It's something I have wanted to do for a while now and it's time has arrived. I want to breed dogs. Not just any dog. They have to be adorable, smart, social, easily manageable and non-shedding. By easily manageable I mean a pooch that I can scoop up and move without much effort. My last dog was a 100 pound German Shepard/Yellow Lab mix. He as an awesome, handsome and mellow dog but as he got older he developed hip dysplasia. Rugs and runners needed to be on the hardwood floors so he could get up easier. Ramps were added to the porches so he could get in & out of the house. I often take my dogs in the car, so a ramp was necessary to get him in the back of my Nissan Rogue. After awhile a harness was needed to help him up the ramp. It was all doable, - he deserved it.
Now the allure of a smaller dog just seems so practical. A little fur ball that I can pick up and carry. But my ideal dog needs to be big enough to walk through the woods and fields and also be able to navigate through the snow. So the first item on my checklist was size. With an average height of 13-20" and average weight 15-35 pounds the "mini" size was the perfect choice.
The second box to check off on my perfect dog list was for little to no shedding. After awhile you get accustomed to seeing dog hair float across the floor when opening a door, but there's better choices now. Actually I could probably fall in love with any puppy, so it may as well be one that hardly sheds.
What's Fb and Fb1 all about??
So lets start puppy shopping. Adorable, smart, social, easy to carry and non-shedding. The hybrid doodle sounds perfect. But what's the story with the Fb's and Fb1's? And does it even matter? It certainly will if someone in your house has pet allergies. And it'll matter if you would like to spend time doing something else other than vacuuming and dust mopping.
Hybrid and designer dogs aren't another kind of mutt or mixed breed who's family history is unknown. The breeding of two different purebreds will result in a F1 puppy. For example, a Golden Retriever and a Poodle will give you a Golden-Doodle: 50% retriever, 50% poodle.
These "F" ratings are very important to Doodle lovers who want a soft curly coat. A F1 may still result in a straighter coat, so we move on to the next step which is back crossing to get a Fb1. The Fb1 is the result of breeding the F1 hybrid (50%-50%) with a purebred dog of either the mother's or father's breed. To get a curlier, hypo-allergenic coat the poodle is the way to go. So a curlier Golden-doodle is a F1 hybrid bred back with a poodle - a Fb1.
But wait there's more. You can have F2's, F3's and multi-generational hybrids. Depending on the characteristics you're looking for, you'll need to know your puppy's family tree.
Hybrid or designer dog breeds are most often healthier and without genetic problems that are found with pure breeds. But if you have 2 parents with the same genetic weakness, their pups are more likely to share the problem.
So back to finding my perfect pals. First off is the mini size. Second is little to no shedding. Third- I love the curls and tight waves. The remaining characteristics are no brainers: a smart, loving, playful family dog that's as cute as can be. The Mini Golden-doodle and Mini Aussie-doodle were both perfect choices. Both of these doodles are active so expect at least 20-30 minutes of exercise daily. They also learn quickly and enjoy mental stimulation, making them excellent choices for therapy dogs. Because they are eager to please and very smart, training will not be a chore. But puppies will be puppies.
Cody my mini Aussie-doodle male came first. My comedian. I should have named him Cramer after the Seinfeld character who liked to make a sliding entrance into the room. Cody does the same thing with curls bouncing on top of his head. This dog can make you laugh with his antics and he seems to know it.
Gracie, my female mini Golden-doodle arrived 3 months later. She's such a sweet little lady who likes to be close by and ready for whatever is next. She will do anything for a treat! Both love to snuggle and get their lap time. UpState NY winters can be rough but they love the snow. Wearing their colorful, long sleeve toddler shirts, we walk the back roads getting smiles and waves from passer-bys. In the summertime Cody enjoys the water but Gracie could take it or leave it. This surprises me. Maybe she'll change over time.
What's next: Lets Grow Puppies
On Feb 10 Gracie started her 3rd heat cycle or Estrus. It occurs every six months for a dog this size. The human cycle is taken for granted, but when following a different species you appreciate the clockwork of nature. The first stage is called Proestrus. At this time the male is interested in the female, but she is not interested in him. Poor Cody would try to be affectionate and Gracie would simply nail him to the floor! She was definitely not interested & the boss at this point. Poor baby, he was only following his instincts!
