#93 – Q&A – Covering the Cost of Dog Food, Breeding on Antibiotics, Dealing with Animal Control, and DNA Diversity in Litters

by | Jun 2, 2024 | Business Management, Dog & Puppy Management, Facilities Management, People Management

Ever wanted to ask me a question? I’m always looking to hear from you because what you ask, where you tell me you’re having struggles, that’s what I design my content around. It’s much more fun when I’m having a conversation with you, instead of just with myself.

Well, today, we have a little something new. I’m doing a Q&A of a few of the questions I’ve recently been asked. If you aren’t familiar with my website, honestdogbreeder.com, on all the blog posts, in the right sidebar I have a place where you can put in your information and ask a quick question that I can feature on the podcast. So here are some recents from there!

First question comes from Yaw, who asks:

How Can I Cover the Cost of Dog Food?

Buy in Bulk

What I usually recommend for dog food savings is to buy in bulk, generally after a litter goes home. Try to buy enough dog food that you’ll be covered until the next litter would go home. I’ve purchased as much as an entire year’s worth of dog food in one purchase. I’ve found I can get a discount of around 15% when I purchase a minimum number of dog food bags, which for me is around 12 bags.

Another way to save money on dog food is to look and see if the brand you use has a breeder program. I don’t recommend using a dog food merely because they have a buyer program, but if one of the brands you like, that your dogs do well on, has a breeder or frequent-buyer discount, then feel free to go for that brand and enjoy the discount.

Boarding Puppies & Dogs You’ve Bred

Another way to cover dog food costs is by boarding previous puppies or dogs that you’ve bred. I designed my facilities to have a little extra room, which means I can easily board 4-6 dogs at a time, and that brings me in a little extra money. I know I’m pretty cheap, but I offer boarding at $20/night for dogs that come out of my program. I include food, and this way I get to see my dogs as they get older and learn more about how they are. Either way, even if you don’t have facilities, offering boarding for just a dog or two can bring in anywhere from $20-$100 per night depending on where you live. This could quickly add up to covering dog food expenses, if you are aiming to cover them and you don’t breed dogs that weigh 300 lbs (like 136 kg).

Get Quality Food

The thing about dog food is that it’s a critical part of your dog breeding program. Feeding a dog food that isn’t a high enough quality will cost you, both in vet bills, puppy health, and litter size. When I was pretty broke while going through my divorce, I went to a cheaper dog food and averaged two less puppies per litter. The moms didn’t look as good and the puppies weren’t as fat coming out. Quick math will tell you that it doesn’t pay off to feed a lower quality dog food. There are plenty of reasonable dog foods.

There is also the option of raw feeding. This is more difficult in time and planning, but is often cheaper and the healthiest possible route. There are lots of warnings about it being dangerous, but there are right and wrong ways to do everything. Do your research, but give it a try! It’s best if you have 4 dogs or less at your home.

Know that dog food will likely be one of your largest expenses in dog breeding. It makes sense. Do it right, you won’t be sorry.

The next question comes from Jenny, Labrador Breeder. She asks:

I have a mama dog on antibiotics, she’s coming into heat, should I skip breeding her?

She was afraid of birth defects, and that makes sense. It would depend on the antibiotics. I’m not a veterinarian, but I know there is a veterinary handbook that discusses all the drugs and their interactions and whether or not they are safe for lactating and gestating mamas.

You can always check there or with your vet for any indications as to whether or not it’s safe.

The other thing to think about is if it’s fair to the mama dog to be thrown into a pregnancy after dealing with whatever caused her to be on antibiotics.

If she had a mild injury and the vet wanted minimal antibiotics while the two stitches were healing, well then it’s probably no big deal. However, if she was dealing with a more systemic bacterial infection and the antibiotics were there to help her beat the infection and get back to feeling like herself, well then I would probably say I’d pass on breeding her. The reason being, her body is already dealing with a lot and she needs to recover, and adding the extra work of breeding on her probably isn’t fair. I would expect a recovering mama to have a smaller litter or a less healthy litter if she was struggling already in health.

Want to Get the Roadmap to a Successful Breeding Program?

Next question comes from Joe who breeds Malinois:

I have a neighbor who doesn’t like my dogs and has called animal control on me already. What should I do?

Animal control and working with them can vary a lot. What you need to do to work with animal control not only fluctuates with location, but will also fluctuate with the particular officer you’re dealing with.

The first thing to think about, one that is often misrepresented in cartoons and movies, is that most animal control officers really care about animals. They want to keep the animals safe. In my experience, I’ve found them to be very reasonable so long as they have the impression you are trying to do the right thing and care about your dogs.

Just the same, you also need to remember that they deal with the yucky side of animal ownership every single day. That’s exhausting, and bound to leave you a little weary about people and their ability to properly manage dog ownership.

Be as polite as possible

When working with animal control, try and be as polite as possible. They are just doing their job. Ask them questions and try to get at the core issues they see and what needs to be managed.

For example, back when I had a fencing debacle, my overly-athletic GSPs would get out, they’d visit neighbors, they’d enjoy the washes–which are like super-tiny canyons with sand at the bottom, great place to find critters to hunt. They weren’t causing any problems, but they were not inside my fence. On the occasion they were picked up by a neighbor who called animal control—truly my dogs can’t keep collars on them, so they have microchips, but rarely tags—when the animal control officer would call, I’d graciously thank them, apologize, and let them know I’m working on things. It was the truth.

Sometimes you can even talk with animal control and ask them questions, like “What fencing have you seen to be most effective for dogs like these?” My animal control officer had some good insight.

