Canine breeding - How do I know
if I should breed my dog?

Canine breeding: The decision whether to breed or spay/neuter their dog confronts many new and old dog owners. The canine breeding issue is complex and the ramifications extend well beyond the initial excitement that accompanies a new litter of puppies.

You must first ask yourself does my dog possess all the traits that are standard for the breed without any of the genetic flaws?

Are you prepared to show the dog and accumulate points and an eventual championship status that will establish a worthy pedigree?

Are you prepared to make the considerable financial commitment for veterinary care, feeding, training and advertising the puppies? Are you prepared to take the risks to the motherís health that canine breeding carries?

Will you be satisfied with the stranger’s homes that the puppies will be going to? If all the puppies aren’t placed are you prepared to keep those puppies for the rest of their lives? Is everyone in your household prepared to make the commitment with you?

Unless the answer to all the above questions is an emphatic YES then you should leave breeding to the professionals. Your veterinarian will tell you he or she has dozens of clients who wish they had never decided to breed their dog.

We’ve thought about it long and hard and we definitely want to breed our dog and have a litter of puppies . What do we need to know?

Your best ally is your veterinarian. Your veterinarian knows your pet and can make the necessary recommendations to help you. The balance of this canine breeding article will address some of the basic points you need to know before you breed your dog.

Canine breeding - how old should my dog be before she is bred?

In general it is not recommended to breed before the third or fourth heat cycle. This means after the dog is two years old. Many large breed dogs should have their hips and possibly hocks and elbows X-Rayed after they are two years old to make sure they do not have dysplasia. (See article on Hip Dysplasia)

Breeding before two years is too hard on the young female’s developing body. It is usually not a good idea to try to breed a dog older than five. By this time the potential for complications and infertility increases.

Golden retriever puppy

What preparations should be made before canine breeding?

Your female should be vaccinated at least a few weeks before she is due to come into heat. This will assure that she has ample antibodies to pass on to the puppies when they are born. Breeds susceptible to dysplasia should be X-Rayed and rated at least good or excellent for hip joint conformation.

Many veterinarians also recommend a vaginal culture and sensitivity, Brucella titer, Thyroid testing, Mycoplasma culture, CBC, and Lyme Western Blot. Your veterinarian can recommend what is best for your pet. Many stud dog owners require these tests be done to protect the male from contacting transmissible diseases.

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Canine breeding - How long will my female be in heat?

The average heat cycle for a dog is approximately 3 weeks. Each one is an individual and can have a shorter or longer cycle. Dogs generally come into heat every six or seven months.

During the first part of heat you will notice the vulva is swollen and there is a bloody discharge. This is normal and indicates that you need to be extremely careful for the next several weeks so that she is not allowed to breed with a stray male.

This first part of the cycle is called proestrus, and the female will not allow the male to breed. Proestrus lasts an average of seven to nine days.

The second part of the cycle is called estrus. This is often referred to as true or standing heat. At this time the female will allow the male to mate. Estrus can last up to three weeks.

The next part of the cycle is called diestrus. This is when the female is going out of heat and is less likely to allow the male to breed. This stage lasts about a week. The final stage is called metestrus and lasts six or seven months until the dog comes in heat again.

When should my dog be placed with the male?

Breeding should occur during estrus. This is approximately nine days after the discharge first develops. One general recommendation is to place the female with the male nine, twelve and fifteen days after the discharge develops. If the female follows the average pattern she will be fertile during that time. There are however much better ways to determine when to breed.

By examining the female and collecting cells from the area around the cervix your veterinarian can more accurately determine what part of the cycle your female is in and recommend when to breed her.

The best approach is to time the mating with female’s ovulation. Ovulation occurs two days after a surge in luteinizing hormone (LH). There is an increase in progesterone that occurs with the LH surge. By measuring the baseline progesterone levels and then identifying when the increase in progesterone occurs your veterinarian can accurately predict when ovulation will occur.

Your veterinarian may recommend checking cytology every few days after the heat cycle begins and then check blood progesterone levels based upon the results of the cytology. Some veterinarians are able to do this in their hospital; others refer these cases to a specialist in theriogenology.

When will I know if she is pregnant?

Your veterinarian may be able to palpate fetuses in the abdomen after 30 days of gestation. After 45 days the fetal skeletons will have enough calcium to show up on X-ray.

By X-raying your dog your veterinarian can determine the number of skeletons so you know how many puppies to expect. This is very important because it tells you if everything with the delivery is proceeding as it should.

For more information on this subject, contact your veterinarian. Article reprinted with permission of: http://www.1800petmeds.com/ America's Largest Pet Pharmacy

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"My mom was a ventriloquist and she always was throwing her voice. For ten years I thought the dog was telling me to kill my father." - Wendy Liebman