The truth about breeding
What am I trying to improve, you ask? My goal is, and has been from the start, to improve the reputation of the breed and break negative stereotypes of the breed I love by focusing on health, temperament and personality.
Then there is the money. This is, I believe, the reason why people who have no expertise in breeding believe they should breed. They are under the very mistaken assumption that there is money in it. As mentioned above, a good breeder is one who does it for love of the breed and who strives to improve the breed in one way or another. In reality, most breeders that are doing it right are lucky to "break even" every year, and that is only in years when they don't lose their shirts. Raising dogs is not free....it is very expensive if you are doing it right, and if you aren't doing it right, you shouldn't be doing it at all. And because I can't stress this enough, I'll say it again...the reason true breeders do what they do is for love of the breed, and they will pour their hearts, minds, bodies, and yes, their money into it to do it right. What can possibly be so expensive? Well, let's turn to Chihuahuas. As you know, they are the tiniest of breeds, so their breeders face some obstacles that may be unique in the dog world. Vet bills can be astronomical (and I do mean, astronomical...no exaggeration!) Even a simple blood draw can cost several times what a blood draw on a medium or large breed dog would because their veins are so tiny and often very hard to find, and on tiny Chihuahua puppies, it may even require special needles (don't believe me? You are welcome to call my vet and ask him. Email me for his number. Or better yet, you can call your own vet and ask him/her). You have the expense of yearly vaccinations, vet exams for your adult dogs, food (which if you are feeding correctly should also require a fairly large budget), housing for the dogs, appropriate bedding (and enough of it that you can change it frequently), water bills increase, electric bill increase, and those are just the monetary costs. We haven't even begun to talk about the costs of your time. First, before you go any further, you have the time expense of finding a reliable vet who knows his stuff, because I promise you, he will become your right-hand man, your best friend, and your savior at times. Plus, if you are doing it right, you are spending hours a week researching, reading, and learning about your breed and about breeding in general. You spend even more hours pouring over pedigrees, traits, and potential breedings. You spend large amounts of time researching and becoming expert on canine genetics. Then add the travel time and expenses to find just the perfect dogs to breed. Then, let's say that the breeding goes perfectly and you end up with a pregnant female. A note here...the breeding often does not go perfectly, and you end up with a female that "didn't take" or with one that is only pregnant with one puppy, a Chihuahua breeder's worse nightmare. But for simplicity's sake, let's assume that she "took". Your costs go up dramatically at that point. Not only does she double her food intake about half way through the pregnancy, but now you have to prepare for puppies, including heating lamps (or kennel pads), more bedding, a good recipe for puppy formula (and the ingredients to make it), and loads of other puppy supplies so that you are ready for the birth.
If the monetary costs rise dramatically with a pregnant female, the time costs go up considerably more. How many nights in a row can you stay awake all night monitoring your female? You don't want to let her labor all by herself. Trust me on that one...way too many things can (and do) go wrong. But you also don't know for sure when she will have them. Yes, you will monitor her temperature and when that changes, then you can really pay attention to her....but all females don't have their pups immediately after their temp changes. And how many nights can you stay up to supplement a large litter of puppies every two hours...round the clock....to help Mom out? And all of this is before you even have a single puppy ready to sell.
Once you do have puppies, the expenses really begin. Besides making sure they have their necessary diet, (which can be quite expensive) you also have to have your vaccines...a minimum of one per puppy, but if you are doing it right (notice the theme yet?) that is just the start of the expense. You also must have the tools you need to desensitize and socialize the puppies, vitamin supplements to promote optimum growth, a great many (and great variety) of toys for them to play with, because playing is learning, more bedding, more puppy pads, more....well, you get it. Then, there's the time involved in raising a litter properly. You have to clean up after them all day, every day. You must make sure that they thrive and do well. And we haven't even talked about the time it takes to socialize them and make sure that they are well-adjusted. In addition, if it were about the money, I would be willing to sell any puppy to anybody who wanted him/her but I am not. I place my puppies in homes that are right for them....and rarely place puppies with "breeders" (more on that later). So, the process of actually placing the puppies is very time consuming as well. To make a long story (and it is much longer than what I have given here) short....if you don't have that kind of time and money to invest in raising Chihuahuas, then you should not be doing it! It really is as simple as that. Next, let me quickly dispel a few other reasons I have heard for why people want to breed. It will not make your female's life more complete to have puppies, nor will she forever be traumatized by being spayed. Dogs do not think that way. They rely on instinct and females breed and raise their puppies as part of a survival instinct, not to enrich her life. In addition, you are running a heck of a risk with your dogs if you want to breed because your family all wants Chihuahuas...but they don't want to pay for them from experienced breeders who know what they are doing. Your female truly could die, and the chances of that happening increase enormously if you have no idea what you are doing. And, without a doubt, if you breed your male, his personality will change. I can't tell you how many people I have heard from over the years that were so disappointed with the changes in their male pets that they just had to breed that they couldn't even stand to keep them around anymore. He WILL change...that is guaranteed. I can't say how much he will change or what exactly will change about him because that varies from dog to dog, but I promise you, he will not be the same dog after you breed him, and the changes are never for the better. If you want to teach your children about life processes by letting them watch a litter be born, I shouldn't even have to address this one if you have read above! This isn't the way to do it, because it isn't the right reason for breeding and there are plenty of other ways to teach your children about those kinds of things.
As a result of the very large number of "breeders" contacting me for puppies lately, I have changed our adoption agreement. We now require spay/neuter contracts on every puppy. That isn't to say that we never place our puppies with breeders. We absolutely will place certain puppies with other breeders, but those breeders should be very well established and have some experience under their belts. I simply will not work with anyone else for breeding.
I do have a list of questions that I ask of any breeder who is interested in one of our puppies. If they are true breeders, they appreciate the effort I make towards placing our puppies in the right homes, and they happily answer the questions....and many of them will adopt the same method for use in their kennels. The list of questions I ask is the same list of questions I made for myself during the two years of research I did before I even started looking for my foundation dogs. I wouldn't let myself even look for dogs until I could answer all of the questions. And I did not go to other breeders for help. I did the research on my own.
Most breeders are not interested in mentoring beginners, especially those who only want mentoring so they don't have to do the research themselves, because we simply don't have time. We are extremely busy with our own kennels, if we are doing it right (there is that theme again!). So, I'm not expecting anything from anyone else that I didn't expect of myself. So, the bottom line here is that if you don't have loads of time and money to invest in it, if you think you are going to get rich, and if you aren't in it for the betterment of the breed, then you shouldn't do it! One final word, for anyone who read but didn't take heed of the info on this page. I want to say this loudly and clearly, so that there is no misunderstanding. If you are not an experienced breeder please, for the love of Chihuahuas, PLEASE DO NOT BREED A FEMALE UNDER 5 POUNDS! Just assume that you will not be the exception to the rule. You will be the rule!