Table of Contents
- Proper Dog Breeding
- Things to Know Before Dog Breeding
- Pre-Breeding Health Checks You Should Know
- Other Consideration
- How to Find the Best Mate before It’s too Late
- AKC Registration
- Stud Contracts
- The Mating Process
- The Genetics of Dog Breeding
- Artificial Insemination
- The Proper Way to Handle Dog Pregnancy
- Good Puppy Care
- Finding Homes for the Puppies
Preparation for Dog Breeding
Dog breeding is not easy. Although it can be fun, a lot of work is involved in ensuring that the process goes smoothly, with the end result being the creation of quality puppies that go to a good home.
Learn about the many things you need to consider when making the decision to breed dogs.
Finding a Mate
Most humans are choosy about their mates, and you should act the same way when choosing one for your dogs mating program.
A close look at a prospective mate’s pedigree and bloodline will help you identify any factors that could positively or negatively affect the quality of the puppies. Finding dog mates goes into the details in on what qualities you should look for.
The puppies’ appearance and behavior will be determined by the DNA of their mother and father.
Genetics can be a complex topic, but it helps to have a basic knowledge of it so you can avoid health problems and produce puppies that have the lowest number of flaws possible.
Use the genetics of dog breeding to understand what happens and make the right choices.
Dog breeding is not just about putting a male and female dog together and waiting to see what the puppies look like. Responsible breeding takes a huge amount of planning, research, and commitment.
The goal is to not to have puppies and make money selling them; it is to improve the breed and create quality puppies that fit the needs of various dog owners. There are already too many dogs without homes. Responsible breeding does not contribute to the problem.
If you plan to breed your dog, it should ideally be a purebred registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC). By registering your dog with the AKC, you are showing potential puppy buyers that you are committed to proper breeding standards. AKC has many rules that must be followed regarding breeding and registration, and it is important that breeders follow them.
Before breeding your dog, research the breed. Read about dog breeding. Your local library or bookstore will probably have some good publications that can assist you. There are many excellent books and online resources that fully explain the process.
You may also want to attend dog shows and field trials so you can see the dogs in action. If your dog came from a breeder, ask him or her about the breeding process.
You can also ask breeders in your area for advice. If there are local dog clubs, attend the meetings. These steps will help you learn more about your breed of dog and whether or not breeding is the right choice for you.
Each breed has its own qualities that make it unique. Even if your dog is registered with the AKC, it may still have defects, such as medical conditions or undesirable physical features. If your dog is blind, has hip dysplasia or bad genetics, then it is probably not a good idea to breed her.
If you have a male dog, quality is also important. Both the male and female should have qualities that will make excellent purebred puppies when combined. Neither parent should have any hereditary defects.
Although you may end up with a litter of 10 puppies and get a good price for each, you may not make anything. By the time you perform tests on your dog, pay stud fees, advertise, buy puppy food and shots, you may be left with very little, especially if the puppies don’t sell as quickly as expected.
On top of that, these are all costs that must be paid before the puppies are even born. Therefore, it is important not to consider dog breeding as a money-making proposition. Unless you are breeding multiple dogs at a time, it could be years before you see a significant profit.
To whom do you expect to sell your puppies? Do you have buyers already lined up to buy the puppies? A litter size can range from anywhere to two or 12 puppies, or even more.
What happens if you cannot sell the puppies? You cannot just leave them on the side of the road or sell them cheap to a place that will treat them inhumanely.
Dog breeding takes a lot of time. You will spend time taking your dog to the stud, which can be several hours away. During pregnancy, the dog will need vet visits.
You will need to create an area for her to have the puppies. Most dogs have their puppies in the middle of the night, so be prepared for some sleepless nights. If this is her first litter, she will need extra assistance.
After the puppies are born, you will need to check on them, ensure they are feeding properly and clean their area. If you already have a full-time job, dog breeding can leave you exhausted.
Even if your dog is healthy and sees a vet regularly, he or she should still have several health checks performed before breeding.
These health checks will determine how to fit your dog is to breed and ensure that no diseases are present that can deform or even kill a litter of puppies.
A healthy dog will create healthy puppies, so it is vital to keep your dog in an optimum condition. It is important to have the male healthy, but the female matters the most, as she needs to be fit enough to carry a litter.
Some dogs can have a dozen puppies or more, and these puppies require a lot of nutrients from the mother.
Before breeding, ensure that your dog eats a healthy diet and gets plenty of exercise. She should be at a good weight – not too skinny where being pregnant would put excess stress on her body, but not overweight.
She should be current on heartworm and flea treatment and free of parasites, as they can be passed on to the puppies. The female should also have a good temperament. If she is overly aggressive or seems unstable, she will probably be a poor mother.
There are several main tests that you should perform on your dog before breeding him or her. They include the following:
Heart test – This test is performed using a stethoscope. The vet will check the heart and look for any murmurs or other irregularities in the heartbeat. If there are any abnormalities, the vet may also perform an electrocardiogram (ECG) or take X-rays to determine the cause. This test should be performed annually.
Eye test – Eye problems are common in dogs. However, they can often be detected with just one test. An eye test, also called a CERF, can look for cataracts, glaucoma, retina problems and other eye abnormalities that can be genetic. This test should be done every year.
Hip and elbow tests – These tests include X-rays, which are evaluated by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). A panel reviews the X-rays and grades the hips as poor, fair, good and excellent. Elbows are rated as normal or abnormal. These tests cannot be performed until the dog is two years or older, which is why many breeders wait until their dog is at least that age before breeding. This test only needs to be done once.
