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Problems Associated With Breeding

If you have decided to breed your pet and are sure to place the offspring in good homes, you may encounter some difficulty with mating. Carefully choose a mate based primarily on temperament, and consider physical beauty secondarily. The potential mate should be healthy and free of any known illness or family history of disease. Vaccinations for both male and female must be current and recent fecal analysis should indicate that they are free of intestinal parasites. Dogs should be tested for heartworm infection. Cats should be tested for major feline disease (feline leukemia virus infection, feline immunodeficiency virus infection, feline infectious peritonitis). Any confirmed medical disorder should be treated before mating. Animals with any physical illness, inherited or congenital problem, or unacceptable temperament should not be bred. Females should not be bred before they are physically mature. Pregnancy, maternal care and at least 6 weeks of milk production (lactation) to feed the litter are physically demanding for the mother cat (queen) or dog (bitch). Generally a bitch should not be bred until she has passed at least 2 heats, though ideally she should not be bred before 2 years of age. A queen may be bred after she is 1 year old. It may be possible to delay the onset of estrus (heat) in a female cat, especially if she was born in the fall, by keeping her indoors and away from tomcats (uncastrated male cats). Males may be used for stud anytime after reaching reproductive maturity. In tomcats and small-breed dogs, this may be as early as 7 or 8 months. Large-breed male dogs may mature a bit later, toward 9 or 10 months. Ideally, inexperienced males should be bred to experienced females, who may be more tolerant of a male's first mating attempts. Mating may go most smoothly in the stud's familiar territory, where he feels more secure and comfortable. Ideally, the female should be brought to the male's home. She should arrive some time before being introduced to the male so that she can recuperate from any long-distance travel, acclimatize to her new surroundings and become acquainted with the male before she goes into heat. Inexperienced males may have difficulty in mounting the female. Some male dogs appear confused, mounting the female from the side or even the front, rather than at the tail end. Physical abnormalities that prevent intercourse in stud males can be detected by careful examination by a veterinarian before breeding. In dogs, for example, the prepuce (penile sheath or foreskin) may be exceptionally narrow, restricting the male's erection or preventing retraction of the penis following erection. In male cats, hair may accumulate to form a ring at the base of the penis. Female cats and dogs may show individual preference for mates. Some females reject all males equally, while others show no selectivity whatsoever. Artificial insemination may be necessary in a female that rejects all males or rejects a particular stud that has been selected for her. Consult your veterinarian regarding this procedure.