German Shepherds are one of the most popular breeds in the U.S. – and for good reason. They are fiercely loyal and make incredible guard dogs when needed. As they are in such high demand, you may be thinking to yourself that you can breed your German Shepherd on your own. But, there is actually a lot of time and research that goes into this process. So we’ll start with the basics.
When can you start breeding your German Shepherd?
By about two years of age, your German Shepherd will reach sexual maturity. This is about the earliest that you should consider breeding a German Shepherd, both male and female. It is also recommended that you don’t breed your female German Shepherd until after their first or second heat cycle.
Now that we know when we can breed our dog, how does this play into the actual breeding process?
Why Wait to Breed a New GSD?
The reason breeders are given certain guidelines for breeding their GSD stems from a need to protect the dog’s health in every way.
Breeding too early can cause confusion in some dogs, as well as affect the puppies because a parent is not quite sexually mature enough to be bred.
For Female German Shepherds
Female German Shepherds are a bit more complicated than Males – as it is with a majority of dogs.
Your female GSD may start experiencing what is referred to as her “Heat Cycle” at as early as six months old. Although, this in no way implies that she is ready to be
For the safest results, one should begin to breed their female GSD at about two years of age and stop once she reaches eight years of age.
Breeding as early as a dog’s first or even second heat cycle may cause confusion for the mother, and cause serious mental drawbacks as she could neglect her pups.
However, breeding her for too long or without ceasing for even one season can cause serious damage to your GSD and her pups.
When she begins to age, the quality of your female German Shepherd’s eggs will begin to deteriorate, making it harder for her to carry out her pregnancies to full term or even causing stillborn puppies.
Failure to follow these rules could bring serious harm to her and her pups if one is not careful.
For Male German Shepherds
Male German Shepherds are much less complicated than their female counterparts – but this in no way implies that their health is less important.
One should not even consider breeding the stud they have in mind until he is about two years of age. Again, this is the best age for a breeder to make sure that their dog is of proper age and sexual maturity.
Just as for female’s eggs, a male GSD’s sperm will begin to deteriorate over time.
However, with regular visits to the vet to check on his health, a Male German Shepherd can be bred until he is about ten years of age – so long as he is still producing healthy pups.
Taking the Stud to the Vet to be screened for any major health issues will be important before deciding to use him for breeding purposes.
A veterinarian will help you find out if there is anything in your German Shepherd’s genetic history that should be taken into account before continuing the breeding process.
How Can Breeding Age Affect My GSD’s Puppies?
The eventual goal of breeding is to have a healthy litter of puppies, right? If that is the case, then the breeder first needs to understand how a healthy pregnancy resulting in healthy puppies can be achieved and how age will affect the goal they have in mind.
Breeding at a Young Age
For any German Shepherd, Male or Female, breeding too young can bring serious consequences to the puppies.
However, it is really the result of breeding a female too early that brings about a greater number of problems.
The risk to both mother and puppy increases when a mother is younger than when she is older.
A young mother is not fully developed herself, and as she tries to carry out a full term pregnancy, her puppies can be a drain on her and she will have an increased risk of stillbirth and miscarriage.
With mothers as young as a year old, a German Shepherd could easily die during the whelping process as her pelvis is not fully developed – thus endangering the lives of her puppies as well.
Breeding at an Older Age
Now that a female German Shepherd is of age, what happens when he or she is too old to be bred?
Chances are, there will be much more risk involved if the mother is bred at an older age.
For older German Shepherds, a mother has an increased risk of stillborn births and miscarriage than she would at a more proper age.
Even beginning to breed a German Shepherd as at late as four years old can cause some serious consequences and difficulties in the whelping process.
As she begins to age, a breeder may notice an increase in illness in the puppies sometimes brought about by the inviability of a female’s eggs.
This meaning that her eggs are becoming too old and containing abnormalities for her to have healthy puppies.
An older female German Shepherd may still have that instinct to care for and nurture her puppies, but she will also have a hard time feeding them.
As she ages, it is common to find that dogs will no longer produce enough milk for her puppies and may begin to dry up too early for her growing puppies.
What are the Standards for Breeding a New GSD?
Typically before you begin breeding a new German Shepherd, there are a few things one must account for to make sure their dog is fit for breeding.
Below is a shortlist for you to check off before you take your dog to be bred.
- Found a proper stud for your GSD?
- Checked out your GSD’s Genetic History?
- Taken your GSD to the vet to be screened for Hip and Elbow Dysplasia?
- Gotten your GSD titled?
- Taken your GSD to training?
The most important thing for you to consider when breeding your GSD is your dog’s health.
As the breeder, a person will want the healthiest puppies possible, thus they should be making sure that their dog has the best genetic traits to pass on to the next generation.
A breeder should also be understanding of the genes carried by their dog’s potential mate – making sure there will be no hazard to the health of any and all future puppies.
Consider speaking to some experienced breeders to get their opinions on the dogs you plan to breed.
If need be, fill out the necessary paperwork and make the proper agreements about the puppies you will be whelping if you plan to work with someone to acquire a stud for your GSD.
“Studding” your GSD may take time and could require some money depending on the agreements that are made between owners.
All in all, make sure to get the opinions of professionals such as vets and experienced breeders before taking any action in mating a German Shepherd that is new to breeding.
In the end, these opinions could make the biggest difference to the health of both parent and puppy.
When should I spay/neuter my German Shepherd? You should be taking your German Shepherd into be spayed or neutered when they reach about six months of age and can even wait until they are nine months old.
But it is best not to hold off too long to have this taken care of in case of any accidental pregnancies.
How long does it take for a German Shepherd to have puppies? A German Shepherd’s gestation period can run for about 63 days – giving about eight puppies on average per litter. As an average, gestation could run just shy of 63 days or a bit longer.
How many litters can a German Shepherd have? For licensed breeders, there are terms and conditions that one must be following concerning the number of litters a dog can have.
A titled female German Shepherd is not allowed to have more than four litters of puppies and not give more than one litter within a period of twelve months at a time.