Breeding dogs: How to breed your dog

Posted by Cyril. January 22nd 2016.

It’s not uncommon for committed dog owners – particularly those with more than one pet – to consider the idea of breeding their animal.

For some owners, it’s a matter of wanting their next pet to come from the same bloodline as their current dog, hopefully with similar characteristics.

Others might see dog breeding as a way of making some extra money.

Breeding your dog can be a rewarding experience but it is also demanding and comes with a great deal of responsibility. It’s not a decision that should be taken lightly.

This litter of Shih Tzu puppies looks cute, but breeding dogs is not an easy thing to do

What are your reasons for breeding dogs?

Breeding dogs to make money is not advisable for those with little or no experience of doing so.

Breeders who breed five or more litters a year are likely to need a licence and, even if you are breeding fewer than that, your local authority may deem you as breeding for commercial gain.

If you are breeding simply to extend your dog’s bloodline, there are still serious considerations.

Please note, our pet insurance policies do not cover any pets that are used for commercial breeding. Our policies also do not cover pregnancy, giving birth or rearing puppies.

Know your responsibilities

If you are breeding a litter, remember that every puppy will be your responsibility. This is particularly relevant if you are planning to sell or pass on some of the litter.

Before you begin the breeding process, you must have your dog tested for any health problems and those that can be passed along the bloodline. This alone can be expensive.

Commonly, the vet will check for problems such as venereal disease, hip dysplasia and general breeding soundness.

You need to make sure both the male and the female are checked.

Other costs might include a caesarean procedure, should the mother have trouble whelping the litter.

Also bear in mind you may need the time and space to cope with a large litter – for example 11 or 12 puppies.

A good idea is to talk in depth with other breeders about how to breed a dog and their experiences to get an insight into what it’s like.

When can dogs be used for breeding?

Wait until your dog is at least two years old – that way you and your vet will have a better chance of identifying any health problems.

The dam – the female dog – will need to be ‘in heat’ before she can be bred. You will notice her genital area swell and she will be receptive to the male – the stud – about nine or 10 days into her cycle.

Breeding dogs is a big responsibility: A Golden Retriever with her puppies

What to do when your dog is pregnant

The gestation period for dogs is between 58 days and 68 days. Towards the end of the pregnancy, her mammary glands will begin to fill with milk.

Keep her healthy with a balanced diet and consider supplemental vitamins. In the last three weeks of the pregnancy, the mum-to-be will need more food.

Take your dog to a vet to find out how many puppies are expected. An X-ray is unlikely to be required as this would need a General Anaesthetic, which most vets would avoid in pregnancy, unless there is a clinical reason. Ultrasound is carried out in most vet practices and can be done while your dog is conscious so it’s less risky for the pups and mother, although it isn’t as accurate when counting pups.

When the puppies arrive

Get a ‘whelping box’ ready – this should be big enough for the mum to lay in while her pups suckle.

Line it with paper or plastic that can be easily cleaned when soiled.

Once your dog starts delivering puppies, make a note the time between deliveries. If she goes 40 minutes between puppies arriving, there may be complications and you should see a vet.

Hopefully, when all of the pups have safely arrived, keep them warm and allow them to feed from mum.

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