Brucellosis test – This test is very important. Brucellosis is similar to a sexually transmitted disease in humans, but it can be transmitted through urine and feces as well. It can cause the female to become sterile. It can also cause the puppies to die in the womb or shortly after birth. This test should be done before every breeding.
A male dog becomes fertile at around six months of age. A female is fertile during her heat cycles. Although the first heat typically happens at around six months of age, the female maybe 1-2 years old before she experiences her first cycle.
Although it is recommended that the breeder wait until the female is at least two years and has had all the above tests done before breeding, if a breeder does decide to breed before then, it should not be done on the female’s first heat cycle.
Females are still young and immature at this time and very rarely make good mothers. Sexual maturity is important for successful breeding.
It is important to know that if you plan to register the litter with the American Kennel Club (AKC), there are minimum and maximum age requirements for the dogs at the time of mating.
The mother must be between 8 months and 12 years old. The father must be between 7 months and 12 years old.
If your dog has health conditions such as thyroid problems, skin diseases, allergies, hernias or deafness, then you may not want to breed her. Although these are not genetic conditions, these can affect the dog’s pregnancy.
Pregnancy takes a toll on a dog’s body and it is important that the dog is healthy enough to carry a litter. The following video explains the importance of pre-screening dogs for genetic diseases.
Finding a suitable mate is critical in any species. This is especially important when breeding dogs. If you choose the wrong stud dog, you could end up with puppies that are sick or have genetic and physical defects.
There are many male dogs out there, but very few that will complement your female dog. Here are some things you should focus on to ensure that a breeding results in the best puppies possible.
A dog’s temperament is often hereditary, although there are ways to influence it. Some dogs are bred for hunting, while others are show dogs. Some are working dogs meant to herd cattle, while others are lovable family dogs who enjoy children.
You want to consider the dog’s temperament before breeding your dog with him. Is the dog sweet and loving, or is he aggressive or antisocial around people and other animals?
Many prospective dog owners are looking for puppies that will be good around children and other animals, so keep that in mind when choosing a stud dog.
Health is also a big concern. Dog owners want a dog that will live a full life and not be ravaged by disease and painful health conditions. It is important to get a thorough history of the male dogs that you are considering.
Eye problems and hip dysplasia are common in some dogs, so ensure that the stud dog’s owner has had the appropriate testing done before choosing him. In addition, the male dog should free of sexually transmitted diseases, which can spread to your female dog and render her infertile.
You should look for a male dog that has qualities that you want the puppies to inherit. Is he a nice-sized dog with a smooth coat? Does he have the perfect head or eyes? All dogs have flaws, so look for a male dog that will accentuate the positive qualities and perhaps overshadow the less-desirable qualities in your dog.
What Else to Consider?
Age is another factor in stud dogs. Younger dogs are often inexperienced in breeding. In addition, if the dog has never bred before, you have no idea what his puppies will look like.
With older, more experienced dogs, you can see the results of their breeding by asking to see photos of his puppies. Along the same lines, you should avoid choosing a stud that is too popular. He may not be available when your female dog is in heat.
In addition, too many litters by the same male dog will overpopulate the dog population with similar genes, which can make it difficult for future generations to breed without the risk of inbreeding.
Don’t choose a stud dog based on photos alone. There is software that can cover up flaws and make the dog look perfect. The dog may look a lot different up close, so arrange to see the dog before making a commitment to breed your dog with him.
Location may be a factor in choosing a stud dog. It is preferable to choose one that is nearby, as this will save on travel costs. Having to drive across the country or ship your female dog to another state for breeding can be costly.
Furthermore, the female will have to stay there for several days, and many stud owners charge fees for food and boarding as well. These expenses can quickly add up and leave you losing money overall.
You should also consider a stud dog whose owner uses a contract. Stud fees can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
This is a large amount of money for many people, so make sure that the contract spells out how much money the owner expects as a down payment and when the remainder of the amount must be paid.
What happens if the breeding does not result in a pregnancy? Do you still have to pay the full amount? Make sure everything is outlined in the contract.
If your dog is AKC-registered, the male should be as well. If not, then the puppies cannot be AKC-registered, which is undesirable by some prospective puppy owners who may be considering breeding their puppies in the future.
AKC registration is a sign of quality by many dog owners. Without that, you will have to sell the dogs for considerably less money, which will eat away at any profit.
Registering the puppy litter with the AKC is an important step that needs to be completed after the birth.
AKC registration not only shows dog owners that you are a responsible breeder, but it also opens up many doors to attend and participate in dog-related events and activities.
The process will be much easier once you read the following guide on AKC registration.
How to Do It Right
Registering your litter with the AKC is an important task. It gives the puppies a place in the history of the development of their breed. Prospective dog owners often look for AKC-registered puppies because it shows that the owners took the time to carefully breed two purebred dogs together to create an even better generation of dogs.
The AKC also offers many benefits. When a dog owner registers his or her dog with the AKC, they receive a puppy package that includes a pedigree, trial health care plan, a coupon for a free vet visit and a new puppy handbook.
Your membership in the AKC funds many educational and exciting programs such as the AKC Canine Health Foundation, Canine Ambassador Program, Canine Search and Rescue, AKC Museum of the Dog, DNA profiling and kennel inspections.
Membership fees are also used toward government relations and public education. The AKC also sponsors many dog-related events, such as dog shows, field trials, and sporting events.
Many dog owners spend time training dogs for these events, and they win awards, which look great not only on the pedigree of the dog but future generations as well. Many dog owners want working dog lines, show dog lines or hunting lines, so awards go a long way in showing off the dog’s abilities.
