What should you know about breeding dogs?
Dogs and bitches do not need to have puppies. They are quite happy without producing young animals. There is a lot of work involved in breeding dogs, and most people do not want this.
Many people decide to have their animals ‘neutered’. This involves a visit to the vet for an operation which stops them from being able to have puppies. Both male dogs and female dogs (bitches) can be neutered at any time from six months of age, but it’s best to discuss this in detail with a vet before deciding to do it. Many vets prefer to delay the age of neutering of large breed dogs until they are skeletally mature at around 18 months of age.
If a bitch is not neutered, she will come into ‘season’ sometime between 7 and 14 months of age. She will drip blood, and she will try to escape to mate with dogs. Most people do not want the nuisance of this, so that is why they have their bitch neutered.
There are also health benefits from neutering (spaying) female dogs: as an example, the incidence of mammary cancer is reduced dramatically. Watch our video to find out more.
If a bitch does mate with a dog, pregnancy lasts around 64 days. She will have between 2 and 8 puppies. She will feed them completely with her own milk until they are about three weeks old, and they will then start to eat from a bowl. By five or six weeks, they will be weaned (they will have stopped taking milk from her.)
Some male dogs start to stray away from home, looking for bitches. Other male dogs start to pick fights with other male dogs when out on walks. If a male dog is neutered, this type of behaviour stops.
Not all male dogs need to be neutered: if there are no signs of male-hormone driven behaviour, there may be no need for this to be done. In particular, male dogs that are anxious or lack confidence may be better not to be neutered. It’s best to discuss this with your vet, who knows your dog.
Some people think that their pet’s character will change if he/she is neutered. This is not true – your pet will still be the same animal. Some animals do put on weight more easily when they are neutered. To prevent this, it is important that you make sure that you do not feed them too much, and that you keep giving them plenty of exercise.
If you are worried about your pet's health, visit the Petfix DIY Triage Checker or Ask a Vet. If it is urgent take your pet to your vet immediately.