Anybody want to be a breeder? Plus bonus puppy pictures!

Clue's puppies are now nine days old!

They are all doing well; with such a large litter I am extra vigilant but so far weights are looking wonderful.

Just in case anybody thinks it might be fun to be a breeder, here's what every day has been like since last Friday (and what I do is not in any way unusual for good breeders - I was "trained" by someone who has done this for 30 years):

- The puppies are never left. They have at least one human next to them 24 hours a day, and often it's several of us. The older kids spell me so I can get 4-5 hours of sleep in the afternoons but otherwise I'm on duty. I make sure they are safe, are nursing well, don't get lost in the blankets, etc. I will be able to leave them for short periods in another few days but I will not leave for more than an hour or two until they are 3-4 weeks old.

- They are weighed between two and ten times a day to ensure that they are growing. The scale is the first indicator that something might be wrong, and the best indicator that all is well. Every puppy should gain an ounce a day (or sometimes a little more), so if one looks like she is lagging behind I will make sure she gets extra nursing and then weigh her after every feeding to ensure that she is taking in enough milk.

- The box is kept at 72-75 degrees and the puppies also have supplemental heat in the form of heat discs. The discs must be re-warmed five or six times a day to make sure they're the right temperature.

- Clue is checked constantly and fed 3-5 times a day, whatever she will eat. For her breakfast I made her sirloin tips and oatmeal; last night it was raw chicken and eggs. Several times a day I make sure none of her mammary glands are feeling swollen or hot, and I check her discharge to make sure it's normal. Her c-section incision is also checked.

- On hand I have sub-q fluids, glucose, amoxi drops, feeding tubes, syringes, and the ingredients for formula. I can basically take care of most emergencies until I can get to the vet in the morning. The only thing I don't have is oxygen but that's because she had a section and the vet has it in the office. Ordinarily I would have it here.

They will be wormed every two weeks from two to eight weeks; they will start getting supplemental feedings at about 2.5 weeks or whenever Clue can't maintain their weight gain. At three or four weeks, or whenever they're climbing out of their box, I move all the furniture out of the dining room and string together four ex pens to create an enormous puppy environment. Inside are balls, toys, beds, a teeter, a tunnel, etc. That's when I start having visitors, with the goal of the puppies meeting between 50 and 100 people before they go to their new homes.

Oh, and so far this litter has cost me about $2500, virtually all of it going to the vet. At least another couple thousand will be spent on feeding, worming, shots, health clearance for each puppy, microchipping, temperament testing, puppy evaluations, etc.

So there you go: If you'd like to be a breeder, get ready to lose a week of work (at least), two weeks of sleep, your house goes to absolute heck, and you spend about five grand! After all is said and done, IF every puppy is perfectly healthy and I have no more vet bills than the minimum, I'll sell the group (keeping two, one for us and one for a co-own) for $6300, for a grand total of $1300 "profit." Two weeks after the pet puppies leave, I will go to Cardi Nationals (again, if all goes well) to have the show puppies evaluated, where I will spend about $2000 on car, hotel, and entry fees. Grand total profit for a litter of nine puppies? Negative $700. And that's GREAT. Most of the time I have much smaller litters and take a huge bath on it. I am not kidding that we have to save up for a year to breed a single litter; we've never made a penny.

If you've made it this long, here's your reward:

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Comment by GoGoRainbow on February 11, 2010 at 4:16pm
that sounds like such a wonderful way to come into the world, so cared for! Pretty sure Pooka was a runt, and there was a large variation in size in her litter of 8. Who knows how she would've turned out if her breeder had weighed her 10 times a day! I like the idea of having such control over things, knowing which puppies to pull off, and which to put on a teat. Mucho Kudos to you!
Comment by Potus on February 8, 2010 at 3:18pm
Love the picture of Clue at the end!
Comment by Sky and Lyla on February 3, 2010 at 3:47pm
Thanks for all the honest info AND the cute puppy pictures! Every time I read something like that, it makes me glad I got a dog for my first show prospect and not a bitch. I do want to breed someday, but I have A LOT to learn before then (and if I'm lucky a rich husband so I don't have to work, lol). The pups all look great! If I didn't already have a full house I know I'd be sorely tempted!! ;)
Comment by Joanna Kimball on February 1, 2010 at 8:19pm
Hi, Anne - no, they're not all spoken for because I don't parcel out puppies until 7-8 weeks. I do temperament testing at 7 weeks and then show/pet evaluation at 8 weeks and at that point try to match the owner with the puppy. So someone with kids will get a puppy who is easygoing and forgiving, someone who wants to herd will get one who is a little more high in drive, etc. I know whichever of the merles (they're all boys) turns out to be the best in terms of show potential will go into a show home, but the other two (whoever they are) will be matched with pet people. So far I don't have a pet person who will ONLY take a merle, so I'm not calling any of them "spoken for" yet.

My puppy application is on my website ( or at my blog, The only additional thing is that since you're already on Leda's list, if you did apply, I'd drop her a line and let her know. I don't want her to feel like I'm poaching anybody!
Comment by Anne Adele on February 1, 2010 at 7:59pm
Joanna, - are all your blue pups spoken for?
Comment by Rachel on February 1, 2010 at 2:13pm
Thank you for posting what it's like to be a breeder. Sometimes I worry about what people are thinking when they come on this site asking about breeding their dogs. Hopefully your post will give them some insight!
Comment by Alice on February 1, 2010 at 1:27pm
They're so darling! Keep up the good work. :)
Comment by Angela on January 31, 2010 at 11:34pm
You're doing wonderful deeds! Wonderful puppies for happy families
Comment by Beth on January 31, 2010 at 5:47pm
They are cute! I understand what you mean about not making any money; Jack's breeder had two litters about a week apart (and said never again would she do that) and one of the bitches needed an emergency spay, and then the pups needed to be hand-nursed and there were, like, 9 of them. Every few hours for weeks.... She mumbled at the time that anyone who thought there was money to be made in breeding clearly wasn't thinking straight.

The breeder we got ours from also starts loading the whole litter in a crate and taking them out after they've had first shots. She said there is a local big-box store where all the kids know her as the Puppy Lady, because with every litter she shows up with a crateful of puppies for everyone to crowd around.

Raising a litter correctly is a full-time job and then some!
Comment by Bev Levy on January 31, 2010 at 3:21pm
I never wanted to breed as I had a slight clue what was involved but I wish you lived closer to here so I could visit. That would be the best of both worlds! They sure are adorable.

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