So You Want to Be A Breeder...

by Betty Dullinger


The empty nest syndrome has struck.....kids have either gone away to college or have gotten married and now you have all this time and don't know what to do with it? Becoming a breeder sounds as if it could be a challenge and something that you think you'd like to do.

First, you have done you homework...you have read as much as you can find about the Yorkshire Terrier: you have attended shows, talked to breeders and tried to form an opinion on the points you feel are important in the breed. You have read the standard: pored over the Illustrated Discussion of the Standard until you can recite it from memory and now you feel you are ready to embark on your new career. Hopefully you will have become friendly with a breeder that you feel is trustworthy, honest, and most important, willing to help a novice as help is something you will need a lot of in the coming years.

Your first bitch should be the best money can buy-she should have an impeccable pedigree, and she should be sound in both mind and body. Her conformation should conform to the Standard; she should come from lines that do not have whelping problems and/or severe hereditary problems. You have studied pedigrees with the help of your mentor and have chosen a stud dog on the basis of the quality he comes from and produces and the compatibility of his bloodlines with those of your bitch. He has NOT been chosen solely because he is currently the top-linning Yorkie and therefore his puppies will demand a higher price!

Now, your long awaited puppies have arrived! The whelping went smoothly, mother and babies are doing fine, so you can sit back for the next 3-4 weeks, gloating over your puppies and watching them grow. At 3 1/2 to 4 weeks the REAL fun begins. At this time you should be starting the weaning process as by now the puppies have been trying to help themselves to mom's food. She probably has let them know that sharing is not acceptable, so you can begin offering them their own dish of food. First, let Mom out(she'll eat the pup's food if you don't get her out of the way - "reverse sharing" is fine with her!) then prepare some soft food for the puppies. I wean my puppies right onto dog food, I no longer start with the baby cereal/baby food routine; I find my puppies are healthier. I soak the food in water until it becomes a soft "mush" then give it to the puppies..they will wade in it, roll in it, stick their entire heads in it and perhaps even plunk right in the middle of the dish, no problem - when Mom comes back she'll clean the puppies up and finish off the leftover food, which by that time is usually spread from one end of the puppy pen to the other! It only takes 3 or 4 days for the puppies table manners to improve dramatically..they then toddle over to the food dish and eat without all the antics of a few days before. At 5-6 weeks of age, I take mom out for extended periods of time and let the puppies play on their own. By 5 weeks of age I usually take my mother away from the puppies all day, but return her at night - by 7 weeks (or,earlier depending on the size of the litter and condition of the dam) I have the puppies totally weaned, they are still eating soaked dog food, but as soon as I can feel teeth coming through I also put a pan of dry dog food in their pen. When I hear the puppies crunching on the dry food, I no longer soak their food and ONLY give them dry food to eat, the same as the rest of the crew. My puppies have dry food in their pens at all times, you may wish to offer food at specific times, if that works better for you, that's fine. I have never had a problem feeder and none of the puppies have been a problem in their new homes.

Vacinations are begun at 7-8 weeks of age. I do not vaccinate against Lepto at any time as some puppies have had severe reactions to this serum. I vaccinate puppies every 2 weeks, i.e. 7,9,11 or 8,10,12. All puppies are checked for parasites by the Veterinarian; they are wormed only if necessary. If all has gone according to plan, the puppies are ready to go to their new homes at 12 weeks of age. To give the puppies the best possible start in their new home and also to eliminate unnecessary phone calls, a little booklet that I have written up accompanies every puppy. It contains information about feeding, grooming, crate training, traveling, how to tape ears if necessary with a diagram. It is only about 10 Xeroxed pages, but it has answered many questions for many people. I put this in a bright colored 2 pocket folder, along with a copy of the puppy's pedigree, the sales contract, a copy of the registration (if the registration is being held pending altering) a copy of the breed standard and any pamphlets which might be apropos. A supply of dog food is also sent with the puppy. A fresh bath, a topknot w/ribbon, a tiny puppy collar and we are all ready for our new home!

One word of caution: should you decide that this challenging hobby is one you might enjoy there are many pitfalls, everything does NOT go smoothly at all times. There are many heartbreaks: losing bitches, losing puppies, hand-rearing puppies, etc. but there are also many joys. Also, very important is to make up your mind which puppy in the litter, if any, you are keeping and which ones will be for sale or placed. At 8-9 weeks you should have some idea of which puppy in the litter is what you are looking for. Take another good hard look at 12 weeks - if more than 1 pup seems to be show quality you might want to hold onto those until they are somewhat older but those that are destined to be pets can usually be determined at 10 -12 weeks of age. now, enjoy the cards, letters and phone calls you will receive over the years from the new-found friends whose lives you have enriched with one of your puppies.



About Betty Dullinger


Betty Dullinger
Photo by Danny Dugmore

Betty Dullinger got her first Yorkie in 1961 and had her first litter in 1963. That litter produced her first show dog Leprechaun's Alexander. Am.,Can.,Bda,C.D.. At one time these were the only Champion Yorkies in Massechusetts. 'Mister' as she called him was the sire of 4 champions and lived to the ripe old age of 15 1/2.

She began judging in 1964 and was approved to Judge Chihuahuas and in 1966 was granted a license to judge Yorkshire Terriers. She joined the Yorkshire Terrier Club of America in 1964, was President in 1968/1969, then was a member of the board. She was elected Secretary in 1975 and served in that capacity until 1994.

She is currently serving as a member of the Board. She took over as Show Chairman for the specialty held in New York in 1979 and is currently serving in that capacity as well.

In 1977 she started writing the Yorkshire Terrier column for the AKC Gazette and is still doing that. In 1991 the YTCA started the YTCA Foundation because there seemed to be so many health problems which may be genetic in the breed. She has worked with the Foundation since its inception and is currently President of that organization, which is a separate entity from the YTCA. The Foundation funds research and studies those problems which appear to be of a hereditary nature. Its principle study and research is for Liver Shunts a problem that seems to be more prevalent in Yorkies than in many other breeds.


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