In your desire to breed bulldogs, there is so much one has to consider. But in a nutshell, here are a few areas to think of before breeding.
First, you must consider whether you can devote your time and effort in rearing the puppies. That includes feeding them religiously every two hours for the first two weeks of puppy life.
Second, are you ready to set additional budget for regular check ups and veterinary fees (caesarian operation almost always recommended in bulldogs), puppy milk formula, supplements and/ or hiring an extra hand to help with the work? Coz believe me, you’ll be needing all the help you can get!
Third, is your home ready for them? Yes, you may wish to keep them all and have them stay with you forever. But you know this may not be practical, especially with large litters. So will you be ready to let them go and place them in new homes, making sure they go to responsible homes where they will be cared for and loved? Because after all, we are responsible for these lovely creatures, right?
If all these areas garner a positive answer from you, then you just might be ready to breed your bulldog.
Are you In or Out of Line?
To decide whether to line breed, in-breed or out-cross is a matter of personal choice. Line breeding or in-breeding is breeding dogs of close relationships. So if you breed bulldogs with the same grandparents, that is what we call line breeding. But when you mate dogs which are brother-sister, mother-son or father-daughter, that is what we call in-breeding. Out-Crossing on the other hand is breeding dogs of completely different ancestors. Though each has its own advantages and disadvantages, what’s important is that we try to breed according to the breed standard, our goal being to improve our stocks and quality of the breed.
The numbers game
A bulldog bitch usually has her first season at 7-10 months old and approximately 6-8 months thereafter. However, there are some that have their first season as early as 6 months old or as late as 14-15 months. For me, I would recommend that you only start breeding bitches on their 2nd season and stop breeding them before they reach 6 yrs of age since there have been many cases of complications when bulldogs were bred at this age. Although I have no personal experience of this with my dogs, I take account histories of reputable breeders in this matters.
A litter of 4 to 5 puppies is manageable for me. But I have heard of a litter of 11 here in the Philippines and even a litter of 16 in England. I have had the experience of rearing and taking care of 9 puppies at one given time, 4 of which were out my bitch, Philippine HOF Kelloe locket, while the other 5 puppies were from a friend ‘s bitch named “sweet “. Although the first week proved to be very tiring, both physically and mentally, it was a great and fulfilling experience none the less. One I’ll always find worthy of doing again and again..
When your dam is suspected to be pregnant, extra care should be given to make the pregnancy a safe and easy one. Her routine and diet may not have to change dramatically, although additional protein and calcium may have to be given. Food itself should be administered in small but frequent feedings. Physical activity and her daily routine exercise should continue at a minimum, just so as to keep her in good firm shape and form. Such activities may relieve her from undue stress on her joints, muscles and organs (lungs and heart) brought about by the changes of pregnancy. But certainly, jumping from couches or strenuous activities such as rough play and games should be avoided.
When the day of birth nears, signs of labor may include vomiting, food avoidance, scratching, spinning, panting and a drop in temperature from 38.5C to 36.5C. Being aware and keen to her attitudes and symptoms is always beneficial. Difficult labor imposed to bitches brought about by cephalo-pelvic disproportion are harmful for both mother and puppies. In this case, I avoid the option of labor by vaginal delivery and always opt for cesarean section operation done by a trusted veterinarian.
BABY OUT !
Choose a whelping area in your home, a place somewhere quiet, secure and safe. Keep its temperature at an optimum of 24-26C. The whelping box should have enough space for the bitch to comfortably lie while nursing her puppies. A drop light or lamp must also hang over it to provide light and heat.
At last, the fuss of wanting and waiting is over! When the pups are out, introduce puppies immediately to their mother and let the sucking induce milk let down. It is important that puppies get the first milk or collostrum as this contains protein, carbohydrate and antibodies. These antibodies protect the puppies during the first few weeks of life and establish beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.
From then, feed them every two hours for 2 weeks. Then change to 3 to 4 hours interval thereafter. Hold the puppy in front of the bitch to facilitate licking and cleaning. This will stimulate the puppy to empty their bladder and bowels. Another option would be to use cotton buds and gently rub the genitals to facilitate bowel movement and urination. Ideally, this is done after every feeding.
Note the puppies urine and stool’s frequency and consistency. Weigh them regularly and religiously take note of weight differences and discrepancy from previous weights. However, such weight variations often even out when puppies are feeding regularly.
Puppies start to open their eyes on their tenth day, and will be up on the fore quarters at 4 weeks. At this age, I slowly wean them off their mother, gradually introducing them to baby food and porridges, being extra careful not to introduce them to so much food all at the same time. I start with minced puppy dog food at the age of six months and give them milk alternately. To satisfy the hunger pangs of growing puppies, 5- 6 meals a day may be enough.
At twelve weeks old, I reduce the amount of feedings to 2-3 daily meals. I’ve had experiences where my puppies would bark incessantly to catch my attention just to let me know that they were still very hungry! This has led me to the conclusion that puppies simply never tire of eating, just as long as food is presented to them. So be careful of overfeeding! Yet make sure they get enough and are not underfed.
Leaving on a jet plane
When having to part with my puppies, whether they leave my home by car, ship or plane, I always make it a point to interrogate prospective owners, making sure I exhaust all efforts in ensuring they go to good and loving homes. I also make sure to accommodate buyers with their queries and concerns, whilst giving them all information pertinent to caring for my bulldogs. This I do with a passion for I believe there’s no greater joy than to know that your puppies will be in good hands….for me that is far more important than anything else!