Top tips from Catherine Jane Pennington on preparing dogs for breeding

For dog owners, breeding a dog can be a worthwhile investment, but it’s not easy. Catherine Jane Pennington, who has been breeding Labradors on and off for the last 20 years, can testify that there’s a lot of work necessary for the successful breeding of Labradors.

To encourage the greatest safety for the dog and maximise the eventual gains, there are a number of points to take into account before breeding a Labrador.

Ultimately, the breeding mantra of Catherine Jane Pennington is: ‘Healthy dogs mean healthy puppies’.

With this in mind, owners should have a vet check the health of their Lab before deciding on a stud or bitch (also referred to as the ‘dam’). Naturally, the dog chosen should be in full health and form, clear of common parasites and owners should be sure that both animals are up to date with their vaccinations. Remember, these are the attributes you want the puppies to bear.

The stud or bitch should come from a good line of dogs. Some owners, particularly those who regularly breed their dogs, will be able to provide some form of background for their stud or bitch.

A prospective breeder needs to look out for signs of deformities and undesirable physical developments associated with a particular breed.

Pennington recommends, when breeding Labradors, to look out for hip displasyia, which is a common affliction in Labradors with crippling effects on movement.

Catherine Jane Pennington said:

“How do you know when the bitch is ready? About three days before she‘s ready to breed, she’ll enter her estrus cycle. Owners can look out for signs of this, which includes a bit of swelling and blood in the genital area. Of course, as any dog owner – breeder or not – will agree, it’s often pretty obvious when a stud is ready!”

With the health and suitability of the animals confirmed, they will now be ready to mate.