Apex Boxers, New Zealand

Breeding from your Boxer

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    Kiri with her litter at 2 weeks old 

    Breeding dogs is a topic that I have some very strong opinions on. There are plenty of dogs out there in the world and too many are neglected or abused. I think that every litter needs to be very carefully considered. People like Diane at NZ Boxer Rescue wouldn't have to spend so much of their time and money caring for rescued Boxers if breeders took more care.

    If you are thinking of breeding from your Boxer I strongly recommend reading the information on breeding available at these sites:

    You should also investigate the health tests you'll need to carry out on both sire and dam:

    But you breed your boxers, what's different?
    I practice what I preach and I breed my dogs as seldom as possible. I got my first Boxer bitch in 1986, and 24 years later I have only had 6 litters, despite having had many bitches with excellent pedigrees perfectly capable of having several litters each. I go for quality not quantity! What makes my litters different lies in the reason behind the breeding...

    I choose who to breed from on the basis of which sire & dam are likely to produce the best possible Boxer in looks, health, & temperament. I breed to maintain the quality of the breed - the essential characteristics that make a Boxer the dog I love.

    Boxers are of course a man-made breed. To retain the wonderful qualities that have taken generations to instill, breeding needs to be done with care. Take for example a backyard breeder I am aware of who produces dogs who are too undershot, so their bottom teeth protrude even when their mouth is closed. Not only is this an unattractive feature, but it also interferes with the dog's wellbeing. There are also many breeders who don't health test and I know that dogs they sell die way too young. Enough years of breeders like that contributing to the Boxer genepool and our special breed suffers.

    Perhaps you've made a good effort to check that the bitch and dog you want to breed from will produce good healthy pups. That's only a small part of being a responsible breeder. Will you screen potential owners carefully to ensure your pups have happy lives and don't become breeding machines? Will you be there to support all your puppy owners through any problems they have? Will you be able to take back any of your pups that need to be rehomed rather than risk them ending up in a bad home?

    If you bring pups into the world, your responsibility for them doesn't end when they go off to their new homes at 8 weeks. The fact that organisations like NZ Boxer Rescue exist are a sad testimony to the many irresponsible breeders out there.

    Still thinking of breeding? Let's explore some myths...

    Myth:A bitch needs to have a litter - it will (a) make her settle down and act more mature, (b) help her bulk up and look more physically mature, (c) stop her from experiencing some psychological loss which she would experience if she didn't get to be a mother.
    Fact: A litter is very hard on a bitch. A bitch gains nothing physically or psychologically from having a litter. A bitch can die having pups. A bitch can require major surgery. A bitch can lose her pups and suffer psychologically. Think about the human equivalent - does a woman's body improve from producing lots of babies? Would a woman feel fulfilled and happy from giving birth to multiple children and having all or most of them taken away just when they are starting to be less work and to develop their own personalities and become enjoyable to interact with? I have seen in the bitches I have lived with (not all of whom have ever had a litter) that they are healthier and happier without litters.

    Myth:Being used at stud is going to be great for my male dog!
    Fact:Of course male dogs appreciate the experience of being used at stud, but it's not like it's going to happen every day - at least if he's never been used at stud he won't know what he's missing! An experienced stud dog may also become more aggressive with other male dogs, and more keen to roam to find bitches. Plus there are health benefits in having a dog neutered.

    Myth: You can make a few dollars from breeding Boxers - after all, look how much they charge for each pup.
    Fact: Breeding dogs is a hugely expensive exercise when done properly. Health checks for sire & dam are expensive (hips need to be xrayed and checked, the heart needs to be checked, thyroid should be tested, both dog and bitch may need swabs to check for infection, and blood tests are helpful). The dietary requirements of both the dam & the pups are very expensive. A c-section (common in Boxers) costs a lot of money - the last one I paid for was $1,400! Vaccinations for the pups, tail docking (where legal), and dew claw removal also very expensive. Looking after the pups is close to a full time job too. Imagine if you had to pay hundreds of dollars for a c-section only to lose all or most of the pups, or the bitch - how would you make money then?

    Myth: Breeding dogs is easy. Just need to get a dog & bitch together, then look after the pups for a while, and that's the end of it.
    Fact: A lot of effort is required to find a quality dog and bitch, but even if you just breed from whatever dogs you already have, looking after a dam for 9 weeks of pregnancy, then looking after pups for a further 8 weeks is not easy. And if things go wrong you could be looking after the pups or the consequences of the litter for a long time after that... Boxers can be prone to a variety of life threatening health problems that are hereditary. (Eg Aortic Stenosis, Cardiomyopathy, colitis) Responsible breeders learn which lines are prone to problems and avoid breeding from them. Do you really know that your bitch's lines are free of such problems? Do you know if the dog you want to use is from a healthy line? What are you going to say or do for puppy buyers who come back to you complaining that their beloved puppy is seriously ill?

    Want to have someone use your male at stud?
    I'm afraid that good breeders use only top stud dogs with sought after blood lines. Generally also only dogs who have proven themselves in the show ring. The show ring is a place where experts assess a dog's physical structure (which has a bit to do with good health). Being out at dogs shows, noisy places filled with people and other dogs, is at least some assessment of temperament. More importantly, a dog that is shown is out there for the world to see, whereas a pet dog is an unknown.

    With plenty of good show dogs out there available at stud, you need to question the motives of a person who wants to use a pet Boxer to sire a litter. My experience is that it is usually due to convenience (ie laziness) and cost cutting. Do you really want to help bring puppies into the world that will be raised on the cheap by someone who is keen on cutting corners? If they take little care to choose the stud dog, how careful have they been with the health and temperament of the bitch they have selected? The stud dog may well get the blame if there are problems with the litter. And if the litter is born healthy, how will those pups be raised? On good quality food with a safe and clean environment, with health checks and careful supervision? What checks will be done on the type of home they go to?

    But I really want another dog just like mine. How can I get that unless I breed from him/her?
    There are no guarantees you will produce puppies with the characteristics you love about your Boxer. Getting consistency is difficult, which is why established breeders 'line breed'. Even in line-bred litters, you still get huge variation both in looks and personality.

    If you want another Boxer like the one you have - how about going back to your dog's breeder? Or finding a good breeder with similar dogs? You are much more likely to get a puppy with the attributes you want by 'shopping around'. The bonus of going to an established breeder is that you get a healthy happy puppy without all the hassle of breeding and with less risk then relying on some backyard breeder.