This is a very serious section and nobody should even contemplate having a litter without finding out as much information as possible about the breed and the responsibilities involved in having a litter. Having a litter is NOT to be taken lightly.

People often start by having a Ridgeback themselves, falling absolutely in love with the breed and wanting to have a litter from their bitch so that they can keep one themselves. There is nothing wrong with this so long as it is done correctly and for all the right reasons.

Firstly, the bitch MUST conform to the breed standard. Have a look at the section on the Breed Standard and you should already know whether or not your puppy was bought as a correctly marked Ridgeback or not. If the registration is endorsed (R) Progeny not eligible for Registration, then you cannot breed from that bitch unless the breeder is prepared to lift the endorsement (see the section on Endorsements and Be Warned). Of paramount importance is the bitch's temperament, any puppies subsequently produced will inherit her genes and temperament, she must be totally suitable to become a brood bitch. Saying that everything is OK, you then need to find a suitable stud. Go back to the person who bred your bitch, they should be very knowledgeable and will help you find the most suitable dog. Do not use the "dog down the road" just because he's close, you need to look at your bitch, be extremely critical, identify her weak areas and look for a dog to compliment her regardless of where he is located. Be prepared to travel for the right dog. If you have a litter of puppies you are ultimately responsible for another generation of Ridgebacks to be alive, they should be an improvement upon your own bitch. The idea is to go forward not backwards.

Now, your reason for wanting a litter was so that you could have a puppy from your present bitch. So what are you going to do if she produces 8 or 10 puppies? Think this through very carefully. Having bred those puppies you DO NOT wash your hands of them once they are sold. Are you able to help and advise the new owners, what if they come up against problems, if one should need rehoming could you have it back? The list goes on and on. In order to raise a litter properly you are talking of making a total commitment of about 3 months, this is not a part-time activity that would be "fun" to do. I can assure you, having a litter is extremely hard work, very worrying and expensive. There can be complications with whelping, you may need a caesarean operation, what is the bitch doesn't have enough milk, what if you have ridgeless puppies, what if you have a sinus puppy? Have I put you off yet or made you think things through carefully?

Ridgelessness and sinus puppies are a fact of life and must be faced up to well before you even consider mating your bitch. Some breeders insist on culling ridgeless puppies, some vets won't consider culling what they see as a perfectly healthy puppy. What are you going to do? Sinus puppies - there is absolutely no discussion here, sinus puppies should be euthanased at birth but discussion must take place between you and your vet before the birth so that they are fully aware of the importance of culling a sinus puppy. Holding a puppy whilst it is being euthanased (and this involves an injection into the heart) is an absolutely heart-rending experience, could you do it?

Say you do go ahead with a litter; you now have 8 puppies looking for homes. Where do you think these homes are going to come from, they certainly don't come out of thin air? Your responsibility is now to find the best home possible for your puppies; you won't find them by advertising in the local or free papers. Yes, you will find homes but I feel confident in saying that they won't be the best and what if they go wrong, what are you going to do when the puppy is returned to you as an unmanageable hooligan of 8 months of age?

As I have said previously, having a litter is not to be taken lightly.

If you do have a litter, I suggest each new owner has a copy of "The Imbali way of Raising and Training your Ridgeback Puppy".