Heat Cycle & Breeding
Have a female or thinking about getting one? Her heat cycle, and whether or not you're going to get her fixed, should be apart of the decision making process. Many Yorkie owners we meet don't know what a female/bitch's heat cycle is all about. So here are a few details from our experience. I will be speaking generally here, since like people, every dog is different. Your girl will have her own schedule. The information provided is meant to be used as a general guide in what to expect when deciding on whether or not you wish to contemplate having a litter.
A female comes into heat (has her period) for the first time between the ages of 6-12 months (usually the 9th or 10th month). The cycle itself have three stages, in all lasting approximately 21 days. She will continue to have a heat cycle every 6-8 months from then on, unless altered.
Stage One: (the first 7 days of the 21), she will have vaginal discharge. The area around her vaginal canal will fill with fluid and become swollen looking, something akin to a small doughnut. It will stay this way the whole cycle. You may not even notice the discharge happening in her first heat cycle because it's often very light the first time. That's right, you get to take care of her during her period. We recommend you purchase a Doggie Panty. You may want to purchase more than one to keep her clean. We use disposable panty liners cut in half and positioned inside, replacing it throughout the day. This will help protect your home, and your lap, from staining. Also, you may notice she is a little moody or wants to be comforted more than normal. Just remember this is all new to her and she may need extra TLC to help her through it. Usually, after her first experience, it's easier on her and she is less nervous.
Stage Two: (days 8-14, the second 7 days), she is now Fertile. Watch Out! Do not let her be near any dog at all unless you intend on having pups (read "So you want to have puppies?" page). Don't take her out of your yard, it only takes a moment for a male to mount her when motivated! Also, she will be behaving rather stangely...backing up to other animals, your leg, the couch, etc. She will also do "marking", peeing a little bit all over the yard, and everywhere she goes, to let the boys know she's ready! She has lost all inhibition at this point. Male dogs she previously shunned, or males who are fixed, (or even other females, and the cat!), will all be welcome at this stage. She's "in heat" and biologically needs to find a mate. She will continue this behavior until stage three begins.
There are many theories on just when is the best time during this stage to mate her if you are indeed trying for conception. My experience has shown me time and again, later in her heat cycle is best (days 10-14), especially if you would prefer to have girl pups and not all boys. (Many breeders won't tell you this, or will disagree. In such cases, it's been my opinion that they just prefer to have you come to their location when it's convienent for them, or they don't know about the male/female timing.) I know this sounds a little strange, but there is actual biology behind this. The different gender semen have different lasting abilities inside the females womb. Example: if she mates on days 8-10, she will most likely have 2-4 males pups (depending on both parents size). If she mates on days 11-14 (we prefer these days), she will have a more balance litter, say 2 girls and 2 boys (or even more girls than boys in some cases).
Why do you care? Well, for several reasons. First, girl pups "generally" are smaller than their male counterparts. Who doesn't want a wee one to carry around with them! Second, in my experience, female pups are more often asked for by buyers, relatives, and those planning on keeping a puppy. That is not to say the male pups aren't of value. I can't tell you how many times a buyer has expressed a sincere desire for purchasing Only a female puppy on the phone, and then latter falls in love with a male and takes him home instead. This, like everything else, is all a personal choice.
Stage Three: (days 15-21, the third 7 days). If she hasn't conceived, she will have vaginal discharge again for the remainder of her cycle. Toy breeds are also known to have what's called "hysterical pregnancy". I don't know why this is, but it's just her body thinking she's pregnant when she's really not. So, just how do you know if she is pregnant? You wait it out. By around the 5th week of pregnancy, you will begin to feel her abdomen changing. The usual gestation period is 60-65 days, day 63 the most common birth day. Start counting from the day she conceives and you'll be better prepared to have pups. If she's not pregnant, you're done for now.
