When Can Dogs Start Breeding?

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Written by: Celestine Gomez
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Having puppies is a great experience, so you might be excited about breeding your dog for the first time. Yet it’s crucial to know the right time for your canine.

So, when can dogs start breeding?

It’s crucial to understand that reaching physical maturity is different from sexual maturity. Before that, your female or male dog won’t be able to breed. So even after reaching sexual maturity, you must wait a little bit more until your dog can actually breed.

In this article, we’ll answer your question and explain how to tell that your dog is mature enough to mate. So, let’s dive in.

When Can Dogs Start Breeding?

Whether you have a male or female dog, you might think that once they’ve gone through physical maturity, then it would be ok for them to breed. This is wrong.

Your female or male dog shouldn’t breed before reaching sexual maturity, which comes at a later age. The age of sexual maturity depends on the dog’s breed and some individual differences.

On average, dogs reach the phase of sexual maturity by the time they’re six months. However, this is just an average, as some small breeds can reach this stage by the time they’re four months, while larger breeds can reach sexual maturity when they’re two years old.

However, at six months old, your dog is still a puppy, and this means that your dog isn’t yet ready to mate. Mating too early might hurt your canine, so you must choose the right time to ensure they’re in perfect health.

You can breed male dogs earlier than female dogs of the same breed. So, if both dogs are sexually mature by the time they’re one year old, it’s recommended to wait until your female dog is at least 18 months to consider breeding.

When Is Your Male Dog Ready to Breed?

Once mature, your male dog can breed every day of its life. However, this is not recommended because it can lead to popular sire syndrome. Testing your dog’s fertility and health are essential for keeping it in perfect condition while breeding. Here’s what you can do to establish his status as a healthy stud.

Father and son dogs

Choose the Right Age

Dogs can be sexually mature but not cleared for breeding if they’re too young or too old. Even if you have a male dog of a small breed that is already sexually mature by the time he is six months, you need to wait at least until your dog is 12 or 18 months old.

After the age of seven, you need to confirm with your vet that it’s safe for your dog to breed. Breeding when the dog is too old can be bad for his health, and he might not be able to get a female dog pregnant.

Check with the Vet

If your male dog is breeding for the first time, the vet might want to run some tests. First, they’ll do a physical exam of the dog’s genital organs and might do a sperm count.

The vet might advise you to wait for another year if the dog is too young. They might also prescribe medication if he is suffering from a thyroid or prostate problem that is affecting the sperm count and fertility.

Get your Dog Registered as a Stud

This is optional but can help you breed your male dog with the right mating candidate. If you have certified ownership, you can register it with the American Kennel Club, letting other dog owners know that your male dog is ready for mating.

You need to create a stud contract to set all the details like where the breeding will occur and the fee you’ll charge. You can take a cash fee or pick up some puppies of the produced litter.

Find an Ideal Mate

If you don’t want to register your dog with the AKC, you can search for this ideal mating partner by yourself. Here are some factors to consider.

  • Make sure that the female dog has traits that complement your dog’s traits.
  • Check that she comes from a strong bloodline with the desired qualities like level of intelligence and appearance.
  • Choose a calm and friendly female dog to be a good mating partner.
  • Ask the female dog owner for proof that she is in good health and doesn’t suffer from any genetic issues.

When Is Your Female Dog Ready to Breed?

Pig dog nursing her puppies

For successful breeding, you need to wait until your dog is mature enough, so she can successfully breed to produce a healthy litter. You should also determine the optimal stage in your female dog’s heat cycle for successful mating.

Wait for the Right Time

To protect your female dog, you need to make sure that she is sexually mature enough to mate. It’s always recommended to wait until your female dog has experienced at least two or three heat cycles before breeding.

Although dogs don’t experience menopause, it might be too risky to breed an older female dog. At an older age, your female dog is more prone to stillborn and absorbed puppies.

Check with the Vet

The vet should examine your female dog before breeding. One of these tests is the serum progesterone test, which is the most accurate one to determine the optimum mating time for your female dog. They can have a vaginal smear to confirm that your female dog is ovulating.

Dogs that come from breeds that are prone to hip dysplasia should be examined, as the condition can worsen with breeding. The vet will also run several tests to clear your dog of any genetic issues or possible health conditions that she might pass on to the produced litter.

Check for Physical Signs

When your female dog is in heat, her vulva will protrude outward to facilitate penetration, and the whole genital area will look enlarged. You can check her swollen vulva from behind or by letting her sleep on her stomach.

You can also check for discharge or blood. The discharge can be deep red, pinkish, or white, and your dog will be fertile 12 days after you start seeing this discharge.

It has a distinctive smell that attracts male dogs. Some breeds bleed heavily, while others experience light spotting.

Check for Behavioral Signs

Your female dog is likely to urinate more frequently in small amounts when she is in heat. This is because the urine contains pheromones to attract males, telling them that she is interested in mating.

Keep Track of the Dog’s Cycle

Keeping track of your female dog’s cycle will let you know when she’s ovulating. This is the time when she is most fertile, so it’s the ideal time for breeding.

You might need to track several cycles to be able to determine the stages. Here are the four stages of your female dog’s cycle.

  • The proestrus stage lasts from a few up to 20 days. After that, the female’s genital area appears swollen, and the dog might start to experience some spotting. At this stage, she starts attracting males but won’t mate with any of them.
  • The estrus stage starts once the spotting or bleeding stops and can last for up to 9 days. During the first five days, your female dog will be most fertile, and she will accept mating males and allow them to mate with her. Once this stage is over, her vulva will return to its normal appearance.
  • The metestrus stage lasts between 50 to 90 days. During this stage, your female dog won’t accept mating.
  • The anestrus stage lasts for up to three months, and during this stage, your female dog won’t accept mating.

Final Thoughts

You must wait until your dog is sexually mature before considering breeding. Male dogs are usually able to breed earlier than female dogs of the same breed. If you’re confused, it’s always a good idea to check with the vet to confirm the ideal time that your dog can start breeding.

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Celestine Gomez

I'm Celestine Gomez, worked for 5 years in an animal shelter in Los Angeles, California. Having noticed the inherent passion and zeal in me to care for pets, I took a step further to create a team of I and like-minded individuals to provide an informative resource in order to broaden the knowledge base of a regular pet owners.