Dogs and Mating: A Guide
Dogs deserve the title of man’s best friend. Some people even try to produce more dogs either for themselves or a business. To do this, a dog must mate. However, such a task is not as simple as it sounds.
Dogs are much like any living creature. Their ability to mate is determined by many factors, including their behavior and mentality. A dog’s health is probably hands down the most crucial factor in mating. There is much science that goes into mating and breeding, and with that, there are many factors involved.
I will explain how breeders can mate dogs. I will also discuss what breeders need to know, and the difficulties you could face when you are attempting to breed your dog.
How Long Does It Take for Dogs To Mate?
You need to give dogs as much time as necessary to mate. Mating and reproduction is a very complex matter, even for the most reproductive animals.
It is not as simple as putting a male and female together. Some animals do not want to mate with every animal they meet, much less mate immediately. Many dogs do not feel the need to mate, at least not when the breeder wants.
The Cycle for Female Dogs
Unlike humans, female dogs’ cycles are very long. They can last 6-8 months. Unfortunately for breeders, the window they must impregnate the dogs is only 3 weeks out of 24-32 weeks. There is not much time to effectively mate dogs, and if that window is missed, the breeder will need to wait for the next one.
A female dog starts her reproductive cycle as early as 4 months old.
The 3 weeks a female dog can reproduce is called “being in heat.” Usually, the behavior of a female dog will change. While in heat, a female will release a pheromone, methyl p-hydroxybenzoate. This pheromone can easily be picked up by male dogs. The male dogs may turn inattentive, aggressive, maybe even obsessive over the female in heat.
Due to this reason, many believe that dogs are almost guaranteed to mate and even breed when a female is in heat. Many breeders claim they can successfully breed dogs within 9, 11, or 13 days within the female’s cycles. It is still a difficult task, and breeding is not guaranteed, even for the most successful breeders.
Do Male Dogs Have A Cycle?
Generally, no. However, male dogs are sexually mature at 6 months (a little later than their female counterparts). Before that time, they will not be ready for reproduction.
What to Look For In Breeding Stock Dogs
If you are considering mating dogs, you must observe the health of the dog. The health of your dog is one of the most crucial factors in breeding capability and can help in mating and breeding. If you expect the dog to mate and breed, you need a healthy dog.
There are six signs of health you should look for in a dog:
- Healthy mouth – a dog’s mouth could be tied with its health. A healthy mouth can be determined by smell and look. When the mouth is healthy, that indicates that the dog is healthy enough to control microbial growth in its mouth. Dental care is also crucial for a dog’s health. Gum disease can cause issues. Furthermore, the smell could indicate oral melanoma, a deadly form of cancer.
- Attractive coat – a shiny and clean coat indicates the dog can form natural oils and shed naturally. In addition, you need to determine if the dog is scratching or licking itself. That is a sign of skin irritation, which could be caused by a lack of natural oils or shedding.
- Unchanging healthy weight – dog obesity is a top health concern to veterinarians, and it has been persistent over the years. You should look for a dog that has a healthy weight. If the dog changes weight suddenly, that could indicate other health problems.
- Regular bladder and bowel movements – if a dog has irregular bowel or bladder movements that could indicate health issues. In addition to checking their schedule, you should look at the dog’s urine and excrements. The color and consistency could indicate hidden health issues. If the urine is a clear yellow, that indicates good health. The excrements should be a consistent brown and solid.
- Attentive and social – a dog should want to spend time with their family. If they start isolating themselves or change their behavior, their health may be in jeopardy.
- Clean ears – your dog should have clean ears with little if any waxy buildup, little discharge, and little smell. Clean ears help maintain body temperature and prevent diseases.
Before you attempt breeding any dog, you should perform a health checkup on your dog. A veterinarian is more likely to catch health issues with your dog than most breeders.
What You Should Look for With The Other Dog
Many breeders tend to either have a female breeding dog or a male breeding dog, rarely both. This is usually done to prevent inbreeding. When you are choosing the other dog, you should note that any dog’s offspring will have only half of the genes from a single dog. The other half will come from the other parent.
