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Overbreeding in Dogs: Consequences, Risks & Health Issues

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on June 5, 2024 by Dogster Team

Cretan Hound

Overbreeding in Dogs: Consequences, Risks & Health Issues

As you may know, many dog breeders are reputable and act responsibly. Unfortunately, there are also irresponsible and unethical dog owners, like backyard breeders and puppy mills. They are known for overbreeding dogs for profit without concern about the consequences, risks, and health issues for the mother or her litter.

The effects of overbreeding are the same, whether done in backyard breeding with one or two dogs or in puppy mills where many dogs are being bred on a larger scale for profit.

What Is Overbreeding?

According to the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) guide to responsible breeding, it is “customary to avoid breeding a bitch on consecutive heats to allow sufficient time for recuperation between pregnancies.” The guide also states, “The AKC rules do not allow, except with special documentation, the registration of a litter out of a dam less than 8 months of age or more than 12 years of age at the time of mating, or by a sire less than 7 months of age or more than 12 years of age at the time of mating.”

Overbreeding is a harmful practice. The breeder is mating the dog more often than they should without any concerns for the mother’s health or the litter of pups. Overbreeding not only leads to health risks for both the mother and pups but also to overpopulation and euthanasia of sickly and unwanted pups every year.

Overbreeding can happen in two ways:

Dog overbreeding

Female dogs mate more often than their body can safely manage.

Breeder overbreeding

A breeder raises dogs on a larger scale and produces more litters than they can manage.

dachshund with newborn puppies, dachshund lactating
Image By: Shift Drive, Shutterstock

Dogster_Website dividers_v1_Jan 18 2024-03 What Are the Consequences of Overbreeding?

While the health and welfare of dogs is the number one concern from overbreeding, it is also one of the main contributors to unwanted dogs and overcrowded shelters and rescues. Sadly, there are millions of these dogs being euthanized every year.

When breeders flood the market with these animals, they reduce the likelihood of animals from rescue groups, shelters, and reputable breeders being placed in loving homes.

1. Safety of the Dog

It is tiring for a female dog to nurse her pups, let alone do so repeatedly without any rest. The female should rest for at least one cycle.

2. Failing to Consider the Breed

Responsible breeding includes doing health checks on puppies from the first and second litter and making the necessary changes with the subsequent breeding. When a breeder rushes the litter, they are not allowed time to find a suitable stud and avoid passing on any defects that may affect the overall quality and health of the bloodline or the breed.

3. Putting Profit First

Overbreeding does the opposite of responsibly breeding puppies for profit. They do not think about the welfare of the animals. They rush to make more money, so they spend less and breed more.


sad-looking puppy closeup
Image By: Bharathi Kannan, Unsplash

dogster paw dividerHealth Concerns of Overbreeding in Dogs

Some risks associated with overbreeding include spreading parasites and deadly viruses like hookworm and parvovirus, along with hygiene concerns when dealing with multiple litters. The mother pup is also susceptible to life-threatening calcium deficiencies (hypocalcemia), malnutrition, mastitis, uterine infections, and dystocia.

While some may argue that continuously breeding a particular bloodline can also positively affect the breed, overbreeding puts the dog’s body at risk, and some health problems are common with overbreeding.

They include:
  • Hip dysplasia and other joint problems
  • Hearing loss and eye problems
  • Difficulties during birth
  • Respiratory issues like the ones common in flat-faced breeds

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Are Some Red Flags You Should Be Aware of?

  • The breeder avoids or refuses to show you the entire property where the dogs are kept and bred.
  • The breeder is not questioning the potential buyer.
  • The person selling the dogs has several types of designer breeds or purebred pups being sold when they have not reached six weeks old.
  • If the seller does not offer you a guarantee, buyer beware.

What Should You Look for in a Breeder?

  • A responsible breeder will explain and provide a potential buyer with vet information, medical history, and vaccine records.
  • A responsible breeder does not have puppies on hand. In most cases, they have waiting lists and will have potential buyers before the dog is bred.
  • They want to introduce you to the mom and dad pup and are willing to show you where the dogs sleep and play.
  • They will inquire about why you want a dog, your plans for training and care, and your home and lifestyle.

What Are Some Steps I Can Take to Help Stop Overbreeding?

  • Adopt a pet: Many dogs at your local shelter or rescue need a loving home.
  • Donate: Donate pet supplies or give monetary contributions to your local shelter to help support animals waiting for a loving home.
  • Support Laws: Reach out to your local officials and let them know you support laws that establish exercise standards, care, housing, access to food, water, and veterinary care and limit the number of animals a person can own.

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Overbreeding is hazardous to the mother and puppies. It can put the mother at risk for life-threatening illnesses, subject the dogs to unhealthy conditions, and subject the animals to future health problems. You can do your part to prevent overbreeding by adopting from your local shelter, donating to needy pets, and supporting laws protecting animals from these abusive practices.

Featured Image Credit: Peter Maerky, Shutterstock

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