Are these not the cutest pugs? These guys are lucky to be alive. Despite their gorgeous appearance, they are the perfect example of something very ugly. Their harrowing story of survival tells why dogs should not be bred by inexperienced owners and backyard breeders (the vast majority of us).

The story: There was once a mama named Mandy (not her real name) whose owners decided it would be a great idea to have lots of baby Mandys. Mandy was mated to another pug. She gave birth to eight puppies she would not nurse. Five puppies then took turns succumbing to a variety of congenital illnesses and infections. And then there were three.

The only reason they survived is due to the vigorous efforts of one of our clients. She nursed them and cared for them when Mandy’s owners realized they were unable to deal with the workload and stress of the blessed event and its consequences.

I think the point is clear: Unless you know what you are doing stay far away from engaging in activities that can have dangerous consequences for innocent lives.

Mandy’s owners got lucky. Worse could have befallen them. If the five reasons above weren’t enough, here’s a list of five more reasons not to breed dogs in your own home without extensive knowledge:

1-Your dog can die. Most inexperienced breeders are unaware that they need to know exact breeding dates, that all dogs should be tested for diseases before breeding, and that special considerations should be acknowledged (such as compatible sizes of dogs) to minimize the risk of a C-section, abortion, or maternal death. Every time your dog has puppies she is at risk for a major complication. Are you sure you’re ready for that possibility, no matter how experienced you are?

2-The puppies can die. In the case of many purebreds (such as bulldogs) some usually do. If a C-section isn’t timed perfectly (in the case your dog needs one), you can lose the whole litter (and mama, too). If the mother won’t nurse them, your inexperience, combined with the puppies` failure to receive maternal antibodies in her first milk, can cause pups to die from infection, malnutrition, and immune system malfunction.

3-You are contributing to the pet overpopulation problem. There are great dogs everywhere. What makes you think your dog is such a fine specimen that he or she deserves offspring? Pound puppies rock! And they’ll die if we don’t give them homes.

4-You are likely to propagate unsatisfactory physical traits. Inexperienced breeders are notorious for their unwillingness or inability to understand the basics of genetics. Dogs with bad hips, bad allergies, protruding teeth, gingivitis, poor dispositions, and thousands of other unhealthy traits yield dogs with the same or worse problems. Breeding these animals means more of the same kind of suffering. Only animals carrying the best physical traits should be considered for breeding.

5-Not spaying and neutering your pets puts them at risk for diseases like cancers and infections. Females, especially, risk life-threatening disease such as mammary gland cancer and deadly uterine infections. This risk increases with age and number of pregnancies. Spay early!

This is just a sampling of the myriad problems you can run into. Please leave breeding to the professionals. And try not to buy dogs from people who aren’t. You’re just contributing to the problem by providing a market for the product of ignorance and suffering.

Stick to reputable, knowledgeable people with honest intentions for the dogs and the breeds they love. Breeder-exhibitors are your best bet. These are people who show their dogs and have a vested interest in making the whole breed healthier. Seek out responsible breeders and you’ll help minimize the loss of pups like the five brothers and sisters of my pictured pugs.