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Breeding dogs is an art and will require constant education and personal development over the years. It will also require quite a bit of time and money investment as breeding dogs isn’t considered a lucrative business.
However, if you’re determined to become a successful American Bully breeder, you can do a few things to make the process easier.
Here are a few crucial steps for becoming a successful American Bully breeder:
- Find your “Why?”
- Get to know the American Bully community.
- Find a mentor.
- Start out with good stock.
- Start small.
- Get registered.
- Save money for health checks.
In the rest of this article, I’ll go more in-depth with each of these tips, so you understand why I recommend them and how to go about each one.
1. Find Your “Why?”
When you start out breeding dogs, it’s essential to know your “why?” Why are you doing this? Is it because you love American Bullies? Do you want your precious family pet to have puppies? Or are you simply looking to make some extra cash?
Many people want to start breeding because they have a passion for it. However, your program must become profitable if you plan to become a professional breeder. So, you need to do some market research to see which breeds have more demand.
Something that many people don’t understand is that, for the most part, breeding dogs of any variety won’t make you much money. It can be especially shocking when you look at the prices of pedigreed puppies. They can cost you several thousand dollars. So how do hundreds or even thousands from each puppy turn into barely breaking even?
Raising puppies is expensive. You’re responsible for providing all of their food and vet care for the first eight weeks of their life at a minimum.
The majority of the dog breeders don’t rely on selling their puppies as their primary income stream. If that’s their full-time job, they have to offer other services in addition to selling their puppies, such as grooming, training, or boarding dogs at their facilities.
Another common reason that you hear people wanting to breed their dogs is that they want to see their beloved pet have puppies. Here’s the harsh truth, most pet dogs aren’t suitable for breeding dogs. They won’t produce desirable puppies, and many of those puppies will end up in shelters or on the streets.
If you’re determined to breed American Bullies despite these warnings, then read on.
2. Get To Know the American Bully Community
To become a successful American Bully breeder, you must first become involved with the American Bully community. That’s because you need to build relationships to find mentors and good stock to start with .
A good family friend of mine breeds airedale terriers and has become a world-renowned judge, but he didn’t start out that way. He knew he wanted to breed and show these dogs, so he started building relationships.
He found an airedale breeder that he admired and offered to work cleaning out her kennels. Slowly, he learned all the tricks of the trade, from grooming the dogs to handling them in the show ring.
Finally, after a few years, he acquired stock from her, and that’s how he started what is now a very successful breeding program.
You can become involved with the American Bully community in various ways. For one, you can go to official club sanctioned American Bully shows and events, which is a great way to meet seasoned breeders.
You can also look around on the internet and find local American Bully meetups. These groups are more casual and usually just for hobbyists, but some of the participants may have connections to breeders, and they can introduce you to them.
3. Find a Mentor
A mentor is an experienced breeder willing to take you under their wing and show you the ropes—exactly like the person my friend worked under.
The best place to find a mentor is any breed-specific events, such as those put on by the American Bully Kennel Club. Most breeders love talking about their program and their dogs if you do so respectfully.
Don’t approach a breeder right before their dog goes in the ring or when they’re busy doing something.
If you have limited time and they aren’t available when you need to talk to them, kindly approach, introduce yourself, and let them know that you’re interested in learning more about their program.
Most will be more than willing to let you know when they’ll be free so that you can chat. Or they may give you a way to contact them so you can meet up after the event.
However, if they don’t seem friendly or like they’re willing to spend some time with you, respect that.
While your mentor’s primary purpose is to train you, they should also be your friend. Don’t start off on a bad foot by choosing a mentor that isn’t interested in your aspirations.
Your mentor will be one of your best assets when you’re starting out. Not only will they teach you everything that they know about their breed, but, eventually if you earn their trust, they’ll likely provide you with some of your first breeding stock.
4. Start with Good Stock
When you start breeding dogs, you want to make sure that you’re doing so ethically. It means not breeding dogs that carry any sort of disqualifying defect resulting in unwanted puppies and contributing to the overpopulation problem.
You want all of your puppies to find loving homes, and part of that is making sure that they don’t carry any undesirable traits.
But finding the best stock can be pretty hard.
When you’re looking at a litter of puppies, the breeder will typically separate them into three categories: pet-quality, show-quality, and the “pick of the litter.”
The pet-quality puppies will be placed into homes where they’ll simply be cherished family pets. These puppies are also typically given only a limited registration packet meaning that while they can be registered, their offspring won’t.
That’s the breeder’s way of discouraging potential owners from breeding dogs that shouldn’t be bred.
They may also be sold with a spay and neuter agreement. The owner will only receive the limited registration papers after providing proof that the animal has been sterilized.
Show-quality puppies are typically sold to owners interested in showing their dogs or to breeders who want to introduce new blood into their line.
While they may have some faults, these puppies are close enough to the breed standard that they will do well in the show ring and can produce high-quality puppies when paired with an appropriate mate.
When you’re starting, you should look for these puppies. They’re more expensive than the pet-quality puppies but remember, you want to start with the best you can get. Breeders will typically be willing to sell these to you as long as you can show what you’re planning to do with the puppy and have the breeder approve of any plans.
When you’re starting out, you may be tempted to ask the breeder which puppy is the best or the “pick of the litter.” After all, that’s the one you should be getting, right?
While it seems logical to start with the best breeder’s best puppy, it isn’t a reasonable place to start for many reasons. First of all, chances are, they won’t give it to you.
Not every litter has a “pick of the litter,” but for the litters that do, you’ll have a hard time getting the breeder to give it up. This puppy is often the culmination of decades of work, and the breeder will want to keep it for their program.
If you manage to convince the breeder to sell the puppy, it’ll often be for a completely ridiculous price. You can just as easily get a few show-quality puppies for the same amount of money that will do just as much good for your breeding program.
