Timing for Dog Breeding is So Important!
How to Avoid Dog Breeding Timing Errors
Timing for dog breeding is the most important thing to get right when breeding a dog. In fact, dog breeding timing mistakes are the main reason many dog matings don’t result in a litter!
This dog breeding guide will help you succeed…
Why is dog breeding timing so important?
While dog semen can remain capable of fertilizing eggs for up to 5 days, once inside the bitch, for the eggs themselves it’s a different story.
A bitch’s heat could last for two, three or more weeks. However, during that period there is a small window of opportunity for fertilization to take place. That period is determined by the timing of ovulation.
At ovulation, the eggs are released from follicles on the ovaries. They spend 48 hours ripening before they are ready to be fertilized by the sperm. And 24 hours later, unless fertilized successfully, they are dead!
So timing for dog breeding must succeed at bringing the sperm and the eggs together during this critical period following ovulation.
How can I tell when ovulation will occur?
Breeding Cycle of the Dog
The onset of bleeding in your bitch marks the start of the period of the breeding cycle called “proestrus”. During this time her vulva will be swollen and she will attract male dogs, but is not usually sexually receptive to them.
Proestrus lasts about 9 days, but many bitches vary from this norm giving a possible range of 1 to 21 days. Proestrus is followed by estrus.
Sexual activity (estrus:
Estrus lasts from 4 to 13 days (average is 9 days) with ovulation usually occurring during the first few days of estrus.
Breeders have access to a range of means of pinpointing ovulation:
Visible signs of estrus
When a bitch shows these signs very clearly, timing for dog breeding is a snap!
• Vaginal bleeding gives way to a straw colored discharge as ovulation approaches
• The vulva often becomes more swollen
• The bitch often starts responding sexually to the dog by standing still to allow the dog to mate her, flagging her tail (it moves to the side), and raising her back end toward the dog.
As in this video…
Overcoming Dog Breeding Problems
The best chance of pregnancy results if mating (or artificial insemination with fresh semen) occurs every 2 to 3 days during estrus.
The rule of thumb many dog breeders use is to mate on days 10 and 12 or 13 from the onset of bleeding.
Herein lies a big reason so many matings fail!
A surprising number (about 20%) of bitches have either a very short or a very long proestrus.
When breeding my dog Chloe, I now know that she ovulates on day 21. How do I know? Simply by counting back 63 days from when she whelps.
And, as far as behavioral cues go, often the bitch won’t give a clear signal. She may either mate throughout both proestrus and estrus, or refuse to respond to the male at all!
So, if you are relying on someone else’s dog for a natural mating, and particularly when using artificial insemination of frozen semen, accurate timing for dog breeding pinned on ovulation testing may be necessary.
Ways of Pinpointing Estrus
Your veterinarian may offer you a cheaper option to blood tests that is less distressing to the bitch. This is the use of vaginal smears. These are good if your vet is experienced at reading them.
Progesterone is a reproductive hormone that begins to increase in the bloodstream just prior to ovulation.
Progesterone levels are an accurate way of pinpointing ovulation. However, the tests are expensive and distressing for the bitch, as blood will need to be drawn every 3 days until ovulation is detected.
If frozen semen is being used timing for dog breeding is more critical and even more frequent sampling is needed.
Another drawback is that the blood needs to be assessed by a laboratory, so if you live in a remote area it may take up to 3 days to get your result!
Veterinarians defend the expense and distress to the bitch of this method with the lure of maximizing litter size and breeder revenue, and in some cases this may be quite justified.
However, progesterone kits are available to breeders that chart progesterone levels through color changes.
They only provide a subjective idea of progesterone level rather than the precise measurement the more formal laboratory tests yield. However, in conjunction with other ovulation timing methods, they may be a good option.
Blood Luetinizing Hormone (LH)
Being the hormone that triggers it, Luetinizing Hormone normally peaks just prior to ovulation. The blood test for blood has similar drawbacks to blood test for progesterone, and an added disadvantage.
The LH surge may occur anywhere from 3 to 5 days before to 5 days after the onset of estrus, a margin too wide to be either useful or reliable.