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Beagle owners tend to spay or neuter their pets before they reach sexual maturity, therefore preventing any behavioral changes that come with being a teenager. If you intend on breeding your dog however or simply failed to spay them, you should be able to see changes in as little as 1 year.
It is important to first introduce you to the typical terminologies used for Beagle dog breeding:
- Dog – male dog, either intact or neutered.
- Bitch – female canine
- Litter – group of puppies born of the same female dog at a time
- Dam – reference used to a female dog that managed to produce a litter
- Stud – male dog used for breeding
- Sire – male dog that managed to produce a litter with the Dam
Do not be surprised if your male puppy starts humping his littermate in just 1 month of age. This is actually an instinctive reflex but at this point, there is obviously no reproduction of sperm. Typically, males become sexually mature at a younger age.
Sexually Mature Males
Male Beagle dogs become sexually mature in as little as 5 to 6 months. At this stage, they are capable of impregnating a sexually mature female and may even show signs of humping due to over-excitement. In some cases, a dog may be capable of siring a litter before the average 6 months if they are given free reign with a female dog in heat. Best quality sperms however are not produced until the dog reaches 2 to 4 years of age. Note though that the average age for the testicles to drop would be around 2 months of age.
Unlike female dogs, male dogs are not bound to cycles. They are therefore capable of functioning as a stud any time of the year as soon as they reach sexual maturity. Typically, sexually mature males can smell a bitch in heat from 3 miles away and will go crazy trying to reach the female. When a female in heat is nearby, you will typically find the male dog doing his best to go near the girl. Be prepared for behavioral changes from the male including:
- Going off unsupervised, often climbing/digging through fences just to get to the bitch in heat
- Refusing to follow basic orders like heel and stay.
- They will start marking the territory like crazy in an effort to contain the female dog
- Becomes aggressive, especially when confronted with other male dogs
Sexually Mature Females
Beagles may take up to 24 months before becoming ready. Typically, responsible breeders do not allow their dogs to become dams or produce a litter until the second heat.
Note that bitch reproductive cycle is more complicated than with male dogs. Timing is important to make sure that the female produces puppies. This is why dog breeding often involves more than just allowing the male dog to hump the female. Typically, the female heat cycle covers 21 days, but this can be as short as 7 days or a month long. As a breeder, it is important to determine which cycle your bitch is on to determine their most fertile days.
Going by the average 21-day cycle, here is how this usually proceeds:
Days 1 to 7: Proestrus
At this stage, you will notice both behavioral and physical changes on the female:
- Eating Habits – The bitch becomes more hungry than usual, sometimes even checking out the trash for additional food. Of course, in some instances they may deny food rather than eat excessively. Either way, changes in eating habit becomes marked.
- Personality Change – all dogs have a specific personality that may change during the first week of being in heat. They may either become incredibly sweet and gentle, or perhaps more aggressive. It really depends on the dog but again, the results will be obvious.
- Tucking – this is when the female tries to keep her tail lowered at all times in order to protect the vulva.
- Swelling and Discharge – this is perhaps the most obvious sign of the dog going in heat. During this time, the vulva becomes red and starts to swell slightly. Bleeding also starts but not too heavily.
Days 8 to 14: Estrus
Week two is the most fertile part of the cycle, so this is the best time to breed your dog if you are planning to have a litter in the next two months. Experienced breeders often choose the 10th day after menstruation to maximize the chances of pregnancy. In week two, the changes are not as extensive or noticeable:
- Softening of the Vulva – it is a little hard to notice this happening, but you should be able to visibly see a reduction in the swelling. This occurs because the vulva is now ready for penetration.
- Pinkish Discharge – check the previous discharge of your bitch and compare it with the new one. Instead of a bloody red, you should be able to see a pinkish hue coming out of the vulva.
- Flirting – lastly, the female no longer guards the vulva with her tail. She would be more receptive to the advances of the male, even presenting her tail end to the male for mounting. In some cases, the female will wave her tail back and forth to make sure that the male catches the scent.
Days 15 to 21: Diestrus
This is the final week of the cycle accompanied by the following signs:
- Vulva Swelling Decreases – there is no longer any swelling to the vulva or a noticeable decrease occurs.
- Red Discharge – you might think the discharge suddenly stops, but this is not the case. Instead, it reverts back to red but in smaller amounts than the first week.
- Behavior Changes – aside from the cessation in the flirting process, the female also reverts to her original behavior prior to the heat. Normal eating habits and socialization with humans occur.
