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 Joanna Kimball on January 31, 2010 at 3:15pm
Hi! I don't have any reds at all, just blacks (with brindle points) and the merle boys. They have Coedwig back there; Carbon is a g-g-grandfather or something on that order. Do you have a preference for what area of the country you'd like to get a puppy from? I can try to check around for you and see if anyone has red puppies and is still taking applications.
Comment by Anne Adele on January 31, 2010 at 2:59pm
I wanted to add that your puppy photos are beautiful and the puppies adorable. I don't think there is anything that gives me more pleasure than wonderful puppy/dog photos. I don't even know if you do have any reds - but I am still interested if there is one for me... I do not show and I am not a breeder just a lover of cardigans (and pems too!) Anne
Comment by DR, Nala & Simon on January 31, 2010 at 2:53pm
Sunday Puppy Cuteness!!! Thanks for sharing those pictures. Gorgeous puppies!!!
Comment by Anne Adele on January 31, 2010 at 2:53pm
Hi Joanna - are any of your red puppies for sale? I guess I should reword that- are there any still left?! I'm looking for a puppy. I have two cardis from Coedwig and I'm looking for one more as one of mine is 13 now. I would love to have a red boy (or girl) as I have two blues. Anne
Comment by Joanna Kimball on January 31, 2010 at 2:21pm
No, I don't know which we are keeping and won't until they are at least 8 weeks old. All I can tell right now is which one has the prettiest markings, and that means nothing when it comes to who are the "picks." You have to wait until the bones and proportions mature, and the magic time is 8 weeks, give or take a couple of days. At that point we'll have a little puppy party and get a few breeders to come take a look at them and we'll figure out which ones are the most likely to do well in the show ring.
Comment by Stephanie on January 31, 2010 at 2:18pm
I want to cuddle all of them.
Comment by Jane Christensen on January 31, 2010 at 2:11pm
I love the one with Clue looking in the box! They are beautiful babies.Do you know which ones you are keeping yet or are you waiting for testing and such to be done? If I could add wear and tear on the body...not only from watching the pups but from sleeping on the floor,spending hours on my knees during delivery and sitting in cramped areas bending/stretching in unnatural directions!
Comment by Laura on January 31, 2010 at 1:40pm
The puppies are beautiful!!! I love all your pictures.
Comment by Roger/Laurie on January 31, 2010 at 1:03pm
Thanks for all the honest facts about breeding. Your babies are wonderful. Good Luck
Comment by Nicola Porter on January 31, 2010 at 12:59pm

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