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Home About Breeding A Breeder's Diary
A Breeders Diary - Chapter One: The Plan PDF Print E-mail
Article Index
A Breeders Diary
Chapter One: The Plan
Chapter Two: The Pregnancy
Chapter Three: The Whelping
Chapter Four: Rearing Puppies
Chapter Five: Expenses
All Pages


Ivy finished her AKC championship today—now we can discuss whether we want to breed her. Raising a litter of puppies is a lot of work and then there is the whole question of selling them, keeping track of them as they grow up, and...well, being responsible for a bunch of little lives that won't be here if I don't create them.

I've never figured out what it cost to finish her championship, but it was easily upwards of $2500 over the past two years, if you count entry fees, gas, motel rooms, food, and miscellaneous travel expenses. My daughter Johannah and I showed her ourselves, so we didn't have professional andler expenses, though it might have been cheaper to do it that way. Competition in the whippet ring is stiff, and everyone loses more often than wins. It took awhile to finish Ivy. I went through a divorce, a move from South Carolina to Virginia, and a new marriage during the time between her first show and this one.

Expenses: Total showing expenses about $2500


After much discussion, we've decided that yes, we want to breed Ivy. It will be my first litter in over 10 years and our very first whippet litter. I bred and showed collies before whippets and we're still active in collie rescue. We had three whippets before we got Ivy, two of whom are living with Johannah in Boston now, but Ivy is the first one we really believe has "something to contribute to the breed." The timing is not great for us personally; we have a lot of other stuff going on in our lives right now, but Ivy will be four in January and it's now or never. It's an expensive proposition--you hardly ever make enough money on a litter to even cover the expenses--but it's something I've been studying for and planning for years. We've looked at our finances and it seems to be something we can afford to do. So we're going to go for it!


We've been going through magazines and American Whippet Club annuals looking at the ads with an eye to choosing a sire for Ivy's litter. Jodi Stanner, Ivy's co-breeder in North Carolina, is really excited about it and is helping us look for a stud. There are truly some beautiful whippets out there! We're trying to find out details about the ones we're most interested in. Most important to us is temperament. Whippets have to be good pets before they can be good show dogs.


One of the sires we were considering is very "barky." Ivy is a quiet girl and we want to maintain that in her puppies, so he's out of the running for now anyway. That's a disappointment. He is not too far away and belongs to a person we like a lot. Another one we considered is promising, but the owner is very difficult to work with. Don't need that. There are plenty of stud dogs available and we want someone we can talk to about problems.


Checked out some more males. One's eyes are too light. The American Kennel Club standard says eyes should be dark, though in England, lighter eyes are acceptable. Two of the males have less-than-perfect fronts (structure is extremely important to a dog bred to run) and another is too tightly wound mentally for our tastes. Sometimes the best showdogs aren't the best pets, and as I said earlier, we're looking at temperament above all. It's very tempting to just breed Ivy to a famous dog, as his name on the papers would help sell the puppies we don't plan to keep...but our puppies will go to people who will live with them in the house, so the sire, like Ivy, really has to be a good pet as well as a good dog structurally. Walt is actually beginning to talk about breeding Ivy to our own dog, Chase. I hadn't thought about that before.


I went several states north to look at a candidate for breeding today and took Ivy with me. This dog is one of my absolute all-time favorites but both his breeder and I agreed that he's not for Ivy...they have a couple of faults in common, and we want to breed away from those. Very disappointing, as he is a lovely dog. Well, none of them are perfect, but we don't want to "double up" on faults. I appreciate the breeder's honesty. Not all breeders are so forthcoming about their own dogs' faults!

Expenses: Travel $150


Jodi and I both have corresponded by e-mail with owners of several males we're considering. The problem is we have no way of knowing what their temperaments are really like. Most breeders have been very honest with us about their dogs' faults but it's hard to determine whether a dog is hyper, laid back, noisy, a bit shy, or anything else via e-mail or phone.

Temperament is one of the hardest things for an owner to evaluate in her own dogs. After all, doesn't everyone think her own dog is the greatest, though he may be a little nervous, a little shy, whatever? Even trying to be objective, it's hard. For instance, I wouldn't call Ivy nervous or high-strung, but she is more...well, intense...than I would like to see in our puppies. So choosing a very relaxed dog for the father is more important than it might be if she were a really laid-back girl.

