What’s Better for You, Breeding Part-Time or Full-Time?
I know there are a lot of people out there who think you can’t breed full-time, while I’ve heard other people say it’s impossible to only breed part-time. From experience, I can say you can do either. So here are some pros and cons of breeding part-time and full-time with respect to managing dogs, managing buyers, and how it affects your family and life.
First off, let me explain how I see part-time and full-time dog breeding, so we are on the same page.
Part-time breeding to me means a few things. Primarily, it is not your main source of income, and therefore I make the assumption in this discussion that you have another job that is paying the bills. Some of you may be lucky and have a spouse who does the bulk of bringing home the bacon (which is really awesome), but I won’t be discussing that situation too much. I will lean the discussion toward having a full-time job outside of the home. But, if you have a job that is considered part-time outside of the home, well then you’ll need to adjust some of the points in the discussion, as in you may not have as much income coming in, but you may also have a little more time to work with your dogs than someone who is working a full-time job.
As for full-time breeding, it means that breeding is your main source of income and that it is your main obligation other than your family. While there are some instances of part-time work that you may pick up, you aren’t dictated by an employer’s hard schedule where you need to leave for work. You have control of your schedule.
Okay. Well, now that we got that out of the way, let’s break it down.
When you have multiple dogs in a home, especially intact ones, it can be a little crazy. If you don’t have facilities, then it can be more of a game of logistics and management. When you’re breeding part-time, it can be easier to get a schedule with your dogs because having your job outside the home will dictate when you have the opportunity to play with and exercise your dogs. So sometimes that can be helpful. It reminds me of that crazy statistic that high school and college students do better on their grades when they have a job. And the concept is that, because they have limited time to get things accomplished, they have to sit and focus in the time they do have and are less prone to procrastination and become more efficient, usually better planners. However, if you are already super good at making schedules, then this one isn’t super helpful for you.
Usually when breeding part time you don’t have as many breeding dogs, like 3-4, and many homes manage this as pets all the time. If you accumulate more than 3-4 breeding dogs it can begin to be difficult to get each dog the quality of time he deserves when you get home from work. This gets more complicated if you have two studs, since they usually won’t be able to run together—although there are exceptions.
In contrast, it is easier to spend quality time and exercise all your dogs when you are working the dogs as your full-time job. You’ll be able to rotate dogs every few hours for exercise, which is important if you only have one exercise area, like your backyard, which is the case for most breeders when they first start breeding and don’t yet have facilities.
It is also easier to do individual training with each of your dogs. One thing that’s really great for buyers to see is that each breeder has good manners when they come to visit. It’s much easier to accomplish this if you have two hours to just dedicate to playing with the dogs each day, at least 10-15 minutes individually with each dog, which is a great amount of time for loving and training.
When breeding part-time it can be harder to be ready and available to help with whelping. Sometimes your dogs will be in labor while you’re at work, and your boss might get annoyed if it becomes a recurring thing that you need to call in because of your dogs and caring for puppies.
It can also be difficult to take care of needy puppies, especially if you have one that needs to be tube fed or bottle fed. Most neonate puppies will need food every 2-4 hours since their stomach capacity is so tiny. This would be very difficult to manage, even if you had just a part-time job outside of the home.
When you’re breeding full-time, you get to be there whenever your dogs need you. You’ll be able to attend every whelping, you’ll be able to stay up with puppies or feed as necessary, and, instead of living off coffee and Red Bull, you can actually take an afternoon nap if you need it.
If you aren’t as good at maintaining a schedule when you don’t have obligations, then you might run into some difficulties getting a system and schedule up and running with your dogs. It depends on how you form habits and build structure as a person.
For me, I need systems in place that remind me to do things. For example, I have it scheduled so that the dogs are fed and waters topped off before dinner. This way it feels wrong to eat dinner before the dogs are fed. Now don’t get all worried thinking I’d forget to feed my dogs. It’s more that it is better to feed them at the same time each day, and so, to make sure this happened, I implemented this system. It makes it easier for me to structure this way. I have also structured my schedule so that I get most people to come out on weekends to meet the dogs. This means I do the deep clean on Fridays or Saturday mornings with the kennels, where I get out the pressure washer and do the whole facility inside and out.
In reflection on my breeding program, it was a total game changer when I learned about *The Four Tendencies*, by Gretchen Rubin. I learned that I’m a Questioner, and understanding that, and its implications on how I build habits and meet expectations, allowed me to structure my day and business in a way that works for my brain. DM me on Instagram what you are and maybe we can find out if breeders tend to be one thing or another.
Anyways, back to dog management.
Management is always easier when you have a schedule and routine, no matter part-time or full-time. But it is nice when you don’t have other obligations that can interfere with your kennel scheduling, like a job whose hours are constantly changing. Routine makes managing your dogs easier and more efficient.
It is possible that managing dogs will get a little more difficult when you transition from part-time to full-time if you’re adding more dogs to your kennel, which, more than likely, would be the case. In theory, it is more difficult to manage, say, eight dogs instead of four dogs, but I find that facilities dictate the difficulty of management much more than the actual number of dogs. If you don’t have facilities, six dogs could be a total nightmare. But if you have facilities, managing twenty-four dogs could be easy.
Generally, though, when managing dogs and a breeding program, being there full-time is so helpful. It takes away the guilt from not being able to be there for each dog individually and it makes it easier for you to be there for the whelpings and puppy care as needed.
Want to Get the Roadmap to a Successful Breeding Program?
I know a lot of breeders get into dogs because they don’t like working with people, but—spoiler alert—breeding dogs is about half working with people. Working with new and old buyers is very different when you are part-time or full-time.
The biggest difficulty in being part-time is that your buyers aren’t going to be able to contact you at any time and be able to get a hold of you. If you’re working another job, they may need to wait many hours to hear back from you, or at least before you can give them detailed information. This is a pain for your buyers and if they can’t easily get ahold of you, they’ll replace you with another resource. Sometimes that’s friends and family and sometimes it’s Google. This isn’t great for your relationship with them, and certainly makes it hard to keep tabs on your dogs and how they are doing.
It can also affect your sales. When people contact you interested in a puppy, it is really good for business to get back with them pretty quickly. I try to answer puppy inquiries within an hour of getting them, unless its after 8 pm, then usually I wait until morning. Either way, people believe that they will get the best service before they give you money. So if your service isn’t great at the beginning, most people will get the impression that it will be difficult to work with you.
The service aspect will win over many buyers because they really do want that support network when they buy a puppy. They don’t always know it’s an option, but once they are aware it exists as an option, it will be hard for them to not have it. This can help you build your program and build a great reputation.
Frankly, this is just much easier to accomplish when you are available full-time.
I can’t tell you how many times buyers are at the vet and they call me because they forgot their vaccination schedule and need to know what day their puppy had vaccinations, or their dog has weird poop and they want some advice on whether it’s an emergency vet visit or nothing to worry about. It is so helpful to be available as a resource for my puppy buyers in this way.
It also helps keep that line of communication open with your buyers so that they feel like you’re not out of the picture. This way they will send you more pictures, they’ll tell you more of their success and failures with their dogs, and they’ll generally contact you when they are struggling. All of these things give you more information on your dogs and your breeding program, helping you learn where to focus your energy on improving. And, honestly, it is just much easier to do these things when you are running your breeding program as a full-time thing. It gives you more time to be available for your buyers.
A last little bonus to breeding full-time is that you’ll generally have the ability to bump buyers to the next litter if you don’t have enough puppies born or you don’t have the puppy they want. If you only have a litter or two a year, if a puppy who fits a family on your waitlist isn’t born, well then you have to ask them to wait a long time for another puppy or refund their deposit. Refunding deposits is a pain. It can wreak havoc on cash flow and nonrefundable deposits in a situation like this, and will reflect poorly on your breeding program.
When you have more dogs—which you can do full-time—then you can simply bump them to another litter. Most people are more than willing to wait another 2-4 months to receive the puppy they really want. But over six months, well, they will be looking for a puppy sooner.
And, we shouldn’t be angry about this, although it can be frustrating. Rather, we have to remember that half the battle of a new puppy is the timing. Maybe they’re trying to get a puppy during a time when they have a lot of opportunity to work with him, like over the summer, so he’s well structured and organized by the time the family is going back to school.
I’m proud to tell my buyers that I breed full time. I tell them how it makes it much easier to manage the dogs and all their needs, to care for all the puppies, to get the puppy they want and in a decent time frame, and that I am available whenever they need me. I also explain how it’s an added bonus that it’s my main focus, because it means I am always engaged in learning new things about my dogs and always looking to better set my dogs and their owners up for success.
The Pressure of Breeding Full-Time or Part-Time
If all this stuff is easier when you breed full-time, then why doesn’t everyone do it?
Because when you breed full-time you don’t get to make too many mistakes. Your breeding program needs to be a fairly well-oiled machine in order for you to have the consistency in care, health, and management of your dogs and, of course, your buyers.
When you breed full-time, it is your income. If you lose a litter of puppies, you’ve placed a financial strain on your dogs, yourself, and your family, beyond the strain it puts on your wait-listed buyers.
It can create a lot of pressure, especially if your breeding program isn’t at the level of consistency it needs to be.
It is why so many breeders opt for breeding part-time. It carries less pressure. Many are afraid that it won’t work to breed full-time and, without a plan and course of action, that’ll happen.
It is this very dynamic that got me started building something for you. I’ve broken down the road map on how to honestly breed dogs full-time. I know you are pretty busy, so I’m breaking it down into Chihuahua-bite sizes, so you can actually take action and see results. If you’re interested in improving your breeding program with a plan so you can stop breeding part time and allow your passion for dog breeding to become your full-time job, join me. Breeding full-time creates better dogs, homes them with better families, and makes you a happier person.