You shouldn’t breed from your bitch until she is over a year old, to give her chance to fully develop. She should also have had at least one normal season prior to mating.
Most bitches will have their first season between 6 and 18 months of age. They have two oestrus cycles (seasons) per year, usually in the Spring and Autumn, although this can vary and they could actually fall at any time. Oestrus is the period during the oestrus cycle when the female is prepared to accept a male. It coincides with the release of egg by the ovary. The bitch’s willingness to mate at this time makes it likely that the eggs will be fertilised soon after ovulation.
The whole cycle is around 21 days long and the average day on which to mate a bitch is between the 11-14th day of her season. However, judging the correct day to mate her can sometimes be difficult as some can be ready to be mated earlier and some will not accept a dog until much later. It is an option to have an ovulation test carried out by your veterinary surgeon to determine the correct date on which to mate her, especially if the stud dog lives a fair distance away.
A bitch will show she is ready to breed by flagging – raising her tail and moving it to the side when her rump is scratched. Other signs can include swollen vulva, discharge, excessive grooming, reduced appetite and scenting. Even when a bitch is ready to breed she may become aggressive with a dog, so it is advisable to monitor them during mating.
You should visit your vet and have your bitch examined and tested for any inherited diseases the breed is prone to, prior to mating.
Bitches are in whelp for approximately 63 days, although this can vary depending on litter size.
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