It is better to be informed about dog mating before encountering unwanted situations.
If we decide to welcome a dog into our family, we must take into account its general needs. We should inform ourselves about different aspects such as training, health, and behavior, especially if it is our first four-legged friend. Knowing the dynamics, phases, and periods of mating will help us to be prepared for one of the physiological needs of our pet.
If you own a female dog, it is even more important to know this aspect in order to avoid unwanted pregnancy. Therefore, it is fundamental to know the heat cycle, the sexual maturity and the courtship ritual preceding mating.
Dog Mating: Female Dogs
Sexual maturity in the female dog usually occurs around six or twenty months of age. Small breeds tend to go into oestrus or heat earlier than large and giant breeds. So, the dog’s body size is a decisive factor influencing breeding capacity.
Female dogs come into heat about twice a year or every six months, although it varies from dog to dog and it depends on the dog’s age, health, and diet. If we choose to spay our dog to avoid unwanted pregnancy, the best time to do it is during the sixth to eighth month of life.
In the event that we wish our female dog to mate, it is advisable to omit the first and second heat. This is because the female dog’s sexual maturity does not precisely coincide with its full physical development. This does not mean that our dog cannot become pregnant, but that it is still too young to bear a pregnancy.
It is preferable to wait until our pet is fully physically developed before becoming a mother.
Dog Mating: Female Dog’s Heat
The canine estrous (reproductive) cycle is made up of four different stages:
- Pro-estrus: The start of pre-oestrus can generally be precisely pinpointed, since it is accompanied by highly visible changes to the female dog in question. For example, it is more nervous and urinates more frequently. This is when male dogs will be attracted to the female, but it will not be receptive. The female dog’s vulva swells and bloody vaginal discharge is secreted.
- Estrus: The female dog is now fertile and ready to breed. This phase lasts an average of 8/10 days and it is recognized because vaignal discharge becomes more watery and sometimes more mucous. The female dog has an autonomous ovulation; therefore, coitus is sufficient for pregnancy to occur. This is not the same for all animals. Female cats, for example, are induced ovulators. This means that they do not ovulate unless they are bred.
It is also important to remember that sperm survival can last up to 7 days in the female. So, if the mating took place days before estrus, a sperm can still fertilize the egg.
Keep in mind that the heat period lasts approximately ten days and if the female dog mates with different dogs, it may give birth to puppies from different fathers in the same litter.
- Diestrus: This is the stage following estrus and the female is no longer receptive to the meale.
- Anestrus: it is the time between diestrus and the next proestrus. During this phase, the female shows no signs whatsoever of being in heat and is not fertile.
Remember that there is no menopause in dogs, so older female dogs continue to have heat cycles, but they will become further apart and their fertility will decrease, but they can still get pregnant.
Dog Mating: Male Dogs
The most important information you need to know is that the male dogs do not go into heat. A male dog is mature for mating possibly from 4 months onwards but, generally, it is considered at about 8/10 months of life. As with female dogs, sexual maturity depends on the breed’s size. By that stage of its life, the dog will be fully physically developed, will look like an adult and will comply with the breed standards.
In the puberty phase, the male dog’s testosterone level grows and it begins to crave an active sex life. The dog starts to be attracted to the scent of the female in heat.
A sexually active dog smells the presence of a female in heat and it may react as follows:
- By drooling,
- By howling,
- By Scratching the door,
- By trying to escape from its place to go after the female dog,
- By pulling the leash towards the female dog in heat.
Sexual Maturity And Sexual Behavior in Male Dogs
It is necessary to make a distinction between a dog’s sexual maturity and its sexual behavior, which can occur in puppies as young as five weeks old. Canine mounting is an important social behavior of adult male dogs.
Mounting is, in fact, often used as a sign of dominance. A submissive dog will accept being mounted, but a dominant dog will react aggressively. For this reason, dog socialization is extremely important, so that it can learn about the risks from puppyhood.
Adult specimens are usually patient and allow a puppy to mount, but they make it understand with good manners (like a harmless growl) that it should not do so. As an adult, however, mountings may trigger dangerous fights.
Dog Mating: Courtship Ritual
The dog recognizes the dog’s heat by scent. Courtship begins with the male dog wagging its tail around the female dog and sniffing it. Having gained a bit of confidence, the female dog will continue with some bows and games, like chasing.
At this point, the male male gets close to the female and places its head on the female’s back. By doing so, it is as if the male is asking for the female consent for mating. If the female dog moves her tail to the side and remains firm, she accepts the male’s mating request.
The courtship ritual varies greatly depending on the male’s sexual experience. There may also be aggressive or insistent males that will try to force the female to mate.
If a dog has this temperament towards females, it is necessary for the owner to pay attention to his pet in the presence of females in heat.
Surprisingly, male dogs appear to be more stress sensitive than females during mating. Therefore, it is common knowledge that for a successful mating the male dog is in its own environment and the female is taken to the males dog’s home for breeding.
Dog Mating: Tie
During coitus, part of the dog’s penis swells and enlarges. The female’s vaginal muscles contract preventing the penis from being withdrawn. This is the “tie” that is considered a desirable feature of a successful mating.
The purpose of a copulatory tie is mainly to keep the semen secured inside the female dog since ejeculation begins after mating. This is the longest phase. Mating usually lasts about twenty minutes.
After mating, it is necessary to wait about ten minutes for the dogs to separate without pain. It is advisable not to force or rush this phase, as it would be dangerous.
If in doubt, consult a professional who will give you good assistance and answer all your questions.
You may be interested in reading another article related to the reproduction of our friends such as:
- Neutering in Dogs
- Weaning Puppies
- Phantom or False Pregnancy in Female Dogs
- Deworming in Dogs
- Dog Pregnancy