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Is Back to Back Breeding Healthy for the Bitch?

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Back to back breeding is when a breeder breeds their female dog for several consecutive heats
  • Whether or not back to back breeding is best for a dog's health depends on multiple factors, such as previous complications during pregnancy or the dog's breed
  • Some experts recommend breeding a dog every heat until it is "done", while others suggest skipping a heat to allow the dog to fully recover
  • Back to back breeding can be demanding on a dog's biological resources and energy levels, so it is essential to approach it carefully
  • Back to back breeding depends on the individual case and the breeder's expertise, knowledge, and experience.
Breeding Business is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Zoo and wildlife doctor in veterinary medicine passionate about animal welfare and preventive medicine.
Published on
Sunday 27 November 2016
Last updated on
Wednesday 14 June 2023
Back to Back Breeding
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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:

  1. Did the last pregnancy have any complications?
  2. Was the litter size significantly larger than the average for the breed?
  3. 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.
Canine reproduction specialist, Dr. Hutchison, has concluded that once the female is fertile, usually from the second heat, the bitch should be bred at every heat until she is done.

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

A female bitch is much more than a uterus, therefore back to back breeding has to be approached carefully.
A female bitch is much more than a uterus, therefore back to back breeding has to be approached carefully.

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

Back to back breeding is a case by case situation.
Breeding back to back cannot be dismissed or recommended. It really depends on the bitch, the breed and the breeder.

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.

We’re providing even more pointers in our bestseller, The Dog Breeder’s Handbook.

36 comments on “Is Back to Back Breeding Healthy for the Bitch?”

  1. Jekyll Duran

    The back to back breeding of one bitch is obviously better since this is how nature intended it. Maybe tiring but when done back to back, the bitch usually retires earlier therefore it gives her a lot of time to enjoy herself.

  2. Krystin

    I always wait one cycle to breed again so once a year. I feel like it gives the dog time to recoup…having babies takes a lot out of you!!!!

    1. Richard Ogden

      They are not babies they are puppies.

  3. Christine


    I am a breeder of Toy breeds such as Chihuahuas, Pomeranians and English Toy Terriers, the back to back breeding is not an option for me under the UK Kennel Club rules.

    I had one accidental pregnancy where one of my chihuahuas had 2 consecutive litters, the mum was good and kept her body weight on with no issues throughout the entire process.

    I am against back to back breeding for many reasons, as small breeds have tiny litters but their little bodies would not sustain constant use.

    1. Richard Ogden

      You are typical of people that use their emotions rather than scientific facts to determine reality.

      1. Jeni Butler

        You are typical of people who only consider the science that supports the opinion they already hold and ignore all scientific evidence against their view.

        1. R Ogden

          I have bred several Yorkie litters back to back. I retired her, spayed her and she is a very happy healthy 11 year old now. A rat is a lot smaller than a Yorkie, and the poor little rats body is able to churn out litter after the wild of all places.

  4. Laura

    My thoughts on the subject is that it is best to breed a female only once a year.

    This gives her time to recoup and to just be a dog with out puppies pulling her down physically. If a breeder feels they must do a back to back breeding then it be best to give the dog the next year off from any breeding.

    Breeding any dog must have a purpose and be beneficial to bettering the breed which I feel can still be done by once a year breeding.

    1. I have some girls that are their very happiest when they have pups. If the dog has sufficiently good nutrition and exercise, and delivers without complications, I find they are actually healthier when bred back-to- back than when skipped. Yes, I agree that you need to work toward bettering the breed when breeding, but that can be done regardless of which method you choose to follow. I have seen no decline in the number, health or quality of pups produced following a back-to-back litter. In fact, some of my top show dogs have been born following a back-to-back breeding. My bitches that were bred back-to-back were healthier and stronger than the ones that I skipped. Skipping resulted in false pregnancies, some cases of pyo (not often), weight gain and loss of muscle tone, the latter likely due to hormonal influences. Future litters were more difficult deliveries.

