Skip to content

Dog Breeding Terminology

Breeding Business is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Published on
Monday 27 July 2020
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
dog breeding terminology
This page may contain affiliate links. We may receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links.

If you are new to the world of dog breeding, you may still be confused by a lot of dog breeding terminology. We summarize in this article everything from genetics to medical vocabulary, so you can understand any professional breeder.

As some terminology is so specific, it can be difficult to find thorough explanations. This fully comprehensive guide will explain many areas of different terminology for dog breeding. This will allow you to easily identify and learn any confusing terms alongside learning a variety of new ones. If you have an interest in pursuing the exciting career or hobby of dog breeding, check out these dog breeding terms.

You can split this dog breeding glossary into subsections. This can help us to specify the appropriate use of each word or phrase. Take a look at the different categories of use for these dog breeding terms.

Breeding Methods and Genetics

From the timing of breeding to the influence of certain genetics, these terms help to explain the methods and genetics of breeding. Understanding the biology behind a process can allow you to prevent poor standards of breeding or recognize a possible health problem.


When a bitch’s owner deliberately terminates her pregnancy and the litter of unborn pups die.


Also known as canine fetal absorption, is where dog fetuses begin to deteriorate and are then reabsorbed by the mother.

Artificial insemination

Artificial insemination is when an owner introduces a stud’s sperm into the female, without mating taking place, in order to achieve pregnancy.


Chromosomes contain genetic information, an autosome is a non-sex chromosome.

Back crossing

A method of breeding where a hybrid dog is bred to either their parent or another dog that is very genetically similar. This is to achieve a litter of dogs more similar to the parent.

Back to back breeding

Breeding a bitch through multiple consecutive heats as opposed to letting her rest between pregnancies.


Crossbreeding is two allow the mating of two different dog breeds to produce hybrid puppies.


Dam is a synonym for bitch, meaning a female dog who can physically become pregnant due to being un-spayed.


The acronym DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid. This is a type of genetic material.


An unborn puppy is also known as a fetus. This is when a puppy is still within the womb.


This is something that determines the characteristics of a puppy. It is transferred from parent to puppy.


When two closely related dogs are mated, the puppies produced are inbred.

Line breeding

A synonym of selective breeding, where humans deliberately mate two individuals to produce offspring with desirable physical or behavioral characteristics.


When two distantly related dogs are bred, the puppies have been produced through outcrossing.


This is an internal female reproductive organ that creates, stores, and releases eggs.

Penis and Testicles

These are external reproductive organs in a male dog. The testicles are in an external sack and create and store sperm. The penis penetrates the female and transports the sperm from the testicles to the female. The penis is also used to release urine.

Pet Quality

The term pet quality refers to a dog that the breeder feels is not appropriate to breed from as it does not show worthy quality.


A purebred dog, also known as pedigree, is one who’s lineage is that of the same breed at a minimum of 87.5%


Your dog’s sibling is one who has the same parent’s as your dog. A half-sibling is a dog that has one parent shared.

Show quality

A show quality dog is one who breeders deem worth to breed from as they match breed standards.


A stud is a male dog who is sexually mature and viable.

Stud book

In dog breeding, a studbook is a collection of breeding males available for hire. You can pay for a mating between your bitch and a stud in the book, or for a sample of the stud’s sperm.


Your dog’s father is known as a sire. This term is regularly used when discussing hierarchical trees.

what is a sire
A sire is your pups’ father.


A tie is achieved when the male penetrates the female, ejaculates and his penis has swollen so it is temporarily unmovable. The male and female are stuck together during a tie for usually a duration of fifteen minutes. This is a normal factor in canine mating.

Water bag

This is the protective sac that surrounds each puppy while they are in the womb, it is essentially a sac filled with liquid. Once each puppy is born, the bitch regularly licks away the water bag and then consumes it for added nutrition. This is also performed to clear each puppies’ airway after birth.


Whelp is a synonym for puppy as whelping is a synonym for breeding or birth. Therefore whelping will produce whelps.

Medical terms

In order to make sure your bitch is properly cared for, you need to understand all the possible risks and procedures during mating, pregnancy, and birth. Recognizing and understanding these medical terms will help you both during research before and during breeding. It can also allow you to save yourself expensive vet bills and properly care for your dog at home for minor and easily treatable problems.


The amnion is the scientific term for the actual sac surrounding each embryo.

Amniotic fluid

The amniotic fluid is the liquid that fills each sac that surround a pups in pregnancy.


This is when vets surgically remove your male dog’s testicles to prevent them from remaining fertile. In can also affect their hormonal influence and behavior.

Cleft palate

A cleft palate is an incorrect formation of tissue whilst a puppy is in the womb. It affects the upper lip of the pup and causes a gap somewhere between the mouth and nose. This can be seen externally or even in the mouth of the pup and can affect them from suckling normally or effectively.


As soon as the puppies are born, your bitch will produce colostrum, that is the first of their produced milk for the pups. It has high health benefits for the pups and helps them to develop their immune system.


