Let's forget about
"bettering the breed" and 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. (First time
whelpings are always 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
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
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
more about the affect
your bitch will
have on any male dogs in the vicinity...