My lab is expected to come into season in late spring but I don’t want a repeat of last year’s disappointment when she didn’t produce any pups.
I travelled a long way to use the stud gun dog I wanted.
Could I have done more to increase my chances of getting some pups?
JEREMY HUNT SAYS: You need to ensure you approach the whole business of mating your bitch in a structured manner to avoid any unwanted problems.
It would be foolish to assume that just because your bitch did not produce any pups last year that there is anything wrong with her reproductive system.
It may be worth having a chat with your vet and letting them have a look at her.
If all is well and there are no obvious reasons why she didn’t produce, it’s up to you to make sure she is at her best when presented to the stud gun dog at their next meeting.
You should always make a note of the dates a bitch comes into season, whether you intend to breed from her or not.
It should be approximately every six months.
No doubt you will have spoken to the owner of the stud gun dog you intend to use so they will have an idea about when the mating will take place – although you can only give a very broad time window when at the planning stage.
Find out if the owner will allow the bitch to be mated on consecutive days – some are okay about this, others not.
Make sure your bitch is in good physical condition as she approaches her anticipated season too.
Don’t get her too fat and likewise don’t have her too lean after a hard shooting season.
You can’t expect her to ovulate sufficiently to produce a good-sized litter if the season has been a gruelling one.
If you can estimate when she is due to come into season I would suggest a course of wheatgerm capsules for several weeks prior to the mating.
It is an excellent source of Vitamin E and boosts fertility.
In the old days we mated on the tenth and twelfth of the season, but bitches do vary greatly – even from season to season – in terms of the time they actually ovulate.
I would recommend you speak to your vet about a progesterone test which is taken once the season starts.
This should give you a good guide on when the optimum mating date will occur.
The bitch should be made to feel completely comfortable during mating.
Ideally she should tie with the gun dog during the mating.
A tie can last for a few minutes or up to 20 minutes.
I have had good litters from no-tie matings but always prefer them.
I also always try and tip the bitch up by her hind legs once mating is over.