What I’d Breed If I Was Starting Over : And Why

Have you ever thought of changing what you’re breeding? I’ve talked to quite a few breeders and I find that a lot of them do switch breeds partway through their breeding life…. or they get an extra breed.

I’m going to go through a scenario where I’m going to change breeds, explaining my reasoning as I go, from the viewpoint of being a veterinarian.


Before I offend most of you, please remember:  All the things that I talk about here are a reflection of my personal tastes, preferences and point of view. 

Of course you would have your own criteria and different things would be of different importance to you than for me.

And I’m also considering the economics of each breed.  Call me mercenary.

It isn’t just about the money of course.  Many breeders will quite justifiably be attracted to rare, unpopular breeds partly because they want to help preserve and improve the breed.  That’s admirable.  Or they may be breeding for a specialized use e.g. hunting dogs.

But – unless they have deep pockets – it might also keep them poor…  Which can mean less money to spend on your dogs and improving your lines and facilities.

If you LOVE your breed, and it doesn’t fit the selection criteria I use here, don’t be concerned.  Since YOU find them appealing, others are bound to as well.  The world is a big place and it will then just be a matter of making sure the interested people can find you online, by taking care of the business end of being a breeder 🙂

So whatever breed you choose, for whatever reason, you can succeed if you get your marketing right!  To learn how to do that for FREE, jump on the Marketing for Breeders online masterclass here.

Choosing a Breed – My Criteria:

These are the things that I would be thinking about when I’m choosing a new breed:

  • Demand and popularity – So I’d want to breed a dog that was in high demand for start. I wouldn’t want to breed something that was difficult to sell. I’d like to breed something that a lot of people wanted and was easy to sell.  And which had a large population of potential breeding dogs to choose from, so I can keep outbreeding rather than inbreeding.
  • General health – I’d also want to have a breed that had a high chance of a good healthy life, both for the owner’s sake and for my sake as a breeder.
  • Size – Also, I don’t want to breed a breed that’s really, really large.  This is a personal preference.  Because large dogs eat a lot, do enormous poos and can escape out of ordinary size yards too easily.  They can also potentially cause more damage.  Also they tend to have lower demand and – as a result – lower prices for the puppies.
  • Fecundity – I also would like to breed a breed that had a fair amount of puppies in each litter, not just one or two, and one that births and breeds easily.  Call me lazy!  I prefer an easy life 🙂

So they’re my objectives.  What would yours be?

Breed Demand and Popularity

Starting off with looking at a breed that’s in high demand: Here I checked what were the most popular 64 breeds as of last year.  So I’m going to use these breeds as my high demand breeds that I select from.

Selecting the Right Sized Breed

So the first thing I want to look at is the economics of size.

As I said, I would prefer to have a smaller breed, because they are cheaper to feed, cheaper for worm tablets, cheaper for just about everything, and easy to handle. I can pick it up if I have to, I can manhandle it if I have to. That’s my preference.  Given that important for me was not get too big a dog breed, let’s have a look at the economics of size.

Body Size vs Litter Size 

The other thing we want to think about is not getting a breed that’s too small either!  Very, very small breeds like under 11 pounds – the toy breeds – tend to have very small litters: Average of around about three or four, three and a half.  Same with smaller breeds, 11 to 22 pounds.

The small breeds can make it up by selling for premium prices, so you have to weigh it up for your own breed.

The sweet spot for me is the medium sized breeds, which are 10 to 25 kilos or 22 to 55 pounds in body weight. They have an average litter size that’s only one or two below that of huge breeds, and quite a lot better than the small breeds.

So that’s where I’d be heading – into the medium breeds.

Going through those top popularity breeds:  The ones that are in my view, too big I’ve crossed out in red. The ones that in my view are too small, I’ve crossed out in blue.

We’re left with Beagle, Poodle, Dachshund, Shih Tzu, Schnauzer, Bulldog, Sheep Dog, Australian Shepherd, Boston Terrier, Welsh Corgi, Maltese, Cocker Spaniel, Havanese, English Springer Spaniel, Pug, Brittany, and Bichon, West Highland White, Russel Terrier, Border Collie, Mini Pinscher, Shiba Inu, Bull Terrier, Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier, Portuguese Water Dog, Whippet, Scottish Terrier, Australian Cattle Dog, Lhasa Apso, Cairn Terrier, English Cocker Spaniels. So that’s my starting list.

The Breed Must Have Good Doggy Design

Sorry if I offend anyone here by crossing out their favorite breed due to what I consider design faults.  And I acknowledge there are many great breeders out there selecting for functionality in their otherwise poorly designed breeds.

