Should You Breed Your Dog?

Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a mobile, board-certified surgeon in Allentown, PA. Find him online at He is the co-author of “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound” (

Kelly Serfas, a Certified Veterinary Technician in Bethlehem, PA, contributed to this article.

(Editor's Note, Dr. Peter Kintzer: Given the large number of homeless dogs available for adoption that would be wonderful pets and companions, very careful thought and serious deliberation should be undertaken before electing to breed your dog. Please consider adoption.)

Sure, little Chiastiffs*, Puggiedoodles* and Chischmoodles* could be cute and all (if they existed), however dogs should only be bred by experienced breeders in order to improve the breed. Good breeding can help get rid of some genetic conditions, like hip dysplasia, or at least reduce their frequency, but unplanned or irresponsible breeding can lead to continuation or spreading of these problems in the dog population.

Think your dog is a good candidate to improve the breed? There’s an interesting chart that we’ve seen a few versions of which can help dog-owners decide whether a pet should be neutered (i.e. spayed or castrated) or not. I’m not sure who originally created this chart, but here’s an example and I’ve paraphrased part of it below:

Is your dog purebred?

  • No? Get your dog neutered!
  • Yes? Read on.

Where did you get your dog?

  • A pet store, animal shelter, or the street?  Get your dog neutered!
  • A breeder? Read on.

Did you get a 3 to 5 generation pedigree with your dog?

  • No? Get your dog neutered!
  • Yes? Read on.

Are there at least 4 titled dogs (conformation, obedience, tracking, field etc.) in the last 3 generations?

  • No? Get your dog neutered!
  • Yes? Read on.

Does your dog have a stable temperament?

  • No? Get your dog neutered!
  • Yes? Read on.

Does your dog fit the breed standard?

  • No? Get your dog neutered!
  • Yes? Read on.

Is your dog healthy and certified (OFA, CERF) free of genetic diseases?

The OFA is the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, which certifies for a number of diseases affecting the hips, the knees, the elbows, the heart, the eyes etc.  The CERF is the Canine Eye Registration Foundation which certifies dogs for all kinds of diseases affecting the eye and the eyelids. Responsible breeders who are trying to improve the breed will get their prospective breeding pair tested for these and other common genetic defects that occur in the breed to lessen the chance that any resulting puppies carry those problems. These tests can be expensive, but are an essential part of breeding responsibly. So are you willing to get your dog certified and tested prior to breeding?

However, if you are not active in showing or working your dog, think very carefully about your reasons for breeding.  Breeding should be done to improve the breed, not “so the kids can witness the circle of life” or because “you want another Bailey” and never to make money selling puppies!  In fact, responsible breeders who take the time and spend the money to do the recommended testing -- prenatal and initial puppy care -- with their veterinarian will usually lose money.

[Editor’s Note: If you’d like to have your children experience a pet’s pregnancy and birth, consider taking in a pregnant foster pet from a local shelter – you won’t be adding to the pet overpopulation problem, the shelter will often cover some or all of the medical care and it will help your family place the litter into good homes when the offspring is of age. However, remember that not all births or pregnancies go well. Complications can  happen, sometimes resulting in the death of the offspring or mother.]

So why would a board-certified surgeon care about neutering? After all, I rarely neuter dogs, so it really shouldn’t be a concern of mine. Or should it?

First, surgeon or not, I’m a vet, so I am deeply concerned about pet overpopulation and the killing of millions of unwanted pets every year.  Here is an undeniable fact of life: 100% of puppies and kittens were created by a non-neutered father and a non-spayed mother.

Second, not “altering” pets (Australians use a very poetic expression: desexing…) can lead to a number of medical conditions:

  • Aggressiveness
  • Dog fights and cat fights and the classic bite wounds - from minor to horrific to deadly (we see this routinely at emergency clinics)
  • Perineal hernias (a hernia along the rectum that causes pain and constipation).
  • Roaming and getting in trouble
  • Roaming and getting lost
  • Prostate diseases. Intact male dogs can have a number of diseases of the prostate including cysts, abscesses and enlargement. The latter is called “benign prostatic hyperplasia,” just as in older men.  Neutering (of dogs) prevents these problems.
  • Testicular tumors.  It's simple, really: no testicles, no testicular cancer.
  • A Cryptorchid male, i.e. when a testicle did not come down and is still in the belly. The testicle left in the belly has a much higher risk of becoming cancerous. So this may require two surgeries: one to remove the "outside" testicle, and one in the belly to find and remove the other one. Occasionally, both testicles are in the abdomen.
  • Genetics.  Yet another reason to neuter is to prevent spreading bad genes. Pets with hip dysplasia, eye diseases, heart conditions and many other genetic conditions, should not be allowed to breed.

Clearly, neutering (and spaying) is a very sensitive topic and a very personal decision.  Discussing neutering is similar to the triple no-no of communication bliss: wise people never talk about politics, religion and pet food.  Hopefully we can talk about neutering and still part as friends. Learn more about why to spay or neuter. 

* Chiastiff = Chihuahua x Mastiff * Puggiedoodle = Pug x Poodle * Chischmoodle = Chihuahua x Schnauzer x Poodle

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian -- they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

The opinions and views expressed in this post are those of the author's and do not necessarily represent the beliefs, policies or positions of, IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. or its affiliates and partner companies.

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