Resting Stage: Anestrus
This would be the time when the bitch goes back to normal. All the signs of heat disappear until the cycle begins again. The resting stage usually lasts for 5 months which means that a healthy female Beagle can go in heat twice a year. Ideally, breeding should occur on the second heat or when the dog is already 2 years of age.
As stated, you should breed your female Beagle dog during the second week of the cycle, preferably on the 10th day after you notice blood discharge from the vulva.
As it stands, the mating process is something that naturally comes to dogs. They are perfectly aware of what needs to be done but as a responsible breeder, supervised mating is almost always necessary, especially if this is the first time for the girl.
Here is the step-by-step process of how this works:
Upon introduction, a male dog would be able to catch the scent of the female and instantly start with the courtship. This usually involves smelling the vulva of the female and following her around. If the female is in the second week, she will be receptive to the advances of the male by standing still. If she sits down, lies down, or hides, the chances are this is not the right time for mating.
If the female stands still long enough, the male will mount her from the back and a thrusting motion would begin as the male attempts to penetrate the female. During this stage, some dog breeders will hold the female by the collar, allowing her to stand still so that penetration would occur. Many female dogs whine during first penetration, making it important for breeders to soothe them by stroking the head.
Here is what you should know about the male dog penis: it is not fully erect. It can therefore take the stud several tries before fully penetrating the female. If he tries often but still cannot seem to achieve penetration, then chances are the female is not fully ready yet. At this point, you can separate them for a few minutes before resuming mating.
There are also instances when the male achieves penetration but slips out of the vulva. This is called Slip Mating and it occurs because the penis did NOT enlarge inside the vulva, causing a lock. Now, some breeders would assist the dog by holding the penis and aiming it inside the female, but this is often discouraged. Typically, the dogs are capable of finding their own position and in some cases, the stud may even react badly to someone else interfering in the process.
When the male achieves full penetration, the penis stars to become larger and harden while the vulva tightens around it. A lock is therefore formed, tying the two dogs together for 10 to 30 minutes. At some point, the male dog will lift one hind leg and turn around, allowing him to be back to back with the female even as the penis stays inside the vulva. This is the stage where the male sperm enters through the vulva and fertilization occurs.
Females may become anxious if they try to move away and realize that they cannot get unlocked from the male. During this time, it is best that the breeder holds the female in place, perhaps giving her soothing massages and strokes on the head to prevent agitation. Note that when a lock is performed, you must NOT separate the two dogs since this can harm them both.
Artificial insemination in dogs is possible and often done when there is no ready stud within your area. The beauty of artificial insemination is that it gives you the chance to choose from a splendid line of dogs. You can purchase the sperm from a well known line to increase the chances of a healthy, superior litter from the dam.
Artificial insemination takes a little more practice, especially if this is your first time doing it. Essentially, a female is placed near the male, allowing him to smell her scent and get ready for mounting. When ready, the penis is directed to an artificial vagina, prompting the male to ejaculate in the container. The collected sample is the artificially inseminated in the female by using a long glass tube. The aim is to make sure that the semen reaches the cervix which may vary in depth.
If the female is far away, the sperm is often frozen and sent by special delivery. This is important since semen does not last for more than 24 hours. In cases of liquid nitrogen freezing however, the sperm may last longer, perhaps even years.
Note that just because a male dog managed to produce sperm does not mean that they can easily impregnate a bitch. As with humans, the sperm collected must be of good quality and of sufficient quantity to actually work. This is why a thorough check is often performed before actually shooting the semen inside the vagina.
If you intend to breed your dog, using artificial insemination should not be your first option. Choose natural methods of breeding, unless circumstances deem otherwise.
Successful Mating Frequency
As with humans, it only takes one time for a healthy male to impregnate a healthy female. Therefore, if you manage to get the timing right and both dogs are sexually healthy, then even just one successful Tie Mating should result to a litter of puppies two months later.
Some breeders like to be sure by allowing the dog to mount the bitch several times within the fertile week. Mounting is usually done once a day since male dogs can get tired and therefore have a hard time performing again. If you own the stud, then this should not be a problem. If someone else owns the stud however, then arrangements must be made.
Caring for a Pregnant Beagle Dog
Once the 2nd week of the fertile cycle passes, there is not much else to do but wait to find out whether your dog is pregnant is or not. Unfortunately, you can’t buy a pregnancy stick off the store and have your dog pee on it. Notably, some signs of symptoms of pregnancy become obvious, but they can be quite subtle during the first few weeks. Even a vet would have a hard time predicting pregnancy using only the physical indicators, which is why a scan may be used if you want to make sure early on:
Signs of Pregnancy in Beagles
Appetite Changes – this can kick off as early as the 2nd week after successful mating. A pregnant dog will start to refuse food or suffer from what is known as morning sickness. You can try offering your pooch more tasty treats like liver added to their kibble, but this may not always work. The good news is that this will not last long and therefore should not concern you much. Most dogs will eat properly after 1 or 2 days of limited consumption. Note that some dogs go the other way and actually become hungrier during the 2nd or 3rd week. During this time, make sure to portion her food accordingly, perhaps giving her 3 separate meals instead of one big one.
