irish setter breedingAny decision to breed a dog is not one to be undertaken lightly and Irish Setters especially need consideration due to the size of litters produced.  An average litter can be 10-12 puppies and something more so this is a large scale undertaking.  You need to consider what will happen with the pups you have allowed to come into the world if you are not planning on keeping them all.

Once the decision has been reached to breed, it is best to wait until the female has had three regular period of ‘coming into heat’ before allowing her to become pregnant.  During this period you will need to keep her properly secluded when in heat as male dogs will go to any length to get near her.

Selecting a suitable stud dog is the next important decision, or one you may have reached before hand.  Studying the pedigree of your dog and her potential mates will help to avoid health issues which are passed genetically and make sure the pairing bring out the best of both dogs.

Before mating it is advisable to have your dog checked by a vet for a bacterial disease called brucellosis which can lead to aborted puppies or even sterilization.  Many breeders will require a written vet statement to confirm your dog is clear.

Timing for Irish Setter Breeding

Mating is best to take place on the 9th day of the female’s cycle and pregnancy lasts from 58 to 65 days.  A vet will confirm the pregnancy after 28-32 days although there are signs before this which may indicate the condition.  Dogs can even experience morning sickness which lasts for around a week.  Saltine crackers are recommended on a morning and on odd occasions during the day to help combat this.

Most dogs show at 6-7 weeks and a clear discharge may be noticed.  If this is green, bloody or bad smelling, you should consult a vet.  By the 8th week, puppies can be felt moving around.

Most dogs will select a ‘nest’ which tends to be away from high traffic areas of the house such as closets and stairwells.  If the site she chooses is not suitable for some reason, a child’s swimming pool can be used.  Lined with fresh towels or newspaper, she will be comfortable here as will adding a favourite toy or blanket.

Around 6-24 hours before birth, the temperament of the dog will alter and she may shiver, pace or pant.  Most births happen smoothly but some signs to watch out for which can indicate problems include:

  • Dark green fluid passed before delivery
  • The dog has been straining for more than an hour without delivering
  • The dog is weak or restless for longer than 30 minutes after the end of labor
  • The dog shakes, trembles or vomits days or weeks after giving birth

Dogs naturally get more and more tired as the birth goes by, especially if she is having a large litter.  It may be you need to remove an amniotic sac from a puppy starting from mouth back to tail.  Another tip is to vigorously rub the pup for a few seconds with a fresh, clean towel to stimulate heart beats and let him realize he is out of the womb.  Finally, cutting the umbilical cord is occasionally needed, this should be done with sterile scissors and tied with sewing thread.

In the time after she has given birth, the new mum will be protective of her pups and it is advisable to keep away from her as much as possible.  Make sure she has access to food and water so she can look after herself and in turn, her new family.