How often can dogs give birth? This is actually a very important question because when dogs give birth too frequently, it affects the health of both your pet and her puppies. As responsible pet owners, we should know the best breeding practices, including the number of times they should have litters.
The problem of overbreeding
A global survey done recently showed that dogs are the world’s most popular pet – and with good reason. Dogs are extremely loyal and friendly and love to constantly be with their humans. This is the reason why the dog breeding industry is growing and the unfortunate practice of puppy farms has grown with it.
Dog breeding basics
Your dog will usually reach puberty when they reach six months. The smaller breeds actually go in heat (the scientific term is called oestrus) earlier compared to larger breeds that can last as long as two years of age before they experience their first heat. But typically, most dogs begin to have heat at around 6 to 18 months.
Dogs go in heat about twice a year on average, with some breeds actually experiencing three to four cycles in a year, which is a lot. The average length of oestrus is between two to three weeks, and you’ll definitely see some physical changes or indicators when you look at your pet dog – vulvar swelling, frequent licking of her privates, and, most notably, vaginal bleeding.
Your dog will attract male dogs when she’s in heat, but usually, she will reject their advances if it’s her first time to be in heat.
Your dog may also begin urinating small amounts frequently. This liquid is filled with pheromones and hormones that also serve to attract males.
Things to consider before breeding your dog
Before you even begin breeding your pet dog, you need to think about these things first –
Make sure that your dog is in good health.
Before you even think about having puppies to take care of, first have your dog checked if she is healthy enough to get pregnant and bring a litter to full term. There are some dogs that are not good candidates to carry a litter so make sure your vet does a thorough check on your furbaby. You also need to consider her age.
Decide when you want her to breed.
Knowing that a dog has its first heat at around 6 to 18 months doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s already breeding time. Some breeders think that this is okay, while others will advise you to wait for the second heat before breeding. Whatever decision you make, what you’ll definitely need to consider is the breed of your dog, its size, and overall health.
Remember that smaller dogs are more likely to reach sexual maturity faster than larger breeds. Consult with your vet on what they think is the best age and time to breed
How often should your dog breed?
Strictly speaking, a dog should be able to carry a litter every time she gets in heat. But breeders and veterinarians often debate on whether this is actually a good idea or not.
A typical dog pregnancy lasts about 63 days or a little over two months and would often, if unchecked, give birth twice a year. There are two schools of thought regarding the matter of how often can dogs have puppies.
Breeding every heat
There are some dog breeders who think that female dogs, as long as they are healthy and in tip-top shape, can breed every time they go into heat. Their argument is that by taking advantage of the time when she’s at her prime she can carry healthier litters and will be more fit to carry them to term.
You can choose this breeding strategy if you want but remember that you’ll have to make more frequent visits to the vet to ensure your pet is always in tip-top shape especially when she’s already pregnant.
There are experts though who believe this method is too stressful for the dog and can result in succeeding litters to be less healthy.
Some experts think that a dog that breeds too often is actually getting her health compromised and also reduces her ability to bear a healthy litter over time. This is the reason why some breeders and experts think that the best strategy is to breed their dogs every other heat cycle.
If you plan to implement an alternate breeding strategy, the benefit to your dog is that she will be able to recover more completely and build up her strength before carrying another litter. Having said this, you should also know that to some experts, the disadvantage to this method is that a dog’s uterus ages with each heat so in effect, the time factor means the dog is not spared from the supposed damage and complications of carrying a litter to its full term.
I also read a study that indicated skipping heat cycles could cause a dog to get a false pregnancy, which can result in mammary cancer. That’s a health risk you wouldn’t want to put your dog through.
Ultimately, it will be your decision as a dog parent to choose the method you want to follow for your pet. Both methods have their pros and cons so weigh which one is what you think will be the best one for your dog and for your long-term plans.
But one thing both sides of the camp agree on is this – don’t let your dog keep on giving birth until she is old. Experts agree that a dog should only carry a litter three to four times in their lifetime and then they should be spayed. This will allow them to fully enjoy their life and grow old as a truly valued pet in your household.