By Mike Foster (Nouveau)
So you have decided you would like your Papillon bitch to have a litter, after all everyone including your vet tells you what a lovely Papillon she is and it would be good for her wouldn’t it? Of course you are not thinking it is an easy way to make money and after all it’s not that difficult is it? Well let’s have a look at what can go wrong shall we.
Firstly thinking it will be good for her is simply not the case. A bitch’s health is not improved in any way from having a litter, indeed it could well be the opposite as there is medical evidence that spaying could reduce the risk of mammary cancer or pyometra. Having a litter will not automatically settle down a hyperactive bitch nor will it necessarily give confidence to a nervous one, and a nervous bitch should certainly not be bred from anyway. As for everyone telling you what a lovely Papillon she is including your vet, well of course they are all experienced breeders and exhibitors who know the breed and the bitches lines well aren’t they? Breeders/exhibitors place bitches in pet homes for many reasons but often because in the view of the breeder the bitch is not of the quality they want to breed on from. That is not to say there is anything specifically wrong with your bitch, although there may be a very good reason why the breeder felt it best not to sell her to a breeding home, but serious breeders work hard to maintain the standard of what they produce and of the breed and consequently take the view that only the best should be bred from. Added to which breeders often let pet bitches go on the strict understanding they are not to be bred from and by ignoring this agreement you may well find yourself in legal difficulties. So the very first thing you should do is discuss the matter with the breeder of your bitch.
There is a good reason for this, your breeder should know their lines and whether or not there are any problems within those lines. Fortunately the Papillon is not, unlike some breeds, subject to many breeding problems there are however some which should be considered – P.R.A., P.L., Liver Shunt to name just three. Secondly your breeder should know whether your bitch comes from a line of easier whelpers or from a line that does not produce easily. Most Papillons do whelp with relative ease but not all and some bitches and some lines can have problems.
The mechanics of producing a litter are not difficult to comprehend, although getting the timing right for the mating can be. Experienced breeders will know what dog or what lines they intend to breed to, in making this decision they will call upon their experience and the experience of others to determine which dog or line will complement the bitch, they will know whether their bitch comes from a line which usually produces small or larger puppies (even then you can be surprised) and will choose the dog with these points and the problems referred to earlier in mind. An inexperienced breeder may well think the Papillon along the road will go nicely with their little bitch, but they will not know what lies behind both and this could well jeopardise the safety of not just the puppies produced but indeed of the mother herself. Even experienced breeders can be forced to seek veterinary help and end up with their bitch having a caesarean, if you want to frighten yourself ask your vet the cost of a caesarean. Even if you do not have to have a caesarean you may still need help delivering the puppies, unfortunately bitches do not whelp to a timetable and many will produce late at night or early in the morning, thus adding to your veterinary costs and sometimes to the risk to your bitch and puppies.
Could you spot the first signs of pyometra or eclampsia both of which can kill and kill quickly? Are you able and prepared to sit up day and night when your bitch is due waiting for her to start whelping, are you able should the worst happen and you lose your bitch able and willing to continue night and day to rear the puppies, two hourly feeding? Have you considered the cost of stud fees, vaccinations, registrations, feeding and looking after the bitch and her puppies, as charming as a litter of Papillon puppies may be they can be little devils!! Are you prepared financially for the costs involved, if only it were true that all breeders make a profit – they certainly don’t with Papillons where a litter of one or two is quite common, three or more a bonus. Your bitch may well be a charming Papillon – most are – she may not however make a good mother, not all do. When the time comes to let the puppies go will you be able to find good homes for them, don’t think that everyone who answers an advertisement for puppies is a good home, some of the most charming enquiries will come from puppy farmers whose only wish is to obtain a bitch and breed the life from her. Hopefully you can find good homes for them all, but what will you do if you cannot and have to keep one or more for any length of time. Many of the most experienced breeders find it hard letting their puppies go and rely heavily upon their experience in weeding out disreputable enquiries.
You may ask why then do breeders do it? The answer is because for most it is a hobby, and most of us do not expect to make a profit from our hobbies. Breeders continue breeding because they care about the breed and because they enjoy the exhibiting and competition but it costs them dearly, financially and often in other ways.
So please do not undertake this exercise lightly, you may be lucky, equally you may end losing your beloved bitch, puppies and a lot of money. If you doubt these words research the internet, there are dozens of sites which will give you chapter and verse the reasons why breeding is not for the faint hearted or for those without a depth of knowledge of the breed and of breeding.