Introduction – Should I breed my dog?

This is a question that is asked quite frequently, especially by those new to the world of dog shows or purebred dogs. Often, they have purchased their dog from a breeder who has determined their new puppy is “show potential” and may have had some success in the show ring. But, how do you really know if your dog should be bred? Here are some things to think about that may help you make your decision:

Breeding-quality animals exhibit Havanese type and are found free of disqualifying faults under the breed standard, according to the HCA’s Code of Ethics. Ideally, all animals used for breeding will be thoroughly tested for known genetic diseases, such as hip and elbow dysplasia, patellar luxation, congenital cardiac disease, heritable eye diseases, etc., and the breeder will also research pedigrees to ascertain health of predecessors, siblings, and offspring of the animals being considered.

In addition, the Code stipulates that only Havanese that are physically and temperamentally sound should be used for breeding, and no Havanese will be used for breeding if it is known to be affected with, or a carrier of any condition which affects the health of the offspring. Because it is the obligation of every HCA member to uphold the principles set forth in the Code of Ethics, the Breeder Education Subcommittee bases its recommendations on these guidelines.

You can read the full version of the Code of Ethics here. Certain parts of the Code pertaining to the responsibilities of breeders are summarized here

Every breeding will be done from the standpoint of bettering the breed. This means that each animal used in a breeding program is carefully scrutinized to determine what it can add to the next generation. Seek the opinions of several reputable breeders, judges and mentors.

Dogs and bitches will be in good health and free of communicable diseases and genetic faults.

Stud service will be refused to any bitch which is unregisterable or shows serious faults under the breed standard.

All Havanese sold as pets and those not considered to be of show and/or breeding quality should be sold with limited registration and a spay/neuter agreement.

Breeders must be concerned with the proper placement of Havanese. It is recommended that breeders do a thorough background check of prospective buyers to insure they will provide a good home and proper care.

All Havanese sold should be in good health and of a suitable age (8 weeks is the minimum recommended age). The seller should supply written instruction on feeding, care, training and grooming, and medical records. If Havanese with serious faults are sold, the breeder must take the responsibility to see that the dog is spayed/neutered. Contracts must be clear and complete. All conditions agreed upon between buyer and breeder must be stated.

Breeders are obligated to take back or help re-home any dog they sell, regardless of the reason or circumstances necessitating return.

Assessing Breeding Stock Conformation, Temperament, & Health

Assessing a dog’s conformation based on the breed standard can be challenging for the novice. Careful study of the standard, observation at dog shows and consultation with successful breeder/exhibitors can help you determine if you have a dog that is of breeding quality. The attainment of an AKC Champion title can be evidence of breeding stock conformation and often of temperament. Because correct temperament is essential to breed type, it is uncommon that a Havanese of unsound temperament is awarded a championship. However, not all Havanese who attain the Championship title are suited for breeding.

Health-testing requirements are set by the HCA in order to qualify for the Breeder Referral list. A breeder must provide proof of CAER-eyes, OFA- Hips and Patella’s. Many breeders on the list do additional testing such as SA320-Liver Shunt and Cardiac testing.

Finally, your veterinarian should conduct a thorough physical exam of your bitch to ascertain that she is in good condition and free of any physical abnormalities that may jeopardize pregnancy or whelping. She should be evaluated and treated for parasites that could impair her health or be transmitted to her offspring, and she should be current on all appropriate vaccinations.

Selecting a Mate – Your Objectives for the Breeding

Good animal husbandry practices dictate that some health problems should be avoided all together, and others should not be “doubled up” when choosing breeding pairings. In order to make intelligent breeding decisions we must know what problems may exist in the dogs. In a perfect world, all the conditions that are described can be screened in our breeding dogs. However, tests for some genetic conditions are still years away from being developed. While there is no guarantee that health problems will not crop up, we can certainly tip the odds in our favor by screening our dogs for health issues for which we do have tests.

There are four distinct breeding systems

Inbreeding and line breeding – breeding related animals. The distinction between inbreeding and line breeding is the determined by how closely the breeding pair are related.

Outcrossing – breeding of animals who are not related – no names appear more than once in the pedigree in the first 6 generations

Like-to-like – breeding animals who have a strong resemblance to one another or have similar breed type, but are not related

Unlike-to-unlike – mating to a particular animal because of the desire to overcome a certain trait or fault in the other. The animal with the desired trait must have prepotency for this trait

The choice of which system to use is based on what the breeder is attempting to achieve. For any of these systems to work, the breeder must have a good understanding of what the outcome of the breeding will be, and which traits the sire and dam are most likely to pass on. Thorough health testing is a must, as is an objective analysis of the puppies.