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FAQ: Breeding Your Dog For The First Time

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Breeding dogs for the first time raises various questions. Timing for breeding varies by breed and size.
  • Fertility declines in females around 5 years old, leading to increased risks of stillborn puppies.
  • Males can reproduce for longer, but their sperm quality declines with age. The ideal breeding age for females is typically between 18 months and around 5-6 years.
  • Mating success depends on observing the female's behavior during her heat cycle, with the second stage being most receptive.
  • Pregnancy in dogs lasts about 58-68 days, with litter size influenced by factors like size, inbreeding, age, health, diet, and gene pool.
  • Preparing a dog whelping kit is essential upon confirming pregnancy, aiding in pregnancy, labor, and nursing. A whelping box provides a safe space for the mother and her puppies.
Breeding Business is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Reviewed by Jawad Ahmad
Veterinarian with expertise in surgery, diagnosis, and treatment, complemented by hands-on field experience, organized welfare campaigns, and educational articles in animal care.
Published on
Sunday 5 February 2017
Last updated on
Wednesday 18 October 2023
Breeding Your Dog For The First Time
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Breeding your dog for the first time can be a daunting task especially if you have nobody experienced mentoring you. There are so many interrogations new dog breeders have in their mind about dog breeding so we’ll try to answer them right here.

Each dog breed has its own timeline when it comes to pregnancy and cycles; this is why it is almost impossible to give precise answers using numbered years, for example. Small breeds tend to come into heat more often while giant breeds divide this number by three or four. The same goes for life expectancy, while some breeds have it set around 8 years, many others double it.

Some answers are purposefully short but accompanied with a link for further reading. We focused on providing first-time dog breeding information.

Legal and ethical considerations in first-time dog breeding include adhering to local breeding regulations and obtaining necessary permits. Ethical practices involve prioritizing the health and welfare of the dogs, avoiding inbreeding, and ensuring suitable living conditions. Responsible breeders commit to finding loving homes for the puppies, provide proper healthcare, and offer lifetime support to new owners.

How old does a dog have to be to breed?

This is a difficult question because doing it too soon is most likely going to stress the bitch and knowing when too early is can be tricky. As a rule of thumb, a responsible breeder will wait for his bitch to be at least 18 months of age in order to start breeding her.

Never breed her on her very first or second heat since she isn’t yet fully fertile.

How old is too old to breed your dog?

The age limit for breeding a dog depends on the sex of that dog.

A female’s fertility will decline sharply from 5 years old as her body becomes a little less able to cope with a whole pregnancy and the nursing of the delivered litter. Female dogs, unlike women, do not go through menopause, therefore, they never really cease their cycles. Instead, the regularity of their estrus cycle (heats) changes and instead of being four times a year, it goes down to once or twice a year. The female is technically still fertile but a lot less than when she was in her prime time. Getting her pregnant will turn out to be very difficult and even if you do, risks of stillborn puppies increase while the puppy count sharply declines.

The age of a male is less relevant as they are able to reproduce until much later in life; however, they face the same issue than their female counterparts. The older they get, the weaker their sperm becomes and once they enter the senior stage, they tend to fail most ties.

Use of Technological tools for first Time Breeding

Modern technology aids first-time dog breeders by offering tools for fertility tracking, artificial insemination, and genetic testing. Apps and devices can help monitor the female’s heat cycle. Artificial insemination can be performed with the guidance of a veterinarian. Genetic testing allows breeders to make informed decisions and reduce hereditary health risks in offspring.

What does prime time mean in dog breeding?

The prime time when discussing dog breeding is the few years starting from 18 months of age until her puppy count sharply declines, usually around her 5th or 6th year of age.

This is the best time to breed a female since her fertility is at an all-time high thanks to high progesterone levels. Her body is also able to cope with the tiring pregnancy and draining delivery of the puppies followed by their nursing. A first-time pregnant dog will inevitably struggle a little bit but she will get better at it over time.

Health Preparations for Breeding

Before breeding a dog, ensure both the male and female are in optimal health. Visit a veterinarian for pre-breeding health checks, vaccinations, and deworming. Maintain a balanced diet, provide supplements as recommended, and conduct genetic screening to minimize potential health issues in the offspring.

What day of the heat cycle should my bitch be bred on?

Roughly 11 to 13 days after the bleeding has started, the female should be ready for mating. Usually, you can notice the bleeding has thinned down to a more pinkish color but this is not always the case.

The best way to figure this out is to put both dogs together and see whether your Dam is in the first or second stage of her estrus cycle:

  1. on the first stage of your female’s heat, she will be aggressive towards the male and won’t let any stud approach her
  2. on the second stage, the bitch will become a lot more receptive and flirty with the stud

The second stage is when you should be able to see the female flagging her tail and the male trying to mount her. Let them do it.

Otherwise, you can visit your vet on her first day of heat and he will be able to set up a schedule for progesterone blood tests on days 9 to 11 in order to tell you when the best moment for mating is. This is the best option if you are using artificial insemination.

What is a tie in dog breeding?

When you put your two dogs together they will eventually mate if the female is ready and receptive. The breeding or mating process can be lengthy and follows several steps, one of which is the tie. It’s also the one people expect the least and are the most scared of.

  1. First, the stud will mount the dam and will penetrate her.
  2. Once the male’s penis is correctly inserted, he will turn around to start the breeding tie.

Both hind ends touch each other and this position is often very uncomfortable for both partners. The tie will stop only once the male’s penis becomes unswollen.

The part worrying most new breeders is that the breeding tie can last for several dozens of minutes, during which the bitch may want to run away. This would be disastrous as the dam would end up dragging the male and it would cause serious damage to either one of them.

