Most people don’t understand the care, thought and money that goes into the careful breeding of dogs by responsible hobby breeders. As I begin the journey again I thought I would journal the steps I use to give you an idea of what is involved.
If you have read my site you would know that I bred Libby back in the winter of 2014. She had one litter in February 2015 and was an excellent mother.
She produced four healthy and happy puppies, three of whom had or are having good show careers. The fourth is having an excellent career as a canine companion in a loving home in Bedford, MA. Based on the success of this litter I decided after careful consultation with my co-owners to try again.
[If you are wondering how a black-masked, open tricolored dam produced four red-and-white puppies, chalk it up to the vagaries of color genetics in bassets. Libby’s dam was red-and-white and her sire was tricolor, and the sire of the litter was red-and-white, so we were pretty certain to get most or all red-and-whites. The sire of the next litter is a classic black-saddle tricolor dog so I hope we get some tri-colors!]
As a team we reviewed pedigrees, discussed conformation strengths and weaknesses and reviewed the detailed pros and cons of each puppy from the first litter and first sire. After going back and forth for a while we decided to do artificial insemination using frozen semen from a dog I had always admired for his intelligence, personality, and conformation; he also had the correct pedigree to bring in characteristics that would hopefully produce even more beautiful as well as happy and healthy pups.
However, Libby had other plans, coming into season six weeks early while we were over 1000 miles from home attending the BHCA Nationals in St Louis, Missouri. By the time we got home Libby’s progesterone levels were at the high end of target for breeding. I decided to give it a try anyway but it didn’t work out and there were no puppies.
In order to have the maximum probability of success this time I took Libby to Dr. Ann Huntington, our reproduction veterinarian, for a full battery of tests in January, well ahead of Libby’s next cycle. We tested for any medical conditions or underlying illnesses that might prevent pregnancy from occurring: broad spectrum tick borne diseases (Idexx), detailed thyroid levels (U Michigan), reproductive system infections (Cornell U).
We found a minor vaginal infection that we are treating now so that Libby will be 100% ready when she comes into season.
So now we wait. Normally Libby is on a roughly six month schedule of seasons meaning late March or early April would be her next cycle. However, since she was over a month early the last time, I am preparing for her to start as early as the end of February. I continue to feed her a high quality food (Purina ProPlan Grain Free) and high quality supplements (VetriScience Glycoflex III, Wholistic Pet Canine Complete, Wholistic Pet Salmon Oil), make sure she gets plenty of mental and physical exercise through play and formal training, and hope we have luck on our side this time.