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Breeding Best Practices

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

We have covered some things that the public should know and next we want to cover some things that breeders should know and do to ensure they abide by the Code of Ethics. Even if a breeder is not a member this is a great way to help with identifying an ethical breeder.

Both Dam and Sire should be health tested to their countries breed club required health testing requirements prior to being bred. In the United States PMAA states that hip and elbow OFA’s should be completed as well as genetic disease testing with Embark. Something to always keep in mind before we proceed is that ethical breeding is expensive! Later we will share a typical expense sheet of a breeder so that new breeders can see the expected costs associated. It is important to remember that breeding is an up front investment so having money reserves in case of emergencies and for general care overall is essential. Care and upkeep of puppies begins with mom! It is essential moms are properly cared for before, during and after pregnancy. Always keep in mind that moms should have standard vaccines completed before being bred if they are due for vaccines before coming into season (a titer test is an acceptable method of ensuring she has immunity) to ensure she has the antibodies necessary to pass to puppies during nursing. Moms should be at an ideal weight prior to being bred as pregnancy does take a toll on the body. Breeder’s should check with their vets on what the ideal body weight of their momma dog should be. Mom should be healthy and get a clean bill of health to be bred by a veterinarian to ensure she isn’t at risk of any complications. If a breeder does back-to-back breedings it is even more essential that mom gets the all clear for a health check up prior to being bred. Things your vet should check over on a mom include ensuring she does not have parasites as these can pass to puppies in utero. A fecal should be done to check for intestinal parasites, heart worm test to ensure there are no heart worms as this can put additional strain on the heart during pregnancy, and a tick disease panel depending on your region and the risk for tick borne diseases. This check up will also include a routine examination checking eyes, ears, heart, etc to ensure she is not ill in any way.


The breeding, for the health and safety of puppies it is important that both mom and dad are checked for brucellosis. Brucellosis can and does kill entire litters of puppies. For more information on Brucellosis: https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/canine-brucellosis


The pregnancy: During the pregnancy mom is going to need increased food, this can be double or more of their normal food so there is an increased food bill for mom, this will go until she is ready to wean the puppies but then you have the increased food bill with puppies! It is important to make sure mom is comfortable as much as possible and has minimal stress as stress can impact the pregnancy. Any signs of vaginal discharge that is not clear, excessive panting paired with restlessness or pacing that occurs before due date warrant a veterinary visit! There are many medications that cannot be given during pregnancy so it is important to always consult your vet when it comes to the care of a pregnant momma.


Whelping complications can and do happen, it is often recommended to get an x-ray 5 days before the due date to ensure you have a puppy count. A big reason for this is because if there are less than 3 puppies, mom may need a c-section as puppies can be too large to pass through the birth canal. Emergency C-Sections can and do happen and knowing how many puppies you are expecting can help you identify if you need to go to the vet. For example, you are expecting 9 puppies but you have now waited for 2 hours and mom is still in active labor and no puppy is coming, this is a sign you should go into the vet and a c-section may be necessary. C-sections can range between $2,000 and $4,000 if not more depending on your region so it is important that before you decide to breed you have funds available for emergencies or even standard planned care.


General puppy care: Puppies should be dewormed at 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks at a minimum. Puppies are susceptible to parasites, so this is very important when raising puppies! Mom should also be getting dewormed at the same intervals as parasites can pass through the milk during nursing. Socialization is extremely important for puppies so it is imperative that breeders have a plan for how they will socialize their puppies. Puppies should get their first vaccination between 6-8 weeks; this may vary depending on veterinary recommendations. It is ideal that puppies go to the veterinarian to get their vaccinations so that vets can check over each puppy at this time to ensure all look healthy and there are no issues such as hernias, undescended testicles, issues with their bite, etc. Many at this time also have their puppies microchipped, we will talk more about this as we go. When a breeder does their own vaccinations there is an added risk that the vaccines were not properly handled in shipping and are ineffective. Many veterinarians will also not accept breeder administered vaccines and will restart the vaccination series on the puppy once they go home. If you live in an area where there is a risk for ticks, fleas, heartworm etc. it is ideal that at 8 weeks when puppies are old enough that they are given a preventative for flea, ticks, and heartworm. If you are unsure which preventative to give, consult your veterinarian. Over the counter options are not the most ideal as many have severe side effects or aren’t as effective as prescription preventative. Puppies should receive one more vet exam within 3 days of going home ideally to get a veterinary health certificate if they are leaving the state, however this is a good practice for any puppy leaving your home to indicate to buyers that you have done your best to provide a healthy puppy. AKC litter registration should be completed after puppies are born to ensure it is received in time for when puppies go home.


Continued care for mom, it is important to continue keeping an eye on mom for complications from weaning such as mastitis, always look over your momma dog’s teats to ensure none are hard or hot as this is an early indication of mastitis. As mom weans puppies it is important to begin decreasing her food back to her normal maintenance diet. Once she is dried up from milk you can begin increasing her food again to help her with putting weight back on. Often moms will lose weight during nursing because it takes so many calories to produce milk for puppies. Other changes your momma may be going through are related to her coat. Do not be alarmed if the mom begins blowing coat to an excess, imagine a normal coat blow out times 10. Many mommas will lose all undercoat leaving only top coat and look a little rough once puppies are around 7 weeks. The change in hormones and nursing are what trigger this coat blow out. Keep up with mom’s grooming to ensure there is no matting, hot spots, etc.


Puppy go home: Puppies should not leave the breeder until at least 9 weeks of age, in many states it is against the law to let puppies leave prior to 8 weeks. Only puppies who are healthy to the best of the breeder’s knowledge should be released. This is where having a health certificate within 3 days of leaving the breeder is helpful as it shows the puppy had a veterinarian also review the state of the puppy. When it is time for puppies to go home, they should be groomed thoroughly and checked for any issues related to skin, coat, etc. so it can be properly disclosed to owners. Breeders should have gathered all documents related to the puppy’s care which should include the dates of deworming and medication given for deworming, any records of flea/tick/heartworm given to the puppy, and any medical records related to vaccines, veterinary checkups, and a health certificate or document from veterinarian showing puppy is healthy. Breeders should provide care instructions for the puppy as well as the pedigree of the puppy. AKC registration should be provided for the owners at this time, most PMAA breeders will complete this registration on behalf of the owners. If the puppy is microchipped it is imperative that the microchip is registered either by the breeder or the owner to ensure that it is active with accurate information. Lastly, all puppies should have a contract at the time of sale! Contracts should at minimum have a return clause, indicate the quality of the puppy (if the owner has breeding rights or not), any guarantees, any promises should be documented in the contract as well.


If there are ever any questions on behalf of the buyer or a breeder, the club makes itself available at any time to assist. Never hesitate to contact us at Pyreneanmastiffassociation@gmail.com.


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