This rarely happens as Nature did things well but be aware that it might occur and you should definitely be around in order to calm your bitch if she seems to get anxious. Do not intervene if everything is going according to plan; just approach them if there is a high risk of injury.

You can learn how the coitus between two dogs develops on our dog breeding timeline.

How long is the pregnancy of a dog?

The gestation period in dogs lasts between 58 and 68 days, with an average of 63 days or roughly two months. The breed, size, and type of your female dog does not matter; your bitch should still give birth to her litter of puppies in the aforementioned timeframe.

Obviously, a vet should monitor your female’s gestation just to know how many puppies she is carrying and to make sure she is perfectly coping with her pregnancy. Closer to the delivery day, your bitch will suddenly drop her rectal temperature which will be a sign of imminent labor.

How many puppies could my dog have?

The size of the dog mainly defines the puppy litter size:

  • Pomeranians average between 1 to 4 pups a litter
  • Border Terriers average between 2 to 8 pups a litter
  • Boxers average between 5 to 8 pups a litter
  • Bull Mastiffs average between 5 to 13 pups a litter

As you can see, each breed has an average puppy count given as a range because other factors will determine which end of this spectrum she will lean towards.

We’ve written a comprehensive article discussing what influences a puppy litter size but in short, here are the top factors coming to play besides the dog’s size:

  • Coefficient of Inbreeding — a high coefficient of inbreeding will significantly reduce the litter size
  • Age of the Dogs — the quality of the sperm declines with age as well as the female’s fertility
  • Health of the Dam — a weak female won’t be able to cope with a lot of puppies
  • Diet of the Damstudy shows a high-protein diet often increases the size of the litter
  • Size of the Gene Pool — limited gene pools are known to produce smaller litters

The puppy count of a given litter is difficult to predict and almost impossible to influence. Science has not yet found the tools to allow breeders to decide how many puppies should land on the next litter; and it’s a good thing.

Do I need a whelping kit?

As soon as your vet confirmed your bitch’s pregnancy, you must prepare a comprehensive dog whelping kit. This sort of toolbox will allow you to assist and help your bitch towards the end of her pregnancy, during labor, delivery and while she’s nursing her whelps.

There are some ready-to-use whelping kits available on Amazon and they are usually enough for most people. Some experienced breeders prefer to assemble their own whelping kit, which usually includes round-tipped scissors, dental floss, forceps, a thermometer, ribbons and a lot more. We’ve got a full list available on our DIY whelping kit article.

Along with a whelping kit, a breeder must prepare a confined, quiet, warm space for the bitch to rest and nurse her puppies. This is called a whelping box and we’ve also written a comprehensive article on it.

Featured image credits to DailyMail/AP.

14 comments on “FAQ: Breeding Your Dog For The First Time”

  1. BarbaraRecek

    Thank you for sharing this information.

    1. Pleasure, hope you learnt more about dog breeding after reading this!

  2. G O

    Whoa this is awesome information, thanks

    1. MariaCoronel

      thank you, I like to have more information to register dogs from other country

  3. odeniyi olanrewaju

    It is highly educative.

  4. Victoria Phelan

    I have a 20 month yellow lab who has just had all his relevant tests and is ready to become a Daddy! I am struggling to find out how to find him a bitch though – most people want a ‘proven’ stud and obviously he is not that yet. Can you advise?

  5. Joe

    Thanks for the info ! Very helpful !!

  6. Jenny

    Really useful info here ,thanks, I have a question, I took my bitch to her sire yesterday and she was receptive to him, they did the business and the yield seemed to go as it should and lasted fir around fifteen minutes, she cried a yelleped a little , I expected this as it’s her first time, is it necessary yo visit the sire again as this was a successful tie, us if possiblke she wasn’t at the right stage of her cycle even though she was receptive to the sire? Since I got her home she’s keen to mount and try to hump our other younger bitch, is this normal or is it a sign that I should take her back to the sire ? Thank you. Jenny

  7. Giancarlo Milito

    Hi, I have a 3 year old tea cup Yorkie. I have found a femaleYorkie who is ready to be mated. My question is how long should I leave my dog at the females house? I have already dropped him off and they seem to like each other for the short time I was there. He was trying to mount her and she seemed willingly. My concern is that she (yorkie) is much bigger then him and dont want her to hurt him. They are supposedly being supervised but you never know. I dont know the owners of the female yorkie that well and was referred to them thru a family friend. Its been 2 days now that he is there. Should had the mating process already happened? According to the family they said nothing has happened. I just dont want to be swindled and given the response the female did not get pregant or that nothing happened. They seemed more in love with my dog then there own lol. So in a nut shell my question is when should I retrieve my male yorkie and say ok thats enough and bring him home? Thank you so much and I hope you can make sense of my question.

  8. Terry

    I have a 13 old male black lab that I want to breed with a female black lab he’s AKC registered

  9. Ann Rennie

    I am trying to breed my bitch for the first time and have a suitable dog for her. Yesterday the met and got on well, sniffed, played and did all the normal things but no mounting, today they were more adventurous, she was standing and he mounted her but she yelped and jumped away, the second time he mounted her he penetrated her but only for a few seconds then the same thing happened. They seem to like each other and doing all the right things but nothing happening. We are going to try again tomorrow, any tips greatly appreciated

  10. Renee Bailey

    I have a great little male pomeranian. Papers and all. I am having a problem finding a female. Is there a way through this site. I’m in SC.

  11. william davis

    I read in your article that a femal dog goes into heat 4 times a year? I never heard of this….I’ve heard twice or maybe three times, but 4 times? where is this information from?

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