How to Register
You need to provide the new puppy owners with proof of registration before they come to pick up the puppies, which will be when they are 8 weeks old.
Although the registration package arrives fairly quickly (within one week after ordering it if done online), you should aim to register the litter as soon as possible after the litter is born.
There are two ways to register: online and via mail. Registering online is fast and easy. It will take longer for the packets to arrive if registering by mail, so keep this in mind. Do not delay the registration process.
The registration forms are available on the AKC website www.akc.org. There, you are given the choice to download a form that you can fill in and print or register online.
What Information is Needed?
When filling out the registration form, you will need various pieces of information. You will need to include the date the puppies were born, the breed and the number of males and females.
You will also need information about the male (also called the sire). Typically, the male’s owner will have this information already filled out for you.
If not, you may need to mail the owner the paperwork and have he or she fill it out and send it back. If done online, the male’s owner simply approves the paperwork online via email, simplifying the process.
The paperwork requires the male’s AKC number and registered name, as well as the owners’ first and last name, telephone number, email address and signature.
The same information is needed for the female (also known as the dam). A mailing address is also needed so the AKC knows where to send the puppies’ AKC registration forms. The owner of the female must sign the paperwork. If there is more than one owner, both owners must sign it.
Next comes the payment. The AKC charges a $25 processing fee automatically. You must then pay an additional $2 per puppy born. If the registration is late (six months after the puppies are born), you must add an additional $65.
The other fees are optional. You can post an ad on the AKC website for $25. You can purchase an official AKC litter certificate for another $25. If you want the litter registration expedited, that will cost $35 more. You can pay by check, money order or credit card.
When you find the perfect stud for your female dog, make sure a contract is in place.
You will need to know what to expect during the actual mating process and what the stud’s owner is seeking for payment.
Go to dog stud contacts to learn what the contract should include avoiding potential disputes.
How to Get the Best for You and Your Dog
Dog breedings are often successful, with the female carrying a full litter of puppies to term. However, things can certainly go wrong.
The female may not be in the right stage of the heat cycle, or the male could be inexperienced and may be unable to get the female pregnant even after given several opportunities to do so.
When you find a stud that you want to breed your female dog with, you want to make sure you get everything in writing. Stud service for dogs is not cheap.
Stud fees can range from a couple hundred dollars to upwards of one thousand dollars, so you should have a document that shows what you, as the female’s owner, are entitled to.
What it Includes
The contract should include the basics, such as the dogs’ and owners’ names and dates that the breeding occurred. It should also include the owners’ contact information and agreed-upon stud fee.
The stud contract should include all obligations by both parties. It cannot be assumed that the breeding will result in a litter, so the contract must state what will happen in hypothetical situations.
For example, what if the female does not become pregnant? Does the owner still pay the entire stud fee? Will the female get a free breeding the next time she is in heat? If so, what if the stud dies or becomes unavailable?
What happens if the female attacks the stud? These are all situations that the contract should address.
The contract should discuss the breeding schedule. The dog should be bred multiple times during her stay in order to increase the chances of becoming pregnant. Some stud owners may breed the dogs on the same day the female’s owner brings her and then try again every other day after that.
The Devil in the Details
Payment is an important matter. Some stud owners will set a price, while others may want the pick of the litter. The details and payment schedule should be outlined in the contract.
For example, some stud owners ask for a small deposit at the time of the breeding and then request the balance after the puppies are born. If no puppies are born, the female’s owner does not have to pay.
Along the same line, the contract should clearly state what constitutes a litter. Typically, it consists of at least two or three puppies.
If the female’s owner refuses to pay, the stud’s owner has the right not to sign the AKC paperwork. Without the stud owner’s signature, the paperwork is invalid, meaning that the puppies cannot be registered. This can affect the breeder’s reputation and lower the price of the puppies.
The female often stays at the stud owner’s house during the breeding process. How long does she stay there? The typical amount of time is 5-7 days.
Does the owner get charged additional fees if he or she does not pick up the female in time? Is the stud’s owner in charge of the dog food or does the female’s owner bring it?
What if the female gets sick or dies while under the stud owner’s care? Who is liable? These details should be outlined in the stud contract.
The stud owner will also ask for proof of health tests. The contract should clearly state which tests are required and how the information must be presented. For example, some stud owners will only accept test results on a letterhead.
What if the breeding is done through frozen semen? The contract should explain the process and what aspects the stud owner is liable for. If the female requires medications or other special treatment, that should be discussed in the contract.
If all the conditions are satisfactory to both parties, they should both sign and date the contract. Each party should have a copy to refer to in case issues occur.
A sample stud agreement can be found here.
When your dog reaches the right moment in her heat cycle, she is ready to breed. The mating process is a bit different for dogs than it is for humans. There are several factors that determine how well the process will go. Dog mating process covers everything in detail.
The Down and Dirty of the Dog Mating Process
Their heat cycles are fairly regular; they can occur as often as every several months or just once a year. The mating process is different for dogs than for other species. Dogs can only get pregnant when they come into heat. If you are looking to breed your dog, you must become familiar with the different stages of the heat cycle so you know the best time to breed.
There are four heat stages in dogs. The first one, proestrus, can last up to 20 days, although 7-10 days is normal.
During this stage, the vulva swells up and bloody discharge is released. You may notice male dogs hanging around the female. The day you notice the discharge is considered “Day 1.”
Be sure to make a note of this, as this is important for breeding purposes. The female is not ready to breed at this time, but males will still want to try, so you may want to protect your dog by keeping her locked up or covered with underwear or a diaper.
