When Is a Female Dog Ready to Breed?
As a breeder, you need to have extensive knowledge of the process but also a detailed understanding of both the sire and the bitch you will be using for insemination. You need to ensure that neither canine has underlying conditions and is in pristine health to attain an optimal litter.
However, another important aspect to consider is timing. You cannot (and really should not) attempt to impregnate a bitch when she’s not of the ideal age or maturity (the same goes for the male as well, but it’s the female who will be carrying the litter, after all).
If you find that you are now asking yourself, “When is a female dog ready to breed?” then you have come to the right place because we have the answer you’re looking for.
When Is a Female Dog Ready to Breed?
Many factors play a role in determining when a female dog is ready to breed, so this question cannot be simply answered with a one or two-sentence response. Let’s take a look at these several key points to lead to more successful breeding outcomes.
Correct Time of Puberty or Sexual Maturity
The right time to breed a bitch depends largely on the breed of dog that she is. However, there is a general rule of thumb for the age at which breeding a bitch is the most ideal: six months of age to two years.
That’s quite a large span of time, but consideration needs to be made of the size and/or breed of the bitch as well. This is because small dogs tend to go into heat earlier than large dogs and they both go through differently intervaled heat cycles.
Small dogs can first go into heat around six months of age while some larger breeds take until two months of age for their first heat.
Another item to keep in mind is that bitches can indeed be too old to breed, which is typically around five to six years of age.
The Estrus Cycle
Bitches have cyclical menstrual patterns that a breeder needs to adhere to for a more successful outcome, as they are not similar to a woman’s, which are referred to as the “estrus cycle.” They are typically much more spread out, as one estrus cycle on average lasts 7 months total.
The best point of the estrus cycle for attempts at breeding is estrus (or “oestrus”), which is when the bitch is “in heat” and will accept a sire.
The estrus cycle is comprised of four key periods that have typical signs of their prevalence:
●Proestrus: The bitch attracts mates, but will not accept them. This period lasts around nine days. Signs: bloody discharge, vulva will begin to swell.
●Estrus: The period at which a bitch will accept a sire and is the most fertile. Estrus lasts for about 7-10 days. Signs: swollen vulva, blood from the vagina (can be in the form of discharge that progresses from more bloody to less as the bitch goes through this period), mounting objects or other beings, increased urination, or turning her tail to the side.
●Diestrus: This stage lasts 60 to 90 days, regardless of a successful pregnancy. Estrogen drops and progesterone levels increase. The bitch may even become aggressive towards coitus attempts. Signs: vulva returns to normal size.
●Anestrus: There is no sexual activity in this stage, which lasts anywhere from three to four months (or more).
The proestrus and estrus stages are commonly referred to as the “heat cycle,” which can altogether last two to three weeks and only come about twice a year on average. Some dogs, such as sled dog breeds, only have their heat cycle once a year.
That is why it is important to note, once again, the type of breed and the size of the dog as well. For another example, smaller dogs can bleed more than larger dogs during proestrus and estrus.
Another key point to keep in mind is that, as a bitch ages, her cycle tends to slow down and spread out into longer intervals between the heat cycles. Even though her estrus cycle slows down, she can indeed still get pregnant.
Her Second or Third Cycle, Not Her First
The bitch’s first bout of heat is not ideal for breeding, so breeders shouldn’t make any insemination attempts during their first cycle or season. This is because the bitch is much less likely to have a successful litter on her first cycle. Instead, try for the second or third cycle.
When looking for the best tests and other helpful tools to help lead to a successful breeding experience, trust us to supply you with what you need. We have various canine tests, such as progesterone tests, blood tests, pregnancy tests, genetic tests, and so much more. We are proud to help breeders drastically increase the potential of successful mating!