If she is pregnant, talk with your vet and your breeder about what food and supplements she needs to have a healthy litter. We recommend a diet of her regular food, supplemented with a daily vitamin, fresh cooked (boiled, poached or baked) chicken, vegies, and cheese products such as low-fat cottage cheese and hard cheese (our girls' must have). Again, it's a personal decision and talk with your vet and your breeder for suggestions. After giving birth, it's vital that she be given a calcium supplement or she may quickly develop calcium deficiency which is life threatening. To learn more about the birth process and how to be prepared, read our page "Giving birth".
Most Importantly! Make sure your female is larger than the male you wish to mate her with!!! And if your female is under four pounds, don't even think about having pups. I'm talking to you if you're not already professionally breeding yorkies and/or don't have previous experience with the smallest of females. Many people are under the impression this is easy business! Let me set you straight now, it's not. Nature can need a lot of help with these guys. Please read our "So you want to have puppies?" page. You are putting your girls life on the line each and every time you consider breeding her. So, if it's not the most important thing in the world to you, please consider having her altered and you won't have to deal with a heat cycle again!
As an experienced breeder, part of my job is to help educate about this process. The other part is to share what we've found works best. Keep in mind, this is only our opinion, you should always do what you think is best for you and your dog! No part of this information is to replace advice from your licensed veternarian.
So You Want To Have Puppies.....
Yorkie BreedersWhen you consider breeding / reproducing an animal, there are many aspects to consider. Please, put some thought into this venture before you proceed with a breeding that could end up a nightmare.
Is your dog a good representation of the breed meeting the Standard? Do you know the faults and which type of Gene transmits this fault?
Infections transfer from breedings. Have both the Dog and Bitch had Bacteria Cultures and Brucellosis Tests performed?
Have you had your bitch checked for such things as Luxating Patella's, Cardiomyopathy, or Hypothyroidism? Has the stud been checked, too? Do you have the time to learn, or have knowledge about the possible hereditary faults in the line you are breeding?
Can you accept the loss of your bitch to have this litter? Complications can and do happen, and bitches do die before, during and after whelping. Are you familar with the terms: Uterine Inertia, Prolapsed Uterus, Eclampsia, Metritis, or Mastitis?
Are you willing to find the best male possible to complement your bitch? You wouldn't want to breed a "Fault" such as Luxating Patellas, incorrect Bites, Toplines or Coats, would you? If so, you're reproducing poor specimens of our Breed!
A Yorkie should never be alone as the Whelping time draws near, very few can Whelp without assistance. Will you be able to stay home for several days before and after the Whelping?
Do you have enough money saved in the event that a C-section is required? Do you know the signs of Eclampsia, the steps to take, and the possible outcome?
Have you educated yourself about whelping and raising puppies so that you will recognize a problem before it is too late? Do you know about Fading Puppies, Toxic Milk, Septicemia, Primary Atelactasis, Herpes Virus, Cleft Palates, Hypoglycemia?
To see a new born with a birth defect is heart breaking, and it may need to be put down. If it must be done, can you do it, for you can not let it suffer. This can be extremely hard on your Bitch also, and can cause further complications.
Are you willing to take a few days off work to raise the litter should anything happen to the dam? Should this happen you may need to Tube Feed. This involves placing a Tube down the mouth directly to the stomach with a measured amount of Formula. A weak Puppy does not have the strength to be fed with a Bottle, so you may even need to supplement if the Dam has only marginal milk.
Can you afford to get the tails docced, have the dew claws removed and vaccinate the puppies? Tails should be docked between 1-5 days old (we also do the dew claws then too). Vaccinations are started at around 8 weeks of age and are given every 2-3 weeks until the Puppies are 4 months old (and don't forget to do the worming also). This means you will be giving 2-3 Vaccinations to each Puppy before it is to be sold.
Do you expect to profit from the sale of these puppies? Most litters cost breeders money, if you are lucky you may break even after the pups are sold.
How selective will you be in finding homes for the puppies? What criteria will new owners have to meet? Do they have fenced yards, will they be able to afford routine medical care, will they be able to afford veterinary bills if an emergency arises, will they continue to feed the pup a quality diet, do they have very small children in the home which pose a high risk to the delicate little bodies of puppies, etc.?