On Feb 14th, after the cycle started, both Gracie & Cody made a trip to the veterinarian. She had a check up and vaginal smear to be certain she is healthy to have pups. Cody had his sperm checked to be sure he is viable to be a dad. Getting the good results from these tests was the okay necessary to go ahead with breeding and I got the thumbs up from the vet. Yah! I've been waiting a long time to do this! The next step was for Gracie to have a blood test to check her progesterone level. For dogs, ovulation occurs when estrogen levels decline and progesterone levels increase. So we watch for progesterone to spike which means ovulation occurs for the next few days. This is the time for mating. Her progesterone level was checked on the 14th and was low at this time, which was not a surprise for this stage of her cycle.
So it was a waiting game for a few days and then recheck her levels. My concern was that when the right time came along she would continue to fight off Cody. That's what happened throughout her first two heat cycles when I needed to keep them apart as she was too young to mate. I kept them separated when I wasn't at home, but she showed absolutely no interest in Mr Persistent Cody when they were allowed to roam freely indoors. It makes for a crazy household!
So my vet suggested artificial insemination just in case. On Friday Feb 22nd her progesterone level showed a spike so the plan was to do the artificial insemination on Saturday. Friday night, while playing in the back yard they figured it out on their own. Dogs end up butt to butt, facing in opposite directions, in what's called a "tie". At this point don't try to separate them, just keep them calm so no-one gets hurt. He was standing awkwardly with 1 leg up on Gracie's back. I walked over slowly and helped him get situated. I stayed with them to make sure they stayed still and in less then 10 minutes the party was over. For that day. With several mismatched, awkward attempts thrown in the mix, they managed to tie 2 times on Saturday, once on Sunday and one more time before I had to leave for work on Monday morning. Now the party is definitely over. Gracie had no more desires after that point.
Since the first mating was on the 22nd, I'm using that as my countdown date for now. The gestation time for dogs is roughly 63 days which puts our delivery date at or around April 26. I am pleased and excited with how things have gone so far:)
Up Next: Puppy preparation
I've been pretty busy getting ready for the big day. And oh how I hope it is during the day! I want to be at my best to enjoy and be helpful, not groggy by being awakened after 3 hours of sleep. But from past experiences, odds are stacked against the sun being up.
I'm one who likes to research what I need, not just go out and buy the first item I find, so it takes me a little longer to get everything ready. There are several things on my list and everything is here now: whelping box, puppy pads, incontinence pads, vet fleece, heat lamp, thermometer, digital scale, etc. The whelping box took a while to put together and now I feel I'm ready. Gracie has been doing her part to get ready also. Eat, sleep, eat some more. She has gained almost 4# and it really shows. We still go for our usual daily walk and she has a fenced yard to play in.
So let me tell you about the last trip to the vet! I had an appointment on April 11 which was 48 days into her gestation period. At day 45 it's ok to have an xray done to determine a puppy count. I gotta admit I was so excited! Dr Pauley carries her off into the clinic and I remain patiently in the waiting room. He comes back after a few minutes informing me with a "You gotta see this". On the way back to the xray area, he asks "How many puppies do you think she will have?" My reply was " She's a small dog so I figured 5." Dr Pauley answered with "Five , why not 8?" Oh my God! We look at the xray and I immediately focus on a black oval thinking something was wrong. That fear quickly went away when he told me it was gas!
Looking at the screen of the xray, he shows me little circles all measured out. These are the skulls and in many places the attached spine is visible. These measure 19-25 mm. Roughly 3/4 to 1 inch each. Such tiny little guys! So he counts out the circles and there are 8 of them! With possibly another near the bottom of the xray! But the purpose of the xray is to determine a puppy count so if you know there are 6 puppies and only 4 are born, it's time to get help. So now what happens? What if I have 8 puppies? Is there still one missing that I need to be concerned about? So for the next litter, I will wait a few more days to have the xray, hoping for a more definitive count.
