For those who think breeding is easy and have romantic notions about the whole process its worth bearing in mind that it is rarely as simple as you might expect.  Of course first there are the long nights evaluating pairing combinations, looking at pedigrees, photos, COI, health results and of course breed type to select the right combination.  Then there is the logistics of achieving your combination, in my case often involving overseas travel, so more planning, and estimating the optimum time for a mating, if travelling any great distance this then generally requires staying away from home, so annual leave and cover for the rest of the dogs, then consider last minute hitches outside your control that mean you may end up changing plans and of course this can involve additional costs if you can get refund on travel arrangements etc.  Just a few of the things to consider.

Then once mating is done all one can do is wait till 4 weeks or so have passed and then its possible to get a scan to check if you have been successful in your timing, then assuming so – wait again until the due date is on horizon.  Whilst the textbook answer to how long is gestation/pregnancy in a bitch is circa 63 days – there is a range of approx 56-70 days – so I tend to move my bitches to my whelping room (spare bedroom with special whelping box  I have a large 4’x4′ one with creep rails) at least a week before my guesstimated due date so she can acclimatise.

Labour generally starts with bitch being somewhat restless and a lot of panting and nesting – and so then I sleep with them, well sleep is a misnomer – it usually involves me getting out of bed every hour to check all is ok ,as the bitch digs the bedding .  If you are lucky this stage may only be a few hours but it can be a day or two – so very little sleep on either part, except the bitch can dognap during day – when I have to work !  This particular whelping was a long first stage – with me watching Mera’s every move over the Coronation weekend, before she finally decided to evict them, easily in a few hours in the wee small hours of 8th May. (My fitbit recorded about 8 hours of decent sleep over 60 hours!)  All pups were very good size being 400g or just under, and all very robust and quick to feed.

As ever I was amazed how well Mera handled it all, knowing exactly what to do and bonding with her pups so easily.  Poika of course was oblivious to all the fuss!  The coronation gave us the inspiration for their names whilst in the nest.  All are black & tan with white markings as was expected from this pairing (wolf sable not being an option, nor was cream as Poika does not carry “e” and brown was in my opinion unlikely).  As ever I am not looking for homes for these pups, sadly will be having to break news to many on the waiting list that their wait continues).

To get a better view of each pup – click on their thumbnail image and the larger photo will display  – Picture of individuals taken at 1 week, photo with Mera at a few hours old