A contraction is the tightening of the muscles of the womb during birth to push each puppy out of the womb.


This term is used to describe a male who does not have any testes.


Eggs are genetic material which is released during a heat cycle in a bitch. These are fertilized by sperm and it develops into an embryo.


This is a hereditary health condition that causes a dog’s eyelid to fold inwards and irritate the eye. It can quickly become serious if not treated.


A female’s heat cycle is a synonym for estrus. This is a time where the female is preparing or ready to mate, her body is preparing for a litter.


Gestation is a synonym for pregnancy. It is the time from contraception to the moment a litter is born.

Heat cycle

The heat cycle is a biological process that affects a female dog roughly every six months. It is her body becoming physically ready to become pregnant.

Hip dysplasia

This is a hereditary condition that causes a dog’s hip socket to form incorrectly within the womb, preventing smooth movement between the hip ball and socket. This can lead to pain, difficulty moving and an inability to move.


This is a surgery your bitch can undergo to have her womb removed. This, in turn, prevents pregnancy permanently.

Natural immunity

This is an immunity a dog is born with and does not need any vaccinations to develop. Each individual and breed will have a different level of natural immunity due to genetics.


This is a procedure where all of a bitch’s female reproductive organs are surgically removed to prevent future pregnancies. This includes both ovaries and their uterus.


Each puppy has its own placenta. This is something that develops during pregnancy and provides oxygen and nutrients to each pup, removes waste, and is birthed just after each puppy.


PRA is an acronym for progressive retinal atrophy. This is a branch term that categorizes certain eye diseases and all are hereditary.

Regurgitation reflex

When a dog regurgitates it causes them to wretch to the point of vomiting. This can be caused by circumstance, congenital defects, and general illness.


Spaying is the surgical procedure prevention a bitch from ever becoming pregnant.


Sperm is a reproductive cell stored in the testes of a male dog. It penetrates the egg of the female after ejaculation.

Umbilical cord

The umbilical cord is the connector from each puppy’s bellybutton to their placenta.

Von Willebrand’s Disease

This is a disease that causes difficulties in blood clotting. This can lead to blood loss and life risk for females during birth.


The vulva is your female dog’s external genitalia.


From aids in canine mating to the perfect equipment to help with a healthy birth, these dog terms are necessary to know. They can increase the chance of a successful mating as well as support the bitch and pups to high standards of health.

Canine semen extender

A canine semen extender is a product that can both preserve a sperm sample alongside (often) benefiting the sperms’ level of mobility.

Cold packs

This is a regular cold pack that you leave in a freezer. It does not have one use in dog breeding but can be beneficial in multiple applications.

Early Scent Introduction

Also known as ESI, is a training program for future scent dogs. It uses scent items to initiate a desired response in very young puppies.

Estrus swabs

This is a swab that an owner will enter into the vagina during the bitch’s estrus period. This is used when collecting the sample from a stud as it can improve the quality of the sample you are collecting.

Meat water

These are ice cubes with meat flavoring. Freezing water with meat flavoring can encourage a bitch to eat the ice cubes and hydrate herself.

Pre-made milk replacer

Milk replacers can be used as a replacement for bitch milk for puppies. This is very useful when a bitch has a problem lactating.

Thermalon heat packs

These are pads that can be heated up and given to either the bitch or her puppies. Maintaining comfortable temperatures for both the mum and her litter is crucial.

Whelping box

Whelping boxes are a large box that is built for the bitch to feel comfortable before, during and after birth with her puppies. It has bars to prevent the mother from crushing the puppies and often have added features such as cooling fans or heaters.

use of whelping boxes
A whelping box will make your bitch more comfortable during and after birth.


There are a few other terms that canine breeding novices need to know, here are some of the more general terminologies.


The AKC is a kennel club, fully known as the American Kennel Club. It is one of if not the largest kennel clubs in America.

AKC registration

Registering a dog to the AKC allows you to enter them in shows, register future litters and many other benefits.

AKC papers

Gaining AKC papers means your dog is registered with the AKC. These are evidence of that and can display that an individual is purebred as well.

Dog Breeding Contract

Contracts can be established between the owners of studs and bitches, and between buyers of puppies and breeders. These contracts ensure ethics, financial management under differing circumstances, and the return or ownership of a dog.

what is a dog breeding contract
Dog breeding contracts ensure ethics and financial management between breeders and owners.

Kennel Club

Kennel clubs standardize breed types, allows for formal registration of individuals and litters, and organizes and judges many dog shows.

After reading this canine terminology post, you should feel more comfortable engaging in conversation with fellow breeders or researching breeding articles. Knowing many of these terms can benefit someone interested in a hobby or career in dog breeding. Memorizing these terms can also allow you to provide the highest levels of care for your dog as you know beneficial factors to provide to them. It can also allow you to create a high financial gain through understanding possible health problems early and recognizing how to treat minor health issues.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *