Mating: A Crash Course In The Reproductive Cycle – Part 1

Peter | September 3rd, 2008
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There used to be a time, long ago, when our population was common to have dogs that were hunters which would go out and retrieve game, some were shepherds herding sheep, and others had the job of guarding property. And during these times, man would let their canine workers roam the lands with free reign.

Eventually, old dogs had to be replaced with new ones; new blood was needed to carry on the tasks of simple existence. However, populations are no longer sparse in today’s world. Millions of homeless dogs die on the streets and in animal shelters every year. Unfortunately, when it comes to breeding these animals, the old ways still persist. Dogs are bred indiscriminately and little thought is given to the ultimate future of the scores of unlucky offspring which result from such matings.

In direct opposition to the methods used to control human overpopulation, current methods of controlling pet overpopulation are frequently aimed at incarcerating stray, unwanted pets. In their efforts to perpetuate a worthy species, a serious breeder chooses good stock, exercises discretion, and familiarizes him or herself with the basics of reproduction. Hopefully, the following discussion will provide some worthwhile insights into the reproductive process.

The Reproductive Cycle

Proestrus is the active stage of the reproductive cycle, occurring just before mating. Biological changes in the female reproductive organs during proestrus are far-reaching and affect many body systems. For our purposes, the most important changes are: a dramatic increase in the size of the female’s external sex organs and the onset of a blood-tingled general discharge (which is used to estimate breeding time).

Eleven days after the general discharge begins, females are ready to mate. This is an average based on statistics. Every dog is an individual and may vary from the norm by one or two days. During proestrus, male dogs are ready, however, females rarely except the male during this period. Proestrus lasts about nine days.

Estrus is the active stage of the reproductive cycle and follows proestrus. During estrus, the female accepts the male and the mating occurs. Mating takes place early in estrus, which is at the time of ovulation.

Metestrus immediately follows estrus provided pregnancy does not occur. In this stage the reproductive organs slowly return to a quiescent state. A condition called false pregnancy may occur during metestrus. It results when sex hormones function abnormally to stimulate pregnancy.

Anestrus, a time of complete inactivity of the reproductive organs, follows metestrus and lasts three months. The onset of proestrus marks the completion of the cycle.

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