Dog Breeding for Beginners: What You Should Know

Dog Breeding for Beginners: What You Should Know


Planning a litter of puppies? Margaret V. Root Kustritz, DVM, Ph.D, DACT, professor of small animal reproduction at the University of Minnesota, answers frequently asked questions from breeders preparing to breed that promising next litter.

Tibetan mastiff puppy. Thinkstock Photo #533911663
Approved by Vanessa Skou July 2018.

How Often Do Dogs Go Into Heat?

Bitches should have an obvious heat cycle by 24 months of age. Although bitches vary in the frequency of their heat cycles, an average female goes through heat about every seven months. A bitch is not considered abnormal unless she has not had an obvious heat cycle for one year.

Is It Okay to Breed a Bitch in Back-To-Back Heat Seasons?

That depends on how many puppies she whelped the first season and how well she maintained her body condition during pregnancy, whelping, and lactation. If she had several puppies and was thin by the time they were weaned, she probably cannot regain normal body condition before she is in heat again and thus should not be bred. If she had few puppies at the first breeding and is in excellent body condition, she potentially could be bred again. Every circumstance and every bitch should be evaluated individually.

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