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Crazy6corgis policy on back-to-back breeding

Updated: Jan 14, 2022

There have been several studies done on what is healthier for a breeding female and the results of these studies conclusively show that it is healthier for a female to be bred every heat instead of every other heat (I have attached articles below).

While we do breed every heat, we never breed first heat and sometimes not on second heat either depending on the age in which they have their second heat. Sometimes a female does not come in heat the first time until they are close to a year and a half old, others will come in heat when they are 8 months old for the first time. We do not believe that because you breed every heat that you should continue to breed as long as those that don't breed every heat, which means that our breeding females retire earlier than those breeders that breed every other heat. Our girls will retire and get spayed after 4-6 litters (or when the size of the litter drops off drastically, whichever comes first). This way they are breeding in their prime when it is healthier and safer for dam and puppies. While it is healthier to breed every heat we also think that breeders need to use common sense and make sure that their females are back to a healthy weight before breeding again, as well as, judging on a case by case knowing what is right for your female and her health.

Recently at an AKC Dog Breeding Discussion held at Michigan State University with key note speaker Dr. Claudia Orlandi Ph.D. (AKC's breeder of the year and author of The ABC's of Dog Breeding) shocked many breeders when it was disclosed that there have been scientific studies to show that it is detrimental for dams to skip heat cycles. It was shared that once you have begun to mate a dam that you should NOT skip any heat cycles until she is completely finished breeding. A dam is said to be "finished" breeding when her litter size is drastically decreased. The study involved following females that were bred every heat cycle and females that were bred every other heat cycle. After they were "finished" breeding, the dams were spayed and their uterus dissected.

Those showing most stress, and damage of the uterus were the females that were bred "every other" heat cycle. Part of the rational that skipping heat cycles is harmful stems from the fact that with consecutive heat cycles there is no "flushing action" of the uterus, which normally occurs by having a litter of puppies. The female will go through Estrus no matter if she is bred or not and by breeding a healthy dam back to back, can lessen the chances of the female experiencing pyometra, infections and false pregnancy. The choice to breed or not, should be contingent upon the goals the breeder has and for sure the mental and physical health of the female, above all else. Here are a few articles: Back to Back Breeding and Pseudopregnancy The Australian Journal of Professional Dog Breeders February 5, 2011 By Dr Kate Schoeffel It is frequently claimed that breeding dogs on every heat or “back to back breeding” is bad for a bitch’s long term health and well being. However the research in canine reproduction shows that not breeding a dog when it comes into heat can in fact be bad for its health. Scientist have shown that pseudopregnancy ['phantom pregnancy'] increases the risk of mammary cancers which are the second most common cancer in dogs after skin tumors and are 3-5 times more common than breast cancers in women 1: Pseudopregnancy often occurs when a bitch is not bred. She will show signs such as nesting, weight gain, mammary enlargement and lactation – usually about 6 to 12 weeks after oestrus. Pseudopregnancy represents the extreme of the changes which normally occur during the oestrus cycle and it is suggested that it is a hang over from dogs evolution from wolves. Subordinate nonbreeding pseudopregnant female wolves in a pack can help to raise pups by nursing the litters of other females” 2 In 1994 Donnay and his associates showed that there is a relationship between the number of pseudopregnancies a bitch goes through and the development of mammary cancer 3. Verstegen and Onclin (2006)1 have also studied canine mammary cancer and found that a large number of bitches presented for mammary tumours also show pseudopregnancy, that a large percentage of these females had frequent pseudopregnancies and that the bitches with recurring pseudopregnancy at each cycle tended to develop mammary tumors significantly earlier than other animals. Both of these authors say that there is need formore research but clearly bitches which don’t breed are likely to become pseudopregnant and pseudopregnancy increases the risk of cancer. Skipping cycles in breeding has been linked to mammary cancer Pregnancy protects against life threatening uterine diseases. The most common uterine disease in the bitch is cystic endometrial hyperplasia. It is linked to several serious uterine diseases including the potentially life threatening disease “pyometra”(literally – a uterus full of pus) which affects nearly one quarter of dogs under 10 years old which are not desexed 4 . According to canine reproduction specialist Dr S. Romagnoli “bitches whelping regularly throughout their reproductive life almost never develop pyometra, while those who whelp rarely or never in their lives have a greater chance of developing this condition”. Furthermore a standard textbook of veterinary internal medicine notes that uterine diseases are less common in kennels where bitches are bred and conceive regularly indicating that pregnancy has a protective effect on the lining of the uterus or “endometrium” Given that artificially restricting bitches, which haven’t been desexed, from breeding is bad for their health, it is not surprising that many breeding dogs bred have reproductive problems. If they are show dogs they often don’t start breeding until they are three years old, and have finished their show career, and then kennel club rules and even government regulations require that the bitch is only bred on every second season. Frequently older bitches need veterinary intervention to reproduce, and good bitches may end up being bred well beyond 6 years of age when their fertility is beginning to decline. No responsible breeder who cares about their dogs would breed their bitches until they are exhausted, and rules certainly need to be in place to ensure that irresponsible breeders don’t exploit their dogs, however the current regulations in place in some states do not take into account the biology of the bitch. Breeding should be regulated by limiting the number of litters a bitch can breed or the age at which they should be desexed and retired. Breeding dogs regularly while they are young,followed by desexing and rehoming them early is in the best interest of the bitch and a good pet breeder can use this knowledge to work with the natural biology of their animals. Breeders must be aware of and comply with any government regulations regarding dog breeding in their state and unfortunately in Victoria, NSW and QLD current regulations do not permit this approach to dog breeding.

