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How often can you safely breed a bitch. Is it once a year, every 18 months? Every other year?

Thanks in advance for your guidance.
 

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How often can you safely breed a bitch.
Very tricky question!

There simply is no such thing as "safe". So long as there is life, there are risks and danger.

I have looked for studies done on this and have not been able to find them. Historically, many bitches were bred on their first heat cycle, then every heat cycle after that and there are still some advocates for this.. with the idea being that NOT getting pregnant on a heat cycle is an abnormal circumstance for a bitch.

Bitches first heat cycles don't always happen at the same age. I have known bitches who have their first heat cycle at 6 months, and bitches who have their first heat cycle at 14 months.

Not all bitches have a heat cycle every 6 months. Some it's every 8 months, or even once a year! It can vary from bitch to bitch.. typically.. looking at the pattern of heat cycles of the dam/granddam will give some idea of the regularity of heat cycles.

Most breeder's won't breed a bitch until she is over two, to allow for some maturity as well as so that testing such as hip xrays can be completed.

Some breeder's prefer to wait until a bitch is four or five years old before breeding them the first time. It gives time for testing, to complete titles, a bit of time to allow for heath issues to rear their heads.. as well as to watch the parents/grandparents and other related dogs for health issues.

Some breeder's prefer to breed a bitch once at age 2 (or 3), then wait until age 5 or 6 to breed a second and last litter.

Most breeder's do not breed every heat cycle.. in most cases, it's not advantageous to the breed and that's a whole lot of puppies.

Breeding.. is kinda of like being a parent, there are different "parenting styles" and there isn't "one size fits all". Each breeder has individual reasons and rationales for what they do and why they do it. It may be that different dogs and different dogs breeds require a bit different approach too.

There are people who are going to tell you "You should.." do this, do that. in regards to breeding. In most cases, those are opinions, not fact/research based. Some people will say that it's "good judgement".. however different breeder's frequently have different opinions on "good".

Long winded answer, I didn't see anyone else answering.. and the reason why is it's not a simple question.

There is no such thing as a safe breeding. Just being alive is dangerous. Poodles can express SA, Addison's or bloat.. all without ever having been bred. Life.. is dangerous that is one of the reasons that it is so precious.
 

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There are many schools of thought on this. Some old time breeders would breed back to back to back to back then spay their bitch. Their thought was- an empty uterus is a uterus at risk. And, it can be. I know a number of breeders who have lost their bitch or at the very least had to spay them because of Pymetra.

We do not breed the first time until they are at least two. Jenny's first litter was at over three. This allows us to get all of the testing done at the right age and have results back before a breeding.

We have now begun breeding one back to back litter, then allowing them to rest for 14 months (our girls have seven month cycles). We are doing this because Trillium has a remarkable repro vet who said as long as the girls are young and healthy, there is no reason not to. She is a breeder as well as a health care professional, so we look to her for her opinions and expertise.

This is really something every breeder must decide for themselves. I think nearly all of us will agree on one thing...no breeding until two because they are still growing and developing themselves until then.
 

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It depends on lots of factors: the bitch, the breeder, external factors like demand for puppies.

Some breeders will only breed once the waiting list is full, or at least a certain degree of interest has been established. The waiting list on top of the breeder's personal ethics therefore determines when the bitch will be bred.

Some breeders wait until the bitch is older to see if health issues will express. There is risk involved in this, in that older bitches tend to produce fewer pups in a litter and pyometra risk increases.

Some breeders try to get their bitch's litters out the way as soon as possible so she can be spayed and enjoy her retirement.

Some bitches like to travel to meet stud dogs and be mated, are content during pregnancy, and love puppies and thrive on maternity duties. Other bitches get bad-tempered while on heat, hate stud dogs and the act of sex, are miserable from pregnancy hormones, and don't really like their puppies and lose condition from lactating and gestation. The 'career bitches' generally end up being bred once or twice so the breeder can keep something to continue the line, because nobody wants to put their dog repeatedly through something she doesn't enjoy, and the 'maternal bitches' often have more.
 

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Interesting to see the different perspectives that have been expressed here.

The UK Kennel Club limits the number of lifetime litters per bitch to 4 out of concern for the welfare of the bitches. What do some of you think about that limit? Good idea, or not?
 

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I think four is good, but would not want that dictated to me. Holly had five litters. She was an excellent, maternal soul who bounced back beautifully. I am not remotely sorry I did it. She began at two, finished at under seven, was never bred back to back so always had close to a year between litters, and was an incredible mother. We also had our vet's blessing, someone who had a working knowledge of the dog and was familiar with her health.
 