Are you willing to take back any unwanted puppies or dogs that you have produced if their owners are no longer able to keep them, or at least help them place them in proper homes? Job Tranfers, Medical reasons and etc do happen. What will your contract look like?
Please Educate Yourself Before Breeding
Their Life Depends On It !
The Puppies Are Coming, The Puppies Are Coming!
Now you've done it! Your yorkie girl went and mated and you don't have the slightest idea of what comes next. Well, here's a few hints to help you through this time of longing, fear, hard work, and great joy.
Gestation Period. If you've read the previous pages, you've already learned the gestation period is usually 60-65 days.
At this point, I have to stop and tell you something. Our first dame, gave birth not once but twice on day 45! The vet thought we had miss calculated the dates. But on the second time around, we were really sure we hadn't made an error. The sad part of this story was, eventually we learned she had a phsycial disorder that went on to claim her life. We were lucky that it in no way was hereditary (we did extensive and costly tests to make sure the pups we sold were not threatened). I tell you this because I can't stress enough to prospective breeders that this is not an exact science. It's mother nature and you don't really know everything that can happen, to your precious girl or her pups.
During the gestation period, your girl will act like she's pregnant! She is often moody, tired, and will give you looks like "what did you get me into?" Give her a break, she's pregnant. Yet, some girls don't show these symtoms. You can never tell which it will be. Just be patient with her, give her extra attention and be sure to supplement her diet and make sure she takes naps to help her rest up.
After about 5 weeks you'll finally start seeing some growth in her abdomen. At around 45 days, you'll see a lump starting to look like the size of an orange where her flat stomach used to be. At 60 days, she will look like she swallowed a small cantelope! Young mothers usually play and run around as usual right up until the last week of pregnancy. Then, they slow down and sleep alot. Now it's time to get really ready.
You may want to start taking her temperature three times a day as the D day draws near. Once you see a 2 degree drop, she will usually deliver within 24 hours. Nightime is usually the time they go into labor, but you might get lucky and have a day delivery. Plan on being home with her a few days before and a few days after. This is essential to her survival and the health of the pups. Most Yorkies do need some assistance during delivery or right after and you will want to be there for her.
She will get very antsy and roam from one spot to another, jumping in your lap and acting distressed the day of delivery. Take this as a sign the puppies are really on their way. Make sure the whelping box is ready with lots of newspaper and clean old towels. You will probably want to discard everyhing inside the box after delivery. Help her in and out of the box a few times so she'll get the idea that this is where she can go when she's ready to deliver. Close the door to your bedroom and places she might try to deliver that are not the safest or best choice for her. You don't want to have a delivery under the porch or bed where you can't get to her when she needs you. When she starts licking herself, pups are coming. Get her inside the whelping box and be patient.
You will need a "whelping" or birthing box . You can purchase one or use a large cardboard box from the store. We prefer the one you buy because it has been designed to make sure she can enter and exit easily without letting the pups out and is designed to keep her from crushing her pups when she's nursing or sleeping. This is very important! If your whelping box doesn't have a guard rail around the bottom inside edge, your new pups will be in dangers of being crushed accidentally. You'll also need 3-4 clean old towels you won't mind throwing out when it's over and lots of clean newspaper. Line the bottom of the whelping box with paper first, then the towels. Your momma will be in there for awhile and you want her as comfortable as possible. After you clean up from the delivery, put more paper and towels in the box for mom and the pups comfort.
There are all sorts of other things you might want to have on hand to be prepared to help deliver the pups. We feel it's best to let the new mom do what she can before you need to interfer. Luckily, Yorkies make excellent mothers and she'll want to do most of it herself. What this means is, you'll want to let her do what she can first. Take over once you see she is having trouble or becoming too exhausted. Check with your breeder, they will give you advice on what you need to be ready for also.
