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2018 Meredith Corporation All Rights Reserved. Which Sport Should You Do With Your Dog? The tiny Pomeranian, long a favorite of royals and commoners alike, has been called the ideal companion. Use the following resources as a guide to breeding by downloading the Full Guide or by following each step for more information below. Prepare Yourself for Breeding a Litter Breeding dogs has been a passion for people through many centuries.
Part art, part science, and total devotion, breeding will show you all the best in the human-and-dog bond. Breeding purebred dogs is also time consuming, expensive, and, occasionally, heartbreaking. If you go forward, your underlying purpose should be to improve the breed — not just increase its numbers. Breeding a litter should begin with knowledge. Responsible breeders devote time to learning as much as they can about their breed, about canine health and training, and about AKC rules.
How can you become an expert? The AKC offers breed videos with real-life examples, and many parent clubs offer more detailed, illustrated versions of their standards for more in-depth research. Watch dogs in action and study the pedigrees of those you like. Ask questions of breeders involved in your breed. Research your breed by visiting the breed’s national parent club website. Find and attend a local club meeting to meet other breeders.
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Your library and bookstore are invaluable sources of information about canine health and breeding. Some books, including the Complete Dog Book and American Kennel Club Dog Care and Training, are available in the AKC Store. The AKC Gazette and other dog magazines have informative articles about breeding as well. Every dog is the best dog in the world to its owner. The goal of breeding, after all, is to produce a better dog and a quality pet. If you decide to continue with the breeding process, look for a mate that will eliminate or balance those flaws. The national parent club for your breed may also provide assistance.
One of the best ways to get an objective opinion of your dog is to test it against others. Consider attending a dog show to determine how your dog measures up against the best specimens of its breed. Understand the Commitment Raising puppies is a full-time job. During the first couple of weeks the dam normally takes care of the puppies’ needs, but complications, such as a dam with no milk or an orphaned litter, may arise.
It is the breeder’s responsibility to provide a safe, warm, dry place for the puppies and proper food and water for the bitch. The extra feeding, cleanup, grooming, training, and veterinary care adds up to a lot of hours — and not much free time for you. Another factor that you must consider is the financial cost of having a litter of puppies. From the genetic screening and health tests before breeding to the extra food, supplies, and medical care required after the puppies are born, the cost of whelping and raising puppies can be very high, especially if complications arise.
Responsible breeders make sure that their puppy goes to an owner who will provide it with the same love and devotion for life that the breeder has provided. This means careful screening and evaluation of each person or family interested in getting a puppy. Responsible breeders learn everything they can about their breed and know all the pros and cons of ownership. It is important to share this information — including the negative aspects — with prospective puppy owners. You should be ready to explain why a dog requiring a lot of coat care or training may not be the best match for a workaholic or why a tiny dog may not be appropriate for a family with small, active children.
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If both dam and sire are AKC registered, then the litter can be registered with the AKC. Choose a dog whose bloodlines will strengthen your bitch’s weaknesses and emphasize her good qualities. For example, if your bitch’s coat is not as good as it might be, then find a partner with a good coat, from a line of dogs with good coats. Two vital factors to keep in mind as you make your selection are temperament and health.
Temperament is a hereditary trait in dogs, although it can be influenced by other external factors. Selection over many generations eventually produced breeds with the correct temperament to pull sleds, follow scent on trails, or retrieve game. The inheritance factors of temperament are complex. However, you should never consider breeding a dog with a questionable temperament. As far as health goes, you should be aware that dogs are subject to many hereditary defects, some of which are potentially crippling or fatal. If you breed, your goal should be to produce dogs that are not affected by the major known hereditary diseases occurring in your breed.
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Know Your Genetics To be an effective breeder, you should have a basic understanding of the science of genetics. Everything about your prospective puppies’ health, soundness, looks, and temperament will be determined by the genes passed on by their parents, and by their parents before them. You should also be well-versed in the genetic problems that affect your breed. Genetic defects can occur in any breed and can affect any system in the body. The following is a brief explanation of how genetic defects may be inherited and expressed.
Diseases that follow a dominant pattern of inheritance need only one abnormal gene. That is, if only one parent is affected, the condition will show up in each successive generation. Some individuals may be only mildly affected with the condition, making it difficult to detect. In such cases, the condition can mistakenly be thought to skip generations. Diseases that follow a recessive pattern of inheritance occur in homozygous individuals, meaning dogs with two abnormal genes.
