How Old Does A Dog Have to Be to Breed?

Reviewed By Julie •  Updated: 07/09/21 •  6 min read
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Are you thinking about breeding your dog? Are you wondering when the right age is to breed your dog? If so, then you’ve come to the right place.

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In this article, we’ll take a look at what age a dog can be bred. There are many issues to consider, so let’s get started!

Breeding Your Dog—Being Responsible

The first thing we need to discuss is responsible breeding practices. Whether you’d like to breed your dog for business or have a litter of puppies from your favorite dog, it’s important to be a responsible breeder.

This means not breeding your dog until they’ve reached the right age. It also means not breeding them too often, which can lead to an unhealthy and shorter life. The right time to breed your dog depends on the dog’s age, size, and sex.

Just because a dog enters puberty or goes into heat doesn’t mean they’re ready to breed. The goal here is to keep your dog healthy and happy and end with a healthy litter of puppies. Then you need to know when it’s time to stop breeding, too. This is all part of being a responsible breeder.

The Sex of Your Dog & Breeding

It’s not unusual to see male puppies begin to mount other dogs, toys, or even their pet parents at a very young age. And female dogs, depending on the breed, can have their first heat cycle when they’re about six months old.

These are signs of sexual development in dogs. However, just because a dog is showing signs they’re sexually maturing doesn’t mean they’re ready to breed. This can be very confusing for pet parents and new breeders.

Male dogs do tend to be sexually mature at a younger age than females. However, the dog may still not be ready to breed. And females may become sexually mature earlier than they become physically mature. This also doesn’t mean they’re ready to breed.

So, the information for this section is that your dog should be physically and sexually mature. For boys, this will happen earlier than for girls. Boy dogs, when they reach sexual maturity, will be able to produce sperm and will be able to mate. However, they should not be bred until they’re physically mature and full-grown. Girl dogs, on the other hand, should wait until they’ve gone through about 2-3 heat cycles before being bred.

What is the Best Age to Breed a Male Dog?

For most dog breeds, it’s best to wait until the male is between one to two years old. While your dog may have reached sexual maturity, he’s still in the early part of his life. The prime breeding time is between 18-24 months of age.

It’s also best to take your male dog to the vet for a checkup. This way, you’ll know for sure he’s sexually mature and healthy, which is the best way to ensure a healthy litter of puppies.

What is the Best Age to Breed a Female Dog?

Most experts recommend waiting until at least the female dog’s second heat cycle. And when this happens will depend on her do breed and size. Most female dogs, when they become sexually and physically mature, will have about two heat cycles a year.

While some breeders believe in back-to-back breeding, this really isn’t the best way to breed dogs. For one thing, your dog needs time to heal and recoup after being pregnant, giving birth, and rearing puppies. She has to nurse the pups for a few weeks, too. All of this is a lot of wear and tear on a dog’s body.

If you breed a dog back-to-back, then she has no time to recovery. Studies have shown this leads to unhealthy mother dogs who then have shortened lives.

There are also breeding laws in some places that make it illegal to breed dogs back-to-back.

Most experts recommend breeding a female dog once every two years and no more.

Can a Dog Be Too Young to Breed?

Yes, dogs can be too young to breed, which is before they’re fully grown. When your dog reaches their adult size and is done growing, then they can breed, not before this time.

For female dogs, they’re usually physically and sexually mature once they’ve had about two or three heat cycles.

Can a Dog Be too Old to Breed?

Just as you don’t want to breed your dog too young, it’s also important not to breed them when they’re too old. For one thing, as dogs age, they can develop conditions that may make breeding dangerous and even painful.

For another, an older female dog may not be healthy enough to have healthy puppies. What’s more, she may lack the energy to care for them, which means the breeder will have to step in and raise the puppies for her.

When is a Male Dog too Old to Breed?

Older male dogs should not be used for breeding. This is because they may have developed health issues, such as infections or arthritis, which make breeding painful. If they carry infection, it’s possible this could be passed on to the puppies or affect their development before birth.

Studies have shown that most male dogs are OK for breeding until they reach the age of seven to nine years. After this time, their sperm is genetically weaker, which means the puppies won’t be as healthy and could suffer from genetic health issues.

When is a Female Dog too Old to Breed?

Female dogs also should not be bred when they’re older for similar reasons. They can also suffer from health problems, and they may no longer go into heat as often.

What’s more, recovery time after giving birth for older dogs is much longer. And litter sizes are smaller as a dog becomes older. It’s also possible the puppies could be born with genetic problems.

So, there you have it! Breeding a dog responsibly means caring for the dogs’ wellbeing and the puppies, too. The goal is for everyone to stay healthy, happy, and have plenty of recovery time after rearing puppies. Then you and your dog(s) will have a happy time raising some cute little puppies together!

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Julie is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, where she studied Animal science. Though contrary to the opinion of her parents she was meant to study pharmacy, but she was in love with animals especially cats. Julie currently works in an animal research institute (NGO) in California and loves spending quality time with her little cat. She has the passion for making research about animals, how they survive, their way of life among others and publishes it. Julie is also happily married with two kids.

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