Again, this is MY preference list.  From my perspective as a veterinarian.  I only want to breed a breed that has a good chance of mechanical health because it’s built mechanically perfectly. It has a good doggy design.  By that I mean it doesn’t have a long pendulous ears, short flat face or short wonky legs.   I prefer to breed a dog that has a good design, like their ancestor the wolf.

So I’ve crossed out some of these with that in mind. From my point of view, having poor design would be the Bulldog, the Dachshund and the French Bulldog, also the King Charles because of its face, the Boston Terrier face, the Corgi short legs, the Havanese short legs and the Pug face. I’ve crossed out the West Highland White as well because of its legs. The Basset similarly, the Scottish Terrier because of the legs and the Lhasa Apso because of it’s squashed face.

That narrows down the list quite a lot.

I Want A Breed That Doesn’t Shed

What I end up with when I then go further and select out of that breeds that do not shed because that’s what I prefer to work with I end up with:

  • The Poodle
  • The Miniature Schnauzer
  • The Maltese.
  • The Bichon Frise
  • Soft-coated Wheaton Terrier
  • Portuguese Water Dog and
  • The Cairn Terrier.

So that’s my shortlist.

Health Profile of Each Breed

The next thing I wanted to look at was their health. I went to ofa.org to have a look at the health profile of these little beasties that I’ve got on my shortlist.

Miniature Poodle

The first one, the Miniature Poodle, these are some of the issues. Now they seem to have some issues with chondrodystrophy and hips, very common. We’re talking about like one in eight dogs. That seems to be a pretty significant health issues for them.

Miniature Schnauzer

Miniatures Schnauzer, the main issue is degenerative myelopathy: 5% were abnormal out of 41 samples [fairly small sample size] but everything else looks pretty good.


Maltese, multiple issues: Hips, elbows, patella, and thyroid. So muscular skeletal issues and the thyroid.

Bichon Frise

Bichon Frise, not too bad: 6% degenerative myelopathy, very small sample size though. Big sample size showed 7.8% hip issue.  Plus patella issues with a big sample size – about one in 30 dogs affected.

Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier

Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier, look at the issues there: 20% degenerative myelopathy, 20% paroxysmal dyskinesia and Legg Perth disease in about one in 20 dogs.  That’s quite a few issues.

Portuguese Water Dog

Portuguese Water Dog, hips are an issue.

Cairn Terrier

Cairn Terrier, hips can be an issue in one in 10, patella one and 30.

So this is other small non shedding breeds I looked at beyond the list, just for completeness.

Australian Terrier

I looked at the Australian Terrier. They have quite a few health issues here. These are small sample sizes, patella issues in nearly one in five dogs will develop patella issues. And these fairly small sample size, but it looks like some issues with the teeth and degenerative myelopathy.

Standard Schnauzer

I also looked outside that top 64 at the standard Schnauzer, which seems to have more health issues than the mini snails are to be honest. Fairly big sample sizes here with issues with elbow, hips and thyroid.


And then I looked at the Havanese as well because I think they’re so cute!  However they have chondrodysplasia so they’re not actually a good design dog. Also have problems with teeth, hips and sebaceous adenitis and thyroid issues.

Tibetan Terrier

Tibetan Terrier have a very high chance of degenerative myelopathy 30%, and thyroid issues 10%.

Spanish Water Dog

Spanish Water Dog: 26% hip issues, thyroid nearly 13%.

Portuguese Podengo Pequeno

Portuguese Podengo Pequeno: They had a pretty clean bill of health. Fairly small sample size, 7% patella, but the rest of it looked pretty good.

The Winning Breeds

What Did I End Up With?

Going back to my selection criteria.

I wanted non-shedding breed, good physical doggy design smallish, but not too small with a low incidence of health issues and popular for urban families so I could sell them readily with a good market.

And this is the shortlist I ended up with.

Lo and behold, the Miniatures Schnauzer, my initial breed is there [no wonder I chose them, right?]

But also, the Bichon Frise was very, very appealing to me.  [My mother had one and I loved her personality.]

And the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno was another one, which appealed.

What I Did NOT Consider Here

Temperament and behavior are also important factors.  I didn’t consider them here because it was beyond the scope of the article.  But if I did, I would be further refining my short list by weighing up things like:

  • Does the breed bark a lot?
  • Can the breed handle being left alone during the day?
  • Is the breed good with children?
  • Does the breed have a high energy level and need active daily work to stay sane?

Choosing the right breed is the first step to being a successful breeder.

The next is getting your marketing right!  To learn how to do that for FREE, jump on the Marketing for Breeders online masterclass here.

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