Start by deciding what are the main goals of your dog breeding program and then select the right breeders to pick your breeding partners from. Organize the mating at home and prepare yourself for the upcoming pregnancy of your female dog.
This is how to breed your dogs at home safely and responsibly.
As always with dog breeding, you must start by learning as much as possible about the breed you want to work with. That way, you are ready to decide on what particular characteristics, abilities, and traits, you want to favor in your own successive home breedings. Do not become over ambitious and only select a couple of measurable traits to start with and see how things go after a generation or two.
Decide on Your Breeding Program's Goals
If you have decided to breed your dog, it is vital not to go into the breeding without researching all matters first: purebred dogs, the breed, canine genetics, health issues, other bloodlines, etc. Indeed, you must create a dog breeding program for your bloodline so to have a clearly outlined ambition. This can take time and research but will be worthwhile, in the end as you will have healthy and happy puppy litters that bring improvements to their breed.
Do not just pair your dog with the neighbor’s dog together just to enjoy raising a litter of puppies at home. Instead, outline in your head or on paper, what you want to breed dogs for. Don’t be over-ambitious, decide on a couple of things (tasks or traits) you want your dogs to obtain, or better, over time.
An example of this would be if you are breeding a dog for a specific task or dog show you will want them to have the best chance to be an improvement on their parents, so you will need to pick the best of their breed to achieve this. See these tips for finding specific traits to breed for.
Explore Breeders & Bloodlines
What every breeder should strive for is to improve on the breed or crossbreed they are mating even if it is just a one-time breeding. Learn how to read a dog’s pedigree so you can understand what each potential member of your founding breeding stock has to offer (good and bad!)
Once you have decided on the traits you want you can begin to research candidate bloodlines and breeders, it’s recommended to talk to fellow breeders, online and offline groups or even show judges to find out more about the breed and how to find the best dogs to mate. They will offer valuable advice that you as a novice may not be aware of if this is your first breeding at home experience.
You should only liaise with reputable breeders about their dogs and bloodlines to see if they would be interested in selling one of their dogs to you or in breeding them with your dog. They can offer advice and advise on where to get the best bitch or sire for their specific breed from a trustworthy bloodline of the breed. Before breeding your dogs, email your local and national breed clubs to ask for some works of literature and pieces of advice, this will help you make the best decision for you and your dogs.
Research into the breeder’s reputation and his dogs’ family history. Especially any inherited genetic conditions that could be passed on to the litter. It is crucial for each dog to have health checks before any breeding plans so that you can be comfortable knowing your litter will arrive healthy and free of potential inherited conditions.
As you will be breeding at home prepare well, you will be totally immersed in the experience so make sure you assess both dogs’ temperament before allowing them to mate. You do not want to end up with a litter of aggressive puppies in your home! A well-planned out breeding program is the key to success when breeding at home so you can be prepared for any situation.
Handpick the Breeding Stock
Now that you know what you want your dogs to be great at, carefully select the dog or dogs that will be able to participate in your next breeding(s). If you only have one dog, put all your effort into selecting the right partner. Finding the right dog or dogs to mate can take some time. You need to perform health checks on every dog, making sure they have no inherited ailments and have the right temperament and characteristics that you want to be passed down on to your litter.
If you are breeding pedigree dogs, this can be a simpler process as you can contact your local kennel club for reputable dams or studs that they may know. In this case, you can ask to see each dog’s pedigree information. A pedigree will show the dog’s siblings, parents, grandparents, and in some cases, great-grandparents. For breeders of pedigree dogs, it’s important to see this document, as it will indicate the legitimacy of a breeder’s claim to their dog’s pedigree and point out any genetic incompatibilities between the two dogs.
For example, the United States, in order for pedigree puppies to be registered with the American Kennel Club they must be birthed by a pedigreed sire (father) and dam (mother). The process for the United Kingdom’s Kennel Club is similar. When choosing a mate, pedigree parents can be one of the best avenues to go down, but be aware that breeding with a purebred sire or dam of high standard does come with a fee attached. If you do choose a purebred partner, make sure to introduce your dog to its mating partner first and see how they interact so you know that they have similar temperaments and characteristics that will result in a successful litter (worth the initial investment).
Heat Period: Organize the Mating at Home
On the breeding day, make sure your dogs are relaxed and comfortable in their environment. If you own both dogs then they will know where they are and won’t be nervous or excited about seeing a new dog. But if the mating is arranged with a dog from outside the home, it is advisable to introduce the dogs on a separate occasion a few weeks prior to the actual breeding. This is so that both dogs can become comfortable with each other so they will be less anxious and distracted when they meet to meet. This may also speed up the mating process as the animals will have already became accustomed to each other and therefore will be less anxious than if they just met for the first time.
