What Is the Best Age to Breed A Female Dog?

Reviewed By Julie •  Updated: 08/20/21 •  6 min read
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Breeding dogs carries a lot of responsibility. People who are not professional breeders don’t understand this. Those that run puppy mills are the most irresponsible when it comes to dog breeding. However, with the right knowledge and consideration, dog breeding can bring lots of happiness!

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It’s important to understand that breeding dogs is an expensive endeavor when it’s done correctly. There are vet bills for things like checkups for the mother dog and then for her and the puppies later.

So, with these things in mind, let’s get started!

When Do Female Dogs Become Sexually Mature?

The age when a female dog becomes sexually mature can vary from breed to breed. However, generally, female dogs reach puberty at about the age of six months.

However, some dogs may mature later or earlier. For example, smaller dog breeds may have their first heat cycle when they’re about four months old. While large breeds may not be sexually mature until they’re about two years old.

When Can a Dog Become Pregnant?

Female dogs can become pregnant on their first heat cycle. However, this depends on the dog’s breed, age, and whether or not they’re healthy.

But there’s an important fact you must understand. While it’s true a female dog can become pregnant on their first heat cycle, they may not really be ready to have puppies. The reason for this is that physical maturity and sexual maturity are two different things.

How Often Do Female Dogs Go into Heat?

In most dog breeds, the female will go into heat about twice a year. However, this does vary. For some dogs, it’s normal to have as many as three to four heat cycles in a year. And heat cycles may be irregular in younger dogs. It may actually not be until she’s two years old that a dog’s cycle becomes regular. We suggest consulting professionals such as the K9 Fertility clinic to get a better understanding of the health of your dog.

Smaller breed dogs tend to have a heat cycle more regularly than larger dog breeds. Smaller breeds may have a heat cycle up to four times a year, while a larger breed may have a cycle only once a year. It’s not unheard of for some dogs to go eighteen months between cycles.

What are the Signs a Dog is in Heat?

When a female dog goes into heat, you may notice some vaginal bleeding. The amount of discharge can vary between dogs. Some will have only a small amount, while others have more bleeding. The dog will also have vulvar swelling and may begin licking her hind end.

As the cycle begins, male dogs will become very interested in the female; however, she won’t be interested in mating until seven to ten days after her cycle begins. As her cycle ends, the dog will have less blood and will become more receptive to male dogs.

A heat cycle usually lasts about two to three weeks. However, this can also vary between dogs. The cycle is over when the bleeding ends, and the vulva is a normal size.

What are the Signs It’s Time to Mate Your Dog?

The answer is a little involved. This is because ovulation may take place early and late in the cycle. However, most female dogs are receptive around the 11th day of their cycle.

You may also notice these signs when your dog is ready to mate:

When Can a Female Dog Be Bred?

A female dog should not be bred until she’s had about three to four cycles. This is because the female must first be sexually and physically mature. By physically mature, we mean she must have finished growing and be an adult. In most dogs, this is when they’ve reached the age of two to three years of age.

If a dog is bred before she’s sexually mature, becoming pregnant could hurt her growth or even hurt the puppies before they’re born. They may not form correctly or have other problems. Another problem is that the female may not be mature enough to take care of the puppies. In that case, the female will need plenty of help caring for the puppies since she’s not ready to do this on her own.

However, by waiting until she’s had at least three to four cycles, most dogs will have matured physically and sexually. These dogs are better able to become pregnant, have healthy puppies, and stay healthy themselves.

Another note—before your dog becomes pregnant, it’s always best to have her checked by the vet. This way, you’ll know for sure she’s ready to bear puppies and that she’s healthy enough to become pregnant.

Is it Possible to Breed Dogs Too Late?

Yes, it is possible to breed a dog when she’s too old. If your dog is older, then it’s best she does not have puppies. When dogs reach the age of five or six years, they may be too old. Most reputable breeders stop breeding their dogs by this age, but no later than seven years.

As they age, a dog’s fertility will begin to decline. This makes it more difficult to get pregnant in the first place. At this age, if a dog does become pregnant, there are high risks of her having pregnancy complications. That’s especially true if this is her first litter of puppies.

Giving birth is also more difficult for older dogs. It’s possible the puppies will not be born alive. If they are, they may not be as healthy as puppies born to younger mothers.

Another problem with an older dog becoming pregnant is that she is also prone to certain health issues as she ages, just like humans. She may develop heart, kidney, or liver problems, which may mean ill health for her. Plus, the chances of the mother dog having a healthy litter also diminish.

So, there you have it! Most dogs are able to be bred when they reach the age of two to three years. However, the female must be both sexually and physically mature. This way, she has a better chance of staying healthy, having a healthy pregnancy, and healthy puppies after giving birth!

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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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