What’s the Best Breeding Age for Female and Male Dogs?

Making the decision to breed your dog is serious, a choice that needs to be well-planned and made with the right preparations. There are so many things to consider, especially if you plan on establishing yourself as a breeder. Breeding isn’t just about making cute puppies and some extra cash, which most people find out the hard way.

One of the many questions that come up with the topic of breeding is age, which is still a hotly debated topic in the dog breeding world. If you have a purebred dog or puppy that you plan on breeding, but you’re not sure how old he or she should be, read on to find out if your dog is ready:

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What’s the Best Age to Start Breeding Females?

First and foremost, female puppies should never be bred on their first heat. The reason is that they’re still maturing sexually and physically, so it can cause a laundry list of health issues for both the mom-to-be and the unborn puppies. Most breeders will say two things: breed after the first heat or breed after the 18-month mark.

German Shepherd's vulva
Image Credit: Wolvix1965, Wikimedia Commons

First Heat vs. 18 months

Female dogs usually get their cycle at around six months of age, though smaller breeds mature quicker and larger breeds can take up to a year for their first heat. Some people take the first heat as a sign that their female dog is ready to breed, but that’s far from the truth. Most puppies can get their first heat even earlier than six months, but they’re still growing and should not be bred.

Responsible breeders maintain that females should be at least 18 months old to prevent litter issues and health issues since younger females are still growing. Some breeders even argue that waiting until the female has two normal heat cycles to ensure that the female’s reproductive system is functioning properly. The bottom line: breeding a female dog at too young an age can cause significant health and litter issues, so it’s best to wait until your dog is physically ready before breeding.

When to Stop Breeding a Female

While most people ask how young you can breed a female dog, the opposite question is just as important. Most female dogs start to lose fertility at around age five, but they don’t get menopause as human females do. Most breeders stop breeding after the female is in the early stages of her senior years or after more than four litters.

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What is the Best Age to Start Breeding Males?

Male dogs can start breeding at an earlier age than females, around six to twelve months. Ideally, it’s best to wait until the male dog is at least one year old to ensure he is fully mature. Just like with female dogs, the age of maturity depends on size and breed. Male dogs don’t normally lose their fertility, but the sperm count can drop once he reaches his senior years.

dog sniffing another dog
Image Credit: Alan Levine, Flickr

When to Stop Breeding a Male

There are many reasons to stop breeding a male, between age, health, and temperament. Some male dogs get more aggressive after they’ve mated, so that alone could be a reason to stop. Age and health are other factors since the act of mating does take stamina, and it could become a safety issue. While female dogs should stop breeding after a while, most males can generally keep breeding for years.

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Factors to Consider

Size of the Dog

Your dog’s size and breed can clue you in on when he or she will mature, though it still varies with individual dogs. Small dogs tend to mature quicker than large dogs, especially the giant-sized breeds that take two years to fully mature and stop growing.

Health

Your dog’s health, whether male or female, will help you determine if he or she is ready for breeding. Some dogs may not be able to breed safely, so it’s important that health is also considered as well as age. Never breed a dog without clearing it with a vet first, which will ensure your dog’s safety is the top priority.

Genetic Disposition

Genetics is a major part of dog breeding, which many tend to ignore. If your dog has a reactive and unpredictable temperament, breeding it is generally frowned upon. Puppies take on a lot of their parents’ traits, so breeding a dog with temperament and health issues is not a good idea.

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Final Thoughts

Breeding your dog might seem more complicated than it should be, but that’s to make sure both dogs involved will be safe. Your dog’s health is very important, whether you’re breeding a male or female. Knowing what age is appropriate to start breeding your dog is extremely important, especially with larger breeds that take longer to mature. When in doubt, consult with a veterinarian that has experience with dog breeding to make sure your dog is ready.


Featured Image Credit: Pezibear, Pixabay