Make Sure Your dogs Are Breeding Age!
As simple and elementary as this may sound, you would be really surprised to learn how many irresponsible breeders will attempt to breed a dog on its very first heat cycle. Dams begin "coming in heat", or having estrus cycles at between 6 and 9 months of age, on average. Most Dams will continue to come in heat about every 6 months thereafter. Most breeders do not breed a Dam until she is 1 1/2 to 2 years old, or the 3rd or 4th cycle. She is then fully matured, and physically able to endure the stress of carrying and delivering pups.
Breeding a dog too some could and probably will result in many difficult problems, most of which you will have no control over. Breeding a Dam too young could result in smaller litters, unhealthy pups, and stillborn, genetic health problems as well as could play an enormous emotional and physical toll on the Dam being bred. It is also possible that there is a chance the Dam won’t care for the litter at all, leaving you to be stuck bottle feeding a half a dozen puppies every three hours around the clock for the next 6 – 8 weeks!
Have a knowledgeable person evaluate your dogs to give you an unbiased opinion of their qualities, and have a veterinarian check the health of your dogs. Your Vet should be able to determine if your Dam is physically and emotionally ready to be a mom. It would also be wise to have your Vet perform an Estrogen test to accurately predict when your Dam will be ready for conception, thus taking most of the guess work out of the equation.
Have your Dam checked for parasites or infections, and update her vaccinations. Do not give vaccinations after you is confirm that she has been bred. This can affect the puppies before they are born, causing birth defects. Talk to your vet about this! During pregnancy, ALWAYS see your Licensed Vet for ANY medical treatment of ANY kind!
The Dam will begin her estrus cycle about 3 days before she is ready to breed, and if you have the stud in a nearby pen, you will have no problem identifying the beginning of the cycle. The Dam's genital area will begin to swell and discharge, giving of a strong odor which the Stud will react strongly to.
Wait 6-10 days after you observe your Dam beginning to show signs of coming in heat, then let the Stud in the pen with her. There are varying opinions on how many times you should allow the pair to "breed", but the Stud can be left in the pen with the Dam for a day or two without any danger to either of the dogs. However, as the Stud usually will not rest and will not leave the Dam alone, it is Wise to allow them “Alone Time” for intervals of about 1-2 hours at a time, resting 1-2 hours before letting them in the same kennel again.
When you are sure the Dam has been bred, you can remove the Stud to another pen, or return him to his owner, if you have arranged stud service from another breeder. Always make sure to have a written and even notarized contract specifying the terms and conditions of the breeding and the use of the Stud Dog. It is sometimes common for the Stud Owner to request deliverance of the registration papers for the litter as his/her assurance for payment if not paid in full up front or if there is a puppy-back deal. Otherwise, if the Stud owner is paid in full, be certain that the litter registration specify that the Dam owner gets the papers.
Keep the Dam healthy, giving her a balanced diet, and supplemental vitamins if they are recommended by your vet. A high protein dog food during this time is ideal, something with preferably NO cornmeal or corn products. It would be wise to take your Dam to the Vet about every 3 weeks for a basic inspection. Your Vet will be able to determine if the Dam is in need of any diet changes, supplements and if the Dam and the puppies are all healthy.
A common misconception is that the gestation period for the dog begins at the day of the breeding, this is why a lot of breeders will say that the gestation period for a dog is about 65 days. However, the actuation gestation period for all dog breed types is about 63 days after fertilization of the egg. The fertilization of the egg does not occur for about 2 to 3 days after the breeding is confirmed.
Keep the Dam's kennel free of infestations such as fleas, flies, and insects and clean it regularly. Dirt causes germs, germs can cause illness. There is already enough stress on your Dam during this time period, she doesn’t need the risk of getting sick while pregnant. Keep a water dish close by, she will need to relaxer as much as possible and know that all of her necessities are close by, this will be one less thing causing stress and for her to worry about.
Notice the Dam's nipples, and when they begin to turn pink and become enlarged, you can be sure she is carrying pups, and the delivery time is near. During the last three weeks of her pregnancy, she will require extra nutrition, so you may decide to feed puppy food, which is formulated both for puppies, and pregnant or nursing bitches.
Prepare a "whelping box". This is a box, about 6 inches longer than the bitch when she is lying prone, and a foot or so wider. It should have a rail to prevent her from laying on the pups after they are born, and all areas of the box should be accessible. Place alternating layers of plastic sheeting and newspapers in the bottom of the box, so that as the bottom becomes soiled, you can slide out a layer of paper and a sheet of plastic, leaving a clean on in its place.
Be alert when the time for whelping (delivering) is near. Dogs suffer from still born pups, breach births, and other birthing problems, and if you see any problems, like slow birthing, or partial birthing, don't hesitate to take your Dam to the emergency vet, you will have no time to lose. Keep the pups warm, and make sure they are all able to nurse. Examine them for birth defects, which may interfere with nursing or lead to trouble later. The Dam (now a bitch) will clean the pups, licking off the afterbirth and helping the pup position him/her self for suckling. Clean the whelping box bedding frequently. You may choose to use a synthetic material for bedding, which allows the waste to pass through to the "padding" (often pine shavings or straw) underneath.
Write down the birth date, total number of pups, the number of each sex, and the number of still born pups, to use when filling out registration forms. If you are registering the litter, fill the form out as soon as possible, and send it in, since it takes time to get the litter registered. This is a good time to take pictures, although they won’t pose for the camera, it will be nice to review later for the different stages of their development. This will also get other people involved in your litter and create a buzz about them which is good hype for business.
Watch the puppies carefully the first few weeks, making sure they stay clean and warm, and the bitch is providing enough milk for them. At about 4 weeks, they will begin to get very active, and the whelping box will no longer be large enough, so you will now have to furnish them with a bigger one.
Take the pups to the vet when they are 6 weeks old, be sure to bring mom too! She is definitely going to need a checkup! Ask the Vet if the Dam can be given a vitamin boost shot at this stage, she has surely been depleted by now. The vet will give them their "puppy shots", that is, their vaccinations, worming, and other required medical attention. Have him check for other health or hereditary problems, as well.
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