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When To Breed A Labrador? Know Your Labrador First

By
 Ashly 
on 
May 16, 2021

The Labrador is a breed of large-sized short-haired working dog.

The Labrador is one of the most popular breeds in the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.

Labs are intelligent and loyal, which makes them excellent pets for families with children. It does, however, require a significant amount of exercise.

If you are looking for a good breed to own, this is the breed for you.

Introduction

The sturdy, well-balanced Labrador Retriever can, depending on the sex, stand from 21.5 to 24.5 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 55 to 80 pounds.

The dense, hard coat comes in yellow, black, and luscious chocolate.

The head is wide, the eyes glimmer with kindliness, and the thick, tapering “otter tail” seems to be forever signaling the breed’s innate eagerness.

Labs are famously friendly. They are companionable housemates who bond with the whole family, and they socialize well with neighbor dogs and humans alike.

But don’t mistake his easygoing personality for low energy: The Lab is an enthusiastic athlete that requires lots of exercises, like swimming and marathon games of fetch, to keep physically and mentally fit.

About Your Female Labrador 

A female Labrador is usually around 15% smaller than a male Labrador.

Female Labradors sometimes have a reputation for being more stubborn than males, but there is no conclusive evidence for this.

A mature female Labrador comes into heat twice a year – spaying will prevent this, but it has disadvantages as well.

Is a female Labrador very different from a male Labrador? You’re probably aware that female Labs are typically smaller than their male counterparts.

But are there other distinctions between the sexes of America’s favorite dog breed?

Are there behavioral differences between female and male Labs? What about health problems? Is one sex more prone to inherited conditions?

There’s sometimes the perception that female Labradors are more stubborn and independent than males.

Others say that male Labradors are more affectionate and easier to train.

In this article we’ll separate myth from fact in the battle of the sexes, so you can make an informed decision about the female vs male Labrador debate.

When it comes to the lovable Lab, is one sex better than the other?

Let’s find out.

Female Labrador Size

The medium-sized Labrador Retriever is athletic, with a strong build. The only noticeable difference between the body of a female and a male will be the size.

Females are typically, slightly smaller. They stand between 21.5 and 23.5 inches compared to 22.5 to 24.5 inches for the male.

The female usually weighs from 55 to 70 pounds, the male from 65 to 80 pounds.

Keep in mind, that these are guidelines, and that some female Labs will be larger than males depending on the size of the parents.

Female Lab Temperament

Friendly, good-natured, outgoing, good with children and pets; it’s no wonder the Labrador is one of the world’s favorite dog breeds.

They’re also intelligent and trainable.

But even the Lab isn’t perfect.

These dogs can be extremely energetic and if they don’t get enough exercise they’re prone to destructive behaviors, such as chewing and digging.

Female Lab Health

There are a number of health issues that affect both female and male Labradors.

Luckily, health testing is available for the following inherited conditions.

Female Labs traits

Unless you are a professional breeder, you should be spaying for health and behavioral reasons, in addition to doing your part in eliminating backyard breeders and controlling overpopulation.

But if you don't spay, be prepared for:

  • Females have a heat cycle every six months accompanied by a bloody discharge.
  • Females can be more reserved than males and experience mood swings, which are hormone-induced, especially during the heat cycle.
  • Possibility of unwanted pregnancy.
  • Aggressiveness toward other females.

If you spay your female Lab, be prepared for:

  • The cost of spaying is more than neutering a male due to the more complex removal of the uterus, which has a longer recuperation than neutering.
  • Females mature faster than males, thus are often further ahead in housetraining and obedience training. This trait is observed when raising a litter of male and female Lab puppies, Pausma says.
  • Females are a little more demanding, stubborn, territorial, and independent than male Labs.
  • Females are more prone to urine infections, known as UTIs, due to crouching low to the ground during urination, exposing themselves to bacteria.

About Male Labrador

The Male Labrador is typically considered more affectionate than the females.

However, the difference can be so subtle that owners might not even notice.

The males tend to cling to their owners for affection and will likely display their exuberance when rewarded with treats.

Male Lab Traits

Males have a natural tendency to protect their territory, which means they will make good watchdogs. However, they have lesser control over their aggression.

