Breeding gundog puppies can be hugely satisfying, particularly if you want to keep one yourself. The eight weeks from when the puppies are born to the time they are ready to leave can be intensive, especially if this is your first venture – but often, the task of selling the puppies is left until too late.

The first steps should be taken towards finding potential buyers even before the puppies are born. That may seem like a mercenary approach to breeding a litter, but it makes sense. Those who have been left with unsold puppies at 10 weeks old will know that all too well.

In these straitened times, puppies aren’t bought on a whim, and that’s no bad thing, though it means buyers are more discerning.

For gundog owners breeding a one-off litter, this is definitely a buyers’ market, but that doesn’t mean it should quell any desire to breed from your bitch.

You don’t have to look at many advertisements to see the gaffes that people make when trying to sell a litter, but the real trap is the short selling window in terms of the puppies’ age. Up to six weeks old, things aren’t too pressured. There’s a fair bit of work in feeding and keeping them clean, but the end is in sight. However, the development of a litter of puppies between six and eight weeks old is greater than at any time since their birth; suddenly they need more space, more food, more attention and more cleaning.

If no effort has been made to sell the puppies before they have reached this stage, panic can set in. For a one-off breeder, if puppies are not sold at 10 weeks or older things could start getting sticky.

It can lead to puppies being sold at lower prices and to less caring owners.

Successful selling

So how do you breed a litter, sell the puppies and be satisfied that the job has been done well? The key to selling puppies successfully is to start well before they need to leave. The two-week window when puppies are at their most saleable passes quickly and while experienced owners will not mind finding a good puppy at 12 weeks rather than eight weeks, any that may be going to pet homes or to buyers who only want a puppy are more likely to find buyers at an early age.

Springtime is the most popular time for mating bitches. It produces summer litters and means the bitch can be back at work for the season. It’s fair to say that the time of year does have a strong bearing on how easy puppies are to sell. Everyone has their own ideas on this and there used to be those who would never buy a puppy from a bitch that had whelped in the winter on the assumption that if she was that good she could not have been spared to spend the season in the whelping box.

Puppies on sale in autumn hit the start of the shooting season; and having puppies to sell in the run-up to Christmas isn’t recommended.

Spring and early summer is probably the ideal selling time for puppies but the breeding cycles of bitches may not always fit in with that and while it pays to bear in mind the time of year, opportunities have to be taken when they arise.

If you plan ahead, produce a litter that has clear appeal in terms of ability, breeding and health, and you present the right information in your advertising to the right audience, breeding and selling a litter of gundog puppies needn’t turn into a nightmare.

If you are looking to buy or sell gundogs, go to our ‘Dogs for Sale’ section on Shooting UK Marketplace.