Two Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine professors have penned a seminal book that offers a comprehensive guide on canine reproduction and genetics, aimed at dog breeders and veterinarians. 

Julie Cecere, clinical associate professor of theriogenology, and Phillip Sponenberg, recently retired professor of pathology and genetics, have co-authored "Breeding Better Dogs: Canine Breeding Management.”

“Dogs are really, really useful. And their breeding is extremely important to maintain that usefulness,” said Sponenberg. “There are many, many places where they need a specific dog and purpose-bred dogs are great at what they're supposed to do, which includes being companion animals.” 

The work, which took about a year and a half to write, is an outgrowth of a series of breeder excellence programs led by Cecere that concentrated on dog management, breeding, and puppy raising. Sponenberg, renowned for his expertise in rare breed management, contributed his extensive knowledge of genetics.

Cecere praised Sponenberg’s contributions: “The genius of the book is Dr. Sponenberg's part — getting to the nitty-gritty of understanding what breeders have to do about managing their lines and thinking many generations ahead, not just for the now,” Cecere said.

Sponenberg discussed the necessity for such a resource. “We thought breeders needed a resource to be able to get in-depth scientific and practical information because they're a lot more educated than your average pet owner, but most aren’t also veterinarians or geneticists,” Sponenberg said.

He emphasized the book's utility not just for breeders but also for veterinarians: “Obviously, veterinarians are already reproductive specialists, but they’ll still find parts useful, especially for client education.” 

“The book tries to debunk a lot of myths and is a tool to help breeders and veterinarians work together, instead of having a contentious relationship,” added Cecere.

As a skilled theriogenologist, Cecere possesses extensive knowledge of canine reproduction, encompassing aspects from mating to whelping and early puppy care. Her expertise, detailed in several chapters of her book, offers valuable insights into mating strategies, prenatal care, the birthing process, and the crucial initial weeks of a puppy's life,

She hopes the book will be approachable and useful: “I don't think it's something that you would want to read on a snowy day with a cup of hot chocolate, but it's meant to inform and to be there kind of as a guide that readers will use and return to for reference,” Cecere said.

"Breeding Better Dogs: Canine Breeding Management" is a product of over a decade of material compilation and is expected to become an invaluable resource for those involved in canine breeding and veterinary medicine.  It is currently available in paperback and Kindle formats. 

Written by Margie Christianson, Communication Manager for the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.


Andrew Mann
Director of Communications and Marketing