Puppies are delivered enclosed in a membrane bubble. She will chew off the embilical cord and eat the sack. It's really gross, so try not to through up! Let her do this, she actually benefits from it. Then she'll clean up the pup. Be on the look out for bubbles coming from the pups nose. I usually use a clean dry washcloth and clean them up after mom is done. If the pup is having trouble breathing or not breathing at all, vigorously rub it's stomach with the cloth and make sure the nose is not obstructed with mucous. A baby nasal bulb (purchased at any drug store) can be helpful to use at this point. Use it to suck out the mucous and the pup should be fine. If you can't get the pup to breath within a couple of minutes, you have a crisis on your hands. Stop and call your emergency vet right away for further help.
Otherwise, keep the newly cleaned pup in the box on a heated spot while mom delivers the siblings. I put a heating pad on high and place it under the towels and papers on one corner. After each delivery, keep the new pups very warm and away from mom as she continues the birth process. Once you're sure she is all done, let her have them all back. They'll be hungry and she'll clean, clean, clean everyone until she's exhausted.
If there is ever more than 60 minutes in between births (usually 20-40 is normal), call the vet right away, You may have to rush her to the vet because she's in distress. A cesarean may be needed. This is the real fear, good luck. Otherwise, feel her stomach to make sure everyone got out okay. If you feel a lump in there, it's not her uterus like you think it is. It's another pup not wanting to exit just yet. Give mom a few more minutes, especially if it feels like it's way up there. As the pup moves towards the exit sign, mom will continue the licking and you know all is well. The greatest threat to the new pups after delivery is getting cold. If you have a new litter in the middle of winter, you have your work cut out for you. I recommend a commercial puppy heating pad be used under the whelping box. (Be sure to protect your floors from the direct hear source.) Keep a towel or small blanket on top of the box, but leave mom enough room to get in and out. Keep the box in the house! Keep it in a warm location and check on them often. I've been known to heat my family out of the house, to make sure the pups didn't suffer. Rememeber, you wanted puppies! After 4 weeks they can better regulate their own body temperature and you'll see them move away from the heating pad. That's a sign it's okay to remove it from the box.
Be sure to weigh all the pups after mom's done with them at birth. They usually weigh in between 3-6 oz's! No bigger than the width of your palm. And their fragile little lives are truly in your hands. Treat them well. Make sure mom has enough vitamins, calcium and extra food. Remember, she is eating for the whole family!
You're in for a surprise. They all come out looking like minature Rottweilers! They are all shiny black with brown and sometimes white markings. They are one of the few breeds that actually change color as they age. So keep them straight for your buyers. We mark our pups in different spots to keep them from getting mixed up at weigh in time. It's essential you know your new pups are growing and not having problerms like digestion blockage. I suggest different locations, because if you have to wind up feeding them yourselves, it's easier to tell them apart in the dark in the middle of the night!
The EARS, the EARS! We get more questions on what to do to help the ears stand up straight! Here it is people, pay attention.....nothing! That's right, you heard me! Nothing! Leave them alone and make sure you tell your buyers to leave them alone!!!! Yorkie ears stand up just fine, without taping or assistance of any kind (which is horrible anyway), usually beginning around 5 months of age. But there is a trick to it.....you have to make sure no one plays with the lower part of their ears until they're fully erect (and for several months after, so until 8 months old minimum). What I mean is, we've all played with and rubbed the base of our dogs ears. It's natural. We want to make them feel good. Well, not if you're a Yorkie puppy owner!! Please tell everyone you know who wants a Yorkie pup, "don't play with the base of the ears until their grown!" See, wasn't that easy?
If we've left out any burning questions you have that we didn't address here, let us know. Every dog is different and every birth is different. This information is meant purely as a guide only. It is not meant to replace the information available from your own veternarian! Be sure to get your dame a physical and let your vet know you're planning on mating her. Make sure all her shots and certificates are up to date. No breeder will allow you within a mile of their stud without proof of shots and registration.
Good Luck and God Bless you, you crazy person!
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