or Find Out More About Responsible Breeders.

The first thing to do is to go to NATIONAL WESTIE CLUB and read about ‘responsible breeders’ and also the ‘Code of Ethics’ for breeders. I am sure you don’t want to do less than the best for the breed. Here are some things to think about.

A responsible breeder will not breed a dog whose background cannot be researched for at least three to five generations back on both sides. This doesn’t mean just having papers that reflect their ancestors; it means actually knowing enough about those ancestors to know of any health problems they had during their lives and health issues of any of their offspring. That is because sometimes a dog will carry the genetics for a disease that is not noticeable in the dog itself. Perhaps its mother or grandmother died of copper toxicosis or had bad hips. And perhaps somewhere in the history of the father, there is the same disease or problem. Your dog may not have it but may carry it. With some diseases, if both dogs are carriers, the puppies could have the illness. One of the purposes of careful breeding is to eliminate these problems which means not breeding a dog with these problems in its background or sometimes, being careful not to breed one of these dogs with another who has the same genetic defect. So, unless you have extensive knowledge of these dogs, their parents, their grandparents and great grandparents, you shouldn’t even consider breeding them.

Can you afford the testing that should be done on the parents before they are bred together? This includes things like doing liver biopsies to check for liver toxicosis; doing genetic screening for diseases such as PK where they may be a carrier.

A responsible breeder will be responsible for all the puppies produced for the rest of their lives. If you sell a puppy to someone and ten years from now, they are unable to keep it, you should be willing to take that dog back (with no reimbursement) and care for it or find it a new home? And if any of those puppies have puppies, you are responsible for them also. Are you prepared to care for these dogs forever, if necessary?

A responsible breeder will not breed a dog unless that breeding will improve the breed as a whole. Have you had a Westie ‘expert’ look at the dogs to determine if their conformation is so good that their line should be carried on? If not, contact another reputable breeder through www.westieclubamerica.com (breeder referral) and ask if they will look at your dogs for this purpose. Breeding a less than wonderful Westie will result in puppies who are even less likely to look like a Westie and less likely to be healthy. It is important that you have an experienced ‘mentor’. This is a way to obtain one.

A responsible breeder will probably make little, if any, money on a litter of puppies. Giving the mother the prenatal care and testing necessary and then giving the proper care to the puppies is very expensive under normal circumstances. It is not rare that a Westie mom might need special care to deliver her puppies, even including a caesarian delivery. Westie mom’s sometimes die and leave you to care for the puppies by hand. This means hand feeding the puppies every hour at first and being the ‘mom’ for weeks on end. Are you able to do this if it is needed?

Do you know that a dog that is not spayed or neutered is statistically likely to have a shorter life due to various diseases they are more prone to contract? Wouldn’t you like to have your pets around as long as possible?

Hemivertebrae is one of those conditions that two normal looking Westies can produce without anyone being aware of the possibility unless the background is thoroughly researched. You can read about a puppy with this condition at WESTIEMED-GOOBER

Please give a lot of consideration to all of these factors. If you are still determined to breed, get a mentor who is a member of either the National or a local Westie Club. Get your vet to evaluate the breeding pair and do all of the necessary testing. Make sure you have the funds readily available to face all possible emergency conditions you might encounter. Be prepared to be available for the birth and possibly be on 24-hour call should mom be sick or die.