The Natural Care and Feeding of the Breeding Potential Bitch

The Natural Care and Feeding of the Breeding Potential Bitch

I hope everyone reading this is already aware of the fact that dog breeding is simply not mating top dog A with top bitch B. As responsible breeders, it is our duty to research pedigrees and verify the outstanding qualities and dreaded faults of particular lines. Breeding for one distinct trait or breeding simply to make money are both reprehensible practices. Breeding must entail the complete package, from nose to tail. Health, balance and symmetry enhance the quality of any show dog. We must move forward, learning from each other, while developing the basic outline of our future stars. Let’s start with the Care and Feeding of our potential breeding bitch.

I feel this needs to be said for all of you new to breeding:
Breeding a litter of puppies is a task never to be taken lightly and is NOT for the faint at heart. This is a very serious undertaking! You are producing life of your own conscious choice and intention for what ever reason you may have. Hopefully, your reasons will be good ones however, this decision should be thought through very, very carefully because, dogs should be bred for one reason and one reason only: to improve the breed. If you are reading this with the intention of breeding to make a quick buck, educate the children, or to fulfill your bitch’s feminine needs, please DON”T breed your her! Breeding is rarely, ever a money-maker; more likely a money drain! Losing the bitch and all her puppies is probably not what you had in mind to educate the kids, however, it happens all to frequently. And, of course, as to the last one, just because you have a bitch that comes into season does not mean she wants to be bred anymore then when you know you are ovulating do you necessarily want to get pregnant.

Before you breed you bitch, it needs to be determined if she is even an appropriate candidate for breeding. First of all, no bitch realistically should be bred before the age of 2. They are just not physically (and often times emotionally) mature enough yet. Let them grow up and develop before they go through the physical strain of breeding, carrying, and whelping
puppies. The first two years of your bitch’s life should be all about preparation and determining if she truly is a candidate for breeding…. Everything you do for her, including providing natural, species specific nutrition and health care, training, showing, working, and getting all her health clearances will be preparation for a healthy, sound litter of puppies if she is worthy.

The necessary health checks vary from breed to breed and I highly recommend you consult with your bitch’s breeder (hopefully they are knowledgeable and have been in the breed for a long time), the national breed club and/or good books on your breed. to determine what tests you’ll need to have done.


It used to be and with some veterinarians it still is a standard practice to have breeding bitches be current on vaccinations and many vets will even insist on vaccinating them while in season, just prior to be bred.

I personally believe that heavily vaccinated dogs coming from sire and dams that were also heavily vaccinated is really like playing with a ticking time bomb. More and more, we are seeing fading puppies, birth defects and puppies never able to be totally thrive, they always seem to be just a little bit sick and almost always present with a major disease by the age of 4 – 6 years. While nutrition does play a huge roll here, vaccinations have totally messed up our dog’s very DNA and dysregulated their immune systems.

Please listen to this recorded webinar podcast of Dr Patricia Jordan regarding the duration of immunity, informed consent and more on the dangers of vaccinating and over-vaccinating our dogs HERE

To listen to more of Dr Jordan’s webinars with Animal Talk Naturally you can find them archived there under past shows or find a list of the links at the end of this article.

Proper and optimal nutrition is the cornerstone to good health for us and our pets, it is vitally important for a breeding animal and her offspring.

The natural rearing diet is based on raw meat, including bones and organs, from a variety of animals. The meat is usually as fresh as possible, organic and is served whole or in large chunks. The diet might also include raw, cage free chicken or duck eggs, small amounts of ground or juiced sprouted seeds, berries, in season; and occasionally some breeders feed raw goats milk.

Breeders who feed a natural diet do more than just strengthen individual dogs; they improve their entire lines. Avoiding malnourishment of a bitch from the pre-breeding phase to parturition is vital to the health and future health of both the bitch and her pups

We are all aware that good nutrition and proper prenatal care play important roles in ensuring the birth of healthy human children. The same is true in ensuring that our canine friends are born healthy. Proper care and feeding of a breeding bitch should begin long before she is actually bred and even before her estrous cycle begins (even before she is born if possible; coming from a line that has been fed a raw, natural diet as well as only the bare minimum of vaccines and no exposure to chemical toxins in, on or around the dog in the home or kennel environment.

As a Natural Rearing breeder myself, I believe any bitch considered for breeding should come from a proven, healthy Sire and Dam that were not vaccinated or at the very least only minimally vaccinated; fed a raw, species appropriate diet and have passed all their health clearances specific to the breed, i.e. CERF, BAER, OFA Hips, etc.

Any dietary adjustments needing to be made in amount or type of food should be made as soon as possible and way before breeding to achieve optimal body weight and strengthen immune function. A bitch who is either overweight or underweight and/or has had any health problems will have less reproductive success.

Nutritionists strongly believe that malnourishment of bitches before breeding and during pregnancy is a major factor in neonatal puppy mortality, which is estimated to be between 20 and 30 percent.

Just like growth and performance, reproduction is a physiologic state with nutritional requirements that exceed those of a maintenance phase. A bitch who is pregnant or has just given birth draws upon her own nutritional reserves deposited in her body before, during and after pregnancy while nursing puppies. A malnourished female will not have sufficient protein, vitamins, minerals and energy to support pregnancy, let alone nourish her puppies.

Malnourishment of a breeding bitch can occur as the result of feeding poor-quality diets, imbalanced diets, over-feeding, or insufficient amounts of fresh, species appropriate and specific-quality foods.

Malnourishment can begin at any stage of her reproductive cycle, however, the most dangerous and critical time is during late gestation, when nutritional needs greatly increase due to the puppies developing and maturing in the womb. Improper feeding of a breeding bitch will result in impaired health of both the bitch and her puppies and can cause low conception rates, birth defects, problems carrying the entire litter to term, dystocia, as well as improper mammary development, which reduces the quality and amount of the colostrum and then milk produced.

Nutritional deprivation during pregnancy has been shown to affect the immune systems of both the bitch and her pups. The immune system is very sensitive to nutritional inadequacies during its formation and development. It can also affect the immune system’s ability to function during future pregnancies as well, even if proper nutrition is restored.

Many times the malnourishment of the bitch is not always evident until it is too late. She may appear thin and out of condition once whelped, with inadequate muscle and body-fat reserves to support lactation. The pups may suffer from “fading puppy syndrome,” appearing weak, crying frequently, eating poorly and lacking coordination. Many of these pups could face early death.

To ensure adequate nutritional status of the bitch prior to breeding, you may be able to get your veterinarian to do some simple blood work to determine whether the bitch is anemic or has low blood protein. If either problem is detected, this would indicate malnourishment and should be corrected much before ever breeding.

If you are new to natural rearing and feeding a raw SARF diet to your dogs, please request a consultation and join the Natural Health Care For Dogs Yahoo group for support and knowledge from long time natural rearing breeders, animal naturopaths and holistic veterinarians.


Dr Patricia Jordan – Mark Of the Beast – The dangers of vaccines for our pets

Dr Patricia Jordan- Vaccine Insights

Are Vaccines killing our pets?

Dr Jeannie Thomason
The Whole Dog

This article is the sole property of Dr Jeanette (Jeannie) Thomason and The Whole Dog. It cannot be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the expressed written consent of the author.

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