Some would say breeding is unethical or breeders are just money hungry. For me at the end of the day especially the hard or heartbreaking ones it is the unbiased love I get in return from my dogs and the families who adopt my puppies. I live for the updates of pups from their loving families. I have also been accused of being a birthing junkie I love being hands-on with every aspect of my litters. My vet has told me multiple times I probably know more than he does about the hands-on parts of breeding, birthing, and raising healthy animals maybe I should consider getting a veterinary degree.
While my whelping schedule is quite often all night or hectic I think a vet’s life is much more time-consuming and heartbreaking. I find my joy in producing healthy animals rather than constantly treating sick or dying ones. Every once in a while my husband asks do we have to have puppies? I just look him in the eye and say you want more kids? 😉 Breeding satisfies my strong mothering instincts and the best part is I don’t have to deal with teenagers!
There is so much more that goes into being a dedicated breeder than just playing with cute puppies all day. It is not about the money either because any breeder who takes proper care of their breeding stock, puppies, and customers as well as invests in healthy genetics and constantly strives to improve their breed is not making much extra money.
Here is a glimpse into my typical daily routine:
My morning starts when the sun comes up (if I wasn’t up all night anyway with a new litter) because that is when the pups decide to wake up and start to play LOUDLY. My alarm clock is the sound of puppies. My dogs are surrounded by over a dozen live cameras which I monitor at all times even when sleeping I have a headband that allows me to listen all night without disturbing my husband.
Every mother knows your brain learns which cries are normal and which are ominous and will bring you from a dead sleep. I can also crack one eye open and view the live cams on my phone at my bedside. So I know when the fun begins in the morning or if something wakes the dogs at night.
I grab a smoothie and begin the morning chores. I have found carts that can move from area to area with me as I clean making the job that much easier.
Once I have my supplies gathered I open everyone’s bedrooms so they can go play as a group while I clean. Sometimes they have to be split into multiple separate groups if there are girls in heat we don’t want with free access to the wrong males or if the teenage pups are being a little too rough with the younger ones.
I start with the youngest pups checking if mom needs a bedding or potty pad change and supplementing any pups that are falling behind. We take daily weights on all pups for at least the first week to ensure everyone is getting what they need. This also gives me a chance to start getting the pups used to human smell, and being touched all over.
Next, I move on to the older pups (5-10 weeks) where I collect soiled bedding, toys, and food/water bowls adding them to my cart. I scoop up any firm poops and spray their floor, walls, and crate tray with an anti-bacterial cleaner while they are out playing. Pups under 10 weeks require cleanups multiple times a day as they like to fling poop while still learning where to potty and where not to step.
For sanitation reasons (intact male pee and puppy flung poop) we created a custom drain system underneath the flooring on the side of the room the bedrooms and puppy areas are on that is temperate, and easy to wash down as often as needed yet is still comfortable for the dogs, unlike wire or concrete.
After making sure all the pups are taken care of it is on to the adults/teens group “bedrooms”.
All adult bedding is collected and washed every day whether it is dirty or not to help keep a fresh smell and less hair gathering. Water bowls are dumped and re-filled daily with fresh water as well as removed and washed in the sink once a week. We free-feed our dogs Lifes Abundance dry kibble however they generally choose to wait to eat until I let them out into the common areas and after I put them back in their bedrooms in the evening
Once all the different areas have been visited and dirties collected then it’s time to start the first load of laundry including folding the ones already washed and dried, as well as washing the dirty dishes.
By the time I get done with these, it’s usually lunchtime.
Weather pending the pack and I go out to the outdoor play area where they take care of their zoomies while I eat my lunch under one of the shade trees with my laptop so I can do a few quick computer updates or answer a handful of texts or emails on my phone. When it is too hot, wet, or cold we hang out in the indoor play area adjacent to my office. I always have plenty of supervision!
