I work at a boarding kennel here in BC, Canada, and come across many many types of dogs and their owners. This weekend we had a lovely young (6 months) female shih tzu named CioCioSan (pronounced cho cho san). She was very very beautiful, long flowing coat, beautiful disposition and very lovable. Her owner picked her up to go back home yesterday and asked if we knew of anybody owning a stud for breeding. I asked if she was serious and she said yes. I thought to myself, "Isn't this poor girl a little young for breeding?" But myself not being a breeder am not sure so we said no (it's the truth) but we'll keep our eyes and ears open.
Do you think this little girl is too young to start breeding? What are your thoughts?
I would have spoken my mind and said something like you should wait until the dog has had it's 3rd heat before breeding. It's just healthier for the dog, a puppy like that may not be mature enough to care for offspring, any more than a 12 year old girl who's had her first period is emotionally mature enough to have a baby, even though she concievably could.
I agree with Minniyar and her statement (equivilant of a 12 year old girl).
The major downfalls are the following things that I will share - and keep in mind these are just the big ones :
1.) Her body has not finished growing and developing. While it is always a risk that a mother dog will die in whelping it is drastically increased when the dog still needs all the nutrients it receives and all it's energy to finish growing. Having a litter of puppies is intensely stressful on their bodies and in order for the mother and puppies to come out of it healthy the Mom needs to be mature physically so that her body can concentrate on helping healthy puppies develope. Not only do young mothers have a higher occurance of still born puppies, or puppies born too small to survive, but they also have a higher occurance of birth defects (because the mother's body didn't get the pup everything it needed in order to develop properly). This can be anything from cleft palate, to liver shunts, to heart defects. Who wants to watch half a litter of puppies die...
2.) Mother's bred too young have an increased chance of c-sections. While their body's may be prepared to concieve a litter, they may not be mature enough to let the mother know when to go into labor, or to start pushing. YEARS AGO (before I knew better - so keep in mind all this advice is coming from someone who screwed up) I bred one of my shelties at 9 months. Her uterus never started contracting and she had to have a c-section. This, in fact, ruined her as a breeding dog because it stunted her growth and never allowed her to fully mature reproductively. We had her spayed, and watched her blossom into the dog she should have been.
3.) I have a book that touches on all the plus's and minus's of breeding each breed of dog. If your "friend" (aquaintence) looks into breeding Shih Tzu's she will learn that the females often have irregular cycles (which usually means a higher occurance of pyometra and reabsorbed litters). They are also known to be unwilling to breed on their early heat cycles (most likely a maturity issue) - and the males can be rough during the breeding process. ***More importantly - Shih Tzu's are known to have VERY lengthy labors. My book says that 6 hours is not unheard of in order to produce one live puppy. This is a really BIG reason to make sure that the Mom is older, mature and in excellent physical condition.
4.) And as Minniyar mentioned - sometimes young Mom's have no idea what to do with their new puppies. If the Mom doesn't have a clue, that means the breeder has to bottle feed (or hold puppies to the nipple) for about a 1/2 hour a puppy - every 2 hours around the clock. It also means that they have to stimulate the puppies to urinate and defecate (as puppies can't do this on their own until about 2 weeks of age). I've had a Mom (who was over 2 years old) take 5 days to decide she wanted to care for her puppies and I got to experience all this.... it's not fun!
She would be wise to wait until the dog is at least 18 months old (smaller dogs can be safely bred sooner than larger breeds) - and until she has seen at least 2 heat cycles, preferably 3 cycles. This will give her a good idea of how regular and normal/by the book her dog will be, and will increase her chances of being able to have repeat litters from her - not to mention the obviously more important matter or insuring that mom and puppies are healthy at the end of the process. Tell her that a 1 year old dog is equal to a 15 year old human. Then each year after that is equal to about 4 years in people time. So by waiting until she is 18 months old she is having puppies from a 17 year old rather than a 10 year old...
That's totally understandable. But we didn't say anything to this lady because we didn't know her (it was her dog's first time staying with us). I, personally, wouldn't ask just anybody questions about breeding - PERIOD! I'd try and read up about it and get myself acquainted with local breeders before doing anything! THat's just my opinion though, and I don't think I would even think about breeding her so young. Like you all said, there's a lot that can go wrong and she needs to mature and grow!
Grow more mature and grow physically as well.
***Edited By: canucktigger on 6/26/2005 2:52:13 PM*** Reason: forgot to add
Maybe looking ahead of time so she knows who she intends to use....nothing worse than getting that call for stud service and ask when she is due to come in,, and the response is "she's ready right now"....blows the whole heat unless theyve had all the testing done already....best to wait till 2 years old.