      1. kabake

        This is my experience almost exactly. I spoke with a reproductive vet specialist when we started and followed his recommendations. I do agree with the advantages of skipping a heat in some cases but for the most part this has worked. When the number of pups declines or there are any complications I spay. I have been told age 6 is the time line for being done. If there are no complications that’s what I aim for but it’s not written in stone.

      2. shel greb

        The terrible thing about not breeding a bitch who is young, healthy, and whelps easily is you may not get that second litter. You may never get to repeat the same breeding or try another desirable stud. I waited and went through 5 years of heartbreak on a stunning wonderful bitch, Her lines well over 60 years in the making are nearly gone. I spent thousands of dollars trying to breed what could have been prevented had I not waited. A healthy uterus. This was the end of the line and I was forced to start over. Trust me I can say definitely as an older mom myself it is far easier on the body having kids in your twenties, than later in life. You also get the opportunity to pursue other fun activities with your bitch that build on the bond. Another aspect is definitely knowing that your female line is strong. You have time to breed her daughters and reflect that the next generation is everything that you wish to carry on. You have options. We show to evaluate breeding stock, health, temperament and how closely our dogs adhere to the standard, You have time to reflect and reassess when you see quality can be produced consistently. You have time to decide. I waited. I lost that opportunity of peak fertility. I will always regret not breeding her right away, You may have a litter of all males or all females or owe the best puppy back to the sire owner or her breeder. Opportunity lost.
        Lesson learned.

        1. Lisa

          Thank you for this helpful perspective, you’ve given many good points!

          1. I am a human mom who had 6 kids in my twenties and 7 kids later at age 30-42
            It’s not all about being young it’s about caring for your body womb uterus stress and how that back to back WILL affect you in old age

  5. Jim A.

    I breed my females on the third and fourth heat cycle then I place them a pet home. I don’t think a female should be used as a cash cow. I do selective breeding for show.

    1. Denise Tinkey

      It would be a better world if more people were like you. Certainly shelters wouldn’t over capacity like now.

  6. Hellen

    Thanks again for the very informative article.

    I personally believe if your bitch is in good condition/health breeding your bitch back to back and then give her a break.

    Personally, I dont let my bitches have more than three litters anyway as they are not breeding machines :-)


  7. Sonja

    I think back to back breeding had its place say in the case of a singleton puppy or a litter not raised by the bitch; say in a bitch that has had a large show career and started motherhood late. I never have more that 2 litters from my girls and would not rule out s back to back.

    Breeding a female back to back for several makings as suggested in ur article is totally unacceptable.

  8. Karen S

    In reply to your question, I don’t believe back to back breeding as you call it is good because an animal needs to recuperate after having a litter of pups. It takes a lot out of her feeding pups. And needs rest and extra care in getting back into good health, before having another litter.

    As for her uterus I would not think having litter after litter will be good for that, quite the opposite!

    1. R Ogden

      I think isnt science.

      1. Brenda Hanna

        Science feels like such a cold word when referring to something or someone you love. But I absolutely agree with you! Nature usually knows when the body is ready. Common sense is also needed if you see that your dog is not well. But I whole heartedly agree with back to back breeding! This has been the best fit for my girls. I usually retire after three years because the litters start getting smaller and the Dam begins to show signs of being tired.

  9. Hannah S

    I think back to back breeding wears a bitch out and makes them more unlikely to be able to conceive. I believe it is best to breed every alternate heat. This gives the bitch time to recover.

  10. Megan Smith

    I think it depends on the health of the bitch. I used to breed every other heat, letting my females “recover” and only having one litter each year. However, I did know about the other way of doing things, and had read info from a couple of veterinarian/breeders who breed back-to-back.

    After I started my dogs on Life’s Abundance products my bitches health, weight, muscle-tone, and coat was so much better than before that they didn’t seem to need a recovery period. Days after giving birth, and while nursing large litters, they are out on long walks/runs, playing fetch, swimming, jumping in the air, etc. In addition, they no longer need supplementation when nursing large litters.

    Since they were so healthy, I started breeding back-to-back and have never gone back. For some reason (either their overall better health, or the back-to-back breeding) their fecundity has also improved. I am happy with this method, as are my bitches and my stud dogs.