After lunch, I start the next load of laundry, recheck any new mothers’ bedding, supplement pups again, and top off the food/water bowls as needed. Did you know you can wash ball pit balls in the washing machine? I wash any puppy toys that have touched the ground daily, either in the washing machine with bleach, or the sink with sanitizer. It makes quite the ruckus but the dogs have learned to sleep thru it and it is so much faster than washing each ball or toy by hand.
Next up if I have pups over 4 weeks is Puppy school. I try to use different stimuli each day. You can read more about puppy school here.
Once the pups are worn out I begin photo or video shoots as needed. Puppy photoshoots take a ton of patience and creativity since all they want to do is either sleep or eat all the decorations. Even the best cameras have trouble getting non-blurry shots of wiggly puppies. I generally take 100 shots to get ten good ones per puppy. Videos are a little easier but for anyone who has ever tried to get a toddler’s attention for a photo try keeping 4-5 at a time from pooping, sleeping, or wanting to only be in your lap.
I have a full professional photo studio set up for the fun weekly pics I do in addition to quick shots I try to catch and share throughout the week.
After photoshoots, I check my calendar for who needs weights, nail trims, vaccinations, or deworming. On days no puppy photos or health care are needed I use this time to bathe and groom one or two of my adults on a rotation. I vacuum my adults weekly to keep loose hair to a minimum and bathe every other week or as needed in mud season. It is not healthy for a dog’s skin to be bathed more than twice a month it affects their ability to regulate temperature and produce natural oils. The same goes for wearing doggy clothes all the time. By washing bedding more frequently and keeping potty areas clean bathing is not needed as frequently to avoid that doggy smell.
When all the photos and health needs are done I finally get a chance to put my feet up and chill on the couch with a pile of dogs and puppies by my side while I work on sorting, cataloging, and uploading the pictures to the website, social media sites, and texts to individual buyers.
There are also mounds of information to be entered in my records database every day from vaccination dates to weights and buyer information. I keep my digital records in duplicate in multiple places just to be safe and the AKC requires I also keep hardcopy paperwork as well so it’s triple the fun. Labels need to be printed for sending out puppy applications, and website/social media updates, as well as submitting the paperwork to AKC for registrations.
Uploading pictures can take 2-4 hours easy, so often I get a bunch uploading and work on a craft project or take several of my adults or pups over 16 weeks for a stroll up the hill, or for a bike-cart ride thru the park, or everyone’s summer favorite go for a dip in the reservoir.
Around 4 pm, I start to collect everyone back to their bedrooms so I can go cook dinner and spend some time with my family while I work on more computer updates. Each adult gets a vitamin and a probiotic treat for getting in their bed without me having to chase them down. I try to regularly swap up compatible roommates to keep them from getting too protective of each other and give them variety in their life. Everyone is given a nice cold carrot or in the summertime, frozen pumpkin ice treats to teeth on. Carrots are great for teething pups it keeps them busy and is not horrible to clean up after.
After everyone is settled I usually spend another 2-3 hours finishing up paperwork and online updates. When I get a rare lull in the paperwork I love to read up on the newest research on canine genetics in particular color genetics. I have plenty of time on my hands the nights I am sitting on the couch supervising a brand new litter to make sure exhausted mama can get some sleep while pups get the colostrum they need. My girls know I will help and they completely trust me hardly even blinking an eye when I remove a puppy for a couple of minutes. I have had some first-time mama’s in the past who were extremely protective and wouldn’t willingly allow you to touch their pups for the first week. I have also had one or two that got a little lazy knowing I would help if they didn’t.
Just before I go to bed, I supplement the little pups one last time and do one last quick poop scoop check.
There are probably a ton more monotonous little things throughout the day from dropping what I am doing every time a newborn pup makes the slightest whimper to check on them, to adjusting the live puppy cameras to ensure the adopting families who have live view access get a clear view of their puppies.
At the end of the day, I sleep soundly (unless I am on night watch with a new litter) knowing the puppies I produce will provide a lifetime of love for the families they go to and that I have done everything in my power to ensure they will live long healthy lives.
For further discussion of why I breed when there are so many that need rescuing feel free to read my WHY page.