bitch will do a pretty good job of cleaning up after her puppies, but beyond that you are going to be responsible for a constant round of feeding and keeping puppies (and mum) clean.

Depending on the size of the litter you could be dealing with an incredible amount of poop on a daily basis and this has to be cleaned up almost constantly to avoid the puppies covering themselves in mess.  If the weather is fine, you can utilise the outdoors, but a winter litter kept predominantly indoors will definitely pose challenges that can force even the most experienced breeder to tear out their hair!

If you are considering breeding your dog for other reasons, hopefully some of the information in this Holidays 4 Dogs article will help you to make up your mind.  If you feel you have the right dog, the time and the commitment then take some time to ensure you have lots of information and help before you get started, but as far believing your dog needs to have a litter to calm her down or help her feel fulfilled, please disregard this – it’s a myth!

A. Gordon.