Lethargic – she may also become less active as pregnancy kicks in. This is normal as humans also go through this kind of transition, often sleeping all the time and getting tired easily.
Nipple Changes – changes in the nipple size and color could occur around the 3rd and 4th week. The nipples would become larger and darker, signaling changes in hormone production. Typical color goes from brown to pink as blood flow increases, preparing the breasts for providing milk.
Changes in Behavior – lastly, your dog would go through some behavior changes. She would be sweeter, cuddlier, and will try to be as close to you more than normal. Again, the other extreme rings true as some pregnant dogs will try to separate themselves from their owners as they go through hormone changes.
Vet’s Opinion and Diagnosis
If you notice all the signs of pregnancy and have intentionally bred your dog, a vet’s opinion on the situation may not always be necessary. However, if you want to cover all bases then the vet can perform a safe ultrasound to check the development of puppies as early as 4 weeks into the pregnancy. In here, you can try asking the vet about the ideal diet, exercise, and habits that would ensure the health of the dam as well as the pups in her womb.
Pregnancy in Weeks
Beagle dog pregnancy follows a trimester period, each one roughly 21 day each. This means that your dog can give birth between 60 to 65 days of pregnancy, allowing you to easily chart the whelping. Here is how this usually works:
First Trimester (1 to 3 Weeks)
During the first 3 weeks, you will note physical changes but lifestyle changes are not necessary. Continue feeding the bitch regular meals as well as providing regular exercise. Note though that if she does not want to exercise, then do not push her into the activity. Instead, provide sufficient space for her to roam whenever she feels the need.
Second Trimester (4 to 6 Weeks)
During the4th week, vets are capable of judging fetal development through a scan. By the 5th and 6th weeks, there is a marked growth of the tummy and your female dog would have a more ravenous appetite. Allow her to eat as much as she wants. Keep in mind that this would be the most vulnerable part of the pregnancy, which means that excessive exercises are discouraged. In fact, the dog may choose not to move around at all and spend the day doing nothing, allow her to do so and do not push her into activity. Aside from the increase in her diet, the bitch should also be served a portion of puppy food or dog food especially for pregnant dogs. Multivitamins to help with puppy development is also ideal.
Third Trimester (7 to 9 Weeks)
During the third trimester, switch the food back to her normal far, but still allow her to eat as much as she wants. The switch gives her body the chance to start stocking up calcium which will be used later on after giving birth to the pups. Birth may occur at anytime during the 8th and 9th week, which means that you will have to be very watchful. The last two weeks, your bitch may also show signs of nesting wherein she will collect bits of materials in preparation to giving birth.
Food Choices and Supplements for Pregnant Beagles
A raw food diet is usually best, but specific dog food for pregnancy is also available. Consult your vet about this to be sure on the brand of the item. Additional supplements may also be given, either as pills/liquid or as part of a raw food diet.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin C
- DO NOT GIVE THEM VITAMIN A, this is actually dangerous for the puppies
Whelping is the term used when dogs give birth. It would be best for owners to assist the dam during the birthing process, especially if this is her first time. Keeping in mind several complications, following are some steps you should follow:
Finding or building a whelping box should be your first priority. A whelping box is basically an open box where the mother can rest and take care of her puppies. It should have a bottom and four sides, around 18 inches in height. It must be low enough for the mother to go in and out if she chooses, but high enough to keep the puppies inside.
You can buy a whelping box or make one yourself, depending on the circumstances. A whelping box may be made from several materials including wood, cardboard, and even plastic.
Whelping Box Location
Provide the dam with a safe, secure, and private place for birthing. A spare bedroom would be perfect, allowing the dam to feel completely safe during the birthing process. Do not allow people to walk in and out during whelping as this can cause stress to the dam. Ideally, only people the dam is familiar with should be nearby, especially since she can be quite aggressive to anyone else handling her puppies.
Signs of Labor
A spike in temperature is usually the most common sign of impending labor. Using a thermometer, your dog should have a normal reading of 100 to 101 degrees Fahrenheit. Once this drops down to 97 degrees, then your dog will go into labor within the next few hours. Shivering is also a common sign in females. Restlessness often means that they are feeling the contractions upon which, coaxing her into the whelping box is recommended.
