Dear AKC: How many litters are too many for one dog? I met this lady yesterday who has her female on the 4th litter. Granted, the dog is old enough to have this many litters, but I am curious if there are any noticeable characteristics in a puppy from the 3rd or 4th litter compared to one from the first litter. I want to purchase a stud dog from her and need to know if this is a problem. - Selecting a Stud
Dear Stud: Canine reproduction is a wonderful thing. If dogs weren't meant to have multiple litters then Mother Nature would have not created the bitches that way. My first brood bitch had five litters in her lifetime. After conducting all the appropriate health screenings for my breed, I bred her annually from the time she was two-years-old until she was six-years-old, each time selecting breeding stock for showing and making sure all puppies were placed in good homes.
As far as noticeable characteristics from different litters that would really depend on the stud dog. I planned various litters with different goals in mind for my bitch, but always with an eye to improving upon her conformation and keeping her wonderful temperament and coat.
Quality Over Quantity
I would be less worried about how many puppies a certain bitch had and more concerned with does the breeder conduct health screenings on her breeding stock before planning a litter, research pedigrees, and have loving homes waiting for them after they are born. Certainly, the quality of the pups does not diminish with the number of litters a bitch has whelped. In fact, one of my top winning dogs came out of that fifth litter from my foundation bitch, and it was a repeat breeding of a really special stud dog.
By doing your research ahead of time, you can find out what tests are routine for your breed and inquire if the breeder tests for these. By working with a breeder, and making them your mentor, you will find yourself in good hands when it comes to selecting a stud dog for your breeding program. For more information about our Mentoring program check with the parent club as many of them have breeder mentoring programs that can help.