The next stage, estrus, occurs when the discharge pales in color. It may turn pink or straw-colored. The dog will whine more often and shift her tail to the side to show male dogs that she is ready to breed.
This stage lasts anywhere from 5-14 days. A female can become pregnant at this time, so watch her closely. If you want to breed her, now is the time to take her to the stud.
If not, keep her at home, preferably inside the house or in a tightly-fenced area. Pregnancies can still occur through chain-link fences and kennels.
The third stage, diestrus, occurs at around the 24th day. This stage can last 2-3 months. The bleeding has stopped and the female is no longer fertile at this stage, but she still has a scent that may attract males.
Anestrus is the final stage, the point where the female is back to normal and unable to become pregnant. This lasts about 2-3 months, after which the dog will emit bloody discharge and start the heat cycle again.
Females are ready to mate at around Day 10 of their heat. This process can be hard for some dogs.
The female will show her interest by playing with the male and shifting her tail to the side. If she is not ready, she may growl or snap.
An inexperienced male may need some time to find the female’s vulva, so expect many breaks. Keep fresh water on hand, as they will be panting from the excitement.
The male will start humping and then mount the female by approaching her from behind and pulling her body toward him. After he penetrates the vagina, he will start thrusting.
The penis of a dog has a bone and tissue called Bulbus Glandis, which swells when inside the female. This locks the dogs together in what is known as a tie.
The tie can last 5-30 minutes. During the tie, the male will move around the female until both rear ends are touching. The dogs are safe to untie when the swelling goes down.
It is advised to never try to untie the dogs, as this can seriously injure both. The process can continue every other day until the female is no longer receptive, which could be after a week or so.
It is not always necessary for the dog to tie in order for a pregnancy to occur. In some cases - inexperience on the part of the male or situations when the female refuses to say still long enough - the male may not tie with the female but still ejaculate in a process called slip mating.
The richest part of the sperm is released while the male is thrusting. By the time the dogs tie, the female should already have sperm in her. Therefore, a litter is still possible. Many puppies have been born through slip mating.
If there are reasons why natural breeding would be impossible – such as long distances – it is acceptable to use artificial insemination. The semen can be fresh or frozen and still comply with AKC rules.
However, there are other procedures that must be followed, so be sure to read them thoroughly before impregnating your dog through this method.
You may have studied genetics in a high school biology class. Genetics is an important part of breeding in all species and determine a lot of what we are.
The same is true for dogs. Everything about your dogs – including her looks, demeanor, and health – is based on their parent’s genes and those of their ancestors.
This is very important to think about when considering dog breeding. Although you may feel compelled to choose a stud dog based on his looks or temperament alone, it helps to be more informed about how genetics play a role in creating a specific look or demeanor in the puppies.
A pedigree is a chart that shows a purebred dog’s family history, much like humans would create a family tree to trace their ancestors.
The pedigree can show awards won by the dog’s parent and grandparents, such as hunting titles (junior, senior or master hunters) or show dog titles.
These awards can tell a lot about the dog’s appearance and temperament. In addition, a pedigree can show genetic diseases that are passed down from one generation to the next and whether future generations are likely to inherit the disease.
Dominant and Recessive Genes
Dominance in genetics refers to how genes are expressed within a species. A gene can be expressed in two forms, or alleles. For example, if there are two forms – signified as A and B – the three genes can be created: AA, BB, and AB. Dogs with AA and AB forms of the gene would have different traits.
Those with the AB gene could have traits similar to the AA or BB forms of the gene. If the traits are similar to AA, then A is the dominant gene, and B is recessive. If the traits are similar to BB, then B is the dominant gene, and A is recessive.
Dominant genes in puppies occur when only one parent has the gene. For example, if the father has brown eyes, but the mother has blue eyes, and the puppies have blue eyes, then blue eyes would be considered a dominant trait.
Dominant genes often cause unnoticeable defects, but they are present. These genes do not skip generations; they will be present in all future litters.
A recessive trait requires two copies of the same gene. This means that both parents must have the gene in their DNA. A recessive trait can occur in just one puppy or the whole litter.
Many times, the recessive trait is undesirable, but if it happens once, it can happen again. In some cases, recessive traits can skip a generation and affect puppies from a future breeding.
Many serious health conditions in dogs are polygenetic, meaning that they are caused by more than one gene. They can affect dominant or recessive genes and exhibit non-specific patterns of inheritance.
Hip and head conformation, as well as organ construction, are typically inherited traits. When any problems related to these body parts occur, both parents are normally at fault.
It is, therefore, better to be conservative about breeding the male and female again, at least until you investigate into the dogs’ pedigrees more closely and determine the cause.
Relating to this, defects in the chromosome can cause serious medical conditions and defects. Dogs have 39 pairs of chromosomes. Depending on the number of chromosomes affected, these defects can be severe and pass down to future generations.
Determining the genes of the male and female dogs and how they will affect the puppies can be complex.
There are many myths behind genetics and breeding, so it helps to be well-informed. No Puppy Mills has more information about the common myths of dog breeding here.
It is increasingly practical to avoid stud contracts and open a lot more breeding possibilities by dog breeding through artificial insemination.
While this makes it cheaper and easier to breed to a stud regardless of location, smaller litters and the increased risk of breeding mistakes also need to be taken into account.
Artificial Insemination in Dog Breeding
Artificial insemination has been successfully used in the breeding of some animals, to include cattle. In recent years, it has started to gain popularity among purebred dog owners who want to breed their female but for some reason cannot do it successfully through natural breeding methods.
Artificial insemination is a good way to further a breed with an exceptional male dog that may be separated from the female or that cannot breed for other reasons.
