Breeding dogs and cats requires knowledge, proper facilities, and the financial capability ($500-800) savings account in case of dystocia (difficult delivery due to a pup stuck in the birth canal). Dystocias usually require expensive emergency Caesarian section surgery.
Over 20,000,000 pets, including healthy pups and kittens are killed each year in the United States because of overpopulation. There are simply not enough homes. Many of these pets are purebreds that are being overbred.
Intact females are in heat (estrus) for approx 3 wks. Female dogs experience 7-10 days of “pre-estrus” when the vulva swells and bleeds. “Estrus” follows starting on the day the bleeding stops, and lasts another 7-10 days. Females are receptive and can be impregnated during estrus.
To register a litter, owners must legally sign that the female was exposed to only one purebred male during estrus. “Post-Estrus” lasts another 7-10 days, during which time the males are still interested, but the female is no longer receptive to being bred.
Pregnancy (gestation) is 60-66 days. Breeders must keep accurate records and mark calendars to know when the pups are coming. At approximately 60 days of pregnancy, owners should start taking the mother’s temperature daily (N=101-102.5). On the day the temperature drops significantly labor usually begins within 24 hrs.
Pregnant and nursing females should be fed growth formula (Purina or Pedigree Puppy Chow or Science Diet Growth) with vitamin supplementation.
Once labor begins, puppies can come quickly (every 5-15 minutes) or take up to an hour or two between pups. Mother should be given the dignity of a clean private quiet whelping (birthing) box in which to feel secure and cuddle the pups as they arrive. No flashbulbs, strangers, or onlookers, please. This is a private moment for mother and immediate family only.
Mother will chew off the sack, and clean the pups. She will begin actively nursing them when the last one arrives. Mother should be examined by a veterinarian within the 1st 24 hrs after delivery to have the birth canal checked and to give her the “clean-up” oxytocin injection. Oxytocin reduces the length of time the green mucous discharge drips from the vulva from 3 – 4 weeks to hopefully 7-10 days. Oxytocin causes the uterus to contract (involute) and clean itself, reducing the risk of pyometra (uterine infection).
Pups should have supplemental softened pup chow (mush) at approximately 3 weeks of age to help minimize mother’s weight loss. Mother’s coat will look rough and ragged while nursing due to the drain on her system. Many breeders pictures of her at her best to show prospective puppy buyers how pretty she is.
Pups can be picked out and deposits left as early as 5 or 6 wks of age. However, pups should not be purchased and taken from the family unit until they are at least 8 or 9 weeks of age. This allows for proper socialization.
Pups should be de-wormed at 3 wks of age, and have their first immunizationsat 7-8wks of age. Be sure the buyers of your puppies understand the importance of Heartworm Protection/ Annual Immunizations/ and neuter or ovariohysterectomy to prevent accidental births if they are not intent on being serious breeders.