Articles

Dogs + Breeding

  • Dogs can be bred when they are in heat. Depending on the size and breed of the dog, heats can begin as early as 4 months and can occur as frequently as every 4 months. Spaying a dog either through ovariohysterectomy or ovariectomy is the most effective way to prevent pregnancy. Spaying also negates false pregnancies and pyometra and reduces the risk of mammary cancer. Medications exist to control the heat cycle but they carry the risk of serious, potentially fatal side effects. There are no drugs approved for use in the US or Canada.

  • You can place most puppies in their new homes at around eight to ten weeks of age, ideally after ten weeks of age to ensure proper weaning and maximum social development. Treating for worms and first vaccinations should occur before puppies are placed in their new homes.

  • For the next two months, even if everything went smoothly with the birth, you have a lot of work to do! After the birthing process, clean up the mother as much as possible without upsetting her using a warm water and washcloth. Do not use any soaps or disinfectants unless instructed to by your veterinarian. Remove any soiled newspaper or bedding from her whelping box. Normally the new mother will spend most of her time with the puppies. It is important to have the mother and puppies examined by your veterinarian within forty-eight hours of birth. The veterinarian will check the mother to make sure there is no infection and that she is producing sufficient milk. The puppies will also be examined to make sure that there are no birth defects such as cleft palates. Any necessary medications or injections will be administered during this visit.

  • During the first three weeks of life, puppies require little care from the owner, provided the mother is doing her job. Weaning describes the transition of the puppy's diet from its mother's milk to the solid growth diet of puppyhood. A good quality, veterinarian-recommended premium diet is essential for the proper development of your puppy. At the time of weaning, they should be fed small amounts often.

  • Although the majority of dogs will give birth without the need for human or veterinary assistance, certain problems can arise which require veterinary attention. It is important to closely monitor your pet during birthing and seek veterinary care if you have any concerns. If intense contractions have been occurring for twenty to thirty minutes without a puppy being born, it is important to contact your veterinarian.

  • Pregnancy in dogs, also called the gestation period, normally ranges from 57-65 days with an average of 63 days. It is important that she be in good physical condition before she is mated. During the last three weeks of pregnancy, your dog's food intake should increase by up to one and a half times the normal level, by feeding smaller meals more frequently.

  • Breeding dogs is a great responsibility that should not be done just because an owner wants puppies from their beloved dog. There are many potential consequences to the bitch and the puppies that need to be taken into account and prevented if possible, including producing puppies from parents with known heritable problems and medical care of the bitch and puppies. Breeding does not reduce unwanted behavior in male dogs and there is no guarantee that puppies will be anything like the parent, so this is not valid reasons to breed a dog. Many puppies are abandoned at dog shelters or worse because of inappropriate breeding practices. There are usually many abandoned dogs looking for homes that an owner can find what they are looking for through shelters or rescue organizations.

  • During the last week of pregnancy, the female often starts to look for a safe place for whelping. Some pets appear to become confused, wanting to be with their owners and at the same time wanting to prepare their nest. It is a good idea to get your pet used to the place where you want her to have her puppies well in advance of whelping. Some dogs like the owner to be with them the whole time they are in labor. Others prefer to have their puppies in seclusion.

  • A caesarean section is a major surgery usually performed in an emergency to help deliver puppies. As with any anesthesia, the dog may be sleepy but should be able to eat a high quality diet and nurse puppies within a few hours. The dog should be monitored for fever, abnormal vulvar discharge, and abnormalities at her incision. It is important to ensure that puppies are able to nurse well. If not, or if the dog can not produce enough milk, then commercial milk replacer is recommended. Colostrum ingestion is important for immune protection. If puppies are not nursing within the first 24 hours, then they will need additional veterinary care. Ambient temperature is important in the first 2-4 weeks after birth as puppies cannot regulate their temperature well.

  • This handout discusses the growing trend for designer dog breeds – the crossing of pure dog breeds to create dogs that combine “the best of both worlds.” The pros and cons of this practice are highlighted, along with some of the more common designer breeds currently available.