Artificial insemination involves collecting semen from a male dog, which may seem complicated, but is actually much easier than it sounds. It can be done at many veterinary clinics or even in the comfort of one’s home.
Here are some things to know if you are interested in trying this with your dog.
Why it is Done
Artificial insemination is often done when the owner of a female dog chooses a male that lives far away, making natural breeding burdensome and even impossible due to the timing of the female’s heat cycle.
It saves money on shipping costs and reduces any health risks to the female through shipping, especially in extreme weather conditions. It can also be done if the male has been injured and is unable to breed a female naturally.
In many cases, artificial insemination is done because of behavioral problems in one or both dogs. The female may not be receptive to the male. She may become nervous and growl or attack him.
The male may be inexperienced and may not be familiar with the process. If he was reprimanded in the past for mounting a female dog, he may refuse to breed once the time comes.
In some cases, an excited male dog’s penis will become erect before entering the female’s vagina. In normal circumstances, the penis must become fully erect after penetration for best results.
In addition, the environment may be a problem for the male. Males are territorial and ideally should breed where they live. They could become aggressive if forced to go elsewhere, which is why the female should be brought to the male’s home for natural breeding.
Collecting the Semen
Acquiring the semen from the male dog can be done easily if he is brought together with a female in heat. When he tries to breed the female, the owner redirects his penis into an artificial vagina instead.
The penis is stimulated, and ejaculation occurs. If a dog in heat is not readily available, some owners use cotton swabs taken from the vagina of a dog in heat and use those to arouse the male.
Performing the Insemination
There are three main types of insemination techniques used. The vaginal method involves filling a rod with semen and depositing into the female’s vagina all the way to the cervix opening. The rod is then withdrawn.
The surgical method involves injecting semen into the female’s uterus through a needle. It is a procedure similar to spaying a dog.
This method has a high success rate. It allows vets to examine females with ovary or uterus problems. In addition, this method works well with toy breeds, which often have trouble conceiving.
The laparoscopic method is still relatively new but is gaining in popularity. It is less invasive than the surgical technique and is also faster. Through an incision in the female’s abdomen, a small telescope is inserted, and the semen is deposited in her uterus that way.
Benefits of Artificial Insemination
Many dog breeders prefer to use artificial insemination because it is convenient. It can be done quickly without having to interrupt the schedules of either dog. The dogs do not have to be near each other for a pregnancy to occur.
It also opens to the door to more stud dog choices. Distance is often a factor in determining what stud dog to use for a female.
Artificial insemination eliminates this concern. The sperm can be shipped instead of the female dog, saving time and money for the female dog’s owner.
Artificial insemination also allows an excellent stud dog to continue his legacy, even after he has died. Sperm can be frozen and used at any time.
It also allows breeding to occur without the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, in some cases. The female can still contract diseases from the male’s sperm, but the male cannot get any diseases from the female.
Disadvantages of Artificial Insemination
Inseminating a dog through unnatural means allows for more selective breeding, which may or may not be a good thing. Some breeders will choose a stud for just one or two desirable traits and end up with genetic defects or other undesirable characteristics.
Some breeders use artificial insemination to breed a vicious dog. Behavior is a trait that can be passed down to the puppies, so breeding a dog with this type of behavior is never recommended.
Using collected sperm is not as effective as natural breeding and conception. The success rate for inseminating a dog through artificial means is between 65 and 85 percent. In addition, smaller litters are to be expected.
Breed registries, such as the American Kennel Club (AKC) have specific rules about the use of fresh, chilled and frozen sperm in the breeding process. It may require DNA certification from the male’s owner before allowing the litter to be registered.
In addition, there are much stricter requirements regarding the use of frozen sperm. Be aware of these rules and regulations if you are concerned about not being able to register your purebred litter.
Dogs are pregnant for about nine weeks. Pregnancy can be detected through various methods at different stages.
Dog pregnancy will take you through the steps for proper care for the mother-to-be during this time.
What to Do at Birth
The birth of the puppies can be exciting, but also nerve-wracking, especially if the female is a first-time mother.
Be prepared for the birth and know what to do. Go to dog birthing process to learn what supplies you need and how you can help the mother prepare for this moment.
Helping Your Dog Give Birth Safely
The birth of puppies is an exciting time, but it can also be an anxious time for the dog and the breeder, especially if this is the female’s first litter. On top of that, dogs often go into labor late into the night, so be prepared for a very long evening. However, keep in mind that around 98% of births do not require human assistance.
Pregnancy typically lasts 56-69 days with smaller breeds delivering earlier and larger breeds later. The dog will start showing signs of preparation a few days before birth. She will stop eating and get her nest – the whelping box – prepared.
In the hours before labor begins, her temperature will drop from a normal range of 100-102.5 (37.5-39) degrees to below 99 (37) degrees (measured with a rectal thermometer).
The Proper Way to Handle Dog Pregnancy
After a successful dog breeding process, pregnancy can last anywhere from 56-66 days after ovulation, with 63 days being the average. Note that the day the female is bred and the day she ovulates are not necessarily the same.
After becoming pregnant, the female may gain a small amount of weight in the first few weeks. At about week 3 or 4, she may experience morning sickness. Her appetite could decrease, and she may vomit. This lasts only a few days, and many dog owners do not even notice it.
At around day 40, the stomach begins to increase in size, and the nipples enlarge. The breasts may express milk as the birth date nears. It is important to know that if a dog is not pregnant, she may still exhibit these signs. This is called a false pregnancy, and many dogs experience it during every heat cycle.