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I personally don't like to see a bitch bred more than twice, with that second litter a bit after the first to see if the first one produced well. I don't see a reason to keep pumping litters out of a dog.
 

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Well crumb. I responded and I guess my reply went to the cyberspace aliens.. or somewhere like that.

So.. here goes again:

I'm a huge believer in "Educate, don't legislate!". Most leglislators are clueless about breeding, genetics, long term breed management strategies.

If a bitch is healthy, there is no reason at all from a health standpoint that she can't be bred multiple times. I don't have a bitch who doesn't love having puppies and for my girls, I wouldn't consider it pumping out pups at all.. but doing one of the things they love and have an absolute passion for (their pups).

From a genetic standpoint, if a girl has unique or obscure genes, is a healthy and a good mother, then she should be bred to different studs with offspring from each breeding going to breeding homes. We are in a tight spot right now with poodle genetics ard are still losing some of the more obscure genetics.

So, in theory (Darla's), four breedings are fine, even five or six are fine so long as the bitch is healthy, the lines are healthy and.. alll the ducks are in a row so to speak.

As to what I have actually done: A few years ago when I was undergoing treatment for a life threatening illness, I leased a couple of my girls to a different breeder. I also had a girl who was co-owned who had a litter with both the co-owner and myself. You know what they say about hindsight.. however, with the exception of those three girls (one of whom, I have never had a litter out of myself), to date, I have never bred my girls more than once. Maybe someday.. when all the stars align right!
 

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I could not agree more Yadda. I had a German Shorthaired Pointer who was bred who was a horrific mother. She bred easily, her pregnancy was wonderful, she produced tons of milk. But you had to get in the whelping pen and pretty much lay on her to get her to feed. My Whippet Iris HATED the act of being bred. She was an incredible Mother to her own pups and wet nurse to Holly's pups. But both of these girls were only ever bred once. I would not have put either of them through it again for anything.
 

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Well from this poodle-lover's standpoint, not being a breeder, dogs that are excellent quality would do the breed a world of good if they had many litters. I mean, it's a gift to the breed if those dogs were able to contribute as many genes as possible to the pool. I guess a breeder would always hope, pray and write good contracts so that their litters would only be bred to approved dogs to further improve the breed.
 

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The UK Kennel Club limits the number of lifetime litters per bitch to 4 out of concern for the welfare of the bitches. What do some of you think about that limit? Good idea, or not?
Not to be pedantic, but it's correctly called the Kennel Club, not the UK Kennel club. :) I think it is well meant, and there is a clause in it that they will register further litters if they are contacted the mating takes place and there are valid welfare reasons (diversity may be one of them, never asked them so I can't say). But I have come across people not registering litters and selling them as pets because they didn't turn out the way they were hoping and they didn't keep one and want an extra try, or worse, deliberately mongrels because they've used up their number and the bitch likes puppies and they want some more. People breeding mongrels and unregistered poodles contributes nothing to the future of the breed and uses up owners that could have been given to dogs from more worthwhile breedings. The law of four looks good on paper, but in reality it doesn't stop the worst people (puppy farmers) as they will just use up their quota and then breed mutts until the bitch is spent.

From a genetic standpoint, if a girl has unique or obscure genes, is a healthy and a good mother, then she should be bred to different studs with offspring from each breeding going to breeding homes. We are in a tight spot right now with poodle genetics ard are still losing some of the more obscure genetics.
This, very much. There need to be more diverse dogs around, and people who breed diverse dogs do need to sell to other breeders. What I find really perverse is that if someone has a diverse stud and won't let him be used on anyone other than their own bitches and a few they approve of. Bloody hell -- it's not like he will run out of semen, and although breeding him to a bitch from a common show line certainly isn't as good as breeding him to another diverse bitch, it does still benefit the line bitch is from more than breeding her to a dog from a similar line.

dogs that are excellent quality would do the breed a world of good if they had many litters.
It depends what 'excellent quality' means. For show people, 'quality' means the dog's appearance and whether it is good enough to win a show. Dogs with the correct appearance usually are not diverse and have high Wycliffe contributions. I think there are enough people breeding this type of dog and we don't need any more of them. There are however a few dogs left from old, diverse lines, and these should be bred from as often as their welfare permits to ensure their genetics are preserved for posterity.
 

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Well thought and well said...

For the most part.

