The subject of mating dogs may seem like something best left to the animals to handle for themselves. However, there are things you should know about each part of the process in order to keep your pets safe and healthy. From examining your reasons for breeding to understanding what happens when dogs mate, there's a lot to learn.
Overview of the Dog Mating Process
There are a number of concerns to take into consideration before mating dogs. Fully understanding these concerns will allow you to be better equipped to handle the mating process. The dam and stud's safety and well-being will also be ensured if they are well-prepared for the process.
Dogs don't have to mate as a biological or health need, even if you plan to not spay or neuter. If you're considering breeding your dog, there are a few key issues you need to think about.
- Why do you want to produce a litter? If it's simply for monetary gain, this is not a good enough reason to go through with it. If it's to produce a puppy, you can keep as a companion for your current pet, it would be far safer and less expensive to adopt another pet from a shelter.
- Will you really be able to find a home for each potential puppy? There are so many pets sitting in shelters right now that producing another litter could simply add to the crisis.
- Are your dogs healthy enough to breed? Any breeding dog should have a health checkup from your veterinarian. Dogs that have ongoing medical or physical conditions, congenital defects, or temperament problems should not be used for breeding.
Appropriate Age for Mating Dogs
Now consider the proper breeding age for your pet. Females may come into their first heat cycle at 6 months old, but this doesn't mean they are ready for breeding. Likewise, a 4- to 6-month-old male may be physically willing and able to produce a litter, but he is still too young to use as a stud.
No dog should be used for breeding until physically and mentally mature. Breeding too young can deplete a dog's own resources, can stunt development, and, in extreme cases, can result in injury or death. All dogs used for breeding should also be up to date on all vaccinations.
General maturity guidelines:
- Small dog breeds: Between 12 and 18 months old
- Medium-size dogs: Between 15 and 18 months old
- Large dog breeds: Approximately 18 to 24 months old
Some will say that you can breed starting with the second heat, but it really should be dependent on their age and maturity, as heat cycles can vary greatly from dog to dog.
As far as what age is too old for breeding, in general, it's best to retire a dam from breeding around age five, although studs may continue until approximately 10 years old, depending on their fertility.
Preparation of the Dam
Most importantly, you should observe your female for signs of readiness during her heat cycle. Ideally, it's a good idea to have your female bathed right before she is due to come in season and have the hair trimmed away from the area directly around her vulva. As for nutrition, it's important that your dam-to-be is at the desired weight for her size. Obesity presents problems during labor, and an underweight dam is already starting at a deficit when she must share her own resources with growing pups.
Selecting the Stud
When selecting a stud for a female, you should consider his size. While males are typically larger than females, an ideal couple is close to the same size and weight. The female doesn't carry the whole weight of the male during breeding, but a significantly larger stud could hurt her. In addition, consider the size of the potential puppies when cross-breeding. If the puppies are too large for birth, the female dog may need a C-section.
Preparation of the Stud
Stud management is much the same as it is for the female, although the male's role is much shorter in the entire litter production. The dog should be thoroughly bathed and any excess hair carefully trimmed away from the prepuce. It is possible for a male to give a dam an infection, so taking care to keep the genitals clean and free of debris is essential. The stud should also be a good weight and fed a well-balanced diet to maintain peak physical condition. However, it's wise to refrain from feeding the stud until after the breeding has taken place, or he may throw up his dinner.
Dog Breeding 101
Review this veterinarian-provided overview of the many factors to consider before deciding to mate your dog:
The Mating Procedure
Most canine couples are capable of carrying out a breeding under a watchful breeder's eye. However, you may need to help the dogs into position if one or both have difficulty. A female that is ready to be bred will allow the male to sniff and lick her vulva as she holds her tail up and out of the way. Ideally, the male will then mount the female from behind and proceed to penetrate the vulva with his penis. The basics of the mating procedure include the following.
In just a few moments, two glands on either side of the penis will begin to swell inside of the vulva, producing a clamping response from the female that results in a tie. During the tie, the majority of the sperm are delivered into the canal. The male may choose to remain on top of the female or slightly off to her side. He may also twist around, so the two are facing in opposite directions. The important thing is to calmly keep them from pulling on one another, so neither dog's genitals are injured.
The tie typically lasts from 10 to 30 minutes, after which the swelling subsides, and the dogs can separate. A tie is normally needed for a successful breeding. However, a dog can still become pregnant even if they don't end up tied during breeding.
Some dogs may become anxious after they are tied for a certain amount of time. Do not attempt to help your dogs if you find they are tied to one another. While female dogs may cry, whine, snarl, or bark at times, it's vital to remember it's a natural reaction to the process at times. Separating them, unfortunately, is not a natural process and can harm both dogs and cause them additional anxiety. Allow the process to complete, and the dogs will become untied once their bodies begin to relax.
Care After Breeding
Directly after the mating, it is best to confine the female to her crate for the next 30 minutes to keep her from urinating and expelling a good deal of the stud's semen. As for the stud, you should make sure the penis has fully retreated into the sheath. Do not force this to happen; just keep him quiet and check from time to time.
How Often to Breed
The next question is usually, "How many days will a female dog let a male mount her?" Although you cannot solely rely on breeding according to the day of the female's season, many successful breedings are carried out over days nine, 11, and 13 of the cycle. It is only necessary to allow one good breeding each day for two healthy and fertile dogs to produce a litter. Any more than this depletes the male's sperm count and exhausts both animals. Additionally, sperm can live and fertilize eggs for several days after a mating. This will probably require you to separate them during her heat cycle to ensure there is proper spacing between the matings.
Alternative Breeding Method
There is an alternative method of dog mating that is very successful in producing litters with assistance from a veterinarian. It's called artificial insemination, and your vet can perform this task for you. The vet will collect a sperm sample from the stud and inject it into the dam's vulva using a sterile syringe. This method practically eliminates the risk of either dog developing a urinary tract infection or venereal disease, such as canine brucellosis.
Next Steps After Dog Mating
Whether you are a beginner when it comes to dog breeding or if you have mated your dog before, it's important to fully understand all of these concerns and procedures. Once mating is complete, your next step is to watch for dog pregnancy symptoms and prepare for whelping puppies.