Meeting dogs at shows doesn't tell you a lot since they're not in a home environment. Complicating matters is that some of the big breeders keep most of their dogs kenneled, and it's hard to know what they would act like in the house.


We took Ivy to see her breeder, Cal Perry, Appraxin Whippets, in Bristol, Tennessee, who has been breeding and showing whippets for 40 years or more. Cal is one of the most respected and knowledgable of the "old timer" whippet people, and he knows as much or more about the breed than anyone else we can think of. Our male Chase (Appraxin Kamikaze) went along for the ride—four hours one way. We looked at a couple of Cal's males and asked what he thought we should do about breeding Ivy. He looked hard at Chase and said, "Why not him? He's got everything she needs improvement on, plus it's a great linebreeding." Cal suggested one other dog, but insisted that he really thought breeding to Chase would be a good move.

Expenses: Travel $50


The suggestion of using Chase for Ivy is very tempting. Walt, who suggested it first (even before Cal), is looking very smug these days. I'm still not sure. We ran their pedigrees through a program to determine inbreeding coefficient, and it's not a bad breeding at all. Chase's grandfather is Ivy's father, so we thought it might be too close a breeding. According to the formula for determining these things, it's well within the "safe" range. Very experienced breeders can inbreed successfully, but it's safer by far to stick with linebreeding, which is breeding dogs that are still relatives, but not as close relatives as in inbreeding. Inbreeding usually involves mother to son, father to daughter, etc. Breeding cousins is an example of linebreeding.


Still waiting for Ivy to come in season and still aren't completely decided on a male, but we're leaning towards Chase. The disadvantages are that he has not finished his championship (though he's certainly good enough to finish) and that he is an unproven stud. We don't know if he would even be able to sire puppies, and with Ivy being a virgin also, the breeding could be difficult. Chase has had prostate and urinary problems occasionally too.


We took Chase up to a urinary/reproductive specialist in northern Virginia to get a sperm count and some other tests done. About $350 later, we were told that he is fertile, though his sperm count is a little low right now. We were instructed to put him on Glyco-Flex, MSM, and Vitamin E, plus some prescribed antibiotics.

Expenses: Vet $350; Travel $20


Pre-breeding tests at the vet for both Chase and Ivy—brucellosis, thyroid, fecal check for worms, vaccinations updated, heartworm check, general checkup. About $250. We discussed x-raying for hip dysplasia, but it is practically unheard of in whippets, so we decided against it. Still not sure about that decision.

Expenses: Vet $250


Another $40 for opthamology checks to be sure they are free of hereditary eye defects. We had to take them to an eye clinic held at a dog show about 100 miles away—there are not many certified canine opthamologists outside of vet schools, and there certainly aren't any around here.

Expenses: Vet $40; Travel $20


Ivy is in season finally! Boy, it seems like they come in season like clockwork months when you don't want to breed, but once you make up your mind to breed, it takes forever! Chase seems eager enough but it will be a few days before she is ready to breed. When I had collies, I always sent my girls away to be bred, so I never had to worry about thispart. We've gotten lots of conflicting advice: Keep them apart till breeding, let them play together as usual; breed them only once, breed them twice, breed them three times, breed them every other day, breed them every day. If they won't breed naturally, we're not going to artificially inseminate. Breeding problems can be hereditary, and we don't want to perpetuate them if either of these two has any.


We aren't getting a lot of sleep. I had forgotten how obnoxious dogs can be when one is in season! Chase shrieks and cries all night trying to get to Ivy. We can't leave them together all the time because they might very well hurt each other trying to breed. She is not happy either.


Okay, Chase is sleeping in the van in his crate. He tried to eat through the door to get to Ivy last night and he almost succeeded. He's always been pretty pathetic when she's in season, but he seems to know things are different this time and it makes him even worse. Hmm. Wonder if I have to include the hundred bucks or so to repair the door in my litter budget?


A successful breeding! They seemed to know exactly what to do without any help from us, thank you very much. After some of the stories I had heard about difficulty in breeding, I was a little surprised at how easy it was. Lots of folks have to deal with artificial insemination, bitches who don't want to be bred, stud dogs who are not cooperative... Just the simple act of breeding can be very expensive. After the business with the door, it's a good thing Chase caught on fast!

Total expenses planning stage $2880

Last Updated on Thursday, 31 July 2008 19:30