  11. Kara

    Why should newbie breeders breed less? Unless you breed, you can’t work on your lines, which takes years & years. Typically, you’d have the vet care and they make the recommendation based on the health of the dog.

  12. barb

    Has there been cases of pyometria associated with either type of breeding? Back to back or rest in between?

  13. Jeni Butler

    You are typical of people who only consider the science that supports the opinion they already hold and ignore all scientific evidence against their view.

  14. ChriMaso

    I would be interested in the credentials of the people writing the article. As a breeder for 40+ years in two different breeds, my experience shows that back-to-back breedings is completely acceptable and HEALTHY for the bitch IF, and ONLY if, the bitch is healthy (mentally & physically), is a good mom, and produces quality healthy puppies. There is no absolutely rule/answer. You need to know your bitch and do what is best for her.

    1. R Ogden

      My experience over 17 years mirrors yours.

    2. anthony smith

      While I don’t have the experience as either of you
      I agree totally with you
      Our female is an awesome mother
      I personally don’t straight line breeding
      I pair a male and female and when one retires they both will

    3. Sally

      This is the best & most relevant post on here
      A good breeder knows her bitch well and then makes the decision when to breed based on the bitches health
      I have bred my bitches back to back but only when they are in optimum health
      Unfortunately there are unscrupulous people out there “ puppy farming “
      Because of these horror stories the public are all too ready to label & judge anyone who breeds …..

    4. Diane

      I totally agree I too have bred for 40+ years and have generally never bred back to back but recently I did my bitch was in fantastic condition she had 5 puppies in her 1st litter and 6 puppies in her 2nd and throughout both periods of pregnancy, Whelping and rearing she never lost her health status or condition in fact she was a little overweight after her second litter. I only ever have 3 litters out of a bitch and then they are retired she will be mated after 18 months have passed and then she will continue to enjoy life but both litters where of excellent quality and puppies where retained to continue this fabulous line

  15. kabake

    I try to read these comments to learn but so often there is too much judging and lashing out at those with different opinions. I appreciate the experience of other breeders more than anything, I know several breeders and none of them consider their dogs “cash cows”, In fact most of us treat our dogs as beloved pets.

  16. April Streat

    I waited when breeding my first bitches. I had this “let them rest” attitude. My dogs are family. My companions, my partners. But I do have other dogs for breeding that are more like friends than family. The dogs that are family, once they retire, they live their lives on our farm. Hunting, chasing predators away from the flocks, lounging in the sun, playing in snow, going for car rides, we even pay thousands extra to take at least 3 dogs with us, every time we go on vacation, they fly with us, they go to the beach, you name it. Our non retired and retired dogs have an EXCELLENT life. The dogs that are more friends than family, when they retire, they are spayed and placed on an equally active, and loving caring home, where I keep in contact with them for the rest of the dogs remaining life. I did the whole breed once, skip a cycle, I even did breed back to back, then skip a whole year. Then I tried back to back for 3 cycles, and then retire. I’ll tell you what…..the bitches I bred back to back 3 cycles (the earliest I started was at age 2, and she had already had 3 heat cycles and was on her fourth when she got pregnant) was just amazing. The bitch bounced back wonderfully. I had ZERO still births, zero complications, just perfect litters!! I always breed AFTER I know the female is ready, not just physically, but MENTALLY. That can make or break it all. You can take one human teenager at the age of 19 who gets pregnant, and they get married, raise the baby right, and have another when that baby is 1yr or 2 yrs old…or you can take another human female at the age if 21 who gets pregnant, and doesnt eat right, stays out and drinks and does drugs, leaves the baby at the babysitters more often then she cares for the baby etc. The mental state of the 2 women are completely different, and that can and does happen with dogs as well. If a bitch is not mentally ready, I would not breed her until she is, and certainly not back to back. My Amish neighbor bred his dogs back to back twice. The 2nd breeding resulted in the bitch killing her puppies. The dog was unstable and shoukdnt have been bred, she was constantly confined and never saw grass and never ever went in their house….she lived on a cage all her life. So a dog like that, who genetically shouldn’t be bred anyway, is going to have problems. A dog that is well fed, not overweight or underweight, is happy, loved, mentally and physically mature, genetically sound, and well taken care of, as well as under the guidance of a vet if you are new to breeding, or your own knowledge (if you have been doing so for 25+ years or so, like myself) I do believe back to back breeding are absolutely ok, and better for the overall health of the dog reproductively and her litters. I have seen more issues than not with many different dogs over 2 different breeds with breeding a bitch, skipping a cycle and then breeding, and even worse when you breed back to back, skip a whole year, then have another litter. The healthiest, strongest litters have been when I bred the bitches back to back 3 cycles in a row and retired her. I would even do 4 cycles back to back, but never have. So that is a bitch at 2 yrs old, who has 2 litters when she is 2, and 2 litters when she is 3, and then she is done. Retired at 3 and has a lovely life ahead of her, but passed on the line. I waited until my top bitch was just about 4 years old (we were training and I didnt want a litter to interrupt, as she had gotten her OFA hip certs, and we were working on her titles as I wanted her to be a Schutzhund II before breeding her) and she was KILLED in a house fire. I never got to produce anything from her. The stud was killed as well, along with a bitch with her very first litter, and ALL 9 of her puppies, chickens, cats, other dogs, all died. Gone. So, I have gone the back to back route. I will never lose a line, which was a very old line going back to when Germany was divided into East and West Germany, and the other one went back before that to 1890. I mean I lost my one line. If I would have bred both if those bitches with my current method, they both would have been retired at that age, and there would be their progeny out in the world, doing things. So. Theres no definitive answer…it depends on many factors.

