Before you breed your bitch this year, ask yourself a few questions:
1) Have you considered the number of dogs of your breed that are being produced and are sure the demand exceeds the supply?
2) Have you educated yourself on all the hereditary defects and problems common to your breed and have both the sire and dam of your proposed mating tested clear of them all?
3) Will the proposed mating stand a good chance of improving the breed in one or more specific ways-temperament, working ability, conformation, or health for example?
If you cannot answer “yes” to all three questions, do yourself and the breed a favor and do not breed this litter.
Pre-breeding exams insure a successful pregnancy
Assuming you can answer in the affirmative, you’ve done your homework, and you feel that there are several positive reasons for producing this litter, what can you do to assure a successful pregnancy and whelping?
If you are the owner of the bitch, review her previous records. If she has been bred previously, on what day of her cycle was she mated? Did a pregnancy result? Were there any problems? When was her last season? Was it normal? What was the length of the season? Are her immunizations up to date? Has she been checked for parasites recently?
If you bitch missed on her last breeding or experienced any infections or other problems with the pregnancy, have a culture done when she comes in season this time. A urinalysis and complete blood chemistry workup are also advised. You might want to discuss with your vet having her tested for hormone levels and serum chemistry. If these tests are normal, she may have missed last time due to shipping or other stress, and you might want to consider using a local male this time.
Hypothyroidism is a major cause of irregular heat cycles and the bitch may not ovulate. Other symptoms are infrequent heat cycles, reduced intensity of estrus, prolonged bleeding, and abortion. Hypothyroidism can be diagnosed by a blood test for T3 and T4 levels. It usually takes a week or more to get the results back from the laboratory.
If your bitch has a colored or foul smelling discharge, a culture should be taken from her vagina to check for infection. Some breeders report good results in clearing up a low-grade infection by douching with Furacin before breeding. Infections of this type can occur during anestrus, or immediately before or after breeding. A culture takes several days, so don’t wait until your bitch is in heat and ready to ovulate if you suspect a possible infection.
Insist on seeing reasonably current brucellosis test results on the stud dog of your choice, as well as proof of any health clearances common in your breed. Provide a veterinarian’s certificate of clean health on your bitch.
Starting with a clean bill of health on both dogs is an important start to a healthy, happy litter.
Much of this article came from Sallyann Comstock’s Belgians from Start to Finished.