Assisting with Labor
The labor process comes in three stages, the first stage characterized with the restless of the dog. The second stage is the active labor when the puppies are slowly pushed out:
- The dam will actively start pushing the puppies through the vulva.
- The puppies will emerge wrapped in a fluid-filled sac. Instinctively, the dam should break open the sac and lick the puppy clean, removing fluid from his nasal passage. If she does not do this, you might have to take over the job yourself.
- The umbilical cord will also be noticeable once the puppy sac comes out. Typically, the mother will lick the puppy clean before severing the umbilical cord herself. If she fails to do this, wipe a scissor clean with alcohol and cut the cord yourself, making sure to leave at least one inch of the cord. This will dry and fall off naturally after a few days.
- Allow the dam to eat the placenta, this will provide her with additional strength.
- Once the mother is done licking the puppy, you may set the pooch aside where the dam can still see the puppy. Watch for signs of activity, a healthy pup would immediately respond to the smell of her mother and instinctively try to suckle milk from her nipples.
- The next puppy should arrive within the next hour and the process is repeated. Some breeders like to gently massage the belly of the dog, aiding her with pushing out the puppy.
The third stage starts when all the puppies have been whelped, allowing the dam to give them the attention they need. During this time, it is also encouraged to feed the dam premium dog food or even meat to help restore her energy. A bathroom break and continuous access to clean water is also essential.
The biggest question for first time breeders is: how do I know that the mother is done giving birth?
Beagles have an average of 4 to 8 puppy counts. That being said, it would be best to use the breed of your dog as a reference to the possible litter you are expecting. If the dog is a mixed breed, consider the average of the two different breeds.
To be 100% sure however, bringing your dam to the vet 24 hours after whelping is encouraged. An ultrasound will reveal if all puppies as well as the placenta have been pushed out. If placenta or puppy remains, this can actually poison the mother.
Care for the Dam
After giving birth, the vulva should remain swollen and bleeding but this should dissipate after a few days. Following are some things you should keep in mind regarding after care.
- The dam would have an increased appetite due to her breastfeeding. Make sure to provide her premium dog food, ideally a type specially made for nursing mothers. Give her as many as she wants, feeding three times a day or even snacks if she wishes it.
- Check her temperature, making sure that it stays within average. If it goes up to 102 degrees Fahrenheit, this could indicate an infection which should be checked by the vet immediately.
- Watch how she interacts with the puppies and check her nipples to make sure that they all dispense milk. Understand that when a mother nurses her young, hormones trigger a more motherly behavior from the dam, making her more caring for the puppies.
- Assist with keeping the whelping box clean. Utilize rags or newspapers as padding on the floor and replace them when it becomes necessary.
- Do NOT give the dam a bath until after at least a month of giving birth.
- Keep in mind that the dam is overprotective over the puppies. Handling them will therefore cause unnecessary stress to the dog.
During the first few weeks, the dam would be responsible for puppy care. Pay close attention to her behavior as she stays close to the puppies during the first few days. The decision to feed the puppies will be up to her, the dam essentially going and leaving the whelping box on a routine basis.
As the puppies become older, she will start to spend less and less time with them, often simply coming and going when feeding time approaches.
While feeding the puppies with milk, the dam may also take the responsibility of cleaning the puppies, especially when it comes to their excrement. If the mother fails to do this however, make sure that you keep the puppies clean by using tissue papers to wipe their behind. Do NOT give puppies a bath since this will surely give them chills.
Note that some mothers will be clumsy during their first time. During the first 2 to 3 weeks, it would be best to stay close to the dam and make sure that she does not neglect the puppies. The dam rolling over the pups or accidentally lying on top of them is a very real possibility so stay vigilant!
Puppy development is often predictable so take note of these facts:
- 1st week – puppies should steadily gain weight from mother’s milk. If this doesn’t happen or if you notice that the mother isn’t feeding them properly, you may purchase replacement milk from the vet.
- 2nd week – eyes start to open, do not open them by force
- 3rd week – the puppies should be more active. Extend their whelping box, making sure that there’s a corner that acts as their toilet and another corner that functions as their bedroom
- 4th week – the puppies are ready to eat puppy kibble softened with water
- Keep the light dim to give the puppy eyes chance to develop.
- Pay close attention to the feeding process. Some puppies will be pushed back from the teat, limiting their feed. If this happens, give the pup more time with feeding by providing careful assistance.
If you notice anything unusual that happens, consult your vet immediately!