Animal Breeder

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Related roles: Animal Technician, Artificial Insemination Technician (AI Technician), Artificial Inseminator, Breeder, Dog Breeder, Large Herd Specialist


Similar Titles

Animal Technician, Artificial Insemination Technician (AI Technician), Artificial Inseminator, Breeder, Dog Breeder, Large Herd Specialist

Job Description

Animals have existed on Earth for hundreds of millions of years. Scientists say 99.9% of animal species that ever lived are now extinct, but there are still millions of species on the planet. Humans actively protect or take care of many of them! 

In fact, there are some types of animals that we value so greatly, we breed them to possess specific characteristics. The specialists who do this are called Animal Breeders. They usually specialize in one particular species, but breeders can select from a wide range of animals they want to work with. Commonly bred animals include domestic dogs and cats, poultry, cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, horses, and rabbits. 

Animal Breeds must work humanely and ethically to ensure the safety and well-being of the animals under their care. This includes providing “quality food, clean water, proper shelter, exercise, socialization, and professional veterinary care.” 

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Improving the genetic makeup of animals, making them healthier and more productive
  • Ensuring animals possess valuable traits needed for specific goals
  • Getting to work around the animals you love! 
2021 Employment
2031 Projected Employment
The Inside Scoop
Job Responsibilities

Working Schedule

  • Animal Breeders may work full- or part-time jobs, depending on the employer’s needs. Some may be assigned to shifts, requiring night or weekend work hours. Travel may be necessary. 

Typical Duties

  • Meet with animal owners to discuss their needs and objectives for breeding
  • Develop and oversee ethical breeding programs 
  • Consider the appropriate type of breeding, such as pure breeding, crossbreeding, or line breeding
  • Assess parent animals to determine which have the desired traits
  • Review parent pedigrees (i.e., genetic backgrounds) to avoid problems
  • Keep tabs on reproductive cycles to schedule optimal mating schedules
  • Arrange situations and environments for natural breeding opportunities
  • Use assisted reproductive technologies, as needed 
  • Deliver or assist with the delivery of newborn animals 
  • Maintain documentation of all pairings and subsequent offspring 
  • Keep selected offspring as future breeders, to continue and enhance the passage of desired traits
  • Take care of animals and tend to their dietary, health, and environmental needs
  • Clean animal living quarters and sanitize items
  • Ensure timely vaccinations and medical care are provided by veterinarians
  • Enter animal shows and competitions  
  • Advertise animals for sale; screen potential buyers to ensure a good match
  • Promote the business or program via marketing (branding, ads, etc.) and in-person networking
  • Sell animals; acquire the appropriate documentation and paperwork for breeds with certain traits; enter animals into competitions
  • Stay up-to-date on trends, consumer preferences, techniques, and technologies
  • Engage in professional organization activities to learn and make connections
  • Order supplies, such as animal food, collars, bedding, medical items, etc.

Additional Responsibilities

  • Specialize in a particular animal type or activity, such as breeding dogs for service programs, breeding cats for shows, breeding dairy cattle for better milk production, or breeding horses for ranch use
  • Some breeders work with exotic animals like birds, fish, small mammals, or reptiles Provide customer service in person or via phone and email; answer questions, provide tips, and offer recommendations 
  • Arrange for safe transportation and sturdy exhibit enclosures
  • Understand and comply with state, federal, and other guidelines related to ethical standards
  • Maintain budgets, deposit funds, keep tax records
  • Order and receive supply shipments. Carry out retail operation tasks, such as ringing up sales and filing invoices and receipts
Skills Needed on the Job

Soft Skills

  • Adaptable
  • Attention to detail
  • Commitment
  • Communications 
  • Compassion
  • Coordination
  • Detail-oriented
  • Independent
  • Integrity
  • Monitoring
  • Multitasking
  • Objectivity 
  • Organized
  • Patience
  • Physical fitness
  • Self-motivated
  • Sound judgment 
  • Trustworthiness 

