Breeding your dog and raising a litter of puppies can be exciting and rewarding, especially when everything goes well. Sometimes problems can arise if your dog is having difficulty in labor to a point that a C-section is needed. Some mothers may not produce enough milk or won’t nurse the puppies. It is possible for the mother to be such a good milk producer that she will deplete her calcium levels causing a life threatening condition known as milk fever.
Here are some helpful hints for the amateur dog breeder:
When Can A Female Dog Get Pregnant?
A female dog’s fertile time is referred to as a heat cycle or season. The first heat cycle typically takes place between 6 and 9 months of age. Although slower maturing breeds may not experience a first heat until 12 to 18 months of age. It is best to wait until 1 1/2 to 2 years of age for smaller breeds and even longer for larger breeds before breeding your dog for the first time. A dog becoming pregnant during her first heat cycle is like a teenage girl getting pregnant. Both need more time for self development before carrying a fetus or a litter.
How Often Do Dogs Come In Season?
On average, a healthy female dog comes into season or heat cycle every six months. However, this can vary and some female dogs only cycle one a year, while other come into heat on a quarterly basis. Quite often, female dogs that are in season four times a year are not fertile every season.
How Long Is A Dog In Heat?
A normal heat cycle last approximately three weeks. In the beginning, the vulva (where she urinates) begins to swell and she may lick herself more than usual. She will then start to produce a bloody discharge from her vulva. This amount of discharge will vary from one female dog to the next, so it may or may not be noticeable. A rule of thumb is bleed a week and then breed a week, but the best indication of a female being ready to conceive is the interest of a male dog.
When to Breed?
The female should be taken to the male every other day as long as she will allow the breeding to take place. At Little Mountain Veterinary Clinic, we can do a vaginal smear on the female to help evaluate her heat cycle. A vaginal smear is done during the first few days after vaginal bleeding has begun and should be repeated every other day. The information from the smear will help to evaluate when the opportune time for breeding to begin.
Natural breeding with “ties” always provide the best chance for pregnancy. A “tie” means that the male and female are actually stuck together and this can last from 5 minutes to as long as an hour. Duration of the tie is not critical, but the development of a tie for any length of time is quite important.
Breeding usually takes place naturally without any human intervention beyond introducing the female to the male. However, when one or both of the dogs involved have never been bred before, a little direction may be required. If the female and male are not compatible, an alternative to natural breeding is artificial insemination.
At Little Mountain Veterinary Clinic, we can collect from the male and inseminate the female in house. If you have any further questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, don’t hesitate to call us at (704) 489-2444. For more information, please see Pregnancy in Dogs.