The best mating area for the dogs will be a private enclosed area with good footing, preferably outside with weather permitting, where they can mate without distraction. Ideally, both owners will be present for the breeding but it can take some time, so be prepared to wait. The dogs may need hours to become comfortable with each other. If you have chosen an experienced stud or dam they can guide the other dog through the mating which can make the mating run smoother, and faster.
You, as the owner, can be a distraction so it is best to leave the dogs alone while they get to know each other, only intervening when necessary if there is an aggression or medical issue while both dogs mate. The mating itself can take between 10 to 45 minutes. Be patient. Try not to get involved.
The most effective area for an at-home breeding will be in a private area preferably where the male lives and with little distractions for the couple mating. Obviously, if you are the owner of the female, just try to make the male as relaxed as possible. Bringing a blanket from his home with the scent may help. Jealousy can also occur so make sure that it is only the two dogs in the area during the mating period, if other dogs are present one may get jealous of the other or they will be distracted by what the other dogs are doing. The more relaxed the animals are, the more likely they will be to breed successfully.
Prepare Whelping Box & Whelping Kit
Once the pregnancy has been confirmed, prepare the mother’s den in a quiet spot at home. Avoid spots near doors and windows. Some dogs may get stressed out by solitude, others would much prefer that over the living room with the TV on. Only you know your dogs, so make a judgment call. (You can always change the spot later.)
Both the whelping box and whelping kit should be prepared weeks before the anticipated whelping date because nature has a mind of her own. This is where the puppies will be born and where the puppies and their mother will spend most of their time for the next 6 to 8 weeks. It should be big enough to allow at least 1-2 feet around the mom when she is lying down.
Whelping boxes come in all shapes and sizes but it is about finding the most comfortable for your dog and what suits your home best. Many breeders make them at home but you can also buy them, materials range from wood to metal to plastic. Previously we have advised on using the material melamine as it does not absorb odor. As the birth will be at your home, the design of the whelping box will be suited to your house, it can be any color or size as long as the dam feels comfortable in it. It’s important for the bitch to know her area. That’s why we say to prepare it a few weeks before so she will want to give birth there and not in a difficult place you may not be able to reach. Let her rest and eat in her whelping box, filling it with replaceable bedding such as towels or newspapers so you can clean up any mess easily.
The whelping kit consist of the items that you should prepare for the mother, in the event of you needing to assist during labor, delivery, or nursing. A whelping kit includes items such as:
- puppy heating pads,
- dog scales,
- nursing bottles,
- puppy milk replacer,
- rounded scissors,
- an alarm clock to wake you up regularly,
- and more.
Preparing this before the litter arrives will alleviate the stress for the mother and you, so that you are ready for any difficulties that may arise during birth.
Help the Mother Nurse her Puppies
Mother Nature does things well; you normally should never have to intervene (not even in labor and delivery). However, your female will have to feed extra bodies during her pregnancy and during the nursing period. It’s important to keep an eye on your dam after she has given birth to make sure that she’s healthy and coping well and to support her in caring for her pups.
Get both the mother and the pups checked over by your vet within a day or two of delivery, even if all of them are doing well. Your vet will examine your dam and make sure that she is not suffering from any adverse effects of delivery and that she is in generally good health. To keep track of your dams health you can take her temperature each day for a week to ten days. If her temperature rises above 39.7 degrees celsius you should take her back to the vet as she may have contracted an infection as a result of delivery.
After the birth, you will need to be feeding your bitch the best food possible so she can regain her strength while she is feeding her pups. While you dam is lactating and feeding the puppies, it’s important to allow her to eat as much food as she wishes, which can be a significant amount. Often, as much as three times or more the amount she was eating before the pregnancy. Your dam’s nutritional requirements will also change during pregnancy and after the birth while she is lactating. Just feeding a regular diet designed for an adult dog is not enough. A supplement for pregnant dog such as NutriCal and a calcium supplement would be advised during the weeks after the birth.
Monitor not only the dam’s weight but also the puppies so you can see that they are all in good health (use our free puppy charts). Breastfeeding can take a toll on a dam’s body to make sure she is healthy and happy as frequently as possible. If something does not seem right, such as vomiting, diarrhoea or weight loss, then a vet visit is in order.