The Functional Dog Collaborative’s Breeder Curriculum is intended to cover all the topics a highly qualified, responsible breeder should be comfortable with. As this curriculum evolves, new versions will be released. We hope to also release a list of resources for use in learning about the variety of topics mentioned here. If you have any suggestions for how this curriculum might be improved, we encourage you to contact us.

The curriculum is in the process of being filled out with details and links to outside resources. The outline below contains links to more details when they exist. If an outline entry is not a live link, those details have not yet been written. (We are always looking for volunteers to help!)

FDC Breeder Curriculum, v1.0.

Deciding to Breed


Time commitment

Daily requirements

Keeping puppies until appropriate homes found

Financial considerations

Summary: how much will you pay overall? Expect to make money?

Costs of health testing

Costs of prenatal, postnatal & neonatal care

Cost of emergency cesarean delivery

Set-up considerations

Supplies needed (whelping box, puppy pen, etc.)

Access to socialization opportunities

Legal considerations

American Welfare Association and local/state laws about breeding

Evaluating stock

Basic genetics

How simple traits are passed on

How complex traits are passed on (behavioral genetics, genetics/environment interactions)

Alleles, homo/heterozygosity

Dominance/recessiveness, incomplete dominance/penetrance, epistasis, polygenicity

Basics of animal breeding as a scientific field


Breeding values

Using pedigree to assess breeding values

Using genetics to assess breeding values

Inbreeding: vs linebreeding; consequences of; balancing genetic diversity with predictability

Considerations when evaluating potential bitches from another breeder

All of the below, plus strong maternal traits (ease of whelping, puppy care, etc)

Health testing

How to determine which tests to do

Best places to go to get tests done (e.g. radiographs at specialist vs private practice; health screenings at dog shows)

Genetic testing

Selecting the right tests for your planned breeding

Evaluating the results of those tests

Basics of how genetic tests work

Coefficient of inbreeding, runs of homozygosity

Interpreting test results in mixed-breed dogs

Making a population plan

Setting goals

Mate selection for attaining goals

Prioritizing different goals

Assessing/prioritizing genetic diversity

Replacement breeder selection

Evaluating structure

Evaluating health

Evaluating performance

Evaluating genetic testing results, and not breeding to the test

Breeding Logistics

Guardian homes

Working with guardian homes: social aspects

Working with guardian homes: legal aspects

Veterinary theriogenologists



What they do

When to use one, how to manage if one is not nearby

How to find one

Assessing your veterinarian/theriogenologist’s expertise/experience

Mate selection

Balancing short and long term goals

Knowing lines

Understanding a cross that’s been done before

Trying a new cross

Predicting inbreeding in puppies

Predicting traits in puppies (purebred vs mixed breed)

Planning a breeding

Choosing type of insemination

Determining date of ovulation

Planning for possible emergencies


How to find appropriate ER for them

Pros/cons of spay at time of emergency C-section

Pros/cons of planned C-section

Pregnancy and labor

Managing a pregnant bitch

Calculating due date

Physical/nutritional needs

Emotional needs (stress level management)

Common problems during pregnancy and how to deal with them

When to do veterinary checks, what to check

When & how to set up whelping box

Labor & delivery

Normal progression

How to assist/support laboring bitch

When to intervene

Postpartum care


Puppy environment

Nest box


Neonatal care

When to tube feed; when to stop tube feeding

When to bottle feed; when to stop

When/if to stimulate to potty

What to expect from maternal behavior

When to expect mom to wean puppies, when to assist with weaning

When/if to remove dewclaws

Timing/ethics of crop/dock

Puppy health issues

How to recognize and manage

When to see a vet

Having your plan in place ahead of time

Specific diseases

Canine herpes virus


Cleft palate

Dysfunctional joints from uterine crowding

Puppy malformations



Puppy Development

When to see veterinarian for checkups

Monitoring weight


Worming protocols


Selecting a program for puppy socialization vs going it on your own

How to socialize

Importance of first 7 weeks, timing of onset of fear in different breeds

Early neural stimulation (ENS)

How to do it

Evidence and hypotheses in favor

Evidence and hypotheses against

Puppy behavioral evaluations

When/if to have them done

How reliable are they?

How to pick a good evaluator

How to interpret the evaluator’s results

Example evaluations that are available

Placing Puppies


Owner questionnaires/interviews

When to send puppies home

How to send puppies home (client education)

Puppy class

Training recommendations

Nutrition recommendations

Vaccine recommendations

Selecting replacement breeders (puppies to keep)

New: Matching puppies to people


When to retire breeding stock

Pros/cons of spay/neuter at breeding retirement


Mental wellness

Grief management


Learning theory basics

Problem behavior basics (especially as applies to selecting breeding stock and placing puppies)

Pet foundations

Sport foundations

Service work foundations

Dog sports

Competition as a way of evaluating stock

Breeding for particular sports

Natural breeding protocols




Vitality assessment