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German Shepherd Dog > Breeding an almost 9 year old female? (54 replies)

by GSDguy08 on 14 August 2012 - 13:08

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I won't go to mention who it is, but how safe is it really to breed a female......who has had back to back litters I don't know how many times since she was two.....and was just bred recently at almost nine years of age?  This person was said to be a very reputable breeder, but they do this with all of their females it seems, and yet they still sell puppies like hot cakes and for a high price.  Anyway just curious on your thoughts of breeding a female that old, what are the dangers of it?

by Dobermannman on 14 August 2012 - 13:08

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That's not my idea of a responsible breeder and I sure wouldn't buy one of their puppies.
One back to back breeding at a young age I can maybe see. Repeated back to back breedings and then still breeding at nine. That's a greeder not a breeder and their interest is in $$$$ and not improving the breed much less the individual dog.

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by EuroShepherd on 14 August 2012 - 14:08

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How sad! 

Many risks involved, pretty much anything that can go wrong in pregnancy/whelping has a higher chance of happening the older the dam is. 
Every dam that I've personally known that was bred at 8-9-10 yrs old lost their entire litter or only had 1-2 surviving pups.  (No, I've never bred a dog this age, oldest I've ever bred was 6 yrs old.) 
Some dogs have been able to successfully have regular size, healthy litters in their old age, but I personally would never take the chance.  

I also wonder about the damage done to the eggs/DNA-RNA when an old female is bred.  Research shows that starvation, overweight, exposure to toxins, disease, microorganisms, etc, basically anything negative that has ever happened to the body can alter the DNA/RNA in the eggs.  Age alone has degrading affects on the eggs and uterine environment.   So methinks there is a higher chance of puppies being born with mental/physical health problems from old dams. 

Consider Downs syndrome in people (note, I'm not saying dogs get down syndrome, this is just an example of how the chance of a health problem increases with the age of the mother.)
A 25 yr old woman has about a 1 in 2000 chance of having a child with down syndrome.  By the time her age has doubled (50 yrs old) she has a 1 in 12 chance of having a child with down syndrome. 
Also, in humans, about half of all miscarriages are attributed to chromosomal problems of the fetus, a condition that is not always genetic but caused by negative environmental factors. 

by Nans gsd on 14 August 2012 - 15:08

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Really, really NOT a good idea;  my all time favorite vet tried to warn me about this years ago, I had tried to breed a very special working bitch that only had one litter, tried for 3 years;  finally at 8 3/4 years old it took.  Was elated as she was in tip top shape so I thought.  She started hemmoraging at 65 days in whelp; thru her nose and mouth, had the puppies (9); 6 survived and spent a couple days on IV's etc in emergency vet.  So used to be years ago bitches could still have puppies easily at 9 and 10 years old;  however you probably see where I am going with this;  we have so screwed our dogs up with health issues, environmental issues and on and on we are lucky we can get even one litter out of them.  So not knowing who this breeder is I am very surprised they have not had major problems with breeding so often and so old.  Says something about the strength of their bitch(s).  Even loosing a bitch, not fun to feed an orphan litter and be mom, doggy mom's have a hugh job some are cut out for it, some are not.  Think it's kind of sad for the bitches sake but to her it is probably a natural thing to raise her puppies, hope they take good care of her.  Nan

PS:  And there is always that POSSIBILITY  that the breeding will not take.  Mother nature will take care of the bitch hopefully.

by GSDguy08 on 14 August 2012 - 16:08

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Nans I did notice a couple of litters they had were on the smaller side....well, smaller than what should have been normal for a Shepherd anyway, having four or five.   Who knows maybe they have had breedings not take, but judging by their site and how often they have another litter or an "expected litter"....and then soon after come the puppy pictures.  I was expecting the female to be up for sale to "retirement" home so to speak after her previous one.  She's a very nice working line female,  she must be a very tough dog to handle that many litters.

EuroShepherd, that's scary about what you mentioned with women at 50 having a 1 in 12 chance of their children having down syndrome.  It makes me wander what problems puppies could end up as a result of the old age in dogs.

by Hutchins on 14 August 2012 - 16:08

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OH NO!!  NOT a good Idea!  Not sure why anyone would even consider breeding a bitch at that age.  Just like the person that I know recently did a breeding with his almost 12yr old male. This person constantly told me how his boy suffered with arthritis to the point he could hardly walk.  Yet this poor old guy managed to breed one last time.  Shortly after the breeding, the poor old guy died.  So tell me, where is the justice in breeding the oldies.?  

Sorry didn't mean to high-jack this thread from females to males. But to me, one is as bad as the other.  Especially when its done for the almighty dollar!!!   

by zdog on 14 August 2012 - 16:08

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I have a dog from a bitch that age.  She had a litter of 5 or 6 I think, i don't remember exactly.  I know 2 of them pretty well and they are great dogs.  She was a great dog.  She wasn't bred back to back throughout her life though and she's 15 now and still going strong.  I think more than age is a factor, that said, most 9 year olds I see aren't anywhere near in the health or shape to have a litter of puppies.

by hexe on 14 August 2012 - 19:08

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There's ABSOLUTELY no medical reason a bitch that is maintained in peak condition, is in excellent health, and will be under the care of both a veterinarian and someone who is experienced in the care of pregnant and whelping females should have ANY problem being bred back-to-back AND as late as 9 years of age, IF the breeding is done naturally, not via AI, and IF the bitch is not placed on supplemental hormones to ensure the pregnancy is carried to term.  The litter size will naturally tend to be smaller, due to the age of the bitch's eggs, and there's likely to be a much higher conception failure rate, but beyond that, it really isn't as heinous as some would make it sound.  Keep in mind that I'm speaking ONLY of breeding within the afore-mentioned parameters.  Any animal, dog or bitch, that is too weak or in pain to be able to move about freely and comfortably ought not be pushed into service at that point. 

