Breeding a Terrier

Q: We would like to breed our Jack Russell Terrier but we don't know much about it. Can you help us understand the dangers?

A: Breeding is risky business, whether you do it for love or money. If you're doing it for love, you risk losing your bitch and her puppies. If you're doing it for money, you stand to lose a bundle. If you've ever read a book on Canine Reproduction you'll notice that there's 54 pages on what can go wrong, and only one page on what it's like if everything goes well. The risks are very real, and even if everything goes well initially, there are defects that can show up later, causing the eventual death of the puppies. And then there's the minor defects that won't affect the puppy's chance for a happy life, but will cause a financial loss to the breeder, as a refund or replacement will need to be given to the buyer.

Ask yourself "Why do you want to breed?"

"Because it would be good for the children to watch a birth, and to play with the puppies as they grow."

If you want them to watch a litter being born, it's better and easier to find a breeder who will let them get up in the middle of the night to come over and watch the litter being born. However, most children are repulsed by the gory parts of the whelping process, and are all too anxious to avoid watching the miracle of birth you planned for them to see. A litter growing up is often too rowdy for most small children, who are disinterested, or terrified of the leaping creatures with sharp nails and teeth.

"Because we love our bitch, and want another one just like her."

The chances that you'll get one "just like her" are slim, indeed! Just because an animal is beautiful doesn't mean that it will produce another beautiful animal.

"Because everyone who comes to the house sees our bitch, and wants a puppy from her."

Just wait till your litter of 5 is ready to go to their new homes; watch all those people back out -- with a myriad of excuses like;

"The kids aren't old enough yet."
"The kids are too old now to be bothered taking care of a dog."
"We're going to have a baby."
"We'll be moving in 3 months -- wait till then."
"The rug is too new."

"Because we really love little puppies"

You'd better be sure you really love them, because until you have them, you can't fully imagine how much is involved, such as:

The mess a litter makes. Can you put up with the cleaning that is constantly involved in caring for a litter? There's no way to explain how tired you'll get of scrubbing up after the puppies, their whelping box, the yard, the kennel, or wherever they're kept. They dump their food and water the minute you put it down, step in it, roll in it, and drag it through whatever else may be in the puppy box. With 4 or 5 puppies, there's always something else to be cleaned up, too!

The responsibility you'll have with a litter. It's not as easy as having the bitch whelp the litter and take care of them until they're ready to go. Much of it is up to you, and you're tied to the litter like any new mother.

Weigh the positives and the negatives carefully before you decide to breed. And if you're an amateur get the advise of a good veterinarian before you do anything!

Return to the Forum.