The Male Dog
Male dogs mature sexually at about six months of age. When both testicles are descended, theoretically the dog can mate, but it is best to wait until the dog is nine to twelve months old before using it for breeding. This is to allow the dog to fully mature; a heavy breeding season may stunt his growth.
In today’s urban society where most male dogs are confined to limited territory and most bitches are desexed, the male dog has less opportunities ,for mating than he did in the wild. I believe this causes behavioral changes in many male dogs. Undersexed male dogs are more likely to bite, to fight with other dogs, chase cars, exhibit sexual deviations (such as riding legs.
A male dog on heat may be mounting on children, be excitable, bark excessively, and display too much aggressiveness. If it is not to be used for breeding, a male dog should be castrated at five to six months of age. This is a simple procedure, requiring a general anesthetic, in which the testicles are removed. The dog is usually only in hospital for twenty-four hours. The Common Ailments listing includes some of the problems encountered 7 male dogs.
The Female Dog
The female dog first comes into heat anytime from six months of age on, depending on her breed and size. The small toy breeds usually come on heat at about six to seven months; the larger breeds usually at nine to ten months. This period of sexual activity usually occurs twice a year. At estrus (Day 1), the bitch’s vulva becomes swollen and there is a bloodstained discharge. Male dogs are attracted to the bitch, but she will not let them mate at this stage. About nine days later the discharge loses most of its bloody content, signifying that the female is entering the fertile and receptive stage of the heat cycle, when she will stand quietly, ready for service, with her tail raised. The breeding bitch should be mated on the eleventh and thirteenth day.
After the first few thrusting movements by the male, the two animals normally ‘tie’ together when a special section of the penis swells and ‘locks’ inside the vulva. Tying together is natural and indicates that the service has been successful. The dogs gradually untie after about fifteen minutes. It is possible for the dogs to turn back to back, but this is quite normal, and generally nothing to worry about. Never try to force the dogs apart, as this could cause injury.
The fertile, receptive stage may last for seven to nine days, after which the vulva gradually returns to a normal size and the discharge ceases. During the receptive phase the bitch may mate with several dogs, which can lead to puppies sired by different dogs.
The problems associated with keeping a bitch include bleeding and soiling, attracting male dogs, roaming and change of temperament, unwanted pregnancies, and false pregnancies. All this leads to management problems twice a year. So estrus control is . desirable.
Methods of estrus control can be surgical or medical. heat and keeps the bitch health by eliminating false pregnancy and possibility of pyometra. It may help to reduce the chances of mammary tumor development. The disadvantages, apart from anesthesia and surgical complications. include urinary incontinence and obesity. Urination incontinence occurs in a very small proportion of bitches in later life can easily be rectified by the administration of stilboestrol tablets. Obesity tends to occur in certain breeds, such as Labradors and Retrievers, if the dog’s diet is not strictly controlled. Obesity frequently occurs in sedentary animal and is blamed on desexing because desexing takes place when the anima, has matured and the owner continues to feed the mature dog a growing dog’s diet. Despite these disadvantages, spaying is probably the best method where owners have no intention of breeding from the animal.
Tying the tubes has very few advantages because some of the main problems, bleeding and attractiveness to male dogs, are not eliminated. Neither does it prevent false pregnancy, the possibility of an infected womb or mammary tumors.
Medical control is by injection or tablets. Injections are not often recommended because of side effects such as infected wombs. Tablets are quite effective and are used in two forms:
- A course of tablets given over eight days when the bitch comes into season. These take the bitch off heat within three or four days, before reaches the fertile phase of the cycle, but the course of tablets must be continued for the full eight days.
- A prolonged dosage regime, where the bitch is given a very low dose tablets over a period of twenty days.