The challenge will be to train the male Lab to stop barking on command. Because they are less attentive to their owners than females, they’ll likely keep barking even after being told to stop.

List of Male Labrador Temparent

  • Friendly, active, and outgoing.
  • Slightly more desire to please his owner.
  • Easily get distracted and harder to train.
  • Tends to protect territory or the whole family.
  • Content to merely enjoy your company.
  • Tends to think “I love you.”
  • Tends to give love.
  • Likes being babied.
  • More maintenance required.
  • Constantly show his undying love.
  • Tend to show more affection.
  • Tend to go to his human to get affection and attention.
  • Clumsy around kids.
  • Less suspicious of strangers.
  • Gets along well with female dogs.
  • More playful and goofy throughout life.
  • Slightly more food motivated.

Male Labrador Trainability

Because of their big and jolly personality, the male Lab can be more challenging to train in comparison to female Labs. They are easily distracted, especially during mating season when a female dog is around.

They tend to hump, mark, and chase female dogs, resulting in a slower training pace. Male Labs also tend to lag and will more likely ignore command signals from their owners/trainers.

Some Fun Facts About the Labrador Retriever

Regardless of their gender, Labrador Retrievers are among the most popular breeds known to most people worldwide. There are also some fun facts behind Labs that you might not be familiar with until now.

  • Fishing Dogs: Labrador Retrievers were originally meant to be the perfect water dogs. Fishermen used them to pull ropes, recover fishes, and bring nets. But what makes them a good fit for this role are the water-resistant double coats that give them insulation when they’re wet. Their webbed toes also make them speedy swimmers.
  • Fast Runners: Not only are they fast in the water, but they’re also fast when running. Labs are fit and athletic dogs if exercised regularly. They’re also good sprinters and can hit about 12 miles per hour. 
  • Perfect Partners: A Lab Retriever is the most commonly picked choice for guide dogs. According to The Guide Dogs of America, 70 percent of their guides are Labrador Retrievers. It’s their strong desire to please and trainability that makes them the perfect dog for this job.
  • Get All Three: If you want all colors from the Lab spectrum, the good news is that you can get all three from one litter. Regardless of their parents’ color, two genes determine their pigmentation, which is why it’s achievable to get a variation of colors. 
  • They Make Great Mayors: A black Labrador Retriever mix named Bosco was elected honorary mayor in Sunol, California, back in 1981 – beating two human candidates. During his campaign, he promoted the slogan, “A bone in every dish, a cat in every tree, and a fire hydrant on every corner.” He won the hearts of residents and served as an honorary mayor until he passed away in 1994.

Male and Female - How Are They Different?

Labradors are an easy choice for a new family pet due to their friendly, affectionate, and loving nature. However, it can be difficult trying to decide between a male or female Lab.

While many new dog owners do not give it much thought and generally base their choice of a puppy on appearance or personality traits, others understand that the gender they choose plays a role in how well the new pet will fit in with their family and existing pets.

The biggest differences between male and female Labradors seem to be their attachment style and independence. While a male Lab will happily get on with life if he can be around you, the female’s independence can get in the way of things. In this article, we will take a look at some of the differences between male and female Labs for new owners to expect. 

Breeding age

Breed your female dog between 8 months and 8 years of age.

 Female Labradors typically can't be bred until they're at least 8 months old. Around this time, your dog will experience its first "heat" cycle. This is the fertility cycle during which your dog will be able to get pregnant. Then, you should be able to breed your female Labrador safely until it reaches the age of 8.

  • You can breed your female dog with a male lab that's older than 12 months.
  • Pregnancy after the age of 8 will put extra stress on your dog, so do not breed it after that age.
  • Never breed a bitch during her first heat, as this could increase the chance of pregnancy-related complications.

Mate your dogs between the 10th and 14th day of the heat cycle. 

Labradors enter the heat cycle twice a year. The cycle lasts between 2 and 3 weeks. Your female Labrador will be most fertile between the 10th and 14th day of the heat cycle.

  • After the 10th day, allow your dogs to mate every other day for four to six days.
  • You'll know your female labrador is beginning the heat cycle when its vulva is swollen and it has bloody vaginal discharge.

Breed the dogs in a private, outdoor location. 

