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Breeding Your Dog

Should your breed your dog?  

Let's forget about whether breeding your dog will "better the breed." Let's also ignore whether your dog is actually a conformation or field champion, having proven time and time again at dog show/trial after dog show/trial that he/she is an ideal specimen of the breed.

Let's forget whether or not your dog is a carrier of genetic disease which he/she will pass on to their litter.  (See The Pure Bred for more on genetics.) 

Breeding your beloved family pet is risky business.  

  • Some dogs are actually carriers of venereal disease.  Breeding your dog to one of these carriers could result in sterility or even death.  
  • Should your pet survive the mating, and if your pet is the bitch, there's a chance your family pet could die giving birth. (The first time whelping is usually the toughest.)  
  • Should your pet emerge triumphant and alive from the breeding and the whelping, there's still the possibility that your pet doesn't want to mother the puppies, which means either witnessing a slow and painful death of the litter as they starve to death or feeding every two hours 'round the clock. 
      
    Tragically, sometimes you get to feed the puppies every two hours and they STILL die/starve to death.  One case of which I know, a lone puppy survived for two weeks before succumbing to death.  

For those who want to have a litter to show their children the miracle of birth, contact a reputable breeder.  Believe me when I tell you that a reputable breeder would be glad to welcome you and your family to witness the whelping.  

For those who want to expose their children to dog conception, you may actually be able to find a breeder who will oblige you there too, though it seems most families want to shield their small children from the images therein that can damper even an adult's healthy desire. 

When teaching the miracle of birth, expect the call in the middle of the night.  Be prepared to get your children up and dressed anywhere between 2 AM and 4 AM.  Then, you and your children can sit there for up to 24 hours as the litter is whelped.  Believe me when I tell you, most breeders are more than happy for the offer of help.  

More than likely, the lesson of birth will include death, as frequently puppies are lost during whelping.  Often, the puppies who are born dead are horribly misshapen, however if you're really lucky, the mother will eviscerate or tear the puppy's intestines from it's body as she tries to tear the umbilical cord.  Your children can then ride along as the puppy is taken to the vet for euthanasia.

Once you and your family have experienced the miracle of birth under an experienced breeder's tutelage you may decide you don't want to enter the ugly arena of dog breeding.  If you're still willing to go ahead and breed your pet, you'll want to wait until either he or she is 2 years old and sexually mature.  (Just as you don't want your 13 year old becoming a parent, you don't want your adolescent dog be so either.)  

If your dog is a female, you'll want to wait until she's at least had one full heat cycle before you breed her.  Two years is even better. (Again, imagine your daughter getting pregnant during her first few cycles.)  

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Ideally, in order for you to experience the joy of puppies multiplied 5, 8 or 12 times via a litter, you'll have to endure your bitch's "season" or "heat" for the first two years, which come twice a year.  

"Being in season" is frequently a three week affair which affects female dogs in much the same manner as it affects some humans.  Some have nice, easy clean heats. (This can have it's drawbacks, as it might be difficult to tell when she's actually in heat and receptive to breeding.)  Others bleed all over the place and lose their minds.  Think PMS for canines.  They're silly one moment, and a nervous wreck the next.  

In our house, our big (95 lbs), normally alpha male (neutered) mutt gives wide berth to our little (65 lbs) chocolate lab bitch as she enters her season.  One day, as I rounded the corner in our house and came into the living room, I watched this normally fearless alpha male dog jump and flinch in fear that the Lab bitch, who was at that time in season, was entering the room.  His relief that it "was just me" was obvious and definitely amusing.

Twice a year, our easy going Labrador became the ruling canine, demanding and getting first dibs on food and affection.  She also became a one canine wrecking crew, taking out her sexual tension on anything and everything she can get in her mouth.  The list of items she destroyed while in heat includes furniture, plants, shoes and clothes.  As if this weren't enough fun, she had to be constantly monitored (on leash) when outdoors, even though our property is fenced.    

Which brings us to another joy to having a female in heat.... the reactions of every male dog within a five mile radius.  Yes, our house was the most popular doggy hang-out in the neighborhood during our bitch's heat.  Twice a year, our yard was Mecca to every intact male in the county.  We would find male dogs dragging chains behind them and visiting at all hours.  Whipped into a frenzy by our luscious female, many would growl and snap at us if we got too close. (Just the temperament I would want my next litter to display ....NOT!)  

Read more about the affect your bitch will have on male dogs...