You may want to know for sure if your dog is pregnant. A vet can perform many tests throughout the pregnancy. An ultrasound can be done at around 21 days after ovulation. Ultrasound requires no radiation and is considered very safe.
By day 28, the vet can determine if your dog is pregnant just by feeling her stomach. The vet will look for walnut-sized lumps evenly spaced in the abdomen.
This shouldn't be done by anyone apart from a vet, as forceful palpitation can cause the dog to miscarry. This technique is only practical during a one-week period because by day 35, the embryos are in fluid and cannot be felt through palpitation.
At around day 30, a vet can perform a blood test to detect relaxin, a pregnancy hormone. An increase in acute phase proteins can also be detected through a blood test, signaling pregnancy.
At around day 45, X-rays of the abdomen can show the puppies’ bones. Some experienced breeders use X-rays to determine the size of the litter. X-rays can be harmful to the puppies if used earlier in the pregnancy.
At this point, the female’s abdomen is very large. The puppies’ movements can be seen and felt.
The female should see the vet at least twice before giving birth. The first visit should occur about two weeks after the breeding. The vet may perform additional tests and answer any questions you may have.
The next visit should be at about two weeks before the due date. The vet will discuss how to prepare the female for the birth and instruct you how to deliver the puppies.
The vet will also inform you of any potential issues to look for and what to do if an emergency arises after hours since many females deliver puppies in the late night and early morning hours.
Just like humans, pregnant dogs require proper nutrition during pregnancy. As her weight increases, her food intake should increase as well.
Her weight should start to increase dramatically after five weeks of pregnancy. However, the amount of food should be increased gradually. By the time the female gives birth, she may be eating up to 50 percent more than usual.
Instead of giving her large meals, it is a good idea to space them out evenly several times throughout the day to avoid indigestion, an upset stomach, and vomiting.
If the female has already been eating a nutritious diet, she probably does not need any supplements. However, some breeders like to add vitamins to the dog’s diet. Some add protein such as eggs, liver and evaporated milk.
It is advised that you buy or make a whelping box prior to the birth. A whelping box is where the dog will have the puppies. If you do not have one, the dog may have the puppies in a closet, corner of a room or outdoors in a hole.
The whelping box should be located in an area that is quiet, dry and warm, preferably inside the house or in a covered area outdoors.
The box should be large enough that the female can comfortably lie down inside and feed her litter of puppies. It should have low sides so that you can reach in, and the female can get inside easily.
Shelves should also be installed so that the puppies have something to hide under to avoid being rolled on by their mother.
It is advised to line the bottom with newspapers during the birth, as they can be thrown away after being soiled. After the birth, you may want to use non-slip mats or carpeting to provide better traction for the puppies.
It is helpful to have all the supplies on hand before the birth. Some things you may need include the following:
- Extra newspaper – Lining for the whelping box
- Paper towels – Cleaning any messes inside the box
- Cloth towels – Cleaning puppies after birth
- Heating pad – Keeping the puppies warm, especially if they are born in the winter or in the cool nighttime hours
- Thermometer – Taking the female’s temperature. Her temperature will drop to below 99 degrees if she is about to give birth
- Scissors – Cutting the puppies’ placentas. The mother usually does this on her own, but sometimes a placenta may be difficult to break open.
First Stage of Labor
At this time, you may notice some discharge from the vagina. The female’s cervix dilates, and contractions begin. The birth canal begins to open up so that t puppies can pass through.
The female may become restless and start shivering and panting. This stage can last up to 18 hours, and the environment should be kept as calm and peaceful as possible during this time.
Second Stage of Labor
This is the point at which the dog begins to strain and give birth to the puppies. The puppies typically come 45-60 minutes apart. They may come out tail first or nose first.
They will be born enclosed inside a membrane. The mother is usually able to lick it off so that the puppy can commence breathing on its own (licking off the placenta and biting off the umbilical cord is important for the mother to recognize and bond with her puppies).
If the mother cannot remove it, then it is up to the owner to try breaking open the sac near the puppy’s head. This should be done with a towel. When the puppies have all been born, the mother will continue to have contractions in order to remove any excess blood and tissues from the body.
After each puppy is born, it should be placed on one of the mother’s nipples immediately in order to receive colostrum. Colostrum is a milk-like substance that contains antibodies needed to help fight off infection in the first week or so until their immune systems become mature.
The mother will also be cleaning the puppies and keeping them warm after they are born. You may want to use a heating pad to quickly warm them, being careful not to burn the puppies. A small portable heater nearby but out of reach will also be helpful.
If the mother strains for an hour or more with only the pup's legs protruding, it may be necessary to assist the mother. Pull gently on the hind legs in a rearward and downward motion. Call a vet if complications persist.
Situations to Look For
Various situations can occur during the dog birthing process. For example, some dogs may have more puppies than nipples, so it is important to watch the puppies closely and switch them on and off nipples at various intervals. Judge the sizes of the puppies.
If one or two seem smaller than the others, make sure they get extra time on the nipples so they can be properly nourished. The puppies may fight over the nipples, so if needed, you should be prepared to bottle feed them with puppy milk from the pet store.
Some puppies, especially smaller ones, may have problems breathing or moving around after birth. It is important to keep them warm. Even a massage may help them live.
Sadly, some puppies are born dead (stillborn) or die a few hours after birth. This is common in many litters, especially larger ones with 10 puppies or more.
Although most female dogs give birth fairly easily without the need for human assistance, sometimes complications do occur.