Don't allow more than 2 people to be present for the breeding of the dogs could feel overwhelmed. It may take several hours before the dogs start mating, depending on how comfortable they feel. If the male dog seems disinterested and doesn't mount the female, you may need to wait and try again the next day.

  • While you're waiting for the dogs to mate, talk to them softly so they feel comfortable. Avoid yelling or speaking loudly or you could upset the dogs and prolong the process.
  • After the dogs mate, bring the female inside for at least 15 minutes so she doesn't urinate immediately after mating.

Allow your vet to examine your female dog to confirm pregnancy. 

Your vet will be able to confirm pregnancy 3 to 4 weeks after mating. In many cases, they'll simply be able to confirm pregnancy by noting the increased weight of your dog and related factors (like increased appetite).

They can do this by physically examining the dog or with an ultrasound.

Signs Your Dog Is Pregnant

Early Signs

In the first few weeks, there are very few outward signs, so you may not notice a change. Your dog will seem like their normal self, although they may gain some weight.

Morning sickness affects some dogs, but only for a few days during the 3rd or 4th week. (It's caused by hormone changes.) Your pet may seem tired, and they may eat less than usual.

Some dogs throw up a little. If yours does, offer them small meals over the course of the day.

See Your Vet

If you think your dog is pregnant, take them to your vet. It's a good idea to take them for a prenatal checkup 2 or 3 weeks after they have mated.

Your vet can answer any questions you may have, such as the type of food pregnant dogs should eat and what changes you should expect.

If your pet needs any tests, your vet will let you know. If they have parasites, your vet will treat them.

During your visit, your vet can use ultrasound to see the growing puppies, typically around 4 weeks in. Ultrasound is safe during pregnancy. It uses sound waves to create an image of your dog's womb.

The vet may give your dog a blood test to check their hormone levels. Dogs have higher levels of a hormone called relaxin when they're pregnant.

If you don't take your dog to the vet until their 4th week of pregnancy, the doctor can feel your dog's belly to confirm puppies are on the way. This method can only be used between the 28th and 35th days of pregnancy, and it should be done by someone who is trained.

If you touch too roughly, you can harm the growing puppies or cause a miscarriage. The puppies will be the size of walnuts. They will be spaced out evenly along with the uterus, which is shaped kind of like the letter V. Each half, called a horn, will have embryos in it.

Later Signs

By the end of your dog's second trimester, its belly will get bigger. Around this time (by day 40), their nipples will begin to get darker and larger, too.

As your pet's due date gets closer, their breasts will enlarge, and a little milky fluid may trickle out.

Your vet may ask you to come back at the start of the third trimester (around day 45) if they want to take X-rays of your dog's belly.

This can be used instead of ultrasound to check on the bone structure of growing puppies. It's one way to figure out how many puppies will be in your dog's litter.

As more time passes, your dog's pregnant belly will become larger, and it may sway gently beneath them as they walk.

During the last 2 weeks of pregnancy, you may see and feel the growing puppies moving inside your dog's belly. Your vet may want to see your pet one final time.

Sometimes vets take X-rays during this visit to find out how many puppies are on the way and make sure they are not too big to pass through the birth canal.

If they have gotten too big, the vet will schedule a c-section.

You'll learn what to expect when your dog is giving birth to their puppies (called whelping) and who to call if there is an emergency. You'll also find out how to care for newborn puppies.

Taking Care Of Your Pregnant Lab

Once you have determined that your Lab is pregnant, there are some steps you should take to make sure she stays healthy throughout her pregnancy.

Giving Proper Nutrition

One of the most important things you can do for your pregnant bitch is make sure she receives proper nutrition.

If your dog is already on good quality dog food and is at a healthy weight, you won’t have to make any changes to her diet for the first two-thirds of her pregnancy unless otherwise directed by your veterinarian.

In fact, increasing the amount of food at this stage can be harmful.

As her weight increases in the last weeks of her pregnancy, veterinarians recommend increasing her food intake gradually, until she consumes 35-to-50 percent more than usual.

Increase her intake slowly and feed her small, frequent meals, as large meals can cause discomfort.

Do Exercise

If you’re trying to breed your dog, some veterinarians believe that limiting strenuous exercise during the first two weeks of gestation will enhance the implantation of the embryos.

