Preparing to Breed Your First Litter of Puppies

Breeding dogs has been a passion for people over centuries. The practice of mating selected dogs is considered a science, an “art” and complete devotion to a specific type of domestic dog. Whether you’re simply a pet owner who wishes to breed a single litter or a new breeder with a passion for a certain dog breed there is extensive research you should do and a great deal of knowledge required before pursuing such a responsibility. Breeders must know how to care for a single dog before embarking in the mating process when they’ll have to look after a pregnant pooch and its puppies. This article aims at reviewing the important aspects of the breeding journey.

Dog Breeding and Dog Breeders

Dog breeding is the practice of mating selected dogs with the intent to maintain or produce certain qualities and features of a breed. Breeding is an artificial selection which is the opposite of the natural selection that occurs when two dogs mate outside of human intervention. Breeding must rely on science and genetics as well as commitment and passion for animals.

A person that purposely mates dogs to produce a litter of puppies is referred to as a dog breeder. A deep knowledge of canine genetics, anatomy, health and traits should be the foundation on which “wanna-be breeders” should start building their passion. A good breeder will rarely enter this field for money but rather for passion and love for a specific breed or species.

Artificially selecting different type of dogs is a challenging task that comes with great responsibility of both paired dogs and their offspring. However, there are very few chances in life to experience such an exciting event as caring for other living beings. 

How to Become a Good Breeder 

If you are planning on mating your pooch in order to obtain a litter of puppies or if you’re thinking about entering the dog breeding world in order to produce dogs for adoption and sale, you must begin by gaining as much knowledge as possible on the particular breed you have chosen. Better still, you’ll likely own a dog belonging to the breed you are passionate about so start by observing and listing the physical and temperamental traits you love in your own pet.

Read books and articles published by professionals such as other experienced breeders, vets, animal associations and even dog registries such as the AKC. And know that you’ll need to keep studying and researching even after having bred the first litter as this practice constantly changes and improves. Participate in dog-related events, become part of a dog association and maybe even get in touch with dog trainers and behaviourists to deepen the knowledge and have an actual discussion with experts in the field.

Basically, become an expert of your breed of choice and learn everything there is to know about its appearance, genetics, temperament, health issues, purpose and dietary requirements, etc. Owning a pooch belonging to the breed you’re interested in will be of great help as you’ll be able to observe your dog directly and fully understand its needs and temperament.

Dogs, Puppies, Dog Breeder

Preparing your Dog to Breed

When you’ve decided to seriously begin working towards successfully breeding your first litter you’ll want to make sure your own dog is ready for a stud. Dogs shouldn’t be allowed to mate until they have reached maturity and this stage varies with breeds and size. Responsible breeders won’t move forward with the breeding process until their pooch is at least 18 months old (larger breeds may need to wait until 24 months while smaller breeds may begin around 15).

So don’t rush into setting up your pup for stud: allow it to grow healthy and exit puppyhood. With bitches in particular, don’t allow them to breed during their first heat as they won’t be fully fertile yet.

A large part of the preparation towards breeding your first litter involves ensuring your dog is healthy, fit and unable to naturally breed outside of your supervision. For example, an overweight female dog is more inclined to experience health problems during pregnancy so it is essential that you monitor its weight while preparing it for mating.

A complete vet check up is the next thing you want to work on in order to be sure your pet is not going to pass on any genetic health issues to the puppies. An experienced veterinarian will also be able to advise you on how to understand your dog’s heat cycle and recommend any diet specifically tailored for pregnant dogs.

Dogs, Puppies, Dog breeder

Basic Steps for Pairing Dogs

The ultimate goal of pairing two dogs should always be to mate healthy parents and produce healthy pups. Before choosing a stud for the bitch be sure to meet the other owner numerous times and see the respective dog: both pets should be of good disposition to ensure this will be passed on to the puppies. Obviously, both dogs should have no health issues in their family background and, depending on the breed you are passionate about they should also display the typical features of the type.

Once you’ve confirmed your dog is in heat and chose the male you wish to pair it with you’ll need to ensure you follow a few basic rules to improve your chances of a successful breeding:

  • Both bitch and stud should be bathed thoroughly before mating

  • The hair around the genitalia should be trimmed to allow a clear entry without obstructions

  • The stud shouldn’t be fed as it will most likely vomit after mating

  • Find a quiet and distraction-free environment where the dogs can’t be startled

  • Be present during the mating process but remain calm as dogs instinctively know how to go about breeding

  • Allow up to a few hours for the entire mating process and only step in to help the dogs if one of them seem to be struggling

  • Remember not to separate the dogs as they may hurt themselves

Dogs, Puppies, Dog Breeding

Waiting for the Puppies

So your pet has successfully gone through the mating process and you’re now gearing up for the big day when you’ll meet the puppies. Depending on the breed and age of the mother, you can expect to welcome one to twelve puppies!

Dogs will bear their litters approximately 58-68 days (with an average of 63 days) so you’ll have a couple of months to prepare for whelping. During this time it is essential that you closely monitor your pregnant dog: observe its behaviour, physical state and keep in touch with the vet who will assist you during regular checkups. Your pet should continue to get daily exercise but remember a pregnant bitch will need to eat more than usual in order to support the unborn puppies and their development. Consult with your vet in regards to any specific diet for your expecting pet.

Begin to prepare the whelping space: this should be quiet and warm but also private where there is no “traffic” of family members walking through nor chances of other animals getting to it. You’ll want to have a large whelping box and begin to have your dog inspecting it so that it can get used to it and feel safe in it on day of delivery.

Do some research and get the advice of the vet and other experienced breeders on how to deal with any emergency on the day: no matter how prepared you are, things don’t always go as planned so it is essential that you have a backup plan for any unexpected event. 

When the big day arrives, you’ll want to be ready to contact the vet should anything go wrong with either your dog or the newborn puppies. Otherwise, stay calm and be there for your dog if you see it is struggling or showing signs of extreme distress.

Author Marino
Author: Marino Tilatti
Member of PetsForAll Editorial Stuff
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