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At what age can a dog get pregnant?

Once you have decided to bring a puppy home you have lot of things to consider is to ensure that your dog has a happy and comfortable life. One such thing that you need to ponder upon is whether you would want your dog to have puppies of her own.

Ideally speaking, dogs should be spayed as early as possible to reduce the risk of certain cancers and uterine infections later in life. So, the decision of whether you would want your dog to be allowed to breed or not should be taken as early as possible.

Some basics while thinking of breeding

Uncontrolled breeding can lead to birth of puppies that you may not be able to find homes to accommodate. This can lead to them ending up as strays increasing the population of such dogs on the streets or you will have humanely euthanize the puppies. Which really is not a pleasent feeling. Would you want the litter from your dogs to end up like that? Make certain that all the puppies have good homes to go to before breeding takes place.

Ensure that your dog is healthy enough and has had all vaccinations up-to-date before having puppies of her own. Look up the lineage of your dog if possible to allow you to know if breeding carries the risk of hereditary problems that may get transmitted onto her litter.

If you are planning on selling the puppies that your dog has, it is better to find a suitable registered stud to mate her with to allow you to get a good lineage for your dog. It is also not advisable to cross breed your dog especially undertaking the mating of a big dog with a small dog.
Knowing the estrous (heat) cycle and pregnancy

Unlike animals in the wild, domesticated dogs come into heat more than once a year. These heat cycles are the time when the dog can be bred and they usually last for 7-10 days. The signs of estrous that you need to watch out for are bleeding from the vagina, swelling of the vulva and the stiff posture that the dog assumes when coming close to a male dog.

Dogs attain sexual maturity very early in their life at around 4-12 months of age and immediately after they start experiencing estrous cycles. Smaller dogs start having their cycles at a younger age than bigger dogs. Bigger dogs many a times begin to have estrous cycles only after crossing their first year and sometimes close to the second year of life.

When can you start breeding your dog?

It is not advisable to allow your dog to breed at a very young age as she herself would be more or less a pup and would not be able to sustain the pregnancy and if she litters, the puppies may not be very healthy. So, it is better not to allow mating during the first heat cycle.

The best time to introduce your dog to breed would be when she is in the second or the third cycle. At this time, she would be sufficiently grown and you will know more about her health status and you will know if it is safe for her to have puppies of her own.

You should also be aware not to allow your dog to breed beyond the age of 7-8 years to allow her to remain healthy and to avoid complications in the puppies that she gives birth to.
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