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Things to consider before breeding


Why breed? Be very honest with yourself.

  • For the experience of a one-off litter?

  • For a puppy for yourself?

  • Are you breeding just to build your bank balance?

  • Improving the breed's bloodlines and health?

  • Your dog should not be considered as a commodity.

An ethical and responsible breeder will always make sure the welfare of the dogs and breed are of the utmost importance. Always strive for excellence not just do the basics.

First steps

  1. Make contact with your breeder. Your dog may have been sold as a pet and there may have been a reason why they were not selected for breeding. Your breeder may invite you both over so you can discuss your dog’s +/- points against the breed standard.

  2. It is usual for puppies to be sold with a “not for breeding “ endorsement. This means any puppies cannot be Kennel Club registered

  3. An endorsement can only be lifted by the breeder and in your contract of sale, it may list the requirements you will need to undertake before consideration to lifting them is granted.

  4. A good breeder will always have a mentor, someone who helps and advises them. A mentor will be knowledgeable in the breed and offer guidance, support and understand what the outcome of any mating will be.


Other considerations

  • The cost of the mating “stud fee” time and travel

  • Pre-pregnancy welfare. Vaccinations, worming, flea treatments, physical fitness of your bitch.

  • Veterinary Bills before during and after.

  • Can you manage up to 15 puppies? Can you afford to feed them and the associated vet bills,

  • Do you have adequate space to rear them and offer them nurturing and valuable socialisation

  • What if the birth goes wrong and you lose the mother. Have you got the time to hand-rear the entire litter?

  • Can you afford the time-off whilst you rear the litter and support your bitch.

  • Are you prepared to take the puppy back if the first family is not able to keep them?

  • Have you considered breeding insurance?

  • Have you considered the assured breeder scheme?

  • You may need a license from your local council

  • How will you invite and screen potential owners?


The Portuguese Water Dog is an ancient breed and as a breeder, your priority should be to the improvement of the breed.

Health testing

In theory, you have permission to breed if you have completed a health testing profile. This will consist of genetic tests and hip/elbow x-rays. Do you know what these diseases are and do you know what the results mean and how to consider them with breeding?

Of the PWD breed-specific genetic tests only prcd-PRA is mandatory for kennel club litter registration. Some are recommended but all are for the health and welfare of the dogs, puppies, and breed. The PWD is a working breed and should be fit for purpose, form, and function.
A good breeder will invest in ALL the health tests available.
To enhance the health, knowledge, and information held on the breed going forward. To breed healthy happy well balanced puppies. DNA tests will confirm if your dog is genetically clear/carrier or affected

  • Prcd-PRA – Progressive Retinal Atrophy is a late onset degenerative disease which will cause blindness

  • EOPRA – Early onset Progressive retinal atrophy is a early on set degenerative disease which will cause blindness

  • JDCM – Juvenile Dilated Cardiomyopathy. This is a heart defect that will cause death in affected puppies by 6 months of age.

  • GM1 – GM1 Gangliosidosis is an inherited lysosomal storage disorder that progressively destroys nerve cells (neurons) in the brain and spinal cord leading to premature death. Symptoms appear at about 6 months of age.

  • IC13 – is for incorrect coat, it does not affect the health of the dog.

  • MOS-PWD Micropthalmia Syndrome- affected puppies have unusually small eyes and other ocular abnormalities and can be linked to small and unhealthy pups.

  • CDDY with IVDD risk -Chondrodystrophy  is a trait that is common to many dog breeds and it is characterised by shorter legs due to shorter long bones. It can also change the character of all of the intervertebral discs at a young age which ultimately gives a higher risk of a herniated disc.

  • CDPA Chondrodysplasia is an inherited disorder that affects the way that bones develop. The condition is a type of dwarfism.

  • Hips score to reduce the chance of Hip Displasia

  • Elbows to reduce the chance of Elbow Displasia

  • Yearly BVA eye exam


Other inherited disorders (DNA test not currently available)

  • Addison’s Disease

  • Follicular Dysplasia 


Understanding the pedigree

  • Linebreeding - some common ancestors to achieve a type

  • Out crosses - no common ancestry - will give you a diverse type

  • Inbreeding - helps to fix type - closely related parents should only be used by an experienced breeder with intimate knowledge of all dogs in the pedigree and within KC guidelines (ie not a half brother to half sister or parent child mating etc).

The colour and coat type can also be predicted and is now offered in greater detail from My dog DNA.

Choosing a stud dog

Finding the right stud dog to suit your dog is really important just knowing someone who owns one isn’t the best reason. This is where your breeder’s expertise can help and guide you. The stud dog needs to have the same tests as the bitch . You will need to agree a stud fee and contract. Agree on what constitutes a litter and what if the litter is lost.
Check the coefficient of the suggested pair on the Kennel Club website. The current breed average is 9.1%

What's next?

Once  you have completed everything for both dogs:

  1. Optimize the health of the bitch before her next season, worming, flea treatments, vaccination, weight, diet, exercise. Clip coat etc

  2. Consider reading around the subject and upskill yourself on what a mating involves. Especially in what can go wrong and how to rectify.

  3. Timing with the bitch, progesterone blood tests, if you are using, will guide.

  4. Plan how to feed your bitch in pregnancy

  5. Consider an ultrasound scan to confirm pregnancy and estimate numbers. Usually around day 28-32

  6. Work out the due date

  7. Prepare the whelping area

  8. Book time off (if needed) before the due date to be with your bitch.

  9. Notify your vet in case a caesarian is required. Cost is worked out by the number of puppies born, length of anaesthetic, how many vet nurses needed, time is taken, additional medication and equipment.

  10. Be vigilant for early labor signs

  11. Unlimited time is spent with a new mum making sure you detect early signs of problems with the mother, eclampsia, mastitis, womb infection, any failure to thrive puppies. Ensuring she doesn’t lay on them and is keeping an adequate diet and hydration.

  12. Plan finding homes for the puppies. This can be very stressful. Many hours can be spent talking on phone, answering emails, arranging visits. Finding the right home first time is essential.

  13. Make a contract of sale

  14. Make a puppy pack.

Remember there is never enough you can do for your bitch, the puppies and the breed

For more information, get in touch with the club.

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