This can be both problematic and advantageous. You do not want to end up with any offspring that have undesirable traits produced from recessive genes.
However, in many situations, the genes can cover for weaknesses or undesirable traits you can find in your breeding dog. For instance, if you have a breeding dog with questionable eyesight, you could try to mate it with a dog that has better eyesight. This could produce a litter of offspring with better eyesight than their visually impaired parent.
In general, when a breeder is choosing the other dog to mate, they chose one with stronger traits that could cover their current dog’s weaknesses. Of course, genetics is complicated, and there is no guarantee that a dog’s weaknesses will be covered in the offspring. There is even a good chance that the offspring may show undesirable traits.
How To Produce The Right Environment For Mating
You do not need to produce romance like a delicious meal, wine, flowers, and beautiful music to have dogs mate. However, you do need both dogs to be comfortable for a successful mating session. There needs to be enough room for the mating to occur, and sometimes the presence of a breeder can calm either dog down.
It is more complex than that alone. There are questions of whose place the mating should occur at. The female is more comfortable at her place and is less likely to be distressed after the mating session, which could make an impregnation more likely.
A male is also more comfortable at his place and can be more comfortable and assertive with mating. Furthermore, the female is more likely to be aggressive at her place.
The place that would prove to be the most optimal environment for mating dogs is one where both dogs are comfortable. Realistically, there will be sacrifices when choosing the right area. However, the presence of a breeder or veterinarian will help make an environment more comfortable for both dogs.
Problems Where the Dog(s) Do Not Mate
One of the largest problems with dog mating is that one or even both dogs cannot or will not mate or breed.
Many dogs just will not mate under certain circumstances. For lack of a better term, some dogs simply are not in the mood to mate.
Sometimes there are problems that can generally be described as infertility that interfere with mating. Luckily, infertile does not necessarily mean sterile; there are ways to prevent infertility.
Mating Problems with Male Dogs
For male dogs, there are numerous reasons for infertility, including:
- Failure to ejaculate
- Poor semen quality
- Prostate diseases.
There are general categories that can be affected by many different factors.
Failure to Ejaculate Can Lead To Less Breeding
Probably the most common cause of a failure to ejaculate is behavior. Even after the sexually mature age of 6 months, a dog may not be experienced enough to perform. This is especially the case if the female dog is aggressive or rejects the male. Sometimes the male will not even try to mate with the female (as hard as that is to believe).
The best way to solve these behavioral issues is to produce an environment where the male is comfortable with mating.
Physical conditions of dogs can prevent them from reproducing too. Some issues with the spine or the hind legs can prevent male dogs from getting into the optimal position for mating. Sometimes it prevents them from mating altogether. It is not uncommon for a breeder or a veterinarian to help the male dog mount the female.
Some diseases can make mating painful for the male. This may deter them from breeding, even in the most optimal environments.
Furthermore, many dogs are simply incapable of ejaculating. This is sometimes called retrograde ejaculation where the male ejaculates little, if any, sperm. In many situations, a disease causes the male to ejaculate their semen partially or even entirely in their bladder.
Poor Semen Quality Can Be Caused by Anything
A dog may be perfectly capable of ejaculating, but that does not mean anything if the rest of the reproductive tools do not work fully.
Poor semen quality could be caused by:
- Low sperm count (if any)
- Improper sperm motility
- Low-quality sperm structure.
Either of these can make a male dog incapable of reproducing. These could be caused by:
- Hormone imbalances
- Systemic infection
- Testicular diseases.
Usually, these can be reversed.
Prostate Diseases Are A Common Form of Infertility
Prostate diseases are the cause of 25-40% of male infertilities. The prostate produces some of the fluids involved in ejaculation and can even help in the motility of sperm.
Probably the most common prostate disease that causes infertility in older dogs is benign prostatic hypertrophy. As the name implies, this disease is not harmful but can cause an enlargement of the prostate, which causes infertility.
Other prostate diseases that can cause infertility include:
- Prostate tumors (benign and malignant)
- Prostatic cysts
- Prostate infections.