Understand Your Local Ordinances

Next you need to look at local ordinances. For example, what are the rules where you live? Many different municipalities have a certain quantity of dogs that can be on a certain zoning of land.

Other things to research are if there are breeding license requirements, permits or business licensing for home occupations. You should also look up what the other potential dog-related offenses are.

Dog at Large, that’s a good one to look up if you have escape artists. If you aren’t sure, because the name is super weird, ‘dog at large’ means a dog that has gotten out and is unattended. Sort of like if someone leaves the gate open and the dog gets out.

The other one to look at is leash laws. This is where your dog must be on a leash. Obviously the leash has to be attached to a human, otherwise it’s just a crazy dog at large with a leash dragging behind him.

You might also check about barking ordinances. This is the one that can really irritate your neighbors … and your spouse. In many places you’ll read something like a dog barking continuously for more than 15 minutes is a violation. These are harder to prove because few people will record a dog barking for 15 minutes. However, the agonizing sound of repeated barking is very obnoxious for many people, …ahem, particularly for those people who happen to be your neighbors. If your dogs are barking a lot, then see what you can do to mitigate that; often just removing the visual stimulation is enough, which can often be done with a privacy fence or sun cloth.

Make Friends With Your Neighbors

It helps to make friends with your neighbors, give them your number, and then they can call or text you if your dogs are driving them crazy, rather than making it into a big thing by calling animal control.

Oh, another thing to watch out for. Sometimes you get those neighbors that find you very obnoxious for having dogs. If they call animal control or talk with you and still nothing changes, they’ll often turn into those devious neighbors who will call you out on every little thing. If you have a homeowner’s association and related rules, then they might start complaining about every possible violation you have. These are not fun things.

Do your best to keep the dog stuff to minimum impact on your neighbors. Be polite to animal control. It will generally be okay.

The next question comes from Sue, she breeds Rottweilers. Sue asks:

Does each puppy in the same litter carry the same DNA?

The answer is no, each puppy in the litter will have a variation of each DNA from each parent. Let’s explore this in more depth.

Each puppy in the litter will receive half of their mother’s DNA and half of their father’s DNA, however it isn’t a simple split.

You can see this in humans when you think about the same parents having two children, they never quite look the same; they each have a variation of DNA from their parents. It’s the same with puppies, puppies are the equivalent of a large batch of fraternal twins, not identical twins. 

When the ladies make eggs and the studs make sperm, these egg and sperm cells only have half the DNA of all the other cells in their body. These cells are called gametes.

DNA is like the blueprints for our body. Every cell in your body, except for gametes, carry two variations of each gene. These variations are alleles. The gametes, because they go through a special process of cell division called meiosis, randomly divide such that only one copy of each gene is inside the egg or sperm. When the egg and sperm combine, they merge to form a full set of DNA, which will be unique to each puppy in the litter.

The process of meiosis, which is the creation of the gametes, or eggs and sperm, is incredible. It scrambles the DNA as it splits, giving a randomized collection of every type of gene from the parent.

Let’s look at a quick example. Say a black mama dog has one copy of the dilute gene. Because the dilute gene is recessive, it requires the puppy to get two copies of the dilute gene in order to show this gene. When the mama dog makes her eggs, each egg will have a 50/50 chance of getting the dilute gene or the black gene. Meaning approximately 50% of the puppies will get a copy of the dilute gene, while the other 50% will get a copy of the black, non-dilute gene.

This is how the puppies will all get slight variation on combinations of the same genes. It’s also important to remember that while the mathematical statistic of having a gene may be 50/50 given the parent’s genetics, this has no bearing on the litter overall. Meaning just because the mother’s genes are 50/50, don’t expect that there will always be 50% this and 50% that. Each puppy has a 50/50 chance of that gene, however, what puppy A gets has no bearing on what puppy B gets. I once had a litter that had a 50% chance of the dogs being solid or piebald. There were 10 puppies! And 9 of them were solid and only 1 was white.

A good example of this is how you’ll get different numbers of boys and girls. The stud dog determines the sex of the puppies. A funny thing you might notice with mammals, the younger a male is, the higher the probability he’ll make males, and the older he gets, the higher the probability of making girls. You can tell me it’s an old wives’ tale, but I’ve seen it trend that way without a doubt!

Lastly, gathering the same or similar genes within your bloodlines is how you breed consistency, but it is also how you can bring out recessive traits that negatively impact your dogs. Managing genetic diversity, while creating consistency, is the art of a good breeder. All dog breeds were started by breeding like with like until the other gene variations no longer existed.

Well there you go! A little Q&A from the website. If you’d like to submit a question, just go to the sidebar and fill out the form! That’s it! We even have a box you can check if you’d prefer we didn’t use your name!

Oh, if you’ve been wanting to build website, but aren’t sure where to start, or you’ve had your website a long time and you need a refresher, consider signing up for our new Website Cohort! In these small cohorts I personally walk you through building a website. I give you all my templates to pick from and guide you on the entire setup, everything from the builder, to hosting and domain if you need it, and I’ll even help you develop a better marketing workflow for your site as a whole! Learn more or sign up at honestdogbreeder.com/websitebuild.

Thank you for joining me for another episode of the Honest Dog Breeder Podcast, with me, your host, Julie Swan! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me and to send in your questions! Can’t wait to see you in the next episode!

Want to Get the Roadmap to a Successful Breeding Program?

Hey! I’m Julie Swan! I’m here to help you build a breeding business that you love, one that produces amazing dogs, places them in wonderful homes, gives you the life you want, also pays the bills!