A question I’m receiving more and more often is when can Dobermans have puppies? There are two answers to this, the technical answer, and then the more “responsible” one. This article will cover the top FAQs on this important topic.
Choosing the right time to breed your Dobie is important and can be the difference between a successful and happy mating and one that ends up creating headaches, heartache, and large vet bills.
Vet-Approved! ✅ This article has been written by a qualified Veterinarian. Read more!
When Can Dobermans Have Puppies?
This is a great question and it is not always easy to answer this with a ‘one size fits all’ answer. This is because every dog is an individual and will mature (both physically and mentally) at a different rate.
Technically speaking, a female Doberman can conceive from her first heat cycle. But this doesn’t mean it’s when she should be bred. It is generally recommended to wait until your Dobermans third heat cycle before breeding her.
While one Doberman may have their first heat cycle at the age of eight months, another may not have their first until they are 12 months or even older. This is likely a combination of their genetics and environment.
Why is it recommended to wait?
Before her third heat cycle, a Doberman may not be either physically or mentally mature enough to deal with the pregnancy, whelping, and rearing of their litter at this young age.
It is important to let their skeleton and muscles develop fully and for their body to fill out before they are mated.
We also need them to leave behind that ‘crazy’ puppy phase where they can be hyper, destructive, and selfish. A mature mother is a good mother and is more likely to cope better with her pregnancy, labor, and the nursing of her puppies. Immature females are at higher risk of abandoning their litter and failing to nurse them. This can mean we are left bottle feeding around the clock and this can be a huge endeavor in a large litter.
For the majority of females, breeding before they are two is not advised.
When Can a Male Doberman Breed?
We worry somewhat less about when to breed a male dog. This is because they do not have to cope with carrying a pregnancy, giving birth and raising a litter.
However, breeding a young male is not advised as we won’t yet be able to predict their personality. Similarly, we want to have the time to perform all of the relevant health checks, such as their Hip Scoring.
Most Kennel Clubs will have a minimum age that a stud can be: typically 12 or 18 months.
When Is The Latest a Doberman Can Be Bred?
Again, this will somewhat depend on the individual. We would need to take into account the parent’s health, activity level and temperament.
Interestingly, females Dobies do not go through menopause like humans. This means that they are expected to have seasons and to be able to reproduce well into their golden years.
However, it is not ideal to breed a senior female as she will be much less able to cope with the pregnancy and labour. This is especially true for a first-time mum.
In general, it wouldn’t be advised to breed a Doberman for the first time after the age of 6. Before embarking on this endeavor, have a vet perform a thorough health check to rule out any underlying medical issues.
The Risks of Breeding Too Young or Too Late
We can look at this question from two perspectives:
- Is there a risk to the mother?
- Is there a risk to the litter?
When it comes to the mother, breeding her at the wrong time can jeopardise both her health and her mental wellbeing. A young mum can find the process distressing, while an older mother may find it draining. Health wise, there is an increased risk of a c-section in a female who is skeletally immature or in a senior bitch.
The litter may need to be hand-reared, meaning they do not receive antibodies from the mother’s milk. This can mean they are more prone to infections when young.
What To Do Before Breeding Your Doberman
Before breeding your Doberman, ensure it is the right decision for you and her. Consider the following important questions…
Will she be adding to the gene pool positively and is it likely her puppies will be healthy, well-adjusted individuals who will make good family pets? Is there a demand for the puppies and are you confident you will be able to place them all in suitable homes?
Depending on which Kennel Club you will be registering the puppies with, there will usually be specific health tests which need to be performed on your female before she can be bred. Discerning puppy buyers will ask to see her results before agreeing to go ahead with a purchase. You may find you need your bitch tested for:
- Hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia
- Von Willebrand’s Disease Type 1
- Dilated Cardiomyopathy
Make sure you have the funds for the mother’s health checks, the puppies’ health checks, all of the vaccinations, the parasite prevention, the microchips, the extra food etc.
It is also essential that you are able to afford an emergency c-section if needed. Check with your local vet how much this may set you back before breeding.
Are Dobermans At Risk of Needing C-Sections?
While we can never predict which dogs will need c-sections, some are at higher risk than others. Fortunately, Dobermans are a large breed that does not tend to have a narrow pelvic canal, most can give birth without assistance.
A bitch would be at increased risk of a c-section if she has a small litter size (as pups will be large), a large litter size, previous trauma (e.g. a car accident which fractured the pelvis) or if she has had a c-section in the past.
How Many Puppies Do Dobermans Usually Have?
Dobermans can have very large litters so don’t be surprised if your female delivers up to 12 or even 14 puppies! More often, bitches will have about 7 or 8 puppies.
Will scans shows how many puppies your Doberman has?
An abdominal scan (ultrasound) can be performed from about 3 weeks to detect pregnancy. However, it is not always easy for a vet to accurately determine how many pups are present.
Due to positioning, some puppies may be ‘hiding’ at awkward angles within the uterus, meaning they are not easily detected.
A scan at this stage is usually just to estimate puppy numbers and ensure the pregnancy is viable.
How To Know If Your Doberman Is Pregnant
After breeding, an owner will be keen to know if their Doberman is pregnant as soon as possible. However, this is not always obvious. Similarly, some Doberman will experience a false pregnancy and the symptoms of this can be mistaken for a true pregnancy.
To know for sure, your bitch will be examined by a vet at about 3 or 4 weeks after mating. They will assess her abdomen and may perform an abdominal scan to check for fetal heart beats.
It’s important to breed your Doberman when they are the right age; both for them and their pups. This is usually between the ages of 2 and 6, however, this will vary depending on the individual. For most, the ideal time will be at about 2 or 3 years of age.
Are you considering breeding your Doberman? Let us know!
Thanks for reading!