Dog Breeding – Heat Cycle Management

Managing breeding dogs involves getting the dam and sire as healthy as possible so that they can do their jobs. Dogs with dietary deficiencies often slow or stop cycling, and providing proper nutrition will restart their cycles. As the days get shorter, cycling often slows, but a 100 watt light placed 10 feet from their kennel will usually prevent this issue. Dogs need about 14 hours of light a day, so supplement their natural exposure with 4 hours of artificial light in the evenings. In the spring, the longer days trigger male sperm count to increase, and female’s ovaries become more active again.

In September and again mid-February, we want to evaluate females and determine who has not raised babies in the past 8 months. Dogs who have not been mothers in the past 8 months should have their heat cycles triggered to correct this issue; the goal is to get them back to a normal cycle every 6 to 7 months. Common issues seen the past 10 years include unpredictable or delayed heat cycles, females starting in heat then backing out, and split heats, where they come in, go out, and come back in. You can correct these undesirable circumstances with nutrition>


  • Evaluate the females in your kennel to see who is overdue for heat cycles. It is common to have 10% of females well overdue, but a greater percentage suggests a need to correct the kennel’s nutrition. Often, if we have not changed brands of food, the company has reformulated the diet. If your moms cycle predictably every 6-7 months, their diet is OK.
  • Look at your females – are they in good shape or overweight? Overweight dogs often lack some nutrient or vitamin and overeat to compensate for this shortage. A balanced diet should correct this.
  • Females that are not cycling should always be placed on a daily vitamin. Doc Roy's Daily Care works for large breeds and Doc Roy’s B Strong for small breeds. Eliminate vitamins as a possible cause of anestrous before trying to trigger the ovary to cycle.
  • Be deliberate about your breeding practices. Don’t just run males and females together and hope something happens! Pen breeding takes twice the male power as putting the female in every other day and removing her after a tie, and you have to deal with a dominant female who won’t allow breeding. Breeding females every other day also allows males’ semen count to stay high.
  • Put males over 4 years old on Breeders' Edge Oxy Stud to maintain sperm count and fertility. Oxy Stud is the treatment for sub-fertile males with low sperm counts.

    If you need help, call us at 1-800-786-4751.

    -Dr. B
    Don Bramlage, DVM, Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health

    The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your personal veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.

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