Remember, the most important skill you’ll develop when breeding dogs is matching a breeding pair based on their faults to produce that “pick of the litter.” The “pick of the litter” should be your aspiration, not your starting point.
5. Start Small
If you go to any well-established breeder, you’ll notice that they have quite a few dogs. Most of my breeder friends have anywhere from 10-20 adult dogs in their possession at any given time. You may think that to get there, you should start with many dogs as well, but that isn’t the case.
Remember, those 10-20 dogs are the result of many years of dedicated breeding and careful selection of new dogs. High-quality dogs are expensive.
There’s no other way to say it because it’s true. You already need to shell out quite a bit of money to get started, so don’t get more dogs than you need.
To start a breeding program, you just need a couple of females. It’s best to ensure that none of your foundation females are related to help diversify your bloodline.
Stud dogs aren’t necessary at first as you can pay a fee to have your females bred. Once you have produced your own high-quality stud, you can keep him to breed to your unrelated females and provide stud services to other breeders.
Additionally, make sure that you’re not breeding too many litters at first. When you start out, you’ll have a harder time advertising your puppies and may end up having to keep several past the typical eight weeks.
Chances are, many of your customers will come to you by recommendation from your mentor. Once you get established, you’ll probably be dealing with a waiting list, but not at first.
Your first litter will also be your most significant financial investment as you’ll need to purchase all of your whelping and puppy rearing supplies at the same time.
For subsequent litters, you’ll already have the majority of your supplies, but for your first litter, you can fully expect to be investing a couple grand in supplies.
Remember, that includes food for the first eight weeks minimum, shots and deworming, a whelping box, puppy fencing, plus extra for any emergency medical expenses. By starting small, you can ensure that you have enough resources and want to continue as a breeder before you drain your bank account.
Another reason you should start small is that breeding dogs comes with a massive time investment. Your dogs require three to four hours of exercise every day—or at least one or two hours of intense training.
Otherwise, they’ll become aggressive. If you have too many things on your plant, you won’t be able to put in that much time.
6. Get Registered
Before you start breeding American Bully dogs, it’s in your best interest to become an American Bully Kennel Club registered breeder. It not only provides you with a community and support from more seasoned breeders, but also helps you to advertise your business.
American Bullies are specialty dogs and not particularly common. If someone’s looking to purchase a pedigreed American Bully, the first place they’ll look is the American Bully Kennel Club.
When you purchase your foundation dogs, make sure that all of them have full registration. That’s separate from limited registration, which is what many breeders sell their dogs with. Full registration allows your dog and their puppies to be registered and shown under the American Bully Kennel Club. Limited registration doesn’t allow for the registration of the dog’s offspring.
Being registered also shows your potential customers that you’re a responsible breeder. After all, someone who’s simply breeding dogs to make some extra cash and isn’t ethical in the process will likely not take the time to register their dogs.
Also, if you’re selling show-quality dogs, which should be your goal, future owners will need registration to compete with their dogs. They’ll also want a full pedigree to make sure they breed them ethically and with unrelated dogs.
7. Save Money for Health Checks & Food
To breed your female, you need to do many things outside of getting her to a stud.
It’s essential to make sure that she is truly suitable for breeding. American Bullies have an extensive list of faults and disqualifications, and you want to make sure that she has as few as possible.
These include an underbite, bowed legs, and an improper gate.
While your female may look perfectly healthy and move well, it’s not always a perfect indication of her genetic potential. When breeding any dog, but especially larger and more heavyset dogs such as the American Bully, it’s essential to perform health checks on their joints.
A dog can have very minor hip dysplasia that will never be outwardly visible in their lifetime but can easily be passed down to their puppies in a more severe form.
The standard health tests that should be performed before breeding include having your female’s hips and elbows x-rayed. That’s especially important in American Bullies and having them checked for eye and heart issues. In some cases, you may also want to have genetic testing done.
It’s done through a simple blood test or cheek swab and will tell you if your dog carries any serious genetic traits that would render them unsuitable for breeding.
While these tests may be expensive, remember what I said earlier, dog breeding isn’t a lucrative business. Unless you become a world-renowned breeder, you won’t get rich off of this business. The hope is that you’ll make enough to support your dogs and maybe a little bit extra to take an extra vacation or something like that.
In the end, these tests will save you money by keeping you from having to fulfill health guarantees.
When most breeders sell their puppies, they sell them with a lifetime health guarantee for genetic conditions and a one-year health guarantee for other illnesses. If your breeder doesn’t offer this, you should probably consider a different breeder.
If you do the appropriate testing before breeding your dogs, you should have no issues providing this guarantee as very few or none of the puppies you produce should have these problems.
If you don’t perform the appropriate testing, these guarantees can quickly drain your bank account by either having to pay for procedures to help improve the dog’s quality of life or take the puppy back and care for it until you can find another home.
American bullies can cost a lot to feed, especially if you have several, and even more for big size XL bullies like mine. They also tend to be sensitive when it comes to food and often require hypoallergenic kibbles.
Some breeders exclusively feed raw. Food costs for this breed is one of the reasons why they cost so much. Be prepared to invest a good amount into dog food.
Breeding American Bullies can be an incredibly fulfilling experience if you’re doing it for the right reasons and not expecting to get much out of it financially, especially at first.
Remember that you shouldn’t do this alone, find a mentor and stick with them as they’ll be one of your most valuable resources during your first years of breeding.
Out of all of these tips, here are the most important:
- Find a mentor and stick with them.
- Start with good stock.
- Start small.
- Start saving money.
I created this blog to share my passion for bullies, and help current and future pitbull owners with things like diet and education.
Hope you find it useful, don’t hesitate to drop a comment on my articles!