How I Handle Multiple Stud Matings

How to breed multiple bitches at once, with one stud Multiple stud matings – where your stud male has to service more than one bitch at the same time – can happen regularly.  If you’ve been breeding for more than a few years you may have noticed that bitches that live together often come into season at the same time.  Even those that aren’t housed together often synchronize coming into season.  This is what has been happening to me.  After months of inactivity, my stud dog Ming has had 5 bitches to service over the past few weeks, with up to three at a time!  So what’s the best way to handle multiple stud matings to maximize your chance of getting them all pregnant?

Success Factors for Multiple Stud Matings:

  • Ensure bitches get mated on their most fertile days.
  • Take care not to over-use your stud dog.

We’ll cover each of these points in more detail in a moment.  But before we do, a quick refresh on dog fertility and the dog heat cycle is warranted.  Click on the previous links for more detail.

Quick Dog Mating Facts

  • While 2/3 of bitches will have their fertile part of the heat from day 9 to day 12, for the other third it can start as early as day 6 or as late as day 20 (from the onset of bleeding).
  • Using behavioral signs such as tail flagging or willingness to stand for the stud dog as indicators of the fertile part of the heat is misleading in many bitches.
  • Dog sperm can last up to 5 days inside the bitch, but 2 days is safer (depends on sperm count and quality).
  • Male dogs can lose fertility suddenly, either temporarily or permanently.

So, given that timing mating according to number of days or behavioral cues is unreliable, how can the savvy dog stud manager get things right?

Ensure Bitches Are Mated On Their Most Fertile Days

It’s important to make sure to cover all bitches from the beginning to the end of their season.  Yes, you can progesterone test (and will need to if you’re using frozen or chilled semen) to pick the most fertile day for mating.   This requires blood tests, you’ll need several of them, and the cost can really mount up.  But if you’re using a live mating or fresh semen, the easiest, cheapest and most reliable method is vaginal cytology.

Sounds scary and terribly scientific but in truth anyone can do vaginal cytology themselves at home.  I have my canine vaginal cytology kit set up on the bench and test all girls every second day during their heat.  All you do is use a moist cotton bud to take a smear from the roof of the vagina, roll it onto a slide, and stain it with special dyes that come with the kit.  Within minutes you can see what stage of the heat cycle she is in.  This allows you to hold off on attempting to mate bitches that aren’t ready yet, plus see when it’s safe to stop mating her and send a bitch home.

Don’t Over-Use Your Stud Dog

If you leave your stud dog with bitches on heat he can exhaust himself, deplete his sperm reserves, and even get hurt.  I never do this.  Rather than just leaving them together and hoping for the best, you need to manage matings so you actually see whether they are successful or not.  Plus you want your male dog fresh and keen.  So keep them separated most of the time.  The best times of day I have found to put them together is dawn and dusk, when dogs are naturally most active.  I use both times and mate my stud dog twice a day.

When you have several matings happening concurrently, it is wise to do a quick check of his fertility before you get going.  It takes minutes to do and could save thousands in stud fees and puppies.  Waiting to see if he gets bitches pregnant might be the usual way of finding out, but it sure isn’t professional.

Checking the dog sperm count will also tell you:

  • How often you will need to mate each bitch.  If he has a high sperm count you could get away with mating or dog AI every second or even third day of her heat.  If the sperm count is low you will need to mate twice a day and limit him to covering just one bitch at a time.  And if it’s too low you’d be advised to get him checked at the vet and use a different dog this time.
  • Whether it’s safe to split the ejaculate between bitches.  Again, if you have a dog with a high sperm count and good volume you can safely split it and “service” two bitches at once.  Semen extenders can also help to boost the volume to carry the sperm into the uterus.

My boy Ming has great fertility.  So I use him twice a day at dawn and dusk.  I always use canine artificial insemination rather than natural matings as it is fast and effective.  Managing natural matings is more work and more stressful.  I ensure each bitch is covered at least every second day, upping this to daily on their most fertile days.  Sometimes I use semen extenders if the ejaculate volume is a tad low.  If he has strong preferences and I have the choice, I’ll often use a different bitch than the one I’m inseminating to collect the semen from him.    And after dog AI, I always elevate the bitch’s hind end for 5 to 10 minutes and let my stud dog lick her vulva to stimulate vaginal contractions and milk the semen into the uterus.

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