Technical Skills

  • Animal breeding principles and risks
  • Animal husbandry 
  • Basic animal genetics 
  • Data collection and analysis programs and methods
  • First aid and personal protective equipment
  • Pedigree and registration software such as ZooEasy
  • Safe animal handling
  • Sanitation and disinfecting procedures
  • Veterinary care
Different Types of Organizations
  • Animal production facilities
  • Aquariums
  • Equestrian centers and stables
  • Farms and ranches
  • Pet stores 
  • Research centers and universities
  • Self-employed workers    
  • Zoos
Expectations and Sacrifices

Animal breeders are expected to provide the animals they’re responsible for with a good quality of life. That means providing adequate food, water, shelter, and veterinary care, as well as opportunities for exercise and socialization. 

They must be extremely knowledgeable about the breeds, pedigrees, and genetic traits of the animals they breed. In addition, breeders should be careful to select healthy, compatible parents able to produce offspring that meet the desired standards. It’s vital that breeders comply with ethical practices and communicate honestly with potential buyers. 

Current Trends

Genetic technologies are a hot trend in the world of animal breeding, enabling breeders to select specific traits and achieve results such as disease-resistant pigs

One technique is marker-assisted selection, which uses molecular markers to identify specific genes or traits in animals. As the Biomedical Journal of Scientific & Technical Research puts it, “Genetic engineering involves the incorporation of DNA markers for selection (marker-assisted selection, MAS), to increase the efficiency of the so-called ‘traditional’ methods of breeding based on phenotypic information.”

Tied to this is genomic selection, a technique that relies on DNA sequencing programs to analyze an animal’s genome to predict its breeding value at a young age. Another trend is precision livestock farming, which uses sensors, data analytics, and automation to collect data and help breeders make informed decisions. 

To use these advanced techniques and technologies, you may need to complete a college degree. But the demand for trained workers is there! 

“The global animal genetics market size…is expected to reach 9.66 billion in 2027,” writes Emergen Research. “However, high cost of animal testing, dearth of well-trained professionals, and low awareness of advanced animal genetic tools and importance of animal testing are some key factors expected to hamper market growth to a certain extent during the forecast period.” 

What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were younger…

Animal Breeders often grew up around animals. They may have lived on a farm or in a rural area, exposed to lots of different types of animals, such as dogs, horses, pigs, or cows. 

Some simply had a ton of pets as a child; others participated in 4-H, Future Farmers of America, National High School Rodeo Association, or other animal-related activities during their school years. 

Most are passionate about caring for animals, have empathy and compassion, and understand the practical aspects of running or working for a breeding business.

