All You Need to Know About Dog Mating
If you're thinking about mating or breeding dogs, be sure to do plenty of research. Taking on a litter is a huge responsibility, and you want to ensure that your dogs are healthy and well-cared for throughout the process.
At What Age Can a Dog Start Mating?
A responsible dog breeder will wait for a dog to reach maturity before allowing it to mate. The approximate ages of sexual maturity for dogs are:
- Large Dog Breeds: 18 to 24 months old
- Small Dog Breeds: 12 to 18 months old
- Medium Dog Breeds: 15 to 18 months old
While a dog may reach sexual maturity in the first year and a half of life, it's best to wait until it's at least two years old before mating. This is especially true for bitches, who should not breed during their first year of heat. Just like humans, they are still mentally and physically immature. A bitch who is too young will not be able to care for her litter, which could result in the puppies being neglected.
While a dog may reach sexual maturity at six or even four months, this is too young for him to be used as a stud. If a dog mates and begins the breeding process when immature, it could exhaust his system, hinder development, and even result in injury, ill health, or early death.
Depending on health and fertility, a dog can continue to be used as a stud for about ten years. A bitch can usually breed until she is five years old. It is not advisable to allow dog mating to take place once these periods have been reached.
Understanding the Heat Cycle
- During the first part of her heat cycle, which lasts about seven days, the bitch with exhibit a swollen vulva and bleeding. You may notice male dogs giving her more attention. However, she will not allow them to mount yet.
- During the second part of heat, which also lasts an average of seven days, the bleeding will slow down and she will accept mates.
- The ninth or tenth day of heat is widely understood to be the best time to breed. To maximize the possibility of conception, you should allow your dogs to mate a few times between the seventh and fourteenth days of the heat cycle, though only every other day.
- During the last stage of heat, she will likely no longer accept a mate.
- While the entire heat cycle lasts 21 days on average, note that it can vary. Each stage can last anywhere between four and twelve days.
How to Prepare a Bitch for Mating
Before mating a bitch, be sure of the following:
- She must be the right weight for her age and size. A bitch that is too thin won't have the physiological resources to feed and care for a litter. A dog that is overweight is more prone to dangerous health problems during pregnancy and labor.
- Other than weight, she should be otherwise healthy. A healthy dog is going to save you a lot on vet fees.
It is important to make sure the bitch is confined while in season, so that she doesn't mate with a dog you haven't chosen for her. If you want to prevent this from happening then you must know what to look for so you know when a bitch is in heat:
- When in heat and just prior to it, her vulva will swell.
- Bleeding is the most visible sign of heat. However, some experience something called "white heat," or heat without bleeding. Commonly, no blood may be present because the bitch is so thorough about cleaning.
- The only way to know if a bitch is in heat is to remain vigilant and check her thoroughly. It is important to note that bleeding coupled with frequent urinating could indicate the presence of infection. In such a case take her to the vet.
Immediately prior to mating or coming into heat:
- She should be thoroughly bathed.
- The fur around the area of the vulva should be trimmed away. This will ensure a clean entry without any obstruction.
Preparing the Stud
- The stud should also be thoroughly bathed before mating.
- The hair around the sheath covering the penis should be trimmed away.
- The stud's genitals should be clean. This will help prevent any present infection from being passed to the bitch during mating.
- He should also be normal weight.
- Don't feed him before the mating; there is a chance he may vomit.
Dog breeding should be deliberate, and responsible breeders will carefully choose two dogs to bring together.
- Both dogs should have good dispositions, increasing the chance that the puppies will be the same.
- Be sure both dogs should healthy and have no family history of significant genetic defects.
- If it’s important to you, or you want to sell the puppies (many breeders are opposed to this practice), thedogs should have the breed and looks you are seeking.
- Decide whether or not you want to make puppies to sell, a practice many breeders are opposed to.
- If you want your bitch to breed more than once before being spayed (many breeders don’t), she should be allowed significant time between litters.
Your goal in pairing, no matter what, should be healthy parents and a breed of healthy puppies.
Step-by-Step Process and Procedure
Some general tips on mating:
- When it is time to put the bitch with the stud make sure you are present. The dog may have trouble mounting the bitch, and you must be there to position him.
- If you are allowing your dogs to mate it may be advisable to ask a professional breeder to be present.
- Put them together on days nine, eleven and thirteen of the bitch's cycle. One breeding on each of these days is highly likely to produce a litter.
- If you allow the animals to mate more than once a day it will tire them out unnecessarily and reduce the male's sperm.
- Canine sperm lives for a few days after mating and can still fertilize eggs.
Don't be too anxious, because dogs instinctively know how to go about mating. However, they do sometimes require a little help with the procedure.
- If the bitch is ready to mate she will permit the stud to inspect the area of her vulva and hold her tail up so that it doesn't interfere.
- Once the stud has her scent he will mount her from behind and his penis will penetrate her vulva.
- One of the ways you can help the dogs to mate is to assist them with positioning if one or both animals are having difficulty with this.
- The mating process can take a few hours, while the stud dismounts and the two dogs play around and switch positions. The actual insemination mount can take as little as five minutes and as long as an hour, during which they will not be able to separate due to swelling of two glands on each side of the penis.
- It is very important they remain calm the entire time. Make sure there are no loud noises or other interruptions to startle them. If they are startled and attempt to pull apart they can hurt themselves. The dogs separate naturally when the swelling goes down.
- You must prevent the bitch from urinating for about thirty minutes after mating to save as much semen as possible. It’s a good idea to provide her with a crate, where she will be less likely to urinate.
- After mating, check to see whether or not the stud's penis has retracted into the sheath. If it hasn't, don't force it. It could take thirty minutes for this to happen naturally, but be sure it does.
The most important thing you can do for dogs during the mating procedure is to remain calm and ensure they are in a quiet, comfortable environment.