How Many Litters Can a Dog Legally Have? The Important Ethics of Breeding

Updated: Oct 24

The number of litters a breeder allows their mother dog (known as a dam) to legally have is a huge factor separating reputable breeders from puppy mills. The United Kennel Club and regulations in other countries limit registered litters to 4 or 5 from the same dam.

The United States/the American Kennel Club actually has no legal limit on the number of litters a single dog can produce. However, an ethical breeder will be taking many factors into consideration when it comes to the number of litters their dogs produce.

The main point to consider is that there is no one size fits all approach when it comes to dog breeding. Just like in humans, reproduction can be complicated with dogs! Some seem to have incredibly easy pregnancies, deliveries, etc. while others may struggle for various reasons or even unknown causes.

A good breeder should be taking into account a large number of factors and be willing to retire a dog early if needed, while other dogs may be able to easily have 5 subsequent pregnancies with zero health concerns.

A dog is capable of having over ten litters in her lifetime, however, most dogs will not be able to produce this number of healthy litters and remain healthy herself. One obvious sign that a female should be retired is that her litter size drops drastically. Small litters or litters that for one reason or another have some health complications can happen even among young, fit mothers, but they can also be a sign a mother is older and needs to retire from breeding.

A best practice is 4-6 litters per dog

Most reputable breeders will cap even their fittest, best mothers at around 4-6 litters so that she can be spayed while she is still young and at her healthiest. Reasons that a reputable breeder may have to retire a dog sooner would be difficult deliveries that may require C-sections or other common reproductive related difficulties such as recurrent mastitis or uterine infections.

However, most well-bred dogs are able to have a good handful of litters with no health concerns. Remaining active during pregnancy and whelping and being able to maintain a healthy weight during nursing are signs that your dam is feeling good and able to continue producing litters.

Physical health is one factor that breeders should be highly aware of, but a dam’s emotional health matters, too. A breeder should always be in touch with their dogs and show a high degree of concern for their wellbeing. Some dogs seem to really enjoy being mothers and spend extra time with their pups and actively choose to play with them, bring them treat/toys, etc.

Other times, a dog may not seem to jive with motherhood. A breeder should be willing to retire a dog early if they simply do not seem to enjoy being a mom. This can look like a dog not wanting to spend time with her puppies, seeming particularly anxious during the whelping process, etc. A breeder who is in tune with her parent dogs will likely retire some earlier than expected for reasons such as these.

Besides actual number of litters, there are other questions to consider when it comes to the ethics of breeding your dam. When and how often your dog should be bred are also questions that every breeder must grapple with. And similar to the topic of number of litters, the answers to these questions do vary based on size and breed of dog as well as other factors.

Even reproductive vets tend to disagree when it comes to the answers to these questions. As an example, previously, skipping heats between pregnancies was strongly encouraged in the breeding community. However, newer research has suggested that the more heats a dog has in her lifetime, the greater the risk of pyometra and other health concerns.

Research shared by Dr. Claudia Orlandi PhD, suggested that a breeding female should not skip any heat cycles until she is retired. The study involved dissecting the uteri of retired females. The uteri that had the most scarring and “damage” were from those who had skipped a number of heat cycles.

So some breeders feel strongly about breeding their females back to back, while others insist that skipping heats allows their females to completely recover physically between pregnancies. Regardless of their answer, your breeder should be able to tell you why they breed their female as often as they do in a way that shows concern for their dog.

Aside from the legally allowed number of litters, age at which a dog starts breeding is also important

When it comes to what age to start breeding your dog, most breeders aim to begin on the second or third heat. Younger dogs tend to recover faster from pregnancy and delivery, so the earlier you start breeding your dog, the better, if she’s fully grown. If your dog is too young, she may not be fully grown and/or mentally mature enough to have a successful, healthy litter.

While smaller dogs are often full grown by 12 months of age, larger breed dogs may take up to two years. A female typically has her first heat between 6 and 12 months of age, and cycles every 6 months after that. As a result, reputable breeders typically skip the first heat (or two for larger breed dogs) to ensure the dog is fully developed before becoming pregnant.

In conclusion, there is a lot of conflicting research when it comes to when, how often, and how many litters a dam should produce in her lifetime. Even among reputable breeders, you may find different answers to all of these questions. However, your breeder should be able to answer these questions honestly and with transparency and be able to give thoughtful answers that show concern for their dog’s health.

A reputable breeder should be working closely with a veterinarian who can help them answer some of these tough questions based on medical research. Your breeder should seem knowledgeable about their dogs’ health and be able to back up their answers to any of these breeding questions with research and/or veterinarian counsel.

Breeders who seem to dodge these questions or give short, unthoughtful answers may not be putting their dog’s health first. As a buyer, doing your due diligence and finding a breeder who can and will take the time to answer these questions and show concern for the health of their parent dogs will likely pay off in the long run with a healthy, well-tempered pup!

Be sure to do your research about the legal litter limits in your country before buying a puppy.

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