As a Dog Breeder, Prepare to Succeed

High-volume breeding is a qualitative, not quantitative label.  It is not about the number of puppies being produced, although that is usually a factor.  High-volume is qualitative because it means a breeder does not have the knowledge, time or decency to give puppies the appropriate care during some or all of the critical development periods a puppy goes through during early ontogeny.  The critical development periods are Neonatal, Transitive, Awareness and Socialization. (Ha and Campion 2018) The result is inferior dogs who live stunted lives, if they survive at all.  In theory, even the occasional hobbyist can be a high-volume breeder.   In practice, it is usually someone or a team producing a lot of dogs.  By definition, a high-volume breeder is producing more dogs than they are intellectually and morally qualified to produce.

Not long ago, a high-volume breeder who registers litters with the English Shepherd Club registry allowed the dam of the litter to freeze to death.  Only one or two puppies survived.  If you’re thinking to yourself, “stuff happens,” please don’t ever breed dogs.  If you’re thinking to yourself, “how could this have been prevented?” then you and I are on common ground.  My litters are whelped in a climate-controlled room.  For at least their first two weeks, puppies are nursed in a whelping box floored with vet’s fleece.  Not everyone uses climate control or a whelping box.  But you had better have a plan B.  I also have a feeding tube and goat’s milk Esbilac on hand in case the unthinkable occurs, or even if the dam just needs a little help keeping up.   

The tragedy in Kentucky could have been prevented. Preparation and knowledge go a long way.  Do your homework, don’t be that kind of breeder.  As a tip, the best book I have read on the mechanics of breeding is Myra Savant-Harris’ Canine Reproduction and Whelping.  The author is an ICU RN.  Her book prepares you for what to expect, what to do, and what supplies you need to have before you breed dogs.


Ha, J.C., and T.L. Campion. 2018. Dog Behavior: Modern Science and Our Canine Companions. Elsevier Science.

Savant-Harris, M. 2006. Canine Reproduction and Whelping: A Dog Breeder’s Guide. Dogwise Publishing.

The Old-fashioned Black and Tan English Shepherd is a breed of working dog native to the United States. The English shepherd is an all-purpose farm dog capable of working with any species of livestock. Rural families have favored these dogs for generations due to their grit, loyalty, and desire to please. ES activities include hunting, tracking, search-and-rescue, agility, obedience, companionship, and guard dog duty.

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The Old-fashioned Black and Tan English Shepherd Association is a Tennessee non-profit public benefit corporation. We operate solely for educational and charitable purposes within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. We work to preserve the unique qualities, integrity and longevity of the bloodline.