I have spent countless hours and late nights researching the goldendoodle breed and what it means to breed safe and breed smart. I enjoy networking with other breeders to see what opinions they have and what new methods, clinical findings and products exist. Being a complete perfectionist, and a little neurotic, I only want to take on new challenges if I can dedicate the time to mastering the craft. I want to ensure that our dogs are healthy and happy and that we produce quality sound puppies. Part of my quest to find healthy breeding stock is carefully reviewing the pedigrees of any dogs we purchase for breeding. CKC registration and pedigrees are available to adoptive families once proof of spay and neuter is submitted to us per our sales contract.
We have been lucky to work with other great breeders who genetically test their dogs. Each of our breeding dogs have completed genetic testing through Embark or PawPrint Genetics. I do not believe in testing for every orthopedic condition as research has proven that great xrays do not guarantee great offspring. A dog could have excellent elbows one year, have poor elbows by the next, and have offspring with poor elbows. A few of our adults have hip xrays but we quickly discovered veterinary radiologists were extremely inconsistent with grading images and routine vets were even more inconsistent with obtaining good images. I sent the same adult hip xray to three different vets and two different radiologists to read and received three different scores. It has also been proven that diet, exercise and other environmental factors play a much more significant role in the development of orthopedic ailments than originally thought.
There has been a lot of debate about if it is better to breed females back to back heat cycles or if it is better to skip heats. Being a novice breeder I initially thought it was cruel to put the female through back to back litters. I felt that this would earn me the title of being a puppy mill. I have taken the time to read over research findings and speak with other breeders to form my own opinion. The research has shown that if a female has fully recovered from each pregnancy, it is better for the body to breed while younger and healthier than to prolong breeding. By breeding back to back heat cycles we are able to spay and retire the mommies earlier. We go by the model of breeding 2 or 3 heats on, off 1 heat, 2 heats on, off 1 heat, 1 heat on, and spay. If the girls start breeding around the age of 2, this will retire them between age 5 or 6. We will always check with our veterinarian before each breeding to ensure the doodle mommy is safe and fit to breed back to back. If at any time any our of females has a difficult labor with complications, we spay her after the delivery no questions asked. I have posted an article about the theory of back to back cycle breedings below. I am always happy to answer any questions!
Our Breeding Practices
Follow this link to info regarding causes of hip dysplasia
Here is an article about breeding back to back heat cycles
The Debate About How Often to Breed a Bitch
By Karen Priest, Traumhof German Shepherd Dogs
My initial plan for my brood bitches was to breed each of them on one of their two heats annually, and “rest” them in between. My breeding females are also my beloved pets, and I wanted to make choices that were in their best interest.
The idea of breeding a bitch repeatedly conjured visions of puppy mills, with bitches in a sad state, weary and looking unthrifty. I was decidedly opposed to the practice. I thought. I might occasionally do a back to back breeding, but it would be the exception rather than the norm. Surprisingly, when I consulted with two Reproductive Specialist Veterinarians, they both advised against my “breed/ then skip” plan.
The debate about how often to breed is not a new one. Years ago a German breeder told me that it is always better to breed continuously, as many litters as you plan to have, and then spay the dog. I was told that bitches who are skipped in between frequently have a shorter breeding career due to problems getting pregnant and problems carrying litters to term. I wasn’t sure I subscribed to that theory.
Another breeder I respected told me that she felt it was easier on the bitch to breed her only once a year and let her body rest and recover in between pregnancies. The rest period also left ample time if the bitch was still actively showing or competing. It takes time for a bitch to grow back her coat, get fit and back into work. This SOUNDED like a fair plan, and I suppose my decision to go that route was based on emotions more than science. I didn’t consider the debate again until I was faced with the issue of a bitch who “missed” (didn’t get pregnant) after an intentional rest on a previous heat, and until I considered the age of a couple of my proven breeding bitches. I wondered if, given their age, it would be best to breed back to back and then retire them, rather than skip a heat and breed them when they were a calendar year older.
At this point, I consulted with Reproductive Specialist Veterinarians.
(Anyone who owns a dog can tell you, it can be difficult to get two different vets to agree on anything from diet, to vaccine protocols, to treatments. Veterinarians’ opinions fall on both sides of this debate. But, my feeling was, if I have a heart problem, I see a heart Doctor, not an OB-GYN. If I have a reproductive issue concerning my dogs, I prefer to take the advice of a specialist in that area.)
There seems to be general agreement amongst reproductive veterinarians. The consensus is that a bitch should be bred back to back for a planned number of breedings, and then spayed/retired. I have taken the advice of my veterinarian, and I no longer skip every other heat, unless I have a reason to do. If we breed a young bitch during the winter, when training is all but halted, we might skip her next heat because she will be back in work, and we are aiming to title her.
I have not seen any detrimental effects on my girls after they have produced back to back litters. My feeling is, if they went into a litter fit and healthy and they “come back” readily, there is no reason not to breed again. If, for example, one of the girls has produced two large litters, and seems to take longer to regain her muscle/ fitness level, weight and coat, I might decide to rest her, knowing that I might not get her pregnant when next I hope to. My dogs live in our home, they get ample exercise, high quality food, medical care, play time, and creature comforts. Having a litter doesn’t seem to slow them down… in fact, some of the girls have to be forced to curtail their running around towards the end of their pregnancies.. they still want to romp and wrestle and Herd per usual. The girls are not depressed or run down or in poor shape. I see no ill effects after they have raised back to back litters. The debate over how often to breed will surely continue. Individual breeders and puppy buyers will have to decide what they feel is right. Occasionally, I receive emails asking me how often I breed my girls. This question is almost always posed by someone doing careful research and trying to obtain a puppy from a reputable breeder. Usually, the person has been told or has read that a conscientious breeder will not breed back to back repeatedly. For those folks I offer this glimpse into my decision making process. I consider myself someone who has a high standard of care for my dogs. I do not feel I am compromising the girls or my standards, by breeding back to back.
I also recommend making inquiries to a reproductive veterinarian for expert advice on the matter. In addition to the question of How Often to Breed, when to start and stop is also widely discussed. Some Breed Organizations allow for breeding a bitch at 22 months and over. The general consensus is to not breed prior to the bitch being 2 years old, and hopefully, by that time, she has had a couple heat cycles. (A bitch should not be bred on her 1st and some say, not even on her 2nd heat.)
Occasionally, a situation comes up where a bitch should be bred early, due to health considerations. For example, we have a bitch who developed pyometra at just over 1 year old. It was an open pyometra and the bitch was successfully treated. She was not spayed. Our vet advised us NOT to wait until she was 2 years old to breed her. Our vet felt the bitch should be bred on her next heat, to avoid the chance of pyometra reoccurring. She felt that breeding her 6 months sooner than we had planned was a much safer plan than to chance pyometra during her interim heat.
When is a bitch too old to breed? Also debated. Friends of mine in Germany had a litter from one of their star bitches when she was 10! Other bitches seem unable to conceive as early as age 6. I make those decisions based on the individual bitch. In general, I think most are ready to retire between age 7- 8. We plan to post a series of articles on commonly debated topics. Some topics don’t necessarily have a right or wrong answer: Look for our upcoming article: Where Dogs
Live: House vs. Kennel debate (We fall on the side of dogs belonging in the house).