BREEDING YOUR DOG...
Think you have the perfect dog?
That's great! As a Full Time Behavior Consultant, myself and my colleagues agree we need MORE!! Good family dogs are hard to come by!
My primary reasons for reaching out are that A) I am thrilled so far with every puppy that I am tracking as they mature both in temperament and good looks! They are everything I was hoping to produce! & B) I struggle with finding suitable breeding dogs that meet my high standards for both health and temperament. I would like to have more dogs available to use as our program grows that are health tested, that I know are AMAZING, and standing by should the need arise. How often the need arises, only time will tell, but I will be very grateful to have them available to keep our gene pool open!
Breeding your dog is not something that should be taken lightly though! That is why I only sell puppies with "Limited Registration" because I want to maintain quality control within our Program and want the Gravitas name to always have a 5 star reputation! If someone breeds their Gravitas dog either accidentally or intentionally, without doing their due diligence, and that litter produces dogs with health or temperament issues, then everyone will look at BOTH parents as the cause without knowing the full story.
Good reasons to breed your dog (all must be true in our opinion):
- Your dog is a wonderful example of the Golden Retriever breed.
- Your dog is in excellent health (ask me if you are not sure).
- Your dog's temperament is amazing! Very sociable, forgiving, tolerant & pretty calm? Exactly what we are hoping for!
- You like the work we do in our partner program training/raising Service Dogs for Veterans & First Responders and think your dog would be an asset to the genetic diversity we like to have.
- You can make the sacrifices necessary (read below) which are of course very different for boys vs girls!
With that said, this page is for those who own their Gravitas Golden and are interested in breeding him/her in cooperation with Gravitas Goldens. For most of our clients, they like the thought of their wonderful dog contributing to the breed but do NOT want to or have the time to do the breeding/whelping/puppy raising that comes along with it and is extremely time consuming when done "right". If you are interested in breeding on your own, you can certainly talk to us about that, however full registration is only granted to people on very rare occasions, with a number of stipulations in place, and a fee to release full registration.
If you are still reading, I'll go over next steps! Health testing is the first step to even knowing if breeding will be in your dog's future. I always start my health testing by doing "preliminaries" as soon as they turn 1 year old. Final clearances are done again at 2 years old.
Next steps for Health Clearances:
Review the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals recommended testing for Goldens here:
X-Rays for Hips/Elbows can usually be done at your local vet IF they have experience doing "OFA Clearances", they just take the x-rays and send them to OFA for review/scoring. I usually do these after the dog turns one year old for preliminary scores, but final scores are done again at 2 years old. PennHIP is an alternative hip screening tool. It is thought to be more objective than OFA and is in many ways the preferred option. It tends to be quite a bit more expensive though, and we still do OFA hips/elbows on top of PennHIP if we do PennHIP.
Cardiac clearances is done after a year old and should be performed by a BOARD CERTIFIED CARDIOLOGIST. Depending where you live I can help you find a cardiologist.
Eye clearances are done after a year old and annually thereafter and should be performed by a BOARD CERTIFIED OPHTHALMOLOGIST. Depending where you live I can help you find an ophthalmologist... but this website will help you locate one: https://www.acvo.org/
Genetic Testing is done to see if the dog is a carrier or affected by any diseases that now have a genetic test available. The results of this testing will help us make breeding plans on who best to partner up your dog with! Appropriate companies to do this testing include Pawprint Genetics, Embark, or Animal Genetics and I can direct you to the exact test kit to order. It is a simple saliva swab that you send off and await results.
Males are obviously only needed for a few days here and there. Usually, when a female comes into heat we notify the stud owner in advance and you have a week or two's notice. We use progesterone testing to time the female's cycle accurately so we know exactly when to bring her to the stud. Usually, breeding occurs 2-3 days in a row at the stud's location where he is most comfortable. If this is your home, we will make arrangements in advance and "borrow" your backyard for 20-45 minutes usually. We can also bring your boy to our location for a couple of days if that is more convenient (and it often is!).
First time breeding is usually done close to or just after they turn 2 years old. First time studs don't always know what is happening or what to do, so only time will tell. Natural breeding is always our goal, artificial insemination is sometimes needed as a backup depending on both the stud and the female.
Becoming a stud dog will not change your boy's behavior, so you do not need to worry about this!