  17. Sierra

    It completely depends upon the overall health of your breeding stock. I am a Beagle Breeder, & I currently have two 3 year old bitches working. I try breed them back to back in attempt to produce 24 puppies per year, but I only do this when they are in extremely good health & seem up to the task. In my previous retired bitches, I just bred them back to back for a year, gave them a rest the next heat regardless of their health status, & then I had to face the decision of breeding them again the next year. Breeding dogs is a tricky business that can be very difficult sometimes, but in the end you have to do what is best for the dog.

  18. Dr Rebecca L Foster

    If humans were not involved…nature would take its course and dogs would breed on their own, every cycle. Human intervention means emotions that are not there naturally. Being conscientious of our dogs’ health is important, but also knowing that natural is best is as important as well. This article starts off by saying that breeding back-to-back is best then moves on to say that resting a cycle is best. Speaking from both sides of the mouth here…and sounds like the author doesn’t know who to please. Do you….mind your dog….and leave everyone else alone. Best practices.

  19. Dawn Benjamin

    Thank you everyone…good Article!! We bred our 4 year old dog for the first time because we had also bought our male dog last year and they had a wonderful litter of 7 girls and 3 boys… It seemed like almost everyone wanted a girl.
    We were very pleased with our female mom Bella…she did an excellent job and put up with nursing many times on wintry days outside even! We were thinking we might breed one more time this next Christmas but after reading this article maybe we will let her breed again this summer it is really nice to have the boy and the girl dog here as they are also friends and our grandkids just loves coming over to see the babies being born… we discounted are prices for about three or four people and it was more important to me that they were going to good homes and loving families~ my male and female are starting to act feisty again and I’m thinking oh boy am I ready for a another mating so it would be interesting in the summertime… it was easier to clean up our deck in the winter when all of their doodoo would be frozen!

  20. Hollie Ellee

    I was of the old school where you bred every other season with your bitch. The priblem with that was you were in the middle if showing her so had to hold off on breeding her so she was of the age of 3 or 4 when she finally had her first litter which happens during our short show season here in my part of the PNW. So now you want to wait a season and so that puts her right back in season during the show year so if you want to do any event at the shows this season you must again wait to breed her When If You Had Bred Her BACK TO BACK even 3 times, she would have been done and ready to fo out and obtain those titles to go after her name like fast cat and herding titles. My girl right now has had two litters back to back, 7 then 8 and I am going to breed her for her third back to back as she is in excellent shape physically and mentally and she is a super mom. One of the best if not the best I have ever had so its a go for me and I think Dr.Hutchinson knows his business better than any repro vet I have ever listened to.

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