Exploring the vast prairie of the Washita National Wildlife Refuge
I have learned that no matter how long you do something, you can always learn something new. Albeit, sometimes, I just relearn those things I have forgotten. Today, I’m going to write about German Shepherd dogs season or cycles. For most German shepherd dogs, the female will have her first season or breeding cycle at or near 12-months of age. Then the average German shepherd bitch will cycle every six months.
The length of the cycle is approximately 21 days, and begins with a light bright red discharge from their vagina. This discharge can become heavy after a few days, especially during their first season at 12-months. Subsequent seasons for some bitches can become cryptic unless you are a male German shepherd dog, you may never know your girls is in season. While the season last approximately 21 days, the female will only ovulate and be receptive from one to five days during this cycle. This should take place on the 10th day.
What I have learned is not all our female German shepherd dogs have read the text books. We were having trouble getting some of our girls pregnant and even getting ties*. We would start trying to breed the pair on the ninth day for a week (in case we missed the first couple of days that the cycle started), resulting in few ties and even fewer pregnancies.
I should mention that we do not place our breeding pairs in kennel and let nature take its course. We actually assist the male during breedings. Too much risk exist with the male becoming injured even breaking their penis bone if they are left on their own. In addition, the male will breed every few hours after he has recuperated often resulting in infertile sperm and increase chance of uterine or vaginal infections. Another reason we do controlled breedings is that we provide stud services here at Keystone German Shepherds & Kennels, and if we did not actually assist the male, we would not be able to get breedings on a lot of the outside females that are brought in for stud service.
Two Heidelberg’s tied together in a controlled breeding
Recently, I did something different by bringing Heidelberg’s Emmy inside as soon as her cycle began and kept her inside for entire season. We had planned to breed her to our Grand Champion Kodi and he lives inside with us full time. Nine days passed and Kodi could care less that Emmy was inside. we tried to breed them for a week and we were on her 16 day of her cycle, when I made the comment that she must be having an infertile season. We were enjoying having Emmy inside so we allowed her to remain in the house, and on 21st day of her cycle Kodi came home and was immediately all over Emmy. We subsequently bred them over the next five days. Emmy is now pregnant and due on June 30, 2015. If Emmy were outside in her kennel, we would have never known that she began ovulating 11 days later when all the text books stated that she should’ve been ready to breed much earlier.
A young Emmy and Kodi playing at a dog show in Sullivan, Mo
Emmy on the right with her friend Sasha
Grand Champion Heidelberg’s Kodiak v Queridad, Certified Service Dog, OFA 24G Excellent, DNA #V495166
Obviously, I have made proper adjustments to how we judge the time our girls are ready to breed and look forwards to less frustrations and more pregnancies. This information, should be helpful to other breeders of all breeds of dogs as well as owners that have intact female dogs. For one, owners that are not wanting to breed their dogs and separate them during seasons had better keep them separated for the full 21 days. Because unless you are having progesterone test performed by your veterinarian, your female may ovulate at any point during her 21 day cycle and an unwanted tie and subsequent pregnancy may occur.
Please call me at (918) 261-4729 if you would like to take one of puppies home with you. Please visit our web page to learn more about these wonderful Heidelberg German Shepherds that we raise at Keystone German Shepherds & Kennels. http://keystonegermanshepherds.com/
(*Ties are where the dog’s penis swells to fill a ball shape cavity just past the entrance of the vagina. Once this happens the dogs become locked together and are physically unable to separate until the swelling subsides).
Last night I had a very hard delivery with a first time German shepherd mom.She started labor at noon,three days early, which in itself is a little worrisome, but not that unusual.I now know why she was early.Anyway after several hours the first puppy was presented in the vaginal canal, but too deep for me to pull it out.This is when I first became worried that this delivery was not going to be normal.After two hours and several doses of Oxytocin, I was ready to take her in to the vet for a possible C-section.Of course this always happens on Sunday or holidays after hours.
I placed her on the grooming table to examine her one last time before calling the vet and I could feel that the puppy had progressed far enough that I could pull it on out, which I did.To my surprise the puppy was alive and is doing very well today.This puppy was large, but not unusually so, and I surmised that because this was her first puppy she just had trouble pushing out an above average puppy in size.I also surmised that the rest of the puppies should come much easier at this point.I was wrong.
The next puppy proved to be just as difficult if not harder for her.After five hours and several doses of Oxytocin this puppy presented itself breach.After feathering and some brave pushing by the new mom, I was able to grab the rear feet of the puppy and ease it out.This puppy was two to three times larger than the average newborn German shepherd puppy.Unfortunately, this puppy did not survive the breach delivery.
Heidelberg’s Farrah and Her New Puppy After a Difficult Delivery
This proved to be her last puppy and explained her difficulty in delivering such large puppies.Sometimes when females have small litters the puppies can grow too large to allow for an easy and normal delivery.When this happens the female will often have the puppies a few days early to keep the puppies from growing any larger.
Going to a vet during delivery is very expensive and also could expose the new puppies to diseases.Therefore, it not a decision made lightly. No easy way or formula exists for knowing when it is time to seek professional help.For example, I had a female that was in labor for over 24-hours with no progress made towards delivery.I had been in contact with my vet and he said that we had waited long enough and to bring her in.While picking her up on the delivery table a viable puppy fell out on to the ground.I was sent home and while on the way home she had another two puppies in the 10 minute drive.She ended up having 10 healthy puppies.Another female was in labor all day with presented puppy that was stuck deep in the vaginal canal. After several hours of pushing she was exhausted and could not push anymore, and this time, in the middle of the night on the 45 minute drive to Oklahoma State University Animal Hospital she fell asleep and delivered the puppy in the backseat while snoring. When she fell asleep she relaxed enough for the puppy to slide on out into the side-pocket of my trucks door.In this case she had to have a C-section to deliver the remaining four puppies because she had exhausted her ability to push.All five puppies were healthy and are doing well today with their owners.
Making the decision to go to the vet during delivery problems is not easy and best should be made once you have surpassed your knowledge and abilities to deal with the myriad of issues that could arise during delivery.Knowing when you have exhausted your expertise is also not easy.
If you are considering getting a German shepherd puppy consider getting one of our older puppies and save a little money on some very high quality shepherds.