Breeding your Bichon Frise Bitch
Females can come into heat anywhere from 4-8 months, most generally around the 6th month and in the Bichon Frise breed start at around 6 months of age. Their heat cycles last for 3 weeks. It is very important to keep all males away from her when in heat. If not planning on breeding her, you should have her spayed as soon as you can.
If planning to breed make sure she is over 2 yrs old, no younger and only let her have 1 litter a year, which is all Kennel Club registered dogs are allowed. Also if you are looking to breed your bitch ensure that she is in top condition and fully wormed and de-flee regularly (as should be the case normally), because internal and external parasites will strip her of vital nutrition, also ensure that she is not obese. A well balanced nutritional diet should be given as well during her puppy to adult life. Make sure she is socialized if she is a lone dog, because when you go to breed she will not recognise her mate as a member of its species (as can be the case in urban apartment pets). With the Bichon Frise being a long haired breed it is advisable to cut the hair shorter than normal, for ease during her pregnancy and so the pups can feed freely. Acquire a whelping box (which can be cardboard), it should be sturdy with high sides and large enough to incorporate the bitch and pups and a slightly cut down entrance/exit for the dam.
Selecting a Stud
In choosing a stud dog a undisputable fact will be that the male will contribute half of the puppies genetic characteristics. You should follow these guidelines:
- Evaluate his temperament -If possible meet and handle some of his adult offsprin
- Steer well clear of exaggerated aggressiveness and shyness
- If your bitch has any faults (god forbid) that you have discovered then look for a male that does not duplicate these
- Check on the pedigree of both dog and bitch that there will be NO cross breeding.
The stud fee’s vary as to his performance in exhibition and his lines (which will be shown on his pedigree). This will be agreed between the 2 parties concerned and should be in writing before any breeding takes place.
My advice is to do this well in advance of your desire to breed.
Canine heat cycles are divided into four separate phases as shown in the chart below:
The signs of this stage are:
- productive tissues thicken
- vulva swells
- genetalia becomes reddened
- she will try and escape to find a mate
- Intact males will start to pay court
This stage lasts from 2 to 27 days – more typically 7 to 10 days.
This stage is known as ‘Standing Heat’:
- Virginal discharge this will change from: blood red to light pink to straw coloured
- She will back up to a male
- Flag the tale in the face of the male
- Tilt her vulva upwards
- Urinate frequently
- Act very seductively
- She will also mount a male and simulate copulation
On the first day a female will receive a male, estrogen levels drop and pregestrone levels increase greatly. Another hormone present (lutenizing) will peak in the females blood stream at the time she will first stand for a male. Ovulation occurs 1 to 3 days after this peak.
This stage lasts about 60 days and is the period in which incorporates the last day a bitch will accept a male until the termination of pregnancy. If she is not mated then her appearance will be the same as Anestrus.
For about 100 to 150 days the bitch is in the quiet stage.
The Breeding Act
When you have chosen your Bichon Frise stud then if possible the best way is to send your bitch away to the experienced breeder, for a period of approximately 1 week. When the bitch is convinced they are suited she will stand quietly and allow the dog to mount her. After he places his forelegs on either side of her ribcage, he steps forward with his hind legs, which position his prepuce in close proximity behind her vulva. She elevates her hindquarters, tipping her front quarters downward.
The male’s penis is not yet erect, but the os penis directs the glans into her vulva and promotes entry of the shaft of the penis. As the supersensitive glans penis enters the vulva, the male will slide his forelegs backward into the flanks of the bitch, gripping her tightly just in front of her hind legs.
Standing nearly erect behind her, he then thrusts his hindquarters to accomplish intrusion, pressing the penis into her vagina.
Once intrusion is accomplished, as the penis extends fully into her vagina, its vascular structure engorges, and it becomes erect. The bulbus glandis swells well inside the vagina, in front of the contracting bands of virginal tissue, and the two are tied together. This can last for a duration of 2/3 minutes to over 20 minutes.
The period of gestation extends from the time of successful mating until parturition. The times reported vary from 56 to 72 days, but the normal is 68 days.
Technically, the time from LH hormone peak in a bitch’s blood until parturition is consistently between 64 and 66 days. Ovulation occurs 2 days after the LH peak; therefore, from ovulation to whelping is likely to be 63 days, even though bitches may be mated several days before and after their ovulation dates.
You can have you bitch examined by a vet and an ultrasound done to determine pregnancy, this can be done sometimes as early as 17days. Never push your dog’s tummy as this can by the inexperienced person cause severe problems and maybe death of your unborn puppies. If help is required take to your vet.
Physical attitude changes:
For the first 2 or 3 weeks, she will exhibit no appreciable changes.
