Our expert says:
Dog Behaviour Expert
Hi Janine, nice to hear from you! One of the main reasons I started the free website Friendsofthedog was to clarify mis-information such as above!
The best time to get a dog spade is about 6 months of age, before the first heat, but it is never too late and would suggest speaking to your vet about this as soon as possible.
Only professional breeders should engage in breeder. Although it is very simple to allow two dogs to mate, a professional breeder will go into the background, genetics etc of a dog and do all they can to ensure that the resulting pups will have good temperments, be the best of the breed for what they were originally bred for (hunting, retrieving etc), eliminate as many genetic flaws as possible etc. Breeding is really looked at from a scientific point of view rather than a casual view and requires a lot of knowledge.
Additionally, a professeional breeder would not mate a bitch until approximately 3 years of age - in addition to physical, genetic aspect, a dog of a year of age is just too young and immature to handle the birthing and caring process - bit like a 13yr old child becoming a mum! When people mate dogs too early, it often results in physical problems for the bitch, dead and mutulated pups and a myriad of problems. Plus, it can be a very expensive undertaking as dog needs to be monitered by a vet throughout pregnancy, with correct feed, vitamins etc been given - then there is also the care of the pups - think i may be putting you off - good!
The fallacy of letting a bitch have a litter is just that - a fallacy! It can lead to accidental pregnancy, total frustration for the dog as it cannot engage in normal urge to reproduce etc and can put her health and the health of the unborn pups at rist. Also, are you going to be able to find suitable homes for them?
Sterilizing a dog can avoid many physical problems in later life such as various ovarian cancers etc, and unless you are a professional breeder, it really is only responsible dog ownership.
Please speak to your vet about this and also there are several articles on the friendsofthedog site on sterilization with the pro's and con'.
From what you describe your dog is doing, it is more likely to be an indication of an itchy skin, due perhaps to fleas, irritation or even a food intolerance. If it does not stop, chat to your vet about this as well.
I really am glad you your are using common sense and getting advice on this before just 'jumping in' and allowing her to get pregnant. Good luck you sound like a concerned dog owner and lovely to be in touch. Scotty
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