It is not uncommon for a labor to stop progressing, at times requiring an emergency C-section. Here are some warning signs to look for:
- More than four hours between the birth of puppies
- Continual straining with no puppy born after an hour
- Lack of interest in the puppies
- Severe pain
- Foul-smelling discharge coming from the vagina
You should also be concerned if your dog has been pregnant for more than 69 days and is not showing any signs of labor. Contact a vet if you notice any of the above signs.
The female will rely on her instincts to care for the puppies after birth. She will even clean up after them. What you will need to do is keep her well-nourished with roughly twice the normal food intake.
She will need to keep her fluid intake up, as she is using extra energy to produce milk. You should keep clean water and fresh food always on hand so she can regain strength.
Puppies take a lot of vitamins away from mother, so the female may look skinny and have a dull coat after giving birth. You may want to ask your vet about special vitamins you can give your dog during this time.
Although most of the puppy care in the first several weeks is done by the mother, frequent monitoring needs to be performed, as problems do occur.
Learn about what signs indicate good health and when you should be concerned in the following puppy care guide.
The Most Crucial Tips
After puppies are born, they need to be properly cared for. The mother will feed and care for the puppies for the first four weeks of life. However, during this time, it is important to look after them to ensure that they are getting the nutrition and warmth that they need to survive.
Newborn puppies should be nursing on the mother every few hours. They will eat less often as they grow bigger.
If you have one or two puppies that are smaller than the others, you will want to place them on the nipples so they get a head start. This is especially important if the mother has more puppies than nipples.
The bigger puppies will crowd the smaller ones and hoard the milk. Puppies grow very quickly. They should be double or even triple their weight by the end of the third week. After four weeks, the puppies can be weaned onto dry dog food.
If the mother refuses to feed a puppy, you may need to take over and provide care for it. The mother’s milk is the best food for puppies.
However, store-bought puppy milk is a good substitute. Never use cow’s milk, as it does not have enough vitamins for a growing puppy. It is important to read the instructions on the label to determine the right dosage.
You may also want to consult with a vet to make sure you do not use too much or too little. The puppy should gain weight and have feces that are well-formed. Watch carefully for diarrhea, as it can be fatal in puppies.
Newborn puppies cannot effectively control their body temperature. Being too cold causes them to get the chills, which can expose them to infections.
At the same time, excessively high temperatures can cause death from overheating. Keep the puppies off cold floors and away from drafty areas. Using a heating pad or heat lamp can help raise the temperature.
A blanket put into the dryer for a few minutes can also provide much-needed warmth. The pups should be monitored to ensure they are not too hot. It helps to have a cool area inside the whelping box that the puppies can lie in if needed.
For best results, the outside temperature should be between 85 and 90 degrees for the first week of life. During the second week, it can be reduced to 80 degrees. By week 4, the temperature should be around 75 degrees.
Caring for the Mother
For a few days after birth, the mother is so focused on caring for her new puppies that she may lack an appetite. After that time has passed, her appetite will come back with a vengeance.
Proper nutrition and vitamins such as Vitamin D, calcium and phosphorous are necessary in order to produce milk for the puppies and prevent eclampsia, which can cause spasms and difficulty walking. The female will need up to three times her normal amount of feed in order to stay healthy.
Several small meals throughout the day are ideal. The female should quickly get back to her pre-breeding weight and no more than 10% above that.
One thing to look for in the mother is mastitis, which is a breast infection. It is uncommon, but it does occur. It is often caused by scratches from the puppies, early weaning or some sort of infection.
It is most common two weeks after the puppies are born. The breasts will be hot and painful. They will also be dark red or even black. It is important to seek vet care as soon as possible, as the female will lose her appetite and refuse to let the puppies nurse.
Another common condition in mother dogs is diarrhea. Because they clean up the urine and feces from the puppies, they are prone to suffering from an upset stomach or diarrhea.
It is generally nothing to be concerned about. Just ensure the female is drinking enough water. You may even want to give her Pepto-Bismol to relieve the pain. However, if diarrhea persists for more than a couple of days, she should be taken to a vet for further examination.
Warning Signs in Puppies
Puppies should be strong, at a healthy weight and willing to nurse. Any pup that cries constantly has breathing problems, refuses to nurse, fails to gain weight or has a low temperature should be taken to the vet for an examination.
Vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, sneezing, and lethargy could mean signs of an infection or pneumonia and can be serious or even deadly.
When the puppies reach three weeks of age, the weaning process generally begins. It is a gradual process that can last a few weeks.
Puppy weaning explains this process and how to go about doing it correctly to avoid health and social problems.
How to Safely Wean Your Puppies
After several weeks, puppies will begin to depend less on their mother, and they will not need to nurse as much.
This is time to begin the weaning process. Weaning involves the cessation of nursing and starts at the same time puppies begin the switch to dry dog food.
Weaning starts at about three weeks of age. Some breeders of small dogs prefer to wait until the puppies are five weeks old. It is not something that should be done rapidly.
It is a process that should take two weeks or so to complete. This is because the puppies can get diarrhea and have esophagus problems if the process is done too quickly. Weaning is also an educational experience for puppies.
During this time, the puppies learn vital behaviors and skills, such as dominance, submission, self-confidence, and independence. A gradual weaning process is also important for the mother because forcing her to stop nursing suddenly can bring on engorgement, which causes painful breasts.
What to Feed Them
There are several different schools of thought as to what to feed the puppies. Some breeders start out with puppy formula, while others soak dry dog food in warm water and then mash it up.
Others use baby rice cereal. It is preferred that you use Puppy Chow or another type of dog food that the puppies will eat until they become adults.
How to Wean Them
At three weeks of age, start separating the mother and the puppies for a few hours at a time. During this time, place the soaked dog food, rice cereal or puppy milk in several large pans.
