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Tips on breeding puppies from older dogs

Breeding puppies from an older dog is not something to take lightly but don’t be put off if taking a litter from your bitch is something you really want.

When it comes to breeding puppies, an older dog should still be perfectly capable of producing a litter if she has always come into season regularly. Of course, older dogs mated for the first time can sometimes be a little more reluctant to accept a dog, but that very much depends on the individual. However, I would be mindful of that possibility when you choose your stud dog because you need to make sure he is experienced and not likely to be put off by an uncooperative bitch – believe it or not, some dogs are.

Once the dog has been selected – and he needs to have had all the relevant health tests – a conversation with the owner to request two matings is appropriate. Usually, matings are undertaken two days apart so you also need to consider the logistics if the sire is some distance away. It’s well worth travelling and having a couple of days of inconvenience to use the best dog and to get two matings, rather than take the easy option and use a local dog just because it’s more accessible.

Make sure your bitch is in good physical condition as she approaches her season – not too fat or too thin. And if she is regular in her breeding cycle – usually every six months – it’s worth putting her on to a Vitamin E supplement about a month beforehand to help boost her fertility. I like my bitches to be on a rising plane of nutrition before mating, so consider feeding a slightly higher protein-content diet – say around 23 per cent.

Progesterone testing is also recommended – this will set you back around £50 – to ascertain the optimum day for mating. The test is based on a blood sample taken by your vet – usually on about day eight of the season – but it’s advisable to talk to your vet as soon as you see your bitch has come on heat.

When I mate a bitch, I always like to briefly upend her as soon as she comes away from the ‘tie’ with the dog. Then, after the mating, put the bitch back in the car and try not to let her urinate for a couple of hours. I keep a bitch as calm as possible in the week following mating to allow everything to settle down. Hopefully by week four or five of the nine-week gestation, there will be positive signs of pregnancy.