I do however, take umbrage with the following statement. It generalizes, judges, misinforms and is just flat out not true.

"It depends what 'excellent quality' means. For show people, 'quality' means the dog's appearance and whether it is good enough to win a show. Dogs with the correct appearance usually are not diverse and have high Wycliffe contributions."

At NOLA I breed for "excellent quality". I'm certainly not breeding for a slab sided, no carriage, pie headed poodle whose tail is poking along at 3 o'clock.

And, I do indeed care about genetic diversity and the future of our breed.

Not only are the COI in my breedings kept below 10 -the Wycliffe influence in my program is below 30%, with one of my girls having a Wycliffe influence of 22%.

AND, they can win in the conformation ring.

They can also title in the field.

And be certified for therapy work.

While living as healthy, happy pets.


Tabatha
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Well thought and well said...

For the most part.

I do however, take umbrage with the following statement. It generalizes, judges, misinforms and is just flat out not true.

"It depends what 'excellent quality' means. For show people, 'quality' means the dog's appearance and whether it is good enough to win a show. Dogs with the correct appearance usually are not diverse and have high Wycliffe contributions."

At NOLA I breed for "excellent quality". I'm certainly not breeding for a slab sided, no carriage, pie headed poodle whose tail is poking along at 3 o'clock.

And, I do indeed care about genetic diversity and the future of our breed.

Not only are the COI in my breedings kept below 10 -the Wycliffe influence in my program is below 30%, with one of my girls having a Wycliffe influence of 22%.

AND, they can win in the conformation ring.

They can also title in the field.

And be certified for therapy work.

While living as healthy, happy pets.


Tabatha
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Well said, Tab.
 

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Hear, hear Tabatha. Also when I said I think an excellent quality dog would benefit the breed by producing many puppies, that would of course be in theory, and limited even in theory by ensuring the dogs in that theoretical breeding program also had a good, joyful, balanced life and were loved and respected as a poodle personality, not just a breeder, because that's the point of the whole exercise :) But also, good point made about not overwhelming the gene pool with any one combination of lines and that diversity keeps the gene pool strong.
 

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It depends what 'excellent quality' means. For show people, 'quality' means the dog's appearance and whether it is good enough to win a show. Dogs with the correct appearance usually are not diverse and have high Wycliffe contributions. I think there are enough people breeding this type of dog and we don't need any more of them. There are however a few dogs left from old, diverse lines, and these should be bred from as often as their welfare permits to ensure their genetics are preserved for posterity.
I think that the older lines often times have more correct structure than what is current. For that reason + the sake of the health issues produced in some of the older lines vs. what you see in some of the newer lines, I am looking through a lot of older lines and English lines to find a correct, moderate bitch! Zyrcona, you are in the UK, right? Are you familiar with any of the older lines that are built correctly? Would you mind PMing me some kennel names? Thanks.

And I agree about breeding to the older lines for the sake and preservation of health and diversity, but what I don't agree with is that this has to sacrifice the ability to show and breed.
 

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I do however, take umbrage with the following statement. It generalizes, judges, misinforms and is just flat out not true.

"It depends what 'excellent quality' means. For show people, 'quality' means the dog's appearance and whether it is good enough to win a show. Dogs with the correct appearance usually are not diverse and have high Wycliffe contributions."
I did say usually. :) There are some breeders who show who have diverse dogs, but a lot of them in my experience don't have diverse dogs, in particular the ones who take showing very seriously.

I don't think show breeders should be prevented from breeding the dogs they want and showing them and I never said that. I do think shows are taken too seriously and I do really feel strongly that show breeding is not the only kind of breeding that should be respected. Diversity breeding is a continuum. The most serious show person can bring a diverse dog into their line to see what they can contribute (even if ultimately they don't like the result and sell the litter as pets and to other breeders). Likewise, the most hardcore diversity person who is doing mini crosses and puts conformation last in priority can still buy a dog from a show breeder and have a go at showing it. Is it too much to ask that both these breeders respect each others' goals, even though they may be very different? Why does one of them have to be 'good' and the other have to be 'bad'?
 

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Zyrcona,

I don't take ourselves so seriously, but we do show and finish our dogs(Airedales, and Poodles). The kids love to compete in Juniors. I also love to see them swim and work the fields! there is no reason you can't have diverse lines and show as well. I do have to admit health and temperment does come first though! Set your goals, and work twords them... You don't have to be flashy, but be correct.... They are Pooldes after all...

Paragon
 
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