Age is a crucial factor when planning to have puppies – the ages of both potential parents matter, as it can impact the puppies’ health and the parents.
Eight is the oldest age a labrador female can have puppies; however, most responsible purebred dog breeders will retire a female between five to six years of age. Labradors with health problems or injuries may not be eligible to breed. As a responsible dog owner, you must explore the best breeding practices for your Labrador.
This article will cover everything connected with responsible purebred dog breeding, including analyzing your dog’s temperament and health. We will discuss general dog care.
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What Is The Best Breeding Age For Labradors?
Healthy female Labradors can have puppies between eight months and eight years old. When a female is around eight months old, she will experience her first heat cycle – a fertility cycle during which a dog can get pregnant.
The best breeding age is during a female’s third cycle, so when she is about two years old. While a healthy Labrador can become pregnant at eight months old, it’s not safe as it can lead to potential pregnancy-related complications.
Most vets recommend waiting until your female is at least on her second heat cycle before you start breeding – this is somewhere between 18 to 24 months.
Labradors experience heat cycles twice a year, and they last between two to three weeks. You will know your female Lab is entering the heat cycle when she has bloody vaginal discharge and a swollen vulva.
A female will ovulate between the 10th and 14th day of the heat cycle. To ensure successful breeding, let your dogs mate after the tenth day every other day, for up to six days.
Healthy male Labradors are ready to mate after 12 months of age. Males are fertile after six months old but reach full maturity between 12 to 15 months of age and are ideal for stud between those ages.
While breeding females requires many considerations, it’s pretty straightforward with male dogs.
How To Breed Labradors
It’s not easy to assess your beloved Labrador with objectivity. However, the AKC specifies that dogs must meet certain conditions for optimum pairing and breeding. Labradors must look and behave a certain way.
Breeders must strive for health, longevity, even temperament, and breed improvement. A Labrador judge or experienced breeder can help you make such an evaluation if you feel unqualified or uncomfortable.
Once you can make this determination, you must take the following steps to meet the right breeding conditions:
Step 1 – Whether you own the sire, dam, or both, you must evaluate the compatibility of the two mates. Both dogs could be excellent breed specimens but a terrible pairing if bred together.
The objective is to improve and not weaken the bloodline. Keep in mind that genetic diversity has its advantages and disadvantages.
Step 2 – Examine the sire and dam’s health condition. Labrador retrievers are usually healthy but are prone to specific health issues.
Health problems include elbow and hip dysplasia and retinal atrophy, so genetic testing is necessary. Though the sire and the dam may not display any symptoms of chronic diseases, they may still carry the gene, which could afflict the litter.
Step 3 – You must draft a legal stud contract with the other Labrador’s owner. This contract outlines what must happen if the dam doesn’t conceive and determine which party is responsible for travel fees. Both owners must sign the contract to clear up any complications or ambiguity.
Step 4 – Mate both dogs in a private location. No more than two people must be present. This is to ensure that the dogs are safe without being overwhelmed. If either dog is uncomfortable or the male is disinterested, wait and try another day.
Step 5 – Take the dam to the veterinarian for pregnancy confirmation and develop a nutrition plan for optimal prenatal care.
Step 6 – Get a decent whelping box for your female Lab; ensure the box is draft-free, clean, and large enough to accommodate puppies for several weeks of their infancy.
You will require supplies such as replacement bedding, water, scissors, and floss to cut the umbilical cord. You will also need your vet’s emergency contact number.
Step 7 – When the time comes to deliver the puppies, you will know the dam is entering labor because her temperature will drop below 99 degrees Fahrenheit. She will also lose her appetite, and she will begin nesting.
How Often Should Labradors Breed?
Reproductive experts suggest that continual breedings are better for your female dog. Skipping cycles can increase the likelihood of reproductive issues, cancer, and pyometra.
With that said, the health and well-being of your dog must be at the forefront, and you must consider when is the best time to stop breeding your female. Legally, female Labs cannot have more than four litters in their lifetime.
How To Know When To Stop Breeding A Female Dog
Female Labradors never go into menopause, so you must exercise judgment about when to stop breeding them. If she has produced healthy litters in the past, it can be tempting to keep breeding her, but even an incredible Labrador cannot sustain so many pregnancies.
Most experts advise against breeding Labradors beyond the age of seven. Complications can arise, such as organ failure, calcified pubic region, and fewer pups. Seven may be the general cut-off point, but some female labs need to retire breeding earlier.
Female Labs slow down after seven, regardless of how fit and healthy they are; they can’t go on as before. Consider the following health problems older dogs experience:
Old Age Pains And Aches
As humans age, our bodies ache from wear and tear over the years, which can hurt. It’s the same with dogs. Pain can make dogs aggressive, and this can happen to the most mild-mannered dogs.
Liver And Kidneys
Old age can weaken the major organs of Labradors – they can’t sustain the same physical strain as when they were younger.
Pregnancy is exhausting, and it can push your girl to her limits. If she is too old, one of her major organs could begin failing.
Calcified Pubic Girdle
The pelvic girdle is designed to help younger dogs give birth by expanding and extracting to make room for puppies.
As your Labrador female ages, calcification of the cartilage in that region will prevent its’ ability to expand. If this happens to an older pregnant Lab, her puppies could get stuck in the birth canal, thus putting the mother and her pup’s lives at risk.
Dementia And Blindness
Labradors are at high risk of having eye problems that can limit their eyesight or leave them completely blind. Poor vision is associated with old age, and it can impede your dog’s ability to care for her pups.
It’s better for the puppies that their mother can do most of the work; otherwise, you will have to bottle-feed 6 to 10 puppies multiples times per day.
Miscellaneous Health Issues
Aside from the issues mentioned above, there are other possible risks for your Labrador as she ages. These include miscarriage and failure to lactate.
How Do You Take Care Of A Senior Labrador?
Labradors from the age of seven are considered seniors – this may seem young for many owners. You must consider that Labrador Retrievers have an average lifespan of around ten to twelve years.
You may have retired your female Labrador, but she will need continued care and support to the end of her life. Consider the following ways you can support your female Lab to enjoy her life and be healthy in her senior years:
Nutrition For Senior Labradors
Dog foods for older dogs are formulated with fewer calories. As Labs get older, they don’t need as much energy in their diet.
If your dog enjoys strenuous exercise and work, there is no need to change his current diet. The best way to ensure your Labrador is on a low-calorie diet is by giving him his usual food in smaller portions.
Supplements For Senior Dogs
Chrondroitin and Glucosamine are supplements that show evidence of delaying joint problems, especially arthritis.
Your Labrador may be able to continue his hour walks, but if he isn’t, pay attention to his cues. You can try breaking up his exercise into two or three shorter walks.
Pain relief is something to give your older Lab if he is in chronic pain. The decision to offer your dog pain relief is one to discuss with your vet; again, it’s a matter of understanding your pet’s needs.
So, what is the oldest age a female Labrador can have puppies? We now know it’s when she’s eight years old, at a push. However, it’s best to retire a female Lab when she is about five or six years old.
Labradors age quickly and become seniors almost in the blink of an eye; however, aging is unavoidable. Your beloved Lab will need lots of love and care into her senior years; it’s the very least we can do for them after all they do for us.
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