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Breeding Dogs and Raising Puppies: Our Experiences

Breeding dogs and raising puppies is a tough job, but it's fun and rewarding, too!

Breeding dogs and raising puppies is a tough job, but it's fun and rewarding, too!

Dog Breeders

If you’ve never been involved with breeding dogs and raising puppies, you might think dog breeders have an easy, lucrative job. Believe me – that’s a total misconception! Breeding dogs is a tough job that can be full of surprises, problems, and heartache. It can also run into a lot of expense. I’ll go into more detail with the possible costs involved in raising a litter of puppies later in this article. Breeding your pet dog can be fun and exciting, but think long and hard before making a decision. Once the puppies arrive, it’s too late to have second thoughts. You have to be totally committed long before the female dog meets the stud. Make sure you have the time, the money, and the knowledge required of successful dog breeders. Even the most experienced dog breeders are faced with serious problems from time to time, so it’s best to learn as much as you can. Below is some information about breeding dogs and raising puppies that I hope you’ll find helpful.

When breeding dogs, you'll need to find the right stud for your female.

When breeding dogs, you'll need to find the right stud for your female.

Breeding Dogs

Breeding dogs should only be considered if you know you can find homes for all the puppies. If you’re selling puppies, make sure there’s a market for them. Dog breeding should also be done only with quality, healthy dogs. I’m not saying they have to be champions. Many potential buyers can’t afford dogs with championship lines, and they aren’t necessary to ensure a good pet. The bitch and stud should, however, be sound, healthy, and of excellent temperament and conformation.

Before breeding your female, make sure she’s in excellent health. Take her for a vet visit to check this out. Be sure to get rid of any internal and external parasites, too. Plan ahead for a stud – don’t wait until the last minute. Find an acceptable male and establish a relationship with the owner. Agree to the terms and conditions, and get everything in writing.

Your female dog will experience her first heat between the ages of six months to eighteen months, depending on the breed and on the individual dog. Most dog breeders recommend waiting until the third heat to breed. In most female dogs, the heat discharge turns the color of wheat straw when it’s time to breed. Usually, the female is taken to the male, and she’ll most likely spend several days there. Natural dog breeding doesn’t usually require much, if any, help from humans. If the female is in the right stage of heat, she should accept the male, and a “tie” will result. Don’t attempt to separate the dogs!

Your pregnant female will need good quality food, and plenty of it for her developing young. Puppy kibble is a good choice, and it should be given free choice. In other words, she should be able to eat any time she’s hungry. The same goes for clean, cool water.

Dog breeding requires a large investment of time and money. No matter how good your female dog is at her mothering skills, there are things you’ll need to do. The mom will need special food and care while she’s pregnant and while she’s nursing. In most cases, you’ll have to pay a stud fee to the male’s owner or give them pick of the litter. The female will most likely need a whelping box or some sort of “nest” or “den” that’s safe, quiet, warm, and comfortable.

Make a special nest for your dog that’s about twice as big as the mom. The area needs to be surrounded by pillows, boards, or some other sort of barrier in order to keep the pups “corralled.” The mother dog needs to be able to get in and out easily, however. Her food and water should be placed outside but near the nest. Do your best to get her to sleep there before the puppies arrive. That way, she’ll feel like it’s home. The nest should be in a quiet, dark place, away from the hubbub of the house.

The normal gestation period for dogs is anywhere from fifty-nine to sixty-five days from ovulation. You can take your dog to her vet to make sure she’s pregnant, or you can watch for signs on your own. A large or giant breed dog might not show much, physically, until the last couple of weeks of pregnancy. When you know the time is near, you can begin taking the dog’s temperature. When it drops to under 100 degrees, labor should begin within twelve hours.

Newborn Puppies

Newborn Puppies

Bottle feeding puppies has to be done carefully.

Bottle feeding puppies has to be done carefully.

How to Deliver Puppies

If you’re going to be breeding dogs, you need to know how to deliver puppies. Many dogs have puppies successfully on their own, with no need of human intervention. On the other hand, some breeds, like the English bulldog, might need to be delivered by Caesarian section. Your dog might feel more assured if you’re nearby to help her, but don’t invite the whole neighborhood to watch the miracle of birth. The quieter it is, the calmer the mom will be.

When labor begins, the soon-to-be mother might pant, pace nervously, lie down and get up frequently, or even tremble. When a pup is on its way, the female will most likely push for several minutes. The normal presentation is for the front paws and head to appear first, but oftentimes the rear legs might appear first. If the puppy isn’t delivered quickly, you’ll need to pull the puppy out, as gently as possible. For a normal delivery, the best place to grab is the loose skin around the neck. For a breach delivery, gently pull both back legs or any skin you can hold. You’ll need to be quick about doing this. The pup is receiving oxygen via the umbilical cord, and if it’s being compressed, the baby won’t be getting oxygen.

When the pup is born, it’s encased in a sac. Sometimes a puppy will tear open the sac, but usually, the mother takes care of that. She should also bite the umbilical cord and lick her offspring. The licking cleans the baby and acts as a physical stimulant. If the mother fails to do any of these tasks, you’ll have to do it yourself. The membranes tear easily. Once the pup is out of the sac, you’ll need to use a soft towel to clean away fluid from its mouth and nose. If the mother dog doesn’t bite the umbilical cord, tie it off with thread about an inch from the pup’s belly and use sterilized scissors to make the cut two inches from the belly. Check to make sure the little guy is breathing. If he’s not, try rubbing him briskly. If the puppy still isn’t breathing, hold it firmly over your head and swing it quickly between your legs. You might also want to use a small bulb syringe to suck fluids out of the nose and mouth.

Puppies usually come pretty quickly. If the bitch goes longer than a couple of hours without producing a pup, she might need veterinary care. Kayla had two puppies several hours after the veterinary staff thought she was finished, and the two later pups were born dead. Once your dog seems to have finished giving birth, you might want to take her for a vet check to make sure no more puppies are inside her.

Mother dogs generally eat the afterbirth and lick up any fluids associated with delivery. Sure, this is gross to us humans, but it’s good for the mama dog, believe it or not. Don’t try to stop her from doing this. After it’s all over, you can put down clean bedding.

Make sure all the babies begin nursing, and that the mom allows them to do so. Look to see if any pup or pups seem weaker or much smaller than their littermates. Those puppies might not be able to compete with their larger and stronger brothers and sisters for the mother’s milk. You might have to do supplemental bottle feedings for those puppies. For information about how to bottle feed puppies, click the link.

The puppies will need to be weighed regularly, so you’ll either need some precise scales, or you’ll have to take them to the vet to be weighed. Puppies should grow and gain weight at a rapid pace. If you have one that isn’t growing quickly, the pup might have a congenital defect or illness, so it needs to be checked out by a veterinarian. If the entire litter isn’t growing fast enough, it probably means the mother isn’t producing enough milk. In that case, you’ll need to bottle feed puppies.

How to Deliver Puppies:

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