Pet owners who want to get started with dog breeding should know about the best practices when it comes to the act of mating. Knowing when to stop breeding your dam and stud is what separates responsible breeders from backyard breeders and puppy mills. Correctly breeding your dog is a delicate process that requires plenty of research and experience.
Below, we discuss the breeding process while answering the question, “How often can you breed a male dog?”
How Many Litters Can Dogs Have Each Year?
On average, a female dog can produce about 10 litters in their life but this will depend on a number of factors such as breed, size, and health. Many female dogs (referred to as dams when they become mothers) can produce 2 litters a year but some dogs can go into heat thrice. The number of litters they can get will depend on their health conditions, natural body cycle, and their breeder — most will skip learning about cycles, which is why they get fewer litters.
Moreover, larger dogs will go on heat less often which is why giant breeds like English Mastiffs, Great Danes, and St. Bernards won’t go into labor often. Finally, the age that a female dog starts and stops breeding will also determine how many times she can give birth throughout her life. As such, responsible dog breeders will need to work out how often their dogs can reproduce each year to understand the maximum recommended number of times their dogs can give birth.
How Many Litters Should a Dog Have?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to this question, but many experts believe that dogs should be bred a maximum of 4 to 6 times. While it’s certainly possible to have over 10 litters throughout their lifetime, breeding older dogs can certainly affect the health of both the dam and her puppies. The best way to know how many times your dog can reproduce is to look into its starting age of 2 years old for larger breeds and around 6 months to a year for smaller breeds.
For most breeds, the best age to stop breeding dogs is around 6 to 7 years depending on the breed, which limits the number of litters to around 5 times which will help to keep your dogs safe and healthy. However, before you start breeding, it’s important for you to consider whether your dog is ready in terms of temperament, conformation, and health.
How Many Litters Can Dogs Have Legally?
In the United States, owners are allowed to breed their dogs as many times as they want, and many states will allow dogs to be raised in bad environments. This is why it’s up to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), and various Clubs to prevent puppy mills and to implement breed standards. Fortunately, the American Kennel Club (AKC) won’t accept puppies born from a dam that’s over 12 years and below 8 months old.
According to the guidelines presented by the United Kennel Club (UKC), the number of litter a dam should have is restricted to 4 or 5. They also warn that even when a breeder is registered, you still need to proceed cautiously, because unethical breeding practices are so common. Unfortunately, some breeders won’t have a problem deceiving potential buyers about the health, temperament, and how often they breed their dogs.
How Many Times Can a Male Dog Breed?
An intact male dog can breed as many times as it wants during its lifetime and the number of puppies it can have will depend on the number of intact females it has access to. However, Clubs such as the AKC will limit a male dog’s ability to sire up to 11 years of age. If you’re a stud dog owner, the most important consideration is your dog’s overall health and fitness, which will determine the amount of puppies they can have.
However, the frequency of breeding your male dog is also important and is an area that should be planned to ensure good fertility rates and the best results. Responsible breeders of male dogs shouldn’t breed their dogs too often to avoid “popular sire syndrome.” This is a practice where males with good genes are mated with so many females which reduces the genetic diversity in their pups and could lead to inbreeding and various health issues.
How Often Can You Breed a Male Dog?
In general, when a male dog mates, it will usually be around 6 months of age but this will also depend on their breed. For many healthy dogs, it will take between 12 to 15 months before they reach full sexual maturity; adult males will stay in a fertile period until old age. As such, there’s no limit to how many times they can be used for breeding, or until when they’re fit to mate.
But to ensure sperm quality, the male sperm should only be collected on a regular basis once every other day — this will allow the sperm count to come back up between ejaculations. Using this practice is a tried and tested technique that will provide high-quality sperm for successful mating. If there’s a need for high-volume breeding, in a short amount of time, it’s possible to collect sperm for as many as 5 consecutive days without affecting the quality and quantity of the sperm.
However, there are a few more considerations to think about when trying to determine how many days you can collect sperm, which include the following.
- The Size of Your Dog: The size of your male dog and the width of its scrotum matter. Smaller dogs will have smaller scrotums which carry less sperm compared to larger breed dogs. As a result, the quality of their sperm will only remain for up to 3 days consecutively.
