Dogs Mating and Conception
THE BREEDING CYCLE
Male dogs become sexually mature at about six months of age. From that
time their sexual behavior is not cyclical, and they are capable of mating
at any time and almost any place!
The bitch usually comes into season for the first time when she is aged
about nine months, and fairly regularly every six months thereafter. It is
not unusual, nor is it in any way abnormal, for the first season to be
earlier, even as young as six months, or for it to be postponed until the
bitch is over a year old. Neither is it unusual or abnormal for the
interval between seasons to be longer than six months. If the interval
between one season and another is very much less than six months, and
particularly if it has become irregular in this respect, there may be some
abnormality, and advice should be sought from your veterinarian.
A bitch's season lasts for about three weeks. She will show some swelling
of her vulva shortly before presenting a blood-stained discharge. The
discharge is usually very bloody at the start of her season, becoming
paler after about ten days.
Although no risks should be taken from the first signs of season, the
bitch will normally not accept a dog until about halfway through the
season, at which time she will become fertile (i.e. capable of
conceiving). There is normally no odor detectable to a human from a bitch
in season, but there is a very powerful one detectable by dogs a
considerable distance away. Do not assume that because you live a mile
from the nearest male dog, your bitch will not be mated.
Do not assume, either, that a dog that lives together with a bitch, though
they may be brother and sister, will not be interested.
MATING AND CONCEPTION
True estrus begins at about twelve days from the first signs of the bitch
coming into season. From that time she will accept the male's attempts to
mate her, and will be fertile, for about five to seven days. Ovulation,
the release of eggs into the uterus, takes place during this period. The
timing is variable, and the dog and bitch are the best practical arbiters
of the bitch's fertile period, although laboratory tests are available to
help timing if the bitch fails to conceive.
The mating act may be prolonged. Once the dog has ejaculated, the bitch
continues to grip his penis in her vagina, by means of a ring muscle, for
up to about twenty minutes. The dog may climb off the bitch's back, and
turn to face the other way, but both stand "tied". The tie is not actually
essential for a successful mating, although all breeders prefer to see it.
Pregnancy lasts for about sixty-three days from mating. The normal
variation is from about sixty days to as much as sixty-seven. Outside this
range veterinary attention should be sought, although it does not
necessarily indicate a problem and may simply be an extension of normal
Bitches should not be bred from until they are physically mature. The
ideal age for a first litter is about two years old.
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