What time of year is the best time to have a litter of puppies? What should I look for in a stud dog? Should the bitch be outside or inside when whelping? What is the present position with regard to tail docking?

MARK WHITEHOUSE SAYS: The best time of year to have a litter is May/June.

The weather is warmer and your puppies can be outside in the garden playing.

Summer puppies always thrive better than winter puppies.

However, this is governed by when your bitch comes into season.

Most bitches break down into season twice a year, so you can judge your timing so that it does not interrupt with the shooting season.

When choosing a stud dog that is compatible with your bitch you should always compare pedigrees beforehand to make sure that they are not too closely related.

Do your homework on the stud dog and make sure it is a proven one.

Make further enquiries about the type of progeny he has produced as this will help when comparing temperament and trainability. Both are very important in a puppy.

The whelping area should be quite isolated and draught free.

I would advise as much natural light as possible but it should also have an internal light/heat lamp for late afternoons in the cooler summer months and throughout the days and nights during the winter months.

When your puppies have arrived they will need to be docked when they are two or three days old.

You will need to check a few weeks in advance with your local vet that they still carry out the docking of tails as some vets no longer carry out this procedure.

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