The companionship of a beautiful and intelligent dog can be a priceless gift. Sharing in the experience of procreation with your special female pet can also be a bond building experience for a dog breeder.
TO BREED OR NOT TO BREED
Professional dog breeders will tell you that caring for your mother dog and a new litter of pups is a wonderful experience but they will also admit that it is very expensive to your time and money to house, feed and groom the dogs. With veterinary bills, licensing fees, registration for purebred dogs and advertising cost make dog breeding a less than ideal money making investment you should consider carefully before attempting.
Breeding your female dog is not necessary to keep your dog healthy. In fact spaying and neutering your pet can help them become better pets in many ways.
So many dogs, including pure bred puppies are put to sleep each year because they are unwanted, lost, strays or abandoned. Pet owners are urged to have their pet spayed or neutered if you do not have a top quality dog and a ready supply of good homes already lined up prior to breeding.
WHEN TO BREED
A bitch should not be bred before she comes into her second or third heat. Each breed will have their heat differently but generally it will occur once or twice a year. Puppies as young as 6 months can experience their first heat.
Before breeding a male or female dog make sure your pet does not have any adverse genetic traits that could be passed onto puppies. She will also need to be up to date on her immunizations and be in her top peak physical condition.
The first sign you may notice that your bitch is in season is that she will show a thin discharge or red blood. How much a dog discharges will vary per dog. After about a week it will turn to a thin yellow strain which lasts about another week. At this time her vulva will swell and become soft indicating her readiness to mate. Each bitch will vary in how long her heat will last. Most breeders suggest breeding your female at this time, waiting a day or two and introducing the stud dog again.
If your male dog is smaller than your female or if your stud is inexperienced, you may have to assist in helping the dogs to lock and insure the tie is not broken.
CHOOSING A STUD DOG
When choosing a stud dog you will need to be vary familiar with the bloodlines within your breed and choose a mate very carefully. His personality traits Should compliment your females traits and he should have a good show record if you are breeding for show stock. When possible look for several ancestors in common within 3-4 generations back. If you are breeding your purple ribbon (PR) pedigree female to a PR male, the puppies UKC or AKC registration will automatically be considered PR bred with a traceable pedigree back through over 250 ancestors.
After a successful breeding when there has been a substantial "locking" time, it is a critical time to keep your bitch away from all other male dogs. Do not leave her alone for even a few minutes and do not rely on chain link or even high fences to keep out other male dogs. Females can give birth to puppies from more than one father.
Your bitch will have a gestational period of 63 to 65 days from the date she was mated. This can also vary from dog to dog and owners should be prepared to help with delivery prior to that date.
PREPARING FOR PUPPIES
You will need to prepare a whelping box and encourage your female to sleep there prior to delivery. However, as comfortable as you may make the box it is not uncommon for her to try and make her own den under the front porch or back yard playhouse. If you see her trying to make a outside den keep a close eye on her and move her inside until delivery. If you do not make a whelping box I have used a Childs swimming pool that worked well too. For most dogs the area should be 6-8 inches high on all sides high enough that the pups can't wander off but low enough your mother dog can walk over the wall easily. You will want to keep lots of warm towels and blankets handy in a dimly lit room at time of delivery and the bedding will need to be changed Dailey.
Your bitch will also begin to loose the hair around her nipples and at times the dogs milk may begin to come in prior to the delivery as well. Usually you will not need to assist your dog much during delivery but it is a good idea to stay close by just in case. When the first pup arrives your mother dog will need to break the amniotic sac open and begin licking and stimulating the newborn to breath. If your dog is pre-occupied or does not appear to know what to do, you can help do this for her making sure that all fluids have been cleared from the pups mouth.
The afterbirth discharge should follow the birth of each puppy and will generally be eaten by the mother. If you have a large litter you may want to remove the afterbirth and keep the towel clean and dry. If your new mother is chewing off the umbilical cord too close to the pup's body you can also assist in this problem with sterilized scissors.
Some dog breeds can go many hours in-between delivering pups but other breeds should not have more than a 15 minute gap between deliveries. Prior to delivering talk to your vet or check out a book at the library about your specific dog breed.