Dogs with one mutant and one normal gene are heterozygous, and they are carriers of the condition. They appear normal but can pass the abnormal gene to their offspring. Recessive mutant genes can be passed through many generations before emerging in the offspring of two dogs that carry the same genetic mutation. Polygenic disorders result from the cumulative action of a number of different genes. The exact number of genes involved and their individual functions are difficult to determine, and the pattern of inheritance tends to vary from family to family.
Polygenic inheritance can sometimes mimic either dominant or recessive inheritance, and this feature may lead to erroneous conclusions regarding the type of underlying genetic abnormality. Chromosomal anomalies — defects in chromosome number and structure — can also cause genetic diseases. Dogs normally have 39 pairs of chromosomes on which genes are located. Major abnormalities in chromosome number and structure can produce serious defects.
Finalize Stud Contract You have performed all necessary health checks, genetic screenings, and selected the perfect mate for your bitch. Now it’s time to work out the details of the mating. It is an excellent idea to work out a contract with the owner of the stud dog before breeding takes place. The agreement concerning stud fees should be in writing and clearly state all obligations and circumstances. The contract should be signed by all parties to the transaction, and each signer should receive a copy. The stud fee is set by the stud dog’s owner.
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The mode of payment may differ. The collection of the stud fee is the stud owner’s responsibility. The contract may state that the owner of the sire is not obligated to sign an AKC litter registration application until the stud fee has been paid. Perform Pre-Breeding Health Checks Good puppies start long before breeding ever takes place. Both parents need long-term care — what dog people call conditioning — to produce the best offspring. This means regular veterinary care, screening for genetic problems, pre-breeding tests, and regular exercise and good nutrition.
Bitches should not be overweight and should have good muscle tone before breeding. One month before breeding, the bitch should have a thorough pre-breeding physical examination by a veterinarian. Her vaccinations should be current, and she should be tested and treated for parasites. You may also want to have the bitch and male tested for brucellosis, an infectious bacterial disease that can cause sterility or spontaneous abortion in affected dogs.
The age at which dogs reach sexual maturity depends to a large extent on their breed. Small breeds tend to mature faster than large breeds. On average, however, males become fertile after six months of age and reach full sexual maturity by 12 to 15 months. Healthy stud dogs may remain sexually active and fertile to old age.
Adult males are able to mate at any time. 18 months to two years of age. Estrus recurs at intervals of approximately six months until late in life. During estrus, the female is fertile and will accept a male. The bitch should not be bred during her first season. The bitch’s cycle is divided into four periods. Proestrus: The bitch attracts males, has a bloody vaginal discharge, and her vulva is swollen.
Estrus: During this period, which also lasts approximately nine days, the bitch will accept the male and is fertile. Diestrus: Lasting 60 to 90 days, diestrus is the period when the reproductive tract is under the control of the hormone progesterone. This occurs whether or not the bitch becomes pregnant. False pregnancy, a condition in which the bitch shows symptoms of being pregnant although she has not conceived, is occasionally seen during diestrus. Anestrus: No sexual activity takes place. Anestrus lasts between three and four months. Keep in mind that AKC Rules do not allow, except with special documentation, the registration of a litter out of a dam less than 8 months or more than 12 years of age at the time of mating, or by a sire less than 7 months or more than 12 years of age at the time of mating.
Mating Natural Breeding Responsible breeders generally do not breed a bitch at the first heat to avoid imposing the stress of pregnancy and lactation on a young, growing animal. It is also customary to avoid breeding a bitch on consecutive heats to allow sufficient time for recuperation between pregnancies. Most dogs are first bred between the 10th and 14th day after the onset of proestrus. As long as the bitch will accept the male, mating every other day for a total of two or three matings is generally considered sufficient. However, signs of proestrus are not obvious in some bitches. To catch the peak fertile period, a veterinarian may need to perform hormone tests or examine vaginal smears under a microscope.
Bitches are usually less inhibited by new environments so they are usually taken to the stud. Breedings involving young males proceed more smoothly if they are paired with experienced bitches. Sometimes human handlers must step in with assistance or guidance during breedings. Some breeds are more apt to need assistance than others because of anatomical considerations. Discussing this process with your own breeder will help you be prepared .
During breeding, the male mounts the female from the rear and clasps her midsection with his front legs. Rapid pelvic thrusts follow until penetration and ejaculation take place. After the pelvic thrusts cease, the dog and bitch will not separate for 10 to 30 minutes. Known as a tie, this results from a swollen section of the penis called the bulbus glandis. During the tie, the male may move around until he and the bitch are positioned rear to rear. Artificial Insemination Artificial insemination is a relatively simple procedure that can be used when natural breeding is impractical. The AKC accepts registration of a litter mated by artificial insemination using fresh semen, fresh extended semen, and frozen semen, provided the proper procedures are followed.
