The formal shooting season is over, your dog has once again given
you its best in the field and you decide you really would like to
breed from her. Apart from the obvious biological fact of your
bitch needing to be in season and receptive (usually the optimum
time is between days 10 & 12 of her season), she also needs to be in
good health, have been recently wormed, checked for signs of any
lice or fleas - & treated if required and her vaccinations should be
up to date.
These factors all have their own values. Obviously if your bitch is
in prime health her chances of delivering you a nice sized litter
and strong healthy pups is increased. If your bitch is worm free,
all her feed will be doing her good – there will also be less of a
worm burden in the pups and they will grow on strongly, making good
use of the dam’s milk. If your bitch is fully vaccinated she will
pass on this immunity, to protect her pups in the crucial first
weeks until they too are old enough to be vaccinated.
If you are unsure of if your bitch is at the right stage of oestrus
to be mated, especially if you are planning on taking her to a stud
dog that is many miles away from you – it may be very useful to have
her swabbed by your vet, to predict when she will be at peak mating
time. The procedure is very simple, quick and totally painless.
Your vet will insert something resembling a cotton bud, into the
bitch’s vulva and collect a fluid sample, which will then be smeared
on a glass plate and tested. They can then advise you on when the
best time to mate your bitch is and you can make your arrangements
accordingly. Another tip is if you scratch just above the base of
her tail, she will ‘flag’ – ie: pull her tail over to one side and
stand as she would for a stud dog.
A bitch that is receptive may still take a little persuading &
courting by the dog, particularly if she is a maiden bitch! I
always like to let them socialise and get used to each other first
until the dog is ready to mount her, then to prevent damage to
either the dog or bitch, I put a slip lead on her. Maiden bitches
in particular can sometimes try and pull away from the dog
prematurely – which can result in serious injury to both, which is
why I prefer to do this.
After penetration the dogs usually tie – this stage usually lasts
anything between 15 and 45 minutes, during this phase the dogs will
normally change position and stand facing away from each other. A
tie isn’t essential to a successful mating but it is generally
preferable as there is then no doubt that ejaculation has taken
place and her chances of conception are greatly increased. When the
dogs separate you should discourage the bitch from relieving herself
immediately afterwards and keep her quiet for an hour or so.
Keep an eye on the bitch for a week or so after mating, checking
that there is no offensive discharge and that she is generally well
in her self. Then its fingers crossed and on to the next stage –
Care and exercise of a ‘hopefully’ pregnant bitch.
NB. The Kennel Club states that bitches
can only be bred from between 12 months old (minimum age which must
have been reached before the date of mating) and under 8 years of
age (at the time of whelping). If you have exceptional
circumstances for wishing to mate your bitch beyond this age you
must apply in writing to the Kennel Club stating your reasons and
requesting their permission, prior to mating the bitch – who must
have whelped at least one litter previously, in order for any
progeny to be KC registered. You will also need supporting evidence
from your vet that in their opinion this mating should be permitted
by the KC and of the bitches suitability to whelp at this age,
submitted on the eight year form available from the KC. It is also
only permitted to breed a maximum of 6 litters, with at least a 12
month gap between each litter being born, from any bitch.