If breeding is not desired, the dog must be confined and restricted from male dogs for the ENTIRE three-week period since ovulation can occur at any time. Some animals, especially pets, will not stand for the male, and must be physically held or bred artificially. These dogs must have close veterinary supervision, using vaginal smears examined under the microscope, to determine the proper breeding time. If dogs do breed, we recommend breeding every other day as long as the female will accept the male to insure the best size litter. After a "normal" breeding, the dogs may remain "TIED" together for up to 30 minutes.
Occasionally, the male dog will turn around, making the dogs look "end to end". This is NORMAL and to be expected, and is no cause for alarm. Since pregnancy represents a considerable strain on the female, we do not recommend breeding every "season." Acceptable breeding programs include breeding every other "heat", or breeding two consecutive "heat cycles" and then skipping the third.
If pregnancy results from the mating, the puppies will be due in about 63 days. Begin counting from the first breeding. Remember that 63 days is the average. Your dog may vary three days either way. We recommend examining all pregnant females that go over three days past the due date. Before a planned breeding, the female should be checked for intestinal parasites and be current with vaccinations. She should be fed a high-quality commercial PUPPY food and supplemented with Pet Tabs Vitamins.
Ultrasound can be performed at 28 days gestation to ensure pregnancy and evaluate fetal health. Unfortunately counting pups by ultrasound is very inaccurate. If an accurate count is desired, x-rays can be done at 45 days gestation.
Prior to giving birth, or "whelping", your female dog may begin to act strangely and have changes in her appetite. Within 24 hours of whelping, she may begin to "nest" or seclude herself. Once her temperature drops to about 98 degrees, whelping should commence within 12 hours. Once contractions begin, the first pup should appear within 4 hours. If not, proceed to your veterinarian for an examination. Do the same if there is more than 2 hours between pups. In cases where the male dog is significantly bigger than the female, x-rays should be done at about 60 days gestation to evaluate fetal size and assess the possible need for a scheduled C-section.
After whelping, the female should stimulate the pups by licking them. She should also tear the umbilical cords and will usually eat the placenta (a mass of tissue that arrives shortly after each pup). The pups should begin nursing within 2 hours. If any of the pups are not nursing within 4 hours, they should be examined by your veterinarian.
Greenish black discharge from the vagina is normal for up to a week after whelping. Monitor the breasts for signs of inflammation or infection. The breasts should not be hot to the touch, overly painful, or discharging any off-colored material. Continue feeding puppy food and vitamins until the pups are weaned, because nursing requires alot of energy from mom.
Within the first three days, take the mother and the pups to your veterinarian for a checkup. This is also the time when the tails can be docked and the dewclaws removed in some breeds. The pups should be supplemented with watered down puppy food at 4-5 weeks of age, and they should be weaned off of mom by 6 weeks. At this time, they are ready for their first set of vaccines.