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How Often Can You Breed a Female Dog?

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You may already know that female dogs are best bred once they have fully developed, but once they are in their prime years of reproduction you may be wondering next, "how often can you breed a female dog in her lifetime?" Is breeding a female dog back-to-back risky? Or is it better breeding every other heat? Many novice breeders may not know how often they should breed their female dogs and guesswork is not a good idea when it comes to mother dog's well being. If you are interested in knowing how many times your dog should be allowed to bear a puppy, this article may be helpful for you because we are going to discuss about several perspectives about how often you should breed your female dog.

back to back breeding dogs

First, Some Basics

Before we find out how often you should breed dogs, it is important to know when female dogs reach their maturity first. This is very important so that you can decide whether your dog is too young or too old to bear a puppy.

Dogs tend to go into their first heat anywhere between 6 months and 1 year or more, depending on breed. However, being receptive to the attention of male dogs doesn't mean that female dogs are ready to get pregnant.

Instead, depending on the type and the size of your dogs, you may need to wait some time and skip the first and perhaps even the second heat cycle. Twenty-four months may be a good time, but you may find it informative reading more about the best age for breeding your female dog. 

Once your dog has fully developed, you may next be wondering if you can plan to expect your dog having a litter of puppies at every heat cycle or whether your female dog should have some resting time in between. This seems to be a subject of controversy with different schools of thought, but it's always a good idea to hear both sides of the story so to make an informed decision.

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Breeding Every Other Heat

Is it OK to allow back-to-back breeding, allowing female dogs to have consecutive litters? Even though there is no written rule of how often can you breed dog, it does not mean that you should allow your female dog to be impregnated every time she experiences her heat season. You may have heard that if you breed your dog too often, your dog’ ability to bear a healthy puppy may decrease over time.

Most dog breeders seem to prefer breeding their female dogs every other heat. The theory is that this break in between heat cycles allows the female dog some time to recover and build more strength. However, the disadvantage with this method is that the female dog's uterus ages with every cycle, and therefore breeders may not be sparing their female dogs from the excessive wear and tear as believed.

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Veterinarian Dr Kate Schoeffel reported in the The Australian Journal of Professional Dog Breeders that skipping a heat cycle results in false pregnancy which scientists have reported increases the dog's risk for mammary cancer.

Breeding Every Heat 

breeding dog

On the other hand, there are breeders who feel that as long as their female dog is healthy and in good shape, there is no reason to wait another heat cycle. Some breeders therefore may breed their female dogs 2 or even 3 times in a row, but then they will retire their dog and get her spayed while she is still young.

This allows the dog to breed at her prime time while getting spayed while she is still fairly young and has good chances of being re-homed in a loving family as a cherished pet.

If you are planning to breed your female dog several heat cycles in a row, it's best to discuss this with your vet. Your vet is the person to evaluate her condition and determine if repeat breeding is feasible or not.

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"It's suggested not to skip a season, because we have been preserving the uterus from the effects of progesterone; what would be the benefit of exposing her uterus to two months of progesterone? Progesterone's effect on the uterine lining is the reason why (female dogs) six and over have a 33.3 percent less chance of conceiving than (female dogs) under 6 years of age."~ Dr. Hutchison

The Bottom Line

Responsible breeders will always put their female dog's welfare first when it comes to breeding frequency. No responsible breeder will therefore allow their female dog to breed to the point of exhaustion or into advanced age. So should you breed your dog every other heat or instead breed her back-to- back? The answer is that it depends on a variety of individual factors such as how fast your female dog recovers after whelping, your dog'a age and breed, how easy the previous delivery was, and how much good care you provide her. It's always best to ask your veterinarian for a honest, unbiased opinion.


  • Back to Back Breeding The Australian Journal of Professional Dog Breeders
  • Veterinary Partner: Transcript: Canine Reproduction Seminar

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