Dog Reproduction

 If your female dog has not been spayed, you will eventually see her go into heat. Small breed dogs start experiencing heat cycles earliest -- around four to six months of age. Large breed dogs will experience heat cycles later -- any time between one and two years of age. From the onset of the heat cycles, a female dog will continue to go into heat for the rest of her life. Dogs do not experience menopause like human females do. 

 There are some health advantages to choosing to have your 
dog spayed. Spaying eliminates the chance of dangerous uterine infection and uterine and ovarian cancers. Spaying also reduces your dog’s chance of developing breast cancer. 

 A Female Dog’s Heat Cycle 

On average, a female dog goes into heat every seven months. 
It can happen more frequently -- only four months between cycles -- or less frequently, with only one cycle per year. Heat (also known as an estrus cycle) lasts approximately three weeks and has three separate parts. 

 The first week is proestrus. This is when the female dog secretes blood and hormones that attract male dogs. You may notice that your female dog becomes moody when she is going through proestrus. If your female dog is approached by a male dog, she may snap at him if he tries to get amorous. Should they successfully mate during proestrus, chances are slim that she will become pregnant. 

 Week two of the heat cycle is known as the true estrus. The blood flow will usually stop at this time. This is when she will actually ovulate; any copulation during this time has a good chance of resulting in a pregnancy. Her moodiness will disappear and she will welcome any and all comers. If you are hoping for a particular match up, keep all other male dogs away from her during this time. Otherwise, you could end up with a female dog who is pregnant from multiple dogs -- each puppy could have a different father! 

 The last stage of the heat cycle is called diestrus. Ovulation has passed, and the female dog will lose interest in mating. If a male does succeed in mounting her, chances are slim that she will get pregnant. 

 Tips For A Successful Mating 

 An inexperienced male dog may need a little help when it comes to reproduction, believe it or not. 

Bring the female dog to the male’s territory, and not the other way around. The male will feel more secure this way. 
 Bring the male and female together during the second week of the heat cycle. 
 If your male and female do not mate at the first meeting, give them a day or two and try again. 
 For maximum chance of successful mating, give them at least two chances to get together. 
 If the female refuses to breed, you can try another male or talk to your vet to find out exactly what stage of the heat cycle she is in. 

 Dog Reproduction Complications 

 Immediately after mating, you may see that your dogs are “stuck” together. This is known as the tie. A gland at the base of the male’s penis swells, locking it into place in the female’s vagina. Forcing them apart can cause serious injury to both the male and female dogs! The swelling usually goes down in twenty minutes or less, freeing the dogs. However, you can try drenching them in cold water. 

 Female dogs who are in heat longer than three weeks are at risk for cystic ovaries and other female problems. False pregnancy can also be a sign of serious problems. Read more about false pregnancy in dogs below! 

 Uterine and bladder infections are not uncommon after birth; uterine infections can be very serious. 

 What Is A False Pregnancy? 

 A false pregnancy is pretty much just what it sounds like: a female dog exhibits the signs of being pregnant but never actually delivers puppies. This happens because a female who has been in heat may produce so much progesterone that it makes them look and act pregnant! Her stomach will swell, and she may leak milk. You’ll see her start to make nests. However, the milk will dry up after day sixty-two or so, and your dog will go back to normal. 

 A female dog who experiences false pregnancy for more than seventy days may have something seriously wrong with her reproductive system. Call your vet and bring her in for a check up as soon as possible. 

 Caring For A Pregnant Dog 

 The length of pregnancy in dogs lasts approximately sixty-two days. That number can vary five days in either direction, but more than seventy days and you may have a problem on your hands. 

 The main risks to a pregnant dog include: 

 Infection and fever 
 Poor nutrition and dehydration 
 A sexually transmitted disease called brucellosis 

 Any of these can cause a female dog to miscarry her puppies. Talk to your veterinarian about appropriate flea and tick preventative for your mom-to-be. Be sure to feed your female dog a high quality diet; your vet may also suggest additional vitamins. Food and water intake will probably go up and remain above average while she is nursing. 

 The Unexpected Costs of Dog Reproduction 

 Breeding your dog can be a very expensive undertaking! Here are some things you may be paying for: 

 Testing for hereditary diseases in the potential mother and father prior to mating. 
 Current vaccinations prior to mating. 
 The stud fee for the father. Or, you may have to give the owner of the father one of the puppies from the litter. 
 Extra food and veterinary expenses during pregnancy. 
 Extra food and veterinary expenses for the puppies for the first eight weeks of life. 
 Advertising for homes for the puppies. 

 Many breeders consider it a successful venture if they break even from the sale of the puppies. Breeding is NOT a good way to get rich quickly. Even if you do manage to make money from selling the puppies, your female dog is going to need a year off before she has another litter. This will give her time to completely recover from the experience, both physically and emotionally. 

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