Did you know that dogs reach sexual maturity before they reach physical maturity? What’s interesting is they are not ready to mate until they’ve reached the latter stage. So it is highly likely, you as a dog owner would try to breed your dog before it is ready. Unfortunately, by making that mistake, you could cost your dog its life.
If that paragraph scared you, worry not! In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know before you breed a female dog.
The best age to breed a dog
Considering how risky early breeding could be, the rule of thumb that we advise you to follow is to wait until your dog turns one year old. By then, it would have completed three estrous cycles. Also, you’ll be able to identify any genetic disorders in the dog that should not be passed on to its offspring.
A quick side note:
In addition to knowing when to start breeding, it is also important to know when to stop it. Most vets discourage breeding after the dog has reached five years of age as it could be very risky to give birth after that.
Signs that a dog is “in heat”
When it comes to dogs, “in heat” refers to their fertile period. Usually, dogs experience a heat cycle two to four times a year. The following signs appear when a dog is in heat:
- Vulvar swelling
- Vaginal bleeding
- Excessive licking (of itself)
Female dogs tend to be attractive to males from the very beginning of the heat cycle. However, the females won’t encourage mating until seven to ten days after their cycle has started, which is when the bleeding reduces significantly.
The males will know when that time approaches because the females will frequently urinate, leaving behind pheromones and hormones.
Pheromones are the chemicals that animals use to communicate with each other. They are behavior-altering agents.
For how long does a dog remain in heat?
Now you know how to tell when your dog is fertile, but the question is, for how long it remains in this state.
Usually, the cycle lasts two to three weeks. However, that doesn’t mean your dog can get pregnant at any time during this cycle. As you already know, females reject males during the first 7–10 days.
After that, they start attracting the males by leaving pheromones on the ground. It is during that period, which lasts another eight to ten days, that you should try to breed your dog. That is when ovulation occurs, and the female is ready to accept the male.
Once that stage is over, and the bleeding also stops, the female goes back to rejecting the male. During this stage, which could last between sixty to ninety days, the dog might show signs of pregnancy. But, before you rejoice, make sure you verify with a vet because sometimes those signs could be false!
If you want to breed your dog, the eleventh day of its cycle would be ideal because that is when it starts attracting males.
How to tell when a dog is ready to breed?
As we mentioned, the eleventh day of the cycle is ideal. In case you want to be sure, we suggest you take your dog to a vet. The vet would perform either a vaginal smear test or serum progesterone test which predict ovulation dates quite accurately.
There are also some signs that will tell you when your dog is ready to breed:
- Flirty behavior
- It pushes up its rear every time you pet it
- It walks around with the tail held high
- The vaginal discharge changes from red to pink or light brown
Female dogs should not be bred until they turn one and after they have turned 5. However, some dogs are capable of bearing a pregnancy even after they turn 5. Since this is the case with specific types of dogs, it would be better to ask your vet’s opinion before you proceed with the breeding.
Further, when trying to breed the dog, make sure you keep an eye on its behavior. Usually, flirty behavior is a sign that it is ready to start mating. Apart from that, frequent urination is also an important sign to pay attention to.