After that, normal exercise is fine until your dog’s belly is enlarged. “During her last trimester, the best exercise for your dog should not be overly strenuous.

Shorter and possibly more frequent walks will be more beneficial for the mother to be as she needs her energy to carry the pups and give them nutrition.

Prepare for puppies

As the end of your dog’s pregnancy approaches, you’ll notice a significant enlargement of her breasts and nipples and might even detect some milky fluid as the milk glands develop and enlarge.

Her abdomen will increase in size and may sway a little as she walks. At the very end of the pregnancy, you might even be able to see or feel the puppies moving around inside the mother.

By this time, you want to prepare yourself and your dog for whelping, or puppy birthing. The best way to do this is to set up a whelping box.

Whelping boxes offer a safe, warm, draft-free, easily cleaned location for your dog to have her puppies.

There are whelping boxes made that can be purchased or you can even use a small children’s plastic swimming pool. The whelping box should be easy for the mother, but not the puppies, to get in and out of.

Your dog may prefer to have it in a quiet area of the house but in an area that you can have easy access to.

Once you have purchased or built your whelping box, take some time to get your dog accustomed to it. If you don’t introduce her to the whelping box beforehand, she might decide to deliver someplace else—like your closet.

If this is your first time breeding your dog, talk to your veterinarian about your role during labor, and read and learn what you need to know.

Unless you plan to have an experienced breeder on hand, you will need to be prepared to step in when necessary during the whelping process.

It’s always a good idea to have another person there with you to help keep the puppies warm or to assist if you need help.

Labour

When your pregnant dog’s time approaches, watch out for the warning signs of labor.

Pregnant mothers may stop eating a few days before whelping and may also start trying to build a “nest” — hopefully in the whelping box.

Many pregnant dogs close to delivery start to pant heavily.

A drop in rectal temperature usually precedes delivery by about 8-to-24 hours from a normal temperature (100-to-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit) to 99 degrees or even lower. Many bitches ready to whelp may not eat or eat very little.

Abdominal contractions may begin slowly and gain strength and frequency – sometimes they’re strongest for the first delivery accompanied by straining and moaning.

You may see the water sac come out when there’s a puppy in the birth canal, and within one hour the first puppy should be delivered.

Each puppy is born enclosed in its placental membrane and in each case, the mother licks the puppy vigorously and tears this membrane off, sometimes eating it. If she does not remove it, you will have to do it, as puppies cannot survive for more than a few minutes before their supply of oxygen runs out.

You may need to rub the puppy with a clean towel until you hear him cry.

The bitch should also sever the umbilical cord as she cleans her pups. If she does not, it is up to you to snip the cord and tie it off about one inch from the belly with some unwaxed dental floss.

You should wipe the abdomen of all of the puppies with iodine to prevent infection.

Labour Supply Checklist:

  • Lots of newspaper to line the whelping box during delivery for easy cleanup and garbage bags
  • Non-skid bath mats for bedding after whelping is done
  • Dry, clean towels to clean the puppies
  • Paper towels to help with clean up
  • Thermometer to check your dog’s temperature before whelping
  • Clean, sterilized scissors to cut the umbilical cords
  • Unwaxed dental floss to tie off the umbilical cords
  • Iodine to clean the puppies’ abdomens after the cord is cut and dab on the end of the cut umbilical cord
  • Heat lamp set high above the box on one corner only to allow the puppies to crawl to a cooler spot in a box or hot water bottle to keep the puppies warm (be careful it isn’t too hot).
  • Bulb syringe to clean puppies’ nose and mouth
  • A baby scale in ounces
  • Honey or light corn syrup
  • Veterinarian’s phone number and the number of a nearby emergency clinic

If you share your life with a dog, you are a lucky individual for you have found heaven on earth. - unknown

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Ashly

Hey yaa! Im Ashly and I love pets. Growing up in a house with 2 dogs, a cat, a parrot and many furry rodents; it was natural for me to have a profound affection for them. I created GenerallyPets.com to create useful guides and articles on looking after your furry friends. The advice given on this site is our views and expertise, please consult a VET prior to testing anything. Hope my site helps you :)

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