How Old Does A Dog Have To Be To Breed?

Written by: Kristina Lalovic
How old does your dog have to be to breed? How old can a dog be to get pregnant? Although these questions seem like simple ones to answer, these things depend on several factors you should know about.

Whether you want to breed your dog for business or in order to get a litter of puppies that will share your lovely dog’s genes, there are certain aspects you should research first.

Same as in humans, when it comes to mating and pregnancy the mating timing is everything. The right time when your pup should breed depends on several factors: sex, size, and age. When your dog enters in heat or reaches puberty, it doesn’t mean it is ready to breed yet. So if you want to see your dog having a litter of healthy, beautiful puppies, inform yourself about WHEN you can start thinking about mating your pet, and when you should STOP breeding.

If you’re asking yourself “How old does your dog have to be to breed?” or “How old can a dog be to get pregnant?”, read on and you will find all the answers you need.

So let’s start!

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How Does Sex Of Your Dog Influence The Time For Breeding?

dog breeds

Male puppies start to mount on other dogs, their owners or even some toys when they are still very young. Meanwhile, female puppies of certain breeds might enter their first heat cycle at only 6 months. These signs of sexual development sometimes confuse owners into interpreting them as the right time to start breeding their dogs.

While it is true that male dogs are sexually more mature at an earlier age than bitches, it still doesn’t mean they should breed. This means that even a 5-month-old male dog of some breeds might be sexually capable and could be able to sire, but he still won’t be a good candidate for breeding.

The sexual development of female dogs also varies from breed to breed. As soon as a bitch goes into her first heat cycle, biologically she can get impregnated, but vets generally recommend that the breeding occurs only after she enters her second or third heat.

So, once your male dog reaches his sexual maturity (puberty), he will be able to produce sperm and will be able to mate every day for the rest of his life. On the other hand, even if they will continue to have heat cycles throughout their lifespan, female dogs can’t get pregnant any time, and the mating is always planned according to her heat cycle.

Bottom line:

After her second or third heat cycle, your female dog will be ready for mating.

Male dogs will be sexually capable at a young age, but should not be bred until they’re full grown. If you’re a dog owner, discover everything you need to know about breeding a male dog in this article.

How Does The Size Of Your Dog Influence The Right Time For Breeding?

big or small dog

While domesticating dogs, humans have created different breeds by attentively choosing certain breeds to mate. This kind of selective breeding caused changes in the reproductive cycles in dog breeds.

The logic behind this is that the larger the breed the higher the age of sexual maturity. So, if you own a large to a giant-sized dog that is genetically closer to a wolf, he will probably be sexually mature at the age of 18 months, similarly to its wild canine ancestors.

On the other hand, smaller breeds will reach sexual maturity at an earlier age and might be sexually mature at 6 months already.

However, the average for all dogs is one year, but it is always better to know the specific age for your dog’s breed. The thing here is that your pup should grow his full body size and develop entirely before getting into breeding.

Age of Sexual Maturity of Most Common Breeds

Here’s a cheat sheet of the most common breeds and the age when they usually achieve their sexual maturity. Take into consideration that even the dogs from the same type of breed are not all the same, so always consult your vet before deciding to breed your pup.

Only after the designed age of your pup and when your vet determines that your dog is fully grown can you start thinking about breeding it.

BreedSizeSexual maturity
American Pitbull TerrierMedium6 months
BeagleMedium8 – 9 months
BoxerMedium6 months
ChihuahuaToy18 months
Cocker SpanielMedium6 – 9 months
DachshundSmall6 – 9 months
Doberman PinscherLarge18 months
German Shepherd DogLarge5 – 6 months
Great DaneExtra large6 – 9 months
Lhasa ApsoSmall6 – 9 months
MalteseToy6 months
PoodlesSmall to Medium6 – 12 months
RotweilerLarge6 – 14 months
Siberian HuskyMedium6 months

Is Your Dog Ready To Mate After He Reaches Sexual Maturity?

Yes, BUT it’s not wise to start breeding. We should see sexual maturity as puberty, and only once your dog is fully grown will he be able to give you a litter of healthy puppies.

When your dog reaches sexual maturity, you will most likely find his behavior to be different than before. Similar to any creature in puberty, hormonal changes are normal and will result in behavioral variations in your dog.

You might notice that your male dog started to mount or to mark territory, while in females the beginning of her heat cycle will be the most prominent transformation you will see in your pet.

There’s another thing you should know about this stage in your dog’s growing up. While it’s inadvisable to breed your dog when he reaches sexual maturity, this is also the right time to think about spaying if you believe that’s the right choice for him.

What Is The Best Age To Breed Your Dog?

How Old Does A Male Dog Have To Be To Breed?

The minimum recommended age for breeding a male dog is usually from 1 to 2 years. Although your male dog will be able to breed throughout its lifespan once they enter sexual maturity, the “prime breeding time” starts at the age of about 18-24 months.

When the 18-24 months age requirement meets the excellent health conditions of your dog, he will then be considered a good stud candidate.

How Old Does A Dog Have To Be To Be Pregnant?

The “second heat cycle” criteria in female dogs is generally valid for most breeds. The age when it occurs and how often it happens are breed and size dependent. So it’s difficult to determine an average for all female dogs because some breeds might have one heat cycle a year while other can have two cycles.

Also, female dogs shouldn’t be bred on each heat cycle. Breeding dogs this way is called back to back breeding, and is considered to be very unhealthy. In some countries, this way of breeding is banned by laws.

However, a safe minimum age for female dogs to start breeding is at about 2 years.

When Is A Dog Too Young To Breed?

Dogs are too young to breed before they are fully grown. Only when your dog reaches his adult breed size and develops physically will he be able to breed. In females, everything before the second heat cycle is considered too young.

When Is A Dog Too Old To Breed?

sad old dog

While it’s important that you don’t breed your dog when too young, it’s also inadvisable to continue breeding it once it gets to its senior years. There are several reasons for it. One of them is that with age, dogs tend to develop health issues they haven’t experienced at younger ages which can make the mating process even a painful experience for them.

When Is A Male Dog Too Old To Breed?

Even if they will be able to produce sperm, older male dogs shouldn’t be bred anymore. They might have troubles with mounting or develop infections and illnesses that could affect the puppies. It was found that once studs reach the age of about 7-9 years, they tend to produce litters that are genetically weaker.

When Is A Female Dog Too Old To Breed?

Similarly to male dogs, bitches have declines in health too. The average age considered as a limit to the healthy breeding time is one of 6 years.

Your female dog will still have heat cycles, but it won’t be wise to breed her. Recovery will be much harder at an older age, the litter size will decrease and the chances of puppies being born with genetic problems increase.