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Dog Breeding Glossary of Terms

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A dog breeding glossary of terms may turn helpful to both novice and experienced dog breeders. Let's face it: there are several interesting terms related to breeding and whelping dogs and not all of these are widely known. This glossary is meant to educate dog breeders and hopefully allow to learn something new. In this list, some of the terms have hyperlinks to expand of the subjects that may picque a reader's interests. Interested in printing this out? Just press CTRL and P and that should automatically allow you to start printing if your computer is sharing a printer. Keep on checking this dog breeding glossary of terms from time to time as we will keep on expanding it.

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Dog Breeding Glossary of Terms 

Abortion: failure of pregnancy to reach full term and the perspective dam losing her developing puppies.

AKC: abbreviation that stands for the American Kennel Club a registering club responsible for registering purebred dogs and creating regulations for dog shows and field and obedience trials.

AKC litter registration: the registration of a litter of puppies that is submitted to the American Kennel Club. It must be filled out by the breeder owner of the dam at the time of whelping.

AKC papers: papers that are released by the American Kennel Club. These papers certify that a dog has been registered and has therefore been released a number along with the dog's name, breeder's name, name of the dog's sire and dam along with their registration numbers.

Amnion: the innermost thin, transparent membrane that encloses the embryo.

Amniotic fluid: the fluid that surrounds the developing fetus.

Artificial insemination: as opposed to natural breeding, artificial insemination is the introduction of semen into a dog's reproductive tract by artificial means.

Aunty: any dog, whether male or female who provides assistance to the puppies even if not directly related to them.

Autosomal: this term derives from autosome, meaning any of the numbered chromosomes, as opposed to the sex chromosomes. Dogs have 78 chromosomes (39 pairs) while humans have 46 chromosomes (23 pairs).

Backcrossing: crossing back to a previous generation either back to the parents or an individual genetically similar to the parent.

Back-to-back breeding: the practice of breeding female dogs every heat versus skipping a heat cycle and breeding every other heat.

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Castration: a surgical procedure meant to remove a dog's testicles.

Cleft palate: birth defect where the dog's palate is malformed leading to problems nursing and regurgitation of milk through the nose.

Colostrum: a special milk produced by mother dogs in the first hours after whelping and meant to provide puppies with important antibodies allowing temporary natural immunity.

Congenital: present at birth

Contractions: movements in the active stage of labor meant to help the expectant dog expel her puppies.

Crossbred:  a dog obtained by crossing a mother and father belonging to two different breeds. For example, a goldendoodle is a crossbred obtained by crossing a golden retriever and a poodle.

Cryptorchid: a male intact dog whose testicles have been retained in the abdomen. A unilateral cryptorchid has only one retained testicle, while a bilateral cryptorchid has both testicles retained.

Dam: any female dog that has whelped a litter of puppies.

DNA: a long molecule present in every cell of the dog's body containing thousands of genes.

Entropion: a genetic defect of the eyelids that turns inside out potentially causing eye ulcers.

Estrus: the phase of a dog's heat cycle during which the dog is receptive and fertile.

Fetus: the technical term for an unborn animal when developing in the dog's uterus.

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Gene: A specific DNA sequence leading to the expression of some inherited characteristic such as eye color, coat color, etc.

Gestation: the technical term used for the entire length of canine pregnancy.

Heat cycle: the time during which female dogs undergo changes that promote breeding

Hip Dysplasia: malformation of the dog's hip leading to joint laxity. Prior to breeding predispose dogs should be x- rayed and the x-rays should be sent to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals for evaluation.

Hysterectomy: the surgical removal of a dog's uterus

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Natural immunity: temporary immunity passed down from mother dogs to their puppies courtesy of mother dog's colostrum.

Outcrossing: the breeding of unrelated dogs of the same breed.

Ovariohysterectomy: the surgical removal of a dog's uterus and ovaries.

Ovaries: the female dog's reproductive organ responsible for releasing eggs to be fertilized.

Pet quality: dogs who aren't meant for the show ring and are sold to dog owners often with a neuter and spay agreement.

Placenta: an organ that develops during a dog's pregnancy and is meant to provide oxygen and nutrients to the growing fetus.

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA): a hereditary eye condition leading to progressive vision loss that dogs should be tested for before being bred. Affected dogs should be bred. Optigen provides genetic testing for this disorder.

Purebred: a dog whose sire and dam belong to the same breed.

Regurgitation reflex: a reflex where some mother dogs will regurgitate undigested food when the puppies lick their lips and start the weaning process.

Sibling: a littermate sharing the puppy's same parents.

Show quality: prospective puppies who show qualities at an early age that may potentially make them suitable for the show ring

Spaying: surgery to remove a female dog's reproductive organs to prevent future pregnancies.

Stud: an intact male dog that is used for breeding

Stud book: record keeping, breed registry.

Sire: name given to the father of a litter of puppies.

Tie: when the male dog and female dog are locked into a back-to-back position during mating.

Umbilical cord: a cord arising from the puppy's navel that has helped provide nutrients to the puppy while in the uterus. It should be severed after birth. Mother dog may chew it off or the breeder can cut the umbilical cord with scissors. Here are directions: how to cut a puppy's umbilical cord. 

Uterus: the hollow organ meant to provide nourishment to the developing fetus. Also known as womb.

Whelping: a term used to depict the process of giving birth.

Whelping box: a special area designed to accommodate mother dog and her puppies. Good whelping boxes should be equipped with a guard rail to prevent mother dog to accidentally crush the puppies.

Von Willebrand's disease (vWD): a canine hereditary bleeding disorder most common in the Corgi, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd Dog, German Shorthaired Pointer, Golden Retriever, Shetland Sheepdog, and Standard Poodle. VetGen provides genetic testing to screen for this disorder.

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