Breeding a dog back to back refers to breeding her for multiple consecutive heats without giving her a break. Some breeders may attempt to get their female pregnant twice in a row or even more, and then rest her for several cycles or retire her from the breeding program.
However, it’s crucial to avoid pushing back-to-back breeding to the extreme, where it is done over three, five, or all of the bitch’s heats without considering her overall health. When people ask, “How often should I breed my dog?” we want them to be cautious.
Before deciding whether to breed back-to-back or wait and skip a season, there are several points to consider:
- Did the last pregnancy have any complications?
- Was the litter size significantly larger than the average for the breed?
- Was there a need for a C-section during the last delivery?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, a responsible breeder would naturally allow the bitch to rest and skip one heat, at least.
Additionally, it’s important to note that some larger dog breeds have only one season per year, while smaller breeds often have two or more heats annually. In the case of smaller breeds, it’s advisable to limit the number of pregnancies to one out of every two heats since these dogs generally experience more challenges during each pregnancy.
Now, let’s address our original question: Is breeding back-to-back healthier for a normal, healthy bitch?
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Let’s Ignore Ethics For a Second
Mainly composed of online militants and animal rights activists, the Ethics Police do despise back-to-back breeders and see this practice as inhumane. To them, humans who breed their dogs back to back are just yielding more money and just attempt to rationalize what is, to them, a disgusting behavior.
The accused breeders defend themselves saying the return of a heat after pregnancy is a natural sign of readiness for a new pregnancy. Breeders affirm that the Ethics Police project their humanized thoughts and feelings onto dogs, thus do not make sense scientifically.
We decided to ignore ethics here and focus on what is best for the dam’s health, not for anybody’s belief or agenda.
Back to Back Breeding Is Better for the Bitch’s Uterus
The common misconception is that an ethical breeder should allow their female dog to have a break between pregnancies. It is believed that this gives the dog’s body time to rest and recover from the previous pregnancy before going through another one.
However, many specialists in canine reproduction, such as Dr. Hutchison, have actually concluded the opposite to be true. According to these experts, once the female dog is fertile (usually from the second heat cycle onwards), she can be bred at every heat until she reaches a point where breeding is no longer desirable. This point is typically determined by observing a significant decrease in litter size or personal preferences regarding future breeding.
It’s important to note that the frequency of breeding should be based on expert advice and the individual dog’s health and well-being. Consulting with a veterinarian or a reputable breeder is crucial to ensure the best outcome for the dog and her offspring
Progesterone is inflammatory to the uterine lining.
While true it is needed for pregnancy, the level is the same when the bitch ovulates and is not bred. Progesterone causes diseases such as cystic endometrial hyperplasia, mucometra, and pyometritis for example.
Skipping cycles does not benefit the uterus.Email from Dr. Robert Hutchison to Breeding Business
That philosophy explains that a dam’s body is in her prime time to have puppies during her first years. Her progesterone levels are at their highest to prepare the endometrium, or uterine lining, as a uterine supportive environment to welcome a fertilized egg. As a bitch gets older, her levels of progesterone decrease causing the regeneration of the uterus to become more approximate. Bitches of age six and over have a 33.3% less chance of conceiving than bitches under 6 years of age.
Whether a pregnancy occurs or not, the bitch goes through the very same progesterone effects. Therefore, breeding a younger bitch back to back makes use of a healthier uterus. She can retire earlier than other bitches that are not bred back-to-back but bred until much older, thus using a much less capable uterine support system.
But a Breeding Bitch Is NOT Just a Uterus
The first glitch in what has been a clear win for consecutive breeding is that we shouldn’t reduce a dam to just her uterus. While her reproductive health is important, it is just one aspect of her overall health.
The experience of pregnancy for dogs is different from that of their ancestors, the wolves. Wolves had shorter lifespans and fewer heat cycles, so they had to breed as frequently as possible to ensure the survival and strength of the species.
Pregnancy and nursing are sometimes referred to as a biological battle between the mother and her offspring, highlighting how physically and emotionally demanding it is for the female’s body and support system. Even with advancements in modern science, thousands of dogs worldwide still die every year due to complications during pregnancy.
Consecutive breeding places an enormous strain on the mother’s biological resources and energy levels. Therefore, it is advisable to skip a heat cycle to allow her body to recover fully and replenish itself before becoming a mother again
Wait For Hindsight On The Dog Breeding Program
Breeding dogs back to back without giving yourself enough time between pregnancies may not be the best approach. As a breeder, it’s important to have feedback from a bitch’s previous litters to make informed decisions for future matings. This feedback helps you notice patterns and choose a more suitable mate for the next breeding, or even decide not to breed her again.
Understanding canine genetics is essential for knowledgeable breeders, and seeing the full results of well-planned breeding can take a couple of years. So you have a choice between breeding the bitch again while waiting for feedback or waiting until you receive the necessary information.
Feedback can come in various forms, such as:
- Wanting to reproduce a specific coat pattern or color
- Ensuring a certain defect is eliminated from the bloodline
- Identifying a structural feature that only becomes apparent when the puppies grow up
If you decide to wait after the bitch’s first pregnancy, keep in mind that time will pass quickly, and her fertility will decline soon. This means that what could have been an opportunity to establish a top bloodline may result in a limited number of puppies.
On the other hand, if the bitch consistently gives birth to puppies with serious defects or undesirable traits, waiting for feedback before further breeding can help prevent the birth of average or poor-quality puppies.
In summary, as a responsible breeder, it’s important to gather feedback from previous litters to make informed decisions for future breedings. This feedback allows you to improve the quality of the bloodline and ensure healthy and desirable puppies
Conclusion — a Case by Case Answer
Although we hate to stand in between and not take a clear stand, we do have to remain balanced on the topic of back to back breeding. It is a case by case kind of scenario that also depends on the breeder’s expertise, knowledge, and experience.
On the one hand, if you are extremely experienced and your bloodline has been producing quality litters for years, you may choose to follow your instinct and breed back to back the bitch of your choice.
On the other hand, if you are just beginning or unsure about the quality of your breeding stock, you may prefer to wait things out after first breeding so both the dam recovers and the litter gives you feedback a year or two later. You can then decide to stop breeding the bitch, find a more suitable stud, or repeat the same breeding.
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