So, you want to breed dobermans, eh?
Inspired by Gretchen_Red's thread series from her perspective as a stud owner, I'd like to present an educational thread on breeding from the perspective of a bitch owner. Much has already been said in many other threads and elsewhere on the internet about whether or not one should
breed their dogs. Hopefully this thread will shed a light onto why you don't want
and why only the truly committed and passionate should even attempt it. So much more can go wrong than right! Not just in the lead up to the actual mating, or in the resulting offspring but also when it comes to the health of your bitch, and the puppies. Consider also the psychological stress of being in heat, being bred, being pregnant. Consider your bitch's temperament and how she might live with all this.
Before you even start, or venture into it, even with a mentor... be mentally prepared to fail
. And in particular if you are trying to think outside of the box and take a different approach than most, understand that in the beginning you are, in effect, "experimenting". Unless your bitch has full sisters that have already bred, and will be breeding on similar nicks to you, then you don't have any idea what she is gonna produce. Be prepared for your first litter to be such a failure you may not be able to retain any of the resulting offspring for breeding. Be prepared that you may even have to start from scratch completely and start over with a new foundation bitch. Be prepared to admit these things to yourself - it is not about your ego, or your bitch - your bitch doesn't gaf that her offspring are champions or topping podiums. This about the good of the doberman breed. And keep in mind that his 'experiment' results in living, sentient beings who, if not destined for a breeding program will be someone's pet or active/sport companion, a probable member of their family, and weigh very carefully what this means.
We ask prospective puppy buyers this question all the time, especially for those wanting work/show/performance prospects (especially important in SD prospects). "What will you do if the dog doesn't work out as x?" I think it's fair to ask yourself as a breeder the same question. What will you do if this litter doesn't work out as x/to further your breeding program? What thoughtful breeding decisions are you doing to ensure these pups will have a safe, loving home their whole lives? And if it is not possible for them to have such a thing either because their temperaments were a spectacular failure or they are so poorly in health that they can't have a quality of life, will you be able to look at yourself in the mirror and say you did everything to stack the odds in their favour? (Because yes sometimes you do everything right and lady luck was moody when she rolled the dice that day, it happens. But you have to be sufficiently honest with yourself and use hindsight if necessary, and be capable of applicable of saying - well I could have done this differently, or should have. Breeding is at once a science and an art form and as with any science or any art, that means constantly questioning and re-evaluating yourself and what you're doing. Can you do that?)
If you are just starting out, the first step before anything else of course, is having your bitch proven objectively, whether that's by titling, getting judge's evaluations, or having the bitch actively working in a relevant venue (for instance if this were a border collie, she could be actively working as a herding dog/every day farm dog).
And then there's health testing. Before anything else, she should be health tested, as this will cut considerable time once you set out to search for a stud. For stud owners you will come across as more professional and serious, rather than risk coming across as a tire kicker. I know most people on this forum already are familiar but for newbies, it bears repeating
At the absolute bare bones minimum I think any stud owner would want to know:
An up to date Echo and Holter
Hips should be certified
Elbows should be certified
A full thyroid panel
A few will also want to know the dilution status of your bitch, if their stud carries dilution or is a dilute themselves. Some people don't want to produce any dilution whatsoever.
Patellar certification (which many vets will throw in for free if you get elbows and hips done at the same time)
DINGS (Doberman vesticular deafness) status
Liver + Kidney panel
And anything else you can think of. More information is always better, to help decision making. Also, doing your health testing prior to seeking out a prospective mate will save you a lot of heartache, time and money if something comes back too poorly or substandard for breeding. Better than getting your hopes up, getting excited, dreaming of a specific pairing only for something like this to come up and shatter your dreams. There are already many more things that can go wrong before the mating even occurs, as we will see very soon, so better stack the odds in your favour.