by Dr Caroline (BSc BVMS)
Dog Mating can be a wonderful and rewarding experience, but is not something that should be taken lightly. Although puppies are exceptionally cute, breeding your dog is also a huge responsibility which can be costly of both your time and your money.
As a veterinarian, I have seen far too many dogs which have had to be put down due to irresponsible breeding. Sometimes the breeders haven’t thought about finding homes for the dogs once they are big enough, sometimes they have not had the puppies appropriately vaccinated and wormed leading to illness, and I have even had the misfortune of seeing puppies that have abused or dumped because the owners had not thought about the responsibility of looking after a litter of puppies.
In saying that, if you have considered all the responsibilities that being a dog breeder brings with it and decide that you would like to know more. I have put together a guide to help you on your way towards successful dog mating.
The first thing you need to think about is if your dog is suitable for breeding. Some defects such as hip dysplasia and cryptorchidism (a retained testicle) have a high chance of being inherited by the puppies. If your dog has an illness or abnormality you think may be hereditary, you should consult your vet before breeding.
You then need to organize a dog to be available to service the bitch when she is in in oestrus (on heat). You may need to make sure that the dates are flexible, especially if it is the first time you have bred your bitch, as oestrus cycles can be variable in length.
The next step is to introduce the bitch and the dog around the time she is due to ovulate. You will be able to tell from her behaviour if she is ready to accept the male dog.
After a successful dog mating, there will be a gestation period (pregnancy length) of around 62 days, or 2 calendar months. For more information on canine pregnancy take a look at the section on normal canine pregnancy. For tips on diet and exercise requirements for your bitch during pregnancy, click here.
At the end of it all, your bitch will hopefully give birth to a healthy litter of puppies. This process is called whelping, and is absolutely amazing to watch if you ever get the chance. Like many animals, dogs tend to whelp in the middle of the night. This is to minimize the risk of predators taking any of the puppies. The bitch will also normally eat all the placentas – again to make the area less attractive to predators.
• The normal reproductive cycle of the bitch