The pups may not know what to do, so you will have to introduce it to them. Stick some on your finger and have them lick it off. You can also put the pups next to the pans to see whether they will eat the contents. It may take a few tries to get the pups to eat, but they should get the hang of it quickly.
While the pups are eating, the mother should be fed as well. Her food intake should be reduced so she produces less milk. She will still nurse the puppies while they are weaning, but not as often.
The pups should be fed three times a day. After the puppies get used to the food, slowly increase the amount of food and decrease the amount of water or milk. By six or seven weeks of age, the puppies should be fully weaned and eating dry dog food independently.
What to be Aware of
Puppies also need clean water readily accessible at all times. Although some dog owners like to keep their dogs on canned dog food, dry dog food is preferred, as it helps clean the dogs’ teeth. Once the puppies are weaning, the mother will stop cleaning up after them, so you will need to be more vigilant about it.
The puppies should be kept dry and warm at all times. Weaning can be messy, so be sure to clean the puppies with a soft towel after eating.
Once the puppies are weaned, it is OK to leave dry dog food readily available for smaller dogs, but it should be put away for larger dogs. Larger dogs are prone to eating too much, which can cause joint diseases.
After the pups have been weaned, it is time to find them new homes. Finding homes for puppies covers how to advertise your litter and evaluate potential puppy owners to ensure they are a good fit for dog ownership.
Ways to Ensure You Give Your Puppies Good Homes
It is recommended that puppies stay with their mother and litter mates until they reach at least eight weeks of age. In fact, the law even requires it in some states.
This is because puppies learn many social skills and behaviors by being around their brothers and sisters. Taking puppies away from their littermates when they are too young can cause them to become insecure and whine constantly.
Tips for Better Advertising
If you have bred dogs before, you may already have referrals lined up from word of mouth or from previous litters. However, if you are brand new to the concept of dog breeding, finding homes for your puppies may be a bit more difficult.
This will be especially true if you are selling the puppies for a large amount of money. Free puppies tend to go faster than those that cost a few hundred dollars or more.
You will want to start the advertising process when the puppies are about six weeks old. This gives people time to look at the puppies and make a decision. You don’t want to be stuck with the puppies for too long because the older they get the harder it is to sell them.
There are many avenues for advertising. It is advisable to advertise in a local newspaper. You can typically do the process online. You can choose how long you would like to run the ad (two weeks is a good start).
You may also have the option to add photos. You definitely should take advantage of this option. Buyers are more likely to choose puppies that they can see in a photo first before driving a long distance. You should aim for close-up photos that accentuate the puppies’ features.
Next, you will want to include as much information about the puppies as possible. If they are AKC registered and the parents have been health tested, this is important information that should be included.
If the puppies have had health checks and first shots, this should be mentioned as well. You should also include a description of the puppies’ physical and behavioral attributes.
If they get along well with children, cats, and other dogs, this is an important attribute that should be mentioned, as many prospective dog owners have children or other animals.
Another important piece of information to include is the price. To get an idea of the price, you may want to look at classified ads that feature puppies similar to yours and determine the going rate.
You may also want to ask other breeders for their input. It is better to start at a higher amount and have potential buyers bargain with you, although you do not want to state a price so high that you scare them off.
Of course, you want buyers to be able to contact you, so include a phone number or two where you can be reached. You may also want to include an email address so you can correspond with buyers and send additional photos or information if requested.
Screening and Evaluation
It is important to send the puppies to homes where you know they will be well-cared for. Just because someone has the money to buy a puppy does not mean that he or she would make a good dog owner.
Responsible dog ownership requires a commitment, and you need to screen potential dog owners to determine if they are willing to make that commitment.
First, you should ask the potential dog owners why they want a dog and why they have chosen your specific breed. Have they done research on various breeds?
They should be interested in a dog for much more than just their looks. They should be familiar with the dog’s personality and behavior as well.
You should also determine if the owners have time for the dogs. Dogs can be high maintenance. They require walks, exercise, feeding, training, grooming, vet care, and love. If a potential dog owner works long hours and is hardly ever home, then a dog may be too huge of a commitment.
The living environment is also a concern. A high-energy Labrador retriever may not be the right choice for a person who lives in an apartment. Some dogs need more exercise than others and may get bored and become destructive if they don't have enough space.
Does the family have children? If so, will the children help out with dog care duties? Some dogs are not friendly toward children, while others love them. If your puppies are well socialized around children, that’s great.
If not, then you should alert potential dog buyers that the puppies should live in a home without children. You should also remind buyers that children should always be supervised around dogs.
Does anyone in the family have allergies? Pet allergies are common in many households. If there are already dogs in the home, then having another one in the home should be fine.
However, if a buyer or someone in the home does have allergies and there are no dogs currently in the home, the family should be committed to keeping the home clean and free of dust so that the people and dog can co-exist.
If the person’s allergies worsen with the dog in the house, then the dog could end up without a home.
What to Provide the New Owners
You should provide the new owners with the AKC registration paperwork and explain how to complete it and fill it out. You should provide the puppies’ health and vaccination records.
If the parents have had health tests done, you should provide copies of the results. You should also provide feeding and care instructions for the puppies.
You should also draw up an agreement that both parties will need to sign.
This agreement should list what the buyer is receiving and what the purchase of the puppy does and does not include. If you have a health guarantee or return policy, this should be also included in the contract, as should the purchase price.
You should also send the buyers home with your contact information in case the new owner has questions. Your responsibility as a breeder does not end when the puppies go home with their owners.
You should be committed to your role as a breeder and be prepared to answer questions or handle issues as they come up.