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I have a working spaniel and want to be well prepared for when I start the breeding process next year.

Mark Whitehouse says: The best time to whelp a bitch is mid-spring/early summer when the weather has started to warm up.

All puppies thrive during these long summer days.

Another advantage of breeding mid-spring/early summer is that your bitch does not miss a day’s shooting.

However this all depends on the time your bitch actually comes into season, normally every seven to nine months.

Ensure that the stud dog you choose has a proven track record and is of working stock.

If you decide to use a Field Trial Champion (FTCh) you can guarantee that he has been tested at the highest standard, and hopefully these qualities can be passed on to his progeny.

Before the puppies are due, ensure your bitch is isolated and the chosen area has plenty of light and is draft free.

Heat is required during the winter months.

A good sturdily built whelping box with an inner rail is recommended to prevent any puppies being accidentally laid on.

You should also worm and spray for parasites from an early age.

Worming should be carried out from when your puppies are approximately two weeks old, a recommended brand is Panacure paste or liquid, and spraying for external parasites should be undertaken from when your puppies are two days old – a recommended and widely used brand is Frontline.

Your puppies should have their first vaccination at 10 weeks old and the second vaccination at 12 weeks old and annually thereafter.

Weaning starts at four weeks and a top quality puppy food is paramount.

I use Arden Grange and have had great results.

For more gun dog breeding advice click here