Spring is in the air and we have a bevvy of bitches at the practice all due to whelp over the next few weeks!
Dogs are unusual with only two seasons a year, breeding from them can be a challenge. Having your own pups can be incredibly rewarding but there are several questions you should ask yourself first -
1. Is the bitch fit, healthy and does she have a good temperament?
2. Can I afford to pay for the recommended health tests for the bitch prior to mating her and, where necessary, for her litter?
3. Do I know enough to help the bitch during the whelping, if necessary?
4. Can I afford to pay for a caesarean should the dam have difficulty whelping the litter?
5. Could I cope with a very large litter of, say, 10 or 12 puppies?
6. Do I have sufficient knowledge to rear the litter correctly, including worming, vaccinations and socialisation.
7. Have I the time to devote to a litter until the puppies are old enough to go to their new homes, which is usually around eight weeks?
8. Am I knowledgeable enough to advise new owners about caring for their puppies, including rearing, diet, training and health problems?
9. Would I be able to find good homes for the puppies?
10. Am I in a position to take back or re-home any puppies, if it becomes necessary?
If you have not been able to say yes to these questions, then breeding may not be for you. If you decide not to breed from your bitch, then you may wish to consider having her spayed to prevent unwanted or unplanned pregnancies.
However if you have answered yes to all then have a read of how the lovely Shelley managaed to give birth to a fantastic litter of seven pups. Kennel Club tests for breeding can only be performed after a dog is 12 months old so classically most girls will become pregant between 2 and 4 years of age.
However as Shelley has proven, if you are fit, a healthy weight with good hip/elbow and eye scores there is no reason not to consider breeding later in life. Shelley is an incredibly fit seven year old labrador who has enjoyed a long and successful working life. Despite being a much loved family dog she has always been a good field trial dog .
The right circumstances had arisen to consider breeding from her and despite her owner being slightlyl nervous of her age, her health examination was fantastic and progesterone blood testing during her season indicated that she was ovulating normally.
We were thrilled after two successful matings to see on ultrasound scan a healthy litter of puppies. Older bitches can sometimes have small litters and from a Veterinary standpoint we are concerned if there is only one pup. They tend to be enormous and often need a caesarian. However with Shelley we need not have worried with seven pups on the way all was good!
Given Shelley's age everything possible was done to ensure a smooth pregnancy. She was vaccinated against Canine Herpes Virus at the time of mating and a week before her due date to avoid the risk of Fading Puppy Syndrome and Foetal absorbtion.
Interestingly we do not recommend changing a bitches diet until the puppies are born. It is important not to let them become fat during pregnancy as this increases the risk of difficulties giving birth. She was allowed to continue to exercise right up to her due date, if she wanted too, keeping fit is important too.
When the time came she whelped seven healthy pups all by herself and they have gone forth to become robust healthy pups now on their journey to their new homes! If you are considering breeding from your bitch then do come and have a chat - planning these things is vital to ensure a smooth ......