Breeding Your Bitch

Breeding your bitch can be a very enjoyable and pleasurable experience for you and an educational experience for your children.

The time during which your bitch's reproductive system is active, i.e.,the time when the ovaries produce hormones and the bitch displays changes in her behaviour,is known as her "cycle" or "heat". It is also described as the bitch being "in season"

The first stage of this "season" is known as Pro-oestrus. This is when the ovaries produce hormones which stimulate the womb to swell and prepare for a pregnancy. The vulva enlarges and becomes firm, discharges blood stained fluid and drops further downwards between the bitch's hind legs. At this point the bitch will be attracted towards the male but will not accept the male for mating. She will be quite aggressive towards any attempt by the male to mount her. On average, this stage lasts approx 9 days. However, this stage can range from 2-27 days, depending on the individual bitch.

The second stage, or Oestrus of her season is where she will seek out males and stand with her tail raised or "flagged" to one side. The discharge from the vulva will be straw coloured and clear of any blood. Fertilisation of her eggs will occur during this stage. This stage lasts on average 9 days but can range from 3-21 days.

The third stage orMetoestruscan be in fact either of two phases. If firtilisation was successful then pregnancy has started. If not, then the bitch enters the Metoeustrus phase where she is no longer attractive to male dogs and the vulva loses its swollen appearance and will return to its normal size and position.

The fourth stage, or Anoestrus is that period of sexual inactivity between heats. These periods vary from bitch to bitch but on average last from 4-6 months in most cases.

When to mate?
Usually the tenth or twelfth day is the most common chosen but this varies from bitch to bitch. Some may not mate until the fifteenth or eighteenth day, some will mate earlier than the tenth day. A good stud dog will give as good an indication as to when she is ready. If you are having difficulty finding the best day for your bitch to mate it might be wise to consult a veterinarian.

A "rule of thumb" indication is to watch discharge colour change to a straw colour and then wait three days. This is of course as I said, "rule of thumb". Experience can not be beaten and one usually gets to know within a couple of days when to mate a bitch. Experience aside, if left to their own devices the dogs usually do well in working it out.

Submitted by John Chandler

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