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Registration of these litters requires DNA certification. Pregnancy and Whelping Preparation Watch for Signs of Pregnancy Canine gestation lasts approximately 63 days. Signs of pregnancy include an increase in appetite, weight, and nipple size. However, a bitch with false pregnancy may also show these signs.
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A veterinarian can usually confirm a pregnancy through abdominal palpitation at 28 days or by using ultrasound or X-rays. Once pregnancy is confirmed, you should talk to your vet about special feeding requirements and about what to expect during pregnancy, labor, and after birth. You should also be briefed on how to recognize and respond to an emergency. Provide Proper Nutrition for your Pregnant Bitch A bitch in good condition should continue into pregnancy with the same caloric intake that she had during adult maintenance. Her food intake should be increased only as her body weight increases, beginning about the last five weeks before whelping.
Daily food intake should be increased gradually, so that at the time of whelping she may be eating 35 to 50 percent more than usual. If you have been feeding your bitch a well-balanced, high-quality diet, you should not need to add anything to her food during her pregnancy. However, some breeders advocate supplementation with a protein source such as evaporated milk, eggs, meat, or liver. These supplements should never represent more than 10 percent of the bitch’s daily food intake.
Accustom your Bitch to the Whelping Box It is a good idea to build a whelping box well in advance so the bitch has time to become accustomed to it. Unless you have already accustomed her to a whelping box, she may choose your closet or another inappropriate place for a delivery room. An ideal whelping environment is warm, dry, quiet, draft-free, and away from all other dogs when possible. Confinement and whelping location of your bitch is relative to her breed and size. A good whelping box is roomy and has low sides so you can easily reach in. It should also have a small shelf or roll bars running halfway up along the sides so the pups have something to crawl under to avoid getting rolled on by the bitch. Many breeders prefer to line the box with newspapers until after delivery because paper can be changed quickly when it becomes soiled.
Be sure that it does not get too hot. Approximately 24 hours after her temperature drops, she can be expected to enter the first stage of labor when the cervix dilates and opens the birth canal for the passage of puppies. At this time, she will pant, strain, and appear restless. This stage of labor is followed by actual abdominal straining and production of the puppies and placentas.
You should have on hand your veterinarian’s phone number and the local emergency clinic. Puppies Are Born Most bitches give birth easily without the need of human help. Each puppy emerges in its own placental membrane, or sac, which must be removed before the puppy can breathe. After delivery, she will lick each puppy to stimulate its breathing.
You should keep track of how many placentas are delivered and ensure that the number matches the number of puppies because a retained placenta may cause problems. You must take over if the bitch neglects to remove a sac or sever an umbilical cord. A puppy can remain inside the sac for only a few minutes before the oxygen supply is depleted. The sac membrane should be torn near the puppy’s head and peeled backward until the puppy can be gently removed. Then you should remove mucus or fluids from the puppy’s mouth and nose and gently rub the puppy with a towel to stimulate circulation. At the time of birth, the bitch will be busy cleaning her puppies, warming them, and allowing them to suckle. It is very important for the puppies to suckle soon after emerging from the womb.
Suckling lets them ingest colostrum, a milk-like substance containing maternal antibodies which is produced in the mammary glands just after birth. Colostrum helps the newborn puppies fight infection in their early days while their own immune systems mature. To track nourishment of the puppies, it is advisable to identify and weigh puppies during the first 2 weeks. Consult Your Veterinarian if Complications Arise If something goes wrong, don’t hesitate to call your veterinarian for assistance. Keep Your Puppies Warm, Fed and Clean Temperature A newborn puppy cannot control its body temperature and must be kept in a warm environment. The environmental temperature can be controlled with a well-insulated electric heating pad or a heat lamp. But make sure the puppies have a cooler place to crawl to if they become too warm.
The immediate environmental temperature should be kept between 85 and 90 degrees for the first five days of life. Nursing The first milk produced by the bitch after whelping is called colostrum. Every puppy needs to ingest colostrum as early as possible after birth and certainly during the first 24 hours of life. Colostrum contains a number of substances that are beneficial to the puppy, including immunoglobulins that protect newborns from the infectious diseases to which the mother is immune. For your nursing bitches, one thing to keep a look out for is canine mastitis.