There are many myths and misconceptions regarding dogs and their mating.
For example, a lot of people believe that dogs don’t get impregnated during their first heat cycle. Some even believe that a pair of dogs must mate several times for the dam to get pregnant.
Well, the truth is, dogs don’t have to mate multiple times. If both dogs have reached sexual maturity then the female dog will easily get pregnant the first time.
What does it mean for a dog to reach sexual maturity?
Canines also hit puberty, just like humans (though there are major differences in how puberty plays out in the long term between the two species).
When they reach puberty, dogs have reached their sexual maturity, which means they’re ready to mate. Female dogs can get pregnant at this time.
It can also be dubbed “becoming sexually fertile”.
When do dogs reach puberty?
Different breeds of dogs and even different dogs within the same breed reach puberty at different times. However, it’s a general consensus that a canine reaches puberty by the age of one year.
Some dog breeds, however, reach puberty later than one year. For example, a Doberman pinscher can take as long as 18 months to reach puberty. At the same time, some breeds reach puberty before one year of age. The German shepherd is a popular example of this. German shepherds reach puberty by 5-6 months of age.
So, now you know that German shepherds are not only uniquely courageous and excellent guards but fast breeders as well. Nothing can stop them!
Will my dog get pregnant in the first mating?
Yes, dogs can indeed get pregnant the first time that they mate, given that both partners have reached sexual maturity.
For most of the dog breeds, the sexual maturity is reached when they’re around a year old. Some breeds reach maturity later and some other breeds reach puberty even earlier.
Given everything was according to the plan, your dog will certainly become pregnant the first time she mates with a male.
The dog heat cycle has an important role to play in all this
It’s very important to understand a dog’s heat cycle if you want a successful mating or want to avoid one.
Dogs go through their heat cycle (estrus cycle – the set of changes led by reproductive hormones that mark the beginning of the time period when mating can begin to produce offspring) once every five or six months.
This cycle can be identified easily as the dog will bleed, or have a period. Afterward, the dog will begin to ovulate. This cycle will last for a total of two to four weeks.
The most fertile time in this cycle is when the periods stop and the discharge becomes clear. Usually, that happens when the dog is 10 days into the heat cycle. This is, therefore, the perfect time to mate for a dog to get pregnant.
Although the fertility will remail all the way until the end of the heat cycle, the “peak fertility” lasts only five days after reaching the most fertile time.
Also, you don’t have to bother with this for male dogs. Once they hit puberty, they will be able to mate at any time of the year. They don’t have heat cycles.
Should your dog get pregnant during the first heat cycle?
Now, you know that a dog can get pregnant during the first heat with one mating only. But there’s another question that’s equally important and one that any dog owner or breeder should be asking themselves.
Is it ideal to let dogs get pregnant during the first heat?
Well, in most cases, it’s not ideal. Although it’s easy for a dog to get pregnant during the first heat cycle, it’s generally not recommended by professionals and vets. At 18 months of age or older, when she has her third heat, it is assumed to be the ideal age of a dam for mating.
This means the dog would’ve undergone two heat cycles already. The third time’s the charm, anyway!
The reason behind this is that reaching complete psychological and physiological maturity is very important and during the first two heat cycles, the dam doesn’t really reach there. A few problems that can occur by mating during the first two heat cycles include:
- Aggression towards the puppies,
- A lot of pressure on the young dam’s body which is still growing, or
- Rejecting the puppies altogether.
Therefore, it’s generally recommended that you give a dam about 18 months from her birth to have her mate.
What if your dog is pregnant?
Given how dogs can get pregnant the first time they mate, it might be too late for you if you wanted to avoid a pregnancy.
Many have asked me about the possibility of pregnancy the first time their dog mates simply because the dog had already mated and they wanted to avoid pregnancy and pressure on a dam’s body.
Well, the signs of pregnancy in a female dog are pretty obvious. Apart from the abdominal enlargement and nesting behavior, there are other signs as well:
- General lethargy,
- Change in the affection the dog requires,
- Change in the appetite (decreased cravings early on in the pregnancy but increased appetite later on),
- Discolored or enlarged nipples,
- Weight gain, and so on.
If you happen to notice any of these, it might be a good idea to get your dog checked up properly by a vet. If she indeed is pregnant, as it’s completely possible to get pregnant the first time a dog mates, you will need to do your homework on how to care for a pregnant dog as well as how to take care of puppies.