Because fully tested "English Cream" stud dogs are hard to come by, it is very possible that other breeders might also be interested in using your boy! Keep in mind, I will only release full registration under a contract that you agree to only breed him to full tested females. This is for the sake of the breed, and both your and my reputation. You likely won't know the first place to start as a stud owner, so if you'd like my assistance in "campaigning" your boy, networking, contracts, etc., I am more than happy to do that in exchange for free stud service. Depending on your boy, his genetics, where you live, and other variables, you might have quite a few opportunities each year to stud him out and collect compensation.
How often you decide to breed your stud dog is entirely dependent on you and your boy. Other variables will include my breeding schedule, genetic compatibility etc. If you decide to stud your boy out to other ethical breeders, it could obviously be more often. I cannot guarantee anything of course.
For females, once she comes into heat and a decision is made it is time to breed her, we use progesterone testing to time the female's cycle accurately so we know exactly when to bring her to the stud. First time breeding is usually done close to or just after they turn 2 years old. Progesterone testing is usually done every other day during the heat cycle and consists of a blood draw at the vet until the progesterone levels reach a certain number at which point we usually can time set up a breeding date a few days later. Usually, breeding occurs 2-3 days in a row at the stud's location where he is most comfortable. We usually keep the female with us during this time so we can shuttle her to the stud and supervise the courtship which is usually a very consensual affair 😉
After breeding, the female goes home for the remainder of her pregnancy until a week before she is due, at which point she comes to my house to get ready for puppies! We do usually schedule an ultrasound around day 30 after breeding to confirm pregnancy which can be done by your vet if you are out of town or we can schedule if you are near Visalia.
The female will then stay under my care for the duration of birth and care of the puppies until they are about 7 weeks old at which point she can go home! She gets the best care of course while at my home, and YES you can come visit her and the puppies 🙂
How often you decide to breed your female is entirely up to you. We choose not to breed our females more than 4 times, sometimes they retire earlier. Some breeders do more, some do less.
All the health testing and genetic testing can cost, depending on what the clinic/veterinarian charges, $500-1000 in total. I am happy to front this initial cost if necessary as long as it is applied to any compensation that is agreed upon for a successful pregnancy/litter.
Compensation options for either gender dog can be one of the following:
- Stud/Lease Fee
- A puppy in return (1 puppy for one litter a female has; or 1 puppy for TWO litters a male has)
- A tax deductible donation receipt from our 501c3 non-profit
Stud fees for male dogs can vary quite a bit. As both a bitch & stud owner, the fairest stud contract I have seen and now utilize is one that has a $500 non-refundable service fee, and then $400 per puppy born after the first puppy. This contract has a maximum cap of $4,000 including the Service Fee.
If a puppy is requested in return for STUD SERVICES, I would want to utilize your boy at least twice (meaning 2 litters) since the current value of a puppy is almost $6,000 (yes, prices have gone up!).
Obviously the sacrifice for a female is more in depth, so a puppy back for one litter is a more equitable trade.If a puppy back is not desired, the lease fee is the value of a puppy which is currently $5,500.As you know, we put an incredible amount of work and personal/family sacrifices into raising our puppies while they are with us. So two months of my life, all veterinary costs for the female and the puppies, support staff expenses, etc are all covered by myself.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the potential risks. Golden Retrievers are known to be "easy whelpers", and that has been true in my experience. However, there is always a risk of complications during pregnancy/whelping, just like humans! We take more precautions than any breeder I know of, and are very quick to utilize veterinary care. Stud/lease contracts will go over all the "what ifs" associated with the risks and possible outcomes.
My hope is that there is also a sense of pride that comes along with this opportunity, as with each litter we usually donate 1-2 puppies to become Service Dogs for Veterans, or Therapy Dogs for First Responder Departments... and to know that your dog has contributed to making all of these things happen is quite an amazing feeling.
It is also critically important to the Golden Retriever breed to keep our gene pool as diverse as possible. This helps make the breed healthier, and gives us opportunities to improve year after year!
So, in a nutshell:
Step 1: Get all Passing Health Clearances
Step 2: Get Genetic Testing Results
Step 3: Come up with a fair & equitable agreement/contract
Step 4: Date night!
Step 5: Roll around on the floor with a bunch of adorable grand-puppies!!