Here’s How Old A Dog Can Be And Still Have Puppies

You must know the appropriate age to get your dog pregnant if you are a breeder. So, let’s find out how old can a dog have puppies.

Here'S How Old A Dog Can Be And Still Have Puppies 1

How old can a dog be and still get pregnant?

Dogs can breed their whole lives because female dogs go into heat till death. However, breeding should stop at 8 years. Older dogs experience many problems, from a complicated pregnancy that might result in a c-section and stillbirth, weakening the female dog’s body.

We have interviewed vets about dog mating and breeding to compile the information below. Read on to find out the oldest age you should breed your dog and other related aspects.

Factors to Determine Whether an Old Dog Should Be Bred

If you want to breed an old dog, here are factors that should help determine if she is up for breeding.


A dog can start giving birth as soon as they start their heat cycle, of which many experience their estrus cycle when they are six months old.

For older dogs, it is recommended that you do not breed a dog older than 7 or 8 years, as the pregnancy and birthing process will take a toll on their body, reducing their lifespan.

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Overall Health                        

The dog should be healthy. This is ascertained by conducting various health tests to rule out inherited diseases. 

Ensure they have been vaccinated, have favorable temperament and behavior, and have excellent physical features.

Previous Injuries

If your old dog had a difficult first pregnancy, you should not attempt to breed them again as it can put their lives in danger. And if they had an accident that left them with a disability, don’t breed them, as you’ll only be straining their lives.


However, some smaller dog breeds start going into heat at four months. Therefore, if you have no plans of breeding your puppy before the age of one, take good care of the puppy and ensure the puppy does not come near males as the dog is ready to have pups.

Large dog breeds usually experience their first heat cycle very late, mostly when they are about 12 to 18 months. 

For all dogs, it’s recommended that you do not breed during their first cycle as they are still developing. It would be best if you waited for a couple of years till their cycle is regulated.

At What Age Can Dogs Start Breeding

A dog reaches sexual maturity when they are about 6 months old. However, this mainly depends on the dog and breed. Some smaller dog breeds enter adulthood at four months, but you should not breed them as they are still developing.

Therefore, you are advised to wait until they are 2 or three years. Larger dog breeds reach sexual maturity at 2 years; however, you are advised to wait until their cycle regulates itself.

How Many Times Can You Breed a Female Dog

Although there is no written rule on how often you should breed your female dog, responsible breeders should cap it at 4-6 liters. Others prefer to stop it at three litters to avoid endangering their lives.

Responsible breeders stop breeding their dogs at the of 5 to 7, as they believe that past this age, the likelihood of experiencing problems such as miscarriage or other health problems is high.

How Often Does a Female Dog Go Into Heat, and How Long Does it Last?

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The number of times female dogs go into heat depends on their size, breed, and age. However, many dogs experience their estrus cycle two times a year, mainly after every six months. 

However, smaller dog breeds can go into heat more, ranging from 3-4 times per annum, while larger breeds, such as Great Danes and Irish Wolfhounds, go into heat once a year. And as the dog ages, the heat cycles are further apart.

The heat cycles can last for a maximum of 2-4 weeks. The estrus cycle has four stages, and they include:

  • Proestrus: This is the beginning of the estrous cycle and can last up to 10 days. During this stage, your dog’s vulva is enlarged, and the breeding starts. This attracts male dogs, but remember that your dog is not ready for mating.
  • Estrus: This is the stage where your dog is ready for mating. It lasts 5 to 10 days, and the breeding is significantly reduced.
  • Diestrus: If your dog is mated, they are probably pregnant. If not, they are just resting. This period lasts from 10 to 140 days.
  • Anestrus is the rest period between one estrus cycle and the next, lasting approximately six months.

What are the Signs that Your Dog is on Heat?

Identifying estrus signs in your dogs helps you avoid puppies and take better care of your pet. The signs include:

  • Enlarged vulva
  • Bloody discharge
  • Increased clinginess
  • Holding the tail near the body
  • Loss of appetite
  • Aggressive toward female dogs
  • Receptive toward male dogs
  • Restlessness
  • Peeing more
  • Constantly licking their genital area

When Should You Stop Breeding a Dog?

If you are a member of a breeding club, they must have set a limitation, of which many recommend stopping when your dog is set at no more than 8 years. 

For instance, the American Kennel Club set the limit at a minimum of 8 years and a maximum of 12 years. On the other hand, the UK Kennel Club set the age limit at 8 years for females.

It’s also wise to note that the males also have an age limit, which is higher than that of the females. Some of the factors that show that your dog should be retired include the following:

  • Conception rates
  • Number and size  of the litter
  • Overall health
  • Complications experienced during pregnancy and giving birth
  • The duration of the recovery process
  • Before retiring your pet, you should consult a vet to see if it’s the right time.

 Can You Breed a 12-Year-Old Dog?

A 12-year-old dog goes into heat and can get pregnant if mated. 

However, the chances of having a successful mating season are lower; the older the dog gets, the less fertile they are. However, breeding a 12-year-old dog is not recommended as it strains their body and endangers their life.

Therefore when you decide to retire your dog, you should have your pet desexed or spayed. If you love your furry baby, please consider their overall health and lifespan, no matter how desperate you are for a new puppy.

This is because dogs give birth, not to one but several puppies, which can be stressful for their body.

As such, you should never breed a female dog more than three times, and if they experience a difficult first birth, let it be the last one.

How to Prevent Your Dog From Going Into Heat?

After retiring, you should prevent your dog from going into heat as they can get pregnant when they come into contact with a male dog. Therefore, you should have the following procedures done.

  • Ovariohysterectomy: This is also referred to as spaying. It surgically removes the female reproductive tract, including the ovaries and uterus. The procedure is permanent and cannot be reversed. The procedure is low risk and involves putting your dog under general anesthesia, and a veterinarian does it.
  • Ovariectomy is the process of removing the ovaries and leaving the uterus intact. Talk to your vet and ask which method is fit for your dog.
  • Hormonal Drugs: If you don’t opt for the surgery, you can probably give them birth control pills. However, they are not the best, as they have many side effects.

What are the Benefits of Ovariohysterectomy?

  • It helps reduce the risks of breast cancer.
  • It also eliminates the risk of your dog having ovarian or uterine cancer.
  • Eliminates the chances of your senior dog getting pregnant.
  • Eliminates chances of your dog’s uterus getting pyometra, a severe condition mostly found in unspayed female dogs.

Key Takeaways

  • Dogs go into heat as early as six months, but breeders should wait till they are grown, and their cycle is regulated.
  • Responsible breeders should not breed a female dog more than 4 times.
  • A female dog experiences the estrus cycle two times a year, with smaller breeds about 4 times and larger breeds once a year. And the heat cycle lasts for about 2 to 4 weeks.
  • According to many breeding clubs, dogs should not be bred past 8 years as it endangers their lives.
  • Retired dogs should be spayed to prevent accidental pregnancies and eliminate the risk of ovarian and uterine cancer.

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