- Giving Your Dog Rest: If your male dog doesn’t get rest between each ejaculation, its sperm quality will dramatically decrease and have a negative impact on fertility rates.
Because quality is the key, it’s best to stick to a regular cycle of sperm collection once every two days to keep it as good quality as possible. Finally, males with many health problems shouldn’t be used for breeding because they may pass down genetic issues to their litter.
Should You Breed Dogs at Every Heat Cycle?
Breeding your dog every time it comes into heat can be a controversial issue. Some experts argue that skipping a cycle between pregnancies can lead to a phantom pregnancy, which leads to an increased risk of mammary cancer. On the other hand, others say that restricting birth in female dogs may increase the risk for life-threatening diseases such as pyometra, an infection of the uterus that can be potentially deadly.
Yet, others will say that skipping a cycle or two after getting pregnant can help prevent your dog from becoming exhausted when they’re overbred. There’s also a concern for brachycephalic breeds and small dogs that are more likely to experience birthing difficulties since they will need more time for recovery and rest time in between their pregnancies. In the end, it’s best to skip heat cycles or stop breeding your pooch completely if the following occur:
- A C-section was performed
- The litter size was smaller or bigger than usual
- There were complications from the last pregnancy
Finally, it’s important to remember that the first heat cycle for many dogs is unlikely to result in a healthy litter of puppies, so the best time to start breeding them is during their second heat cycle.
How Long Do You Need to Wait Before Breeding Again?
As mentioned above, there are many different opinions regarding how long breeders need to wait after giving birth to puppies. While some people will support breeding each year since it may reduce the possibility of getting pyometra and mammary cancer, others will be more inclined to skip a cycle to stop overbreeding and give their pets time to rest. If you’re trying to keep up with puppy wishlists, and your pooch had a straightforward pregnancy, it’s likely safe to have consecutive births.
A dam can be safe as long as the breeder doesn’t exceed the recommended 6 births throughout its lifetime, and that they spay their dog once it retires. Breeders will also need to wait for a cycle or two should their dam experience issues that may complicate giving birth, such as:
- Small or large litters
- Reproductive issues such as a distended uterus
Puppies represent their parent’s bloodline and breed, so an experienced breeder should stop breeding their dam if her litter becomes too small and unhealthy. Moreover, if your dog’s health has been compromised and suffers from joint issues or obesity, it’s time to stop breeding since they’ll be unfit to give birth.
What Happens if My Dog Gives Birth Too Many Times?
When a mother dog has too many litters, it can affect the health of her puppies and herself. A dog would have too many litters when it continues to whelp past the right ages and when its body can handle strain, which can then endanger its life. Furthermore, puppies produced by old dams will often become small and stillborn or will come with health issues.
It’s best to stop a dog from breeding based on its age, rather than how many litters it has produced. A responsible breeder should stop breeding their dog by the time it reaches age 5 to 7 — small breeds should retire earlier to keep them healthy. Even if younger dogs are in the prime years of canine reproduction, making too many litters contributes to overpopulation in dogs.
Over 6 million dogs will be sent to animal shelters and adoption centers throughout the country every year, and breeding even more dogs that don’t already have a home waiting for them only makes the problem worse. Furthermore, breeders who fail to watch over the amount of puppies that their dams make likely won’t keep them in good health. As a result, their puppies will often inherit genetic conditions which include the following:
- Hip dysplasia
- Thyroid disease
- Heart issues
When is a Dog Considered to Be Too Old for Breeding?
For most female dogs, they’ll be too old to breed once they reach 6 to 8 years of age. Because female dogs won’t experience menopause, they’re able to give birth even after 12 years old. However, this doesn’t mean that they should because this could mean harm to both the mother dog and her puppies.
Apart from the age of your dog, there are other factors that may help you determine whether your dog should retire from breeding or not which include the following:
- Stillborn puppies
- Lower conception rates
- Decrease in litter size to just one or two puppies
Proper breeding for dogs requires that breeders stay between the recommended time bracket after the dog’s first heat cycle until it turns 7 years old. This means that reputable breeders will have 6 years to breed once a year which means their dog should have no more than 6 litters. However, breeding takes skill and knowledge, so not everyone can breed their dogs — backyard breeding can lead to overpopulation of dogs and shouldn’t be practiced.