Tuesday, April 23
I think delivery time is soon, maybe tonight. Wishful thinking has definitely arrived. I've been monitoring her temperature. 100 to 102.5 is normal. Once it dips to 99 or lower, she will have puppies in 24 hrs. She has been around 99.7 since yesterday morning, with 1 dip to 98.7 this morning. Gracie is not hardly eating today, whereas she normally helps clean up the other dogs' dishes. Tonight I got her to lap down a couple spoonfuls of diluted soup broth, but that was all she was interested in.
The past few days she has been digging at towels and sheets I put out for her, nesting they call it. I have a nice whelping box for her, but she wants no part of it. Arrgh! I keep her closed off by herself while I'm at work, so I got a camera & downloaded the app to keep an eye on her while I'm not home. It's pretty cool and has several office viewers. Certainly keeps me at ease to know what's going on.
Gracie loves to lay on her back in my lap, all stretched out. Pregnant or not that's one of her things. This past weekend she was on my lap and I was rubbing her belly and could feel all these kicks and movement in different areas. That also falls in the pretty cool category. Imagine 8 pups x 4 legs each!
She is quite uncomfortable tonight so I gave in and let her on my bed for a while, but not without an extra sheet and Walmart incontinence pad under her. Cody also taking advantage of the situation.
I’ve had several requests for an update on Gracie. Let’s start at Tuesday night. She hadn’t eaten her breakfast or supper which is a sign that labor may be starting within 12 to 24 hours. Her temperature was still at 99.7, not between 98 and 99 that I’ve been watching for. But it was down from 101.3 on Monday. Her tentative due date being Friday the 26th and the longer she carries, the more the puppies develop, so a couple more days will be beneficial.
On Tues night she is very clingy and I’m wondering if she may be starting the labor process, but at 9 o’clock she devoured her dish of dog food! With her temp not low enough and still eating I guess we’ll get a good nights sleep tonight.
I have her whelping box set up in a spare bedroom and I’ve been sleeping in there with her but she only lasts for an hour or 2 and then she cries to get out. It’s been a nightly thing for the past week. I’m not going to stress her out, so when she has enough we go back to our normal sleeping places. She usually sleeps in my walk-in closet so I had towels and a blanket prepared in there as well. On Tuesday we try the whelping box, she’s not happy. We try the walk-in closet, she’s not happy. So I broke all the rules. I got out a few towels and let her sleep on my bed. She was very wiggly, not able to get comfortable but I started to dose off to sleep. Finally. It’s past midnight now.
I must have slept a whooping 5 min and was awakened to more wiggling but it felt like she was putting a lot of pressure into my side with her hip. I sat up & by the light of the alarm clock I saw a puppy coming out. No cries, no moans from Gracie at all! I was so surprised! I swooped up Gracie and the half-way delivered pup with the towels they were on and carried them into the walk-in closet.
Gracie had a startled expression on her face when she saw this pup coming out! I had to coax her to get interested in it to remove the sac, but then instinct kicked in. She knew exactly what to do from that point on. Between 12:30 and 1:25 AM she had 3 pups. At 2, 2:15 and 2:30 came #4, 5 & 6. I clamped and cut 2 umbilical cords in that group because she couldn’t finish with one before the next popped out. After everyone was settled I gave her a little ice cream. At 3 AM she ate some dry kibble with canned puppy food on it. She seemed to get her second wind. Good thing. At 3:30 came pup #7 and within 4 min was #8.
When Dr Pauley looked at the xray, he said there was 8, possibly 9. So were we done? At 4 AM she drank quite a bit of water and at 4:45 some more dog food. The longest we waited between births was 1 hour from 2:30 to 3:30. Now it’s heading towards 5 AM. I took her outside to move around a little & go to the bathroom. Me, following in my night gown with the light of the cell phone, making sure I didn’t miss a birth in the darkness. Once back inside I cleaned up the soiled towels and blanket and washed up Gracie. I carried the whelping box from the spare bedroom into the walk-in closet and got everyone situated. I’m sure we were both exhausted. It’s 5:30, 2 hours since the last puppy. I got up off the floor, praised her 1 more time and reached to turn off the light. Gracie quickly hopped up and out popped #9!
She’s a small dog, barely only 19 lbs and to carry all these puppies. It was amazing to see them snuggled up and trying to imagine them inside her belly. It’s amazing how instinct takes over. Humans could certainly use it. Bedtime at last. What a day! Thank God it went smoothly and everyone's healthy!