Mating Problems with Female Dogs
Female dogs play larger roles in reproduction than male dogs. Therefore, they can have many more issues with reproduction than male dogs. These problems generally include:
- Abnormal reproduction cycles
- Failure to breed
- Failure to conceive
- Loss of pregnancy.
Like male dog fertility, these can be caused by many issues.
Abnormal Cycles Mean Unpredictable Reproducibility
While a female dog is sexually mature by the age of 4 months, they still have until they are 24 months old till their reproductive cycles are fully matured, and their reproductive cycle is regular.
However, there are many reasons a female dog’s cycle could be irregular. These include:
- Primary persistent anestrus
- Secondary persistent anestrus
- Irregular estrus cycling
- Persistent estrus.
Primary persistent anestrus is where the dog reaches 24 months of age but does not have regular cycles. These can be caused by:
- Excessive physical exercise (yes, that is a thing)
- Lack of exposure to other females in heat
- Autoimmune interference.
The good news is most of these conditions are easily reversible.
Secondary persistent anestrus is where a female dog has experienced at least one cycle but has not had one in over 18 months. This is mostly because of age. It is not unusual for a dog under 24 months or older dogs to experience this.
When this occurs with a dog that is in their “prime,” this may be because of:
- Metabolic diseases
- Exposure to certain treatments, including steroids
- Hormone imbalances.
Most of these can easily be reversed. However, ovarian tumors can also cause this. It is hopefully reversible too, but it will require more extensive treatment.
Irregular estrus cycling is where the ovaries are not functioning properly, and the reproductive cycle is unpredictable at best. These are usually caused by hormone imbalances.
Persistent estrus is where a dog enters heat and is in heat for at least twice the time as she should (over 6 weeks). This may sound like a means to improve fertility, but it is not. If the heat does not reset, neither does the reproductive cycle. This is usually caused by overexposure to external hormones. Sometimes growths can also cause this.
How To Prevent These Infertility Issues
The good news is that the healthier the dog, the less likely they will face these issues. A good diet and the right amount of exercise will do wonders for these dogs. Any other issue could require treatment, but most of the treatments and procedures are not very invasive.
Do You Need A License to Mate Dogs?
Many people who want to mate their dogs are looking for a new dog(s) that are like their current dog. They generally are not interested in making a business from breeding. Some may occasionally sell a puppy, but that does not always make them a business.
Others cannot resist the profits from breeding dogs. Unchecked, these people could make an unscrupulous and sometimes even illegal business in mating dogs. These businesses could affect the health and mentality of these dogs.
Therefore, the Animal Welfare Act requires many breeders to obtain a breeding license through the US Department of Agriculture. This applies in situations where more than two litters are sold or who have more than $500 in gross profits each year.
If you are breeding many litters or are making considerable profits, governments may require you to obtain a breeding license. Keep in mind, individual state and local laws can further determine if you need a breeding license and have different criteria.
Register You Litter For Best Results
After you breed your dog and have puppies ready to start a new life, you probably want nothing more than to ensure they are purchased by good people who will raise the puppy well. One of the best ways to do that is to register your dog in the American Kennel Club.
Despite the American Kennel Club’s controversies, including the effectiveness of their inspections, they are still one of the best groups to record the quality of your breeding program and provide services and events breeders could utilize.
Registering your breeding program and litters will help you in the long run.
Like any animal, dogs have certain needs. Sometimes these needs include mating and even reproducing. It is one thing to have a dog mate and breed by accident, but if you expect certain results, you must try to control many factors.
You need to consider the health of both dogs. This will be a crucial factor in mating and breeding, maybe even the most crucial factor. It may also affect if they can mate or breed at all.
However, genetics and health are not the only factors. You must determine the right place for the mating to occur and even if others should be present. This can determine the success of the mating session.
Some dogs could be injured by attempted mating sessions or even during the mating if their comfort and behaviors are not considered. Such events could make mating more difficult in the future when you are trying to use a particular dog.
Trying to mate a dog, even if you are just trying to produce puppies for yourself, is a serious task to consider. Make sure you and your dog are up for the task.