Education and Training Needed
  • With sufficient practical experience, Animal Breeders can start working with a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Completing college courses such as animal biology, physiology, and genetics may help boost your credentials  
  • Gain experience and learn skills by working or volunteering at animal breeding facilities, on farms, in veterinary clinics, at zoos, or wherever else animals are cared for 
  • You can also learn a lot from watching videos and reading articles, such as Breeding Business’ comprehensive Dog Breeding article
  • Optional classes or certifications can boost one’s credentials. These will depend on the type of animal being bred, but some examples include:
  1. American Kennel Club Breeder Education Courses
  2. ET School’s Combined Comprehensive Bovine Embryo Transfer & Artificial Insemination Training Course
  3. Oklahoma State’s Equine Enterprise Management Certificate
  4. Purdue’s Canine Care Certified
  5. WageningenX's Animal Breeding and Genetics Professional Certificate
  • Self-employed workers who launch their own business may need a state-issued business license
Things to look for in an University
  • Animal Breeders don’t need a college degree, but there are classes and training programs available
  • Seek community college or vocational training programs, or certificates from universities or private training centers
  • Look for internship opportunities to get practical experience 
  • Compare tuition and fees costs, noting in-state vs. out-of-state costs
  • Review scholarship and financial aid options
  • Check out graduation and job placement statistics for alumni 
Things to do in High School and College
  • In high school, study animal-related topics, as well as English, math, biology, and business
  • Enroll in any ag-related school programs or activities, such as 4-H, the Supervised Agriculture Experience, National FFA Organization, or National High School Rodeo Association
  • Apply for part-time jobs at animal breeding facilities, on farms, in veterinary clinics, at zoos, etc., so you can gain real-world experience working with animals
  • Ask a working Animal Breeder for an informational interview—or see if you can shadow them on the job for a day! If they are open to it, offer to volunteer as a helper in exchange for training and mentorship
  • Watch educational videos, read articles, and check out websites related to the types of animals you plan to breed. For example: 
  1. American Breeder
  2. American Poultry Association
  3. American Quarter Horse Association
  4. American Rabbit Breeders Association
  5. Backyard Chickens
  6. National Association of Animal Breeders
  7. The Goat Spot
  8. The Jockey Club 
  9. The Livestock Conservancy
  • Review online forums and ask questions from seasoned professionals
Typical Roadmap
Animal Breeder
How to Land your 1st job
  1. AgCareers
  2. AgHires
  3. AgriculturalCrossing
  4. Farm and Ranch Jobs    
  5. Farm Job Search        
  • Do a Google search of animal breeders in your local area and check out their websites. If they don’t have a career page, send them an email asking about openings
  • Review job posts for keywords. Work those into your application materials 
  • Let your network know you’re looking for work. Many animal breeding jobs are found through personal connections
  • A lot of workers in this field are self-employed. Commercial breeding operations, such as large-scale livestock or pet breeding businesses, may use a mix of self-employed breeders and employees
  • Reach out to former coworkers, supervisors, teachers, or customers. Ask if they’ll serve as personal references. Don’t give out their contact information without permission
  • Review sample Animal Breeder resumes and interview questions
  • Research potential employers or clients, so you can learn their goals and values
  • Get familiar with the vocabulary of the field and be ready to use it during interviews or meetings
How to Climb the Ladder
  • Master all of the applicable software programs and techniques you need to know
  • Keep up with changes by reading, taking online classes, and talking to other breeders
  • Build a solid reputation by taking excellent care of all animals you’re entrusted with
  • Keep diligent records and always do ample research before making any breeding decisions 
  • Pay attention to optimal mating times and ensure arrangements are made in advance
  • Keep organized and on schedule. Complete daily tasks and help other workers, as needed
  • Find ways to improve efficiency and productivity, while staying compliant with laws, policies, ethical practices, and applicable state and federal guidelines
  • Consider getting specialized in a hard-to-fill niche area, or completing a certification or degree if it’ll help your career! 
  • Advanced technologies and techniques which may require a degree to master include:
  1. Bioinformatics 
  2. CRISPR-Cas9 and genome editing
  3. Embryo sexing
  4. Embryo transfer 
  5. Gene knockout/knock-in
  6. Genetic markers 
  7. Genomic selection
  8. In Vitro Fertilization
  9. Marker-Assisted Selection 
  10. Transgenic animals
  • Build strong working relationships with managers, clients, professional organizations, and local agencies
  • Participate in professional associations to learn, make friends, and discover exciting new opportunities (see our list of Recommended Resources)
  • If your current employer doesn’t have opportunities for advancement, consider applying for a job at a larger organization—or starting your own business!  
Plan B

Animal breeding is an evolving field, with significant scientific advancements being made. It may be challenging to keep up with the trends and changes. Another factor to consider is that employers and clients can be finicky and impatient, but Animal Breeders must maintain high ethical standards, comply with laws, and take care of the animals they’re responsible for. 

If you’re interested in working with animals via a different occupation, check out the suggestions below! 

  • Animal Behaviorist
  • Animal Caretaker
  • Animal Control Worker
  • Animal Nutritionist
  • Animal Photographer
  • Animal Trainer
  • Equine Trainer
  • Marine Biologist
  • Veterinarian     


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