Before you decide to breed your female, give careful consideration to the effort and expense which goes into producing a litter of healthy and active puppies. It can be both time-consuming and expensive. If you own a purebred dam, you should also give consideration for her overall conformation, disposition, and the qualities she will pass along to her puppies.
Another factor to consider is that many purebred puppies cannot be sold locally. This means advertising and the added cost and effort of finding the right sort of home in which to place them.
In contrast to popular belief, the female does not need to have a litter in order to be psychologically fulfilled. In fact, a spayed female makes an outstanding house pet.
Most breeders mate their female on her second or third season, at which time she is emotionally mature and able to adjust well to the role of a brood matron.
Once you decide to mate your female, take her to your veterinarian for a physical check-up to make sure that her vaginal orifice (opening) is normal in size. There should be no constricting ring which could prevent normal entry.
Her physical check-up should include a test for heartworms in areas where this is a problem. If you own a female of the larger breeds, ask your veterinarian to x-ray her pelvis. This should be done after one year of age. If the x-rays show bone changes of hip dysplasia, do not breed her. Certification by the OFA is highly recommended.
Also, before mating, the female should be checked for worms. Roundworms are difficult to avoid in puppies. Other parasites, if found, should be vigorously treated. A female with an active worm infestation is less likely to whelp healthy active puppies.
The Stud Dog
Unfortunately, not all great show dogs are outstanding producers. By the same token, some of the top producers have not been particularly outstanding in the ring.
If a stud dog has sired the type of dog you like, particularly if several females were used, you have a strong evidence in favor of his potency. The number of champions produced is not always as meaningful as you might think. Usually there is a lapse of several years before a mating and a championship. Some of the top producers are often recognized well after they have stopped producing, but their offspring may retain their sire's potency.
Some breeding kennels offer stud service. If you have an outstanding female from that bloodline, you may give serious thoughts to using a stud from that same strain to reinforce the best qualities in your female.
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It is the responsibility of the breeder (who is the owner of the female) to come to clear understanding with the owner of the stud dog concerning the breeding terms. Usually a stud fee is paid at the time of the mating, or the stud's owner may agree to take "pick of the litter", which is a puppy of his own choosing. The age of the puppy should be agreed upon. If the female does not conceive, the stud's owner may offer a return service at no extra charge. However, this is not obligatory in any way. Terms vary with the circumstances and policies of the kennel. If these are in writing, there will be no misunderstanding at a later date.
Before a dog is offered as stud to the public, a brucellosis slide test should be made to establish that he is free from this disease. Brucellosis, once introduced into a kennel, can cause widespread sterility and the ruin of an outstanding breeding program.
A male may be used at stud after he is over one year of age. If an older dog is not a known producer, a sperm count is desirable. Before your dog is used at stud for the first time, check to be sure he has no problems that could interfere with successful mating. Some males have a long flexible forepart to the penis. If it bends backward it could make mating impossible. If this is the case, he will have to be bred by artificial insemination. A retained fold of skin (frenulum) may prevent protrusion of the penis. When present, it can be easily corrected.
Red, pimple-like bumps or growths on the penis should receive veterinary attention. Other abnormalities are: stricture foreskin; an infection beneath the sheath (covering tissue); abnormal or undescended testicles; and a discharge from the urethra. If one of these is present, the dog should be treated by a veterinarian before mating.