Decide on the reason you want to breed dogs. Some people instantly think of money, but breeding dogs is not about money.
Choose your breeding pair and determine if they possess the qualities you desire in the offspring you expect them to have. Genetic background. You will want to examine the bloodline of your dogs, to make sure they are genetically good quality. For pure breed dogs, you can obtain their bloodlines from the registering authority. For “mixed breed” dogs, the only background you may be able to obtain is the Stud and Dam who birthed them. You will be trying to determine if the genetic history of your prospective mating partners will yield pups with the specific qualities you are looking for. You must also insure the pair are not directly related, to prevent genetic defects of “inbreeding”.
Physical characteristics. Look at your breeding pair closely to insure you have the physical attributes of the breed you desire, with no deformities or undesirable qualities. An example would be someone breeding Labrador Retrievers, looking for signs of “hip displasyia”, a common genetic problem with this breed which causes some degree of crippling and difficulty walking and running. This condition makes the Labrador less desirable for hunting work, or retrieving.
Temperament. This is a quality passed on from the Stud and Dam to pups which is of utmost importance in breeds which have aggressive tendancies, like Doberman Pinschers and Rottweilers, so you should investigate the Stud and Dam’s temperaments before deciding to breed them.
Make sure your dogs are breeding age. Dams begin “coming in heat”, or having estrus cycles, at between 6 and 9 months, and come in heat about every 6 months thereafter. Most breeders do not breed a Dam until she is 1 1/2 to 2 years old, or the 3rd or 4th cycle. She is then fully matured, and physically able to endure the stress of carrying and delivering pups.
Have a knowledgeable person evaluate your dogs to give you an unbiased opinion of their qualities, and have a veterinarian check the health of your dogs.
Have your Dam checked for parasites, infections, and have her shots updated at least 2 weeks prior to breeding.
Wait for the Dam to come in heat. The Dam will begin her estrus cycle about 3 days before she is ready to breed, and if you have the stud in a nearby pen, you will have no problem identifying the beginning of the cycle. The Dam’s genital area will begin to swell and discharge, giving of a strong odor which the Stud will react strongly to. Wait 2 or 3 days after you observe your Dam beginning to show signs of coming in heat, then let the Stud in the pen with her. There are varying opinions on how many times you should allow the pair to “breed”, but the Stud can be left in the pen with the Dam for a day or two without any danger to either of the dogs.
When you are sure the Dam has been bred, you can remove the Stud to another pen, or return him to his owner, if you have arranged stud service from another breeder. Keep the Dam healthy, giving her a balanced diet, and supplemental vitamins if they are recommended by your vet. The gestation period for dogs is 63 days after fertilization of the egg, and fertilization will occur within 3 days of breeding. Keep the Dam’s kennel free of infestations such as fleas, and clean it regularly, as well as providing lots of fresh water and clean bedding. During the last three weeks of her pregnancy, she will require extra nutrition, so you may decide to feed puppy food, which is formulated both for puppies, and pregnant or nursing bitches.
Prepare a “whelping box”. This is a box, about 6 inches longer than the bitch when she is lying prone, and a foot or so wider. It should have a rail to prevent her from laying on the pups after they are born, and all areas of the box should be accessible. Place alternating layers of plastic sheeting and newspapers in the bottom of the box, so that as the bottom becomes soiled, you can slide out a layer of paper and a sheet of plastic, leaving a clean on in its place. Be alert when the time for whelping (delivering) is near. Dogs suffer from still born pups, breach births, and other birthing problems, and if you see any problems, like slow birthing, or partial birthing, don’t hesitate to take your Dam to the vet. The mother (now a bitch) will clean the pups, licking off the afterbirth and helping the pup position himself for sucking.
Write down the birth date, total number of pups, the number of each sex, and the number of still born pups, to use when filling out registration forms. If you are registering the litter, fill the form out as soon as possible, and send it in, since it takes time to get the litter registered.
Clean the whelping box bedding frequently. You may choose to use a synthetic material for bedding, which allows the waste to pass through to the “padding” (often pine shavings or straw) underneath. Watch the puppies carefully the first few weeks, making sure they stay clean and warm, and the bitch is providing enough milk for them. At about 4 weeks, they will begin to get very active, and the whelping box will no longer be large enough, so you will now have to furnish them with a bigger one.
Take the puppies to the Vet when they are 6 weeks old. The Vet will give them their vaccinations, worming, and other required medical attention. Also have him check for other health or hereditary problems.