In a Year Book concerning a breed other than Scots, I read a short piece which was a cry from the heart of a stud dog owner, the author was a senior and well respected breeder, with a team of good dogs at stud who must have had a trying year behind her, judging from the tone of her article. What follows here is intended for newcomers to breeding, not for those who have learned by hard experience how to plan and time a mating.

You should have selected a suitable mate for your bitch well before she comes into season. If your bitch was bred by an experienced and successful breeder their advice is well worth seeking. Most breeders like to line-breed, a subject in itself, but I must point out that line-breeding is NOT in-breeding; the latter means mating mother to son, or father to daughter, litter brother to litter sister, or full brother to full sister, which amounts to the same thing, as they share the same parents, whether from the same litter or not. In-breeding should only be undertaken by a really experienced breeder who knows exactly what they are doing. Line-breeding is, in effect breeding more distantly related dogs together – but I digress.

Your bitch should be in a fit and healthy condition prior to her coming into season and most certainly should not be fat and flabby. When she is due to come into season, it is advisable to keep a close eye on her and note the first day that she shows ‘colour’ – I personally use a white tissue and dab it on her vulva just after she’s relieved herself each morning (this can go on for several weeks). Quite often there will be a slightly pink smear first and by the next morning she will show full colour and that is the day I count as being the first day. At that point, I contact the owner of the chosen stud dog, in order that that person knows roughly when you and your bitch may descend upon them, it also secures your booking to that particular dog. It is worth continuing to check your bitch daily with the white tissue and the colour will intensify and usually at about 9-10 days will start to fade. At this time, you should start to watch her turning her tail, especially when you are examining her. The occasional bitch may be ready for mating far earlier that this, one of my own was a 5-day bitch, but the pattern of colour fading was just the same, but she was double and triple checked before we fled to the stud dog. One other caution here, some maiden bitches don’t turn their tails positively and it may be advisable to make one further check by examining her internally. I use a finger cot (available from Boots) and a CLEAN jar of Vaseline, wash your hands thoroughly first, put a finger cot on the little finger, smear it well with Vaseline and pass your finger gently into the vagina – if it’s soft, relaxed and plenty of room, your bitch is ready. If on the other hand she is tight and yet the colour is fading and she’s turning her tail, she may well be ready; this usually only occurs in maiden bitches and an experienced stud dog owner will be able to cope in this situation but do tell him/her.

So, your bitch is now ready for mating, the owners of the dog have been forewarned; I now ring up and make final arrangements to visit the stud dog within 24 hours. And if your bitch is ready on a Wednesday and it would be far more convenient for you to visit the dog on Saturday, forget about breeding, when your bitch is ready, that is the time to mate her.

The whole preceding should be a happy and relaxed affair; however tense you may feel (will we get them mated? will we get a tie?) keep your anxieties under control and watch and learn. It is, after all, a natural proceeding and results will be all the better if you reassure and talk to your bitch while the mating takes place, holding her firmly all the time. We are fortunate in that we have a good many owners of stud dogs who are not only extremely competent, but also very helpful in directing new breeders in the operation. Be warned, though, there are as many different techniques in mating as there are stud-grooms – but keep your ‘cool’ at all times and listen and learn.

One final word, don’t go to the mating in your best outfit, comfortable clean doggy clothes are best, then if you get a bit grubby, it is of no consequence.