About the 4th week
Her appetite begins to increase; she will likely take more naps.
By the 4th/5th week
Her stomach should start to enlarge, and viewed from behind she will start to have a distinctive pear shape.
By the 5th/6th week
She will play and exercise much less and her appetite will increase greatly.
The 7th/8th and 9th weeks
This is the period of most dramatic change in appearance and attitude as the foetuses grow rapidly. The dam will become more sedentary and her calorific intake demand is high. You may even see her tummy move with the activity of the pups inside whilst sitting on you lap!
As the 9th week approaches
- Her mammary glands develop and start to descend (some bitches mammary glands only descend when the pups are born), milk may start to drip beforehand though
- She may follow you from room to room or become reclusive in a dark place, which will probably be her nesting site
- Some become very loving and even to the extent of being a nuisance, refusing to leave their favourite member of the family alone. Others can be the complete opposite and shun all affection and company
- Her appetite will gradually diminish
- Her belly muscles will become pendulous and distended
- The foetuses’ activities a less pronounced
- The vulva becomes flaccid and pendulous
- A sure sign is a green vaginal discharge (which is the vaginal plug), this is also seen several weeks after whelping
When nesting becomes greatly increased puppies are on the way!
Stage 1 Labour
- She maybe panting, pacing about restlessly, sometimes whining and ever demanding on that favourite family member
- For future reference, keep a diary so you can refer for your bitches’ behaviour, for future litters.
Stage 2 Labour
- The expectant bitch will lie on her side and begin to strain. This can continue from 1-2 hours in small litters to as much as 24hrs in larger ones. Most deliveries are completed within 4-6 hours.
- For the first litter your bitch may need help, such as breaking open the first puppies sack to take that all important gasp of air. So keep a close and careful eye if possible on the whole proceedings.
- Immediately before the first puppy emerges, an opaque bubble of placenta (amniotic sac) will protrude from the dam’s vulva. The dam should tear this from the puppy immediately. She will lick and consume all of the membranes’, along with the placenta from each pup.
- She may sick some of this up after the last pup has been delivered.
- Ensure she has a fresh bowl of water at hand for that all important drink, because she has been working hard.
- Consumed placenta also contributes to her greasy, black and green stools for a day after whelping.
The Puppies are Here!
- If born in the colder months make sure that the area where you keep the pups is draft free (I used a large playpen and covered the sides in card).
- Mum will deal with all of the puppies needs until the time of weaning.
- Keep an eye so that you know each pup is latching onto her teats to feed.
- Ensure that she always has drink and water to hand as her appetite will still be very high.
- From the ages of 2/4/6/8 weeks all pups need to be regularly wormed (as the round worm stays dormant in the mother and is passed on to the pups through lactation).
- From the age of about 5 weeks your pups should be ready to be weaned.
- I prefer to mix a good quality dry puppy mix with canned (or sachets) puppy food.
- This along with water needs to be available for the pups all the time.
- It is best to make what is called ‘a creep feeder’, this is a box or crate up ended and placed over the food with an entrance cut away (the size of the pups), so that mum cannot steal their food.
- At about 6 weeks you should take your new Bichon Frise litter along to your vet for a full check up, this is when they should have their 1st Parvo injection (if being sold on).
- Puppies should not been sold on until after the 8th week no matter how mature they appear.
Pups New Home
- You should vet the new owner to ensure that the Bichon Frise puppy is going to a good home.
- I advise if possible to have from each of the new owners a piece of cloth/clothing, small in size, with the owners scent. This will help the puppy to identify you.
- When you get your new puppy home a trip to your vet is imperative.
- Ensure you have blankets, bowls (for water and food), a basket and a small collar and lead although your puppy cannot go walking out of your garden until about the 10/12 weeks this is when they are fully protected from Parvo.
- To train your puppy the most effective way is crate training. This will be your puppies safe haven (especially if you have children), a place for your puppy to have that well earned rest/peace and quiet (don’t forget it is only a baby and needs plenty of sleep). The crate will also protect you and your puppy from chewing furniture or even electric cables! When you are out (say shopping) you can put your pup in the crate (always ensure it has food and water) and it will be safe until you return.
- The crate will also help you to toilet train; this can be done with great success. As soon as your puppy wakes or has eaten take outside, play with your puppy for a while and eventually it will either pee or defecate, after any of these acts give high praise, he or she will soon learn. If your Bichon Frise Pup has an accident indoors never scold, just clap your hands loudly to try and stop the act and quickly put outdoors. Eventually your pup will recognise that this is the preferred place to relieve itself.
Enjoy your new little friend!!