As bad as breeding back-to-back sounds, it's actually the best option for the health of the bitch, as the uterus weakens with each estrus cycle, whether it's carrying embryos or not.  From a purely medical position, the ideal schedule would be to breed the female on every heat once she's 2 years of age, always maintaining her in peak condition, and then retire her from the whelping box at the age of 7 or 8 unless she is a REALLY outstanding specimen of the breed which would warrant a longer breeding career.  If a bitch is not bred in her early years because she's been proving herself  in a working status during that time, it's possible that she may not even enter the whelping box until she's 4 or 5 years old, at which time back-to-back breedings and breedings into the 9th and 10th years of age are also medically defensible if she again has been maintained in top physical condition throughout her life.

While active in sled dog racing, it was not at unusual for a bitch to work in harness until she was four or five years of age before she was considered to be worthy of breeding, and there was no increase in whelping problems or health issues with those females, even when bred back-to-back; I recall one female in particular that produced one of her best litters, both perfomance-wise and structurally, at the age of ten and bred to a male who was the same age. 

The success and suitability of breeding a bitch in her later years depends ENTIRELY upon how well she's being cared for, and how well her physical condition is maintained. 

by GSDguy08 on 14 August 2012 - 19:08

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Sorry Hexe, I don't buy that for a minute; Even if it "does" keep the female in "better shape" so to speak.  If someone is breeding a female (and all of their others for that matter) every single heat cycle from 2 until 9 if not beyond nine (who knows what they'll do), they're clearly in it for the money.

by Hutchins on 14 August 2012 - 19:08

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With all the awesome young females, I still see no reason why a 9yr old needs to be bred.  Seems like if they are that age and the owners have been breeding back to back because its best for their reproduction, more than likely they have kept something from that particular awesome bitch to replace her.   I still see no reason a bitch that age has to or should  be bred.  JMO   Not trying to argue or start drama, but just saying..

OH I SO AGREE WITH YOU GSDguy08!!!  They are only in it for the money!

Whew!, now I am finished with my opinion on this.  

Thanks for reading this.  

by Nans gsd on 14 August 2012 - 20:08

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Yeah, find two other pairings;  good luck.  Just to end this on an interesting note;  I read last night on line someone advertising a Berner male for stud on E-bay.  Can you believe it.  Really sad.  and surely should be illegal.  Great days everyone.  Nan

by beetree on 14 August 2012 - 20:08

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GSDguy08, she's not making that up,  I've heard what hexe just said in her post above, before on here, by other respected members. And of course it would be an exceptional bitch in excellent health that makes sense to do this. And yes, it is about numbers, but they could also just be precious opportunities not being wasted. 

It has to be looked at case by case, I think is my point.

by hexe on 14 August 2012 - 20:08

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The question posed by the OP was "Is it safe to breed a 9 year old female that has repeatedly been bred back-to-back?"  and that's the question I answered, since there were so many incorrect responses regarding the SAFETY of the practice.  Like it or not, it is no more or less safe than breeding a well-conditioned bitch at any age.  That's the science of it.

Whether it is necessary, prudent, ethical, profitable, desirable, or morally correct to breed in such a fashion is a different question, and there is no single absolute answer to those points.  Depending on the specific circumstances, it may be all of those things, or none of them.

But the science indicates that it is no more dangerous to do than breeding a 4 year old female that has repeatedly bred back-to-back.

Edited to add:

BTW, at one time, I was of the same misconception [no pun intended] that breeding a bitch at each estrus was in some way actually hazardous  to the bitch's health, too.  Then I attended several lectures by  board-certified theriogenologists, and began reading theriogenology journals and research papers, and I learned the medical  truth of the matter. 

by OGBS on 14 August 2012 - 20:08

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Actually, there are two questions:
Is it safe?
What are the dangers of it?

Most chose to answer the the second question, so, I really don't think they were incorrrect as you stated.

I think that the Czech/Slovaks have it correct.
They don't allow it after 8 years of age.

Being feasible is one thing, doing it is another.
As usual........$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$!!!

Edited to add:
What is a "board certified theriogenologist"?
Is there a theriogenologist board that actually certifies them?
If there is, I'd love to see a web site or journal listing pertaining to this.
I always love the "board certified" moniker attached to veterinarians.
Usually what it means is that they took an extra class or two in a particular subject that they found interesting in vet school.
The other thing is did you actually research both sides of this, or, just accept the info as presented? It really isn't that hard for an organization like Hunt to hire a bunch of veterinarians to say pretty much whatever he wants them to say, especially when those vets are on the same political side of his breed 'em to death debate.

by hexe on 14 August 2012 - 21:08

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Well, OGBS, the dangers  of the practice are no different than the dangers posed in breeding a younger bitch--they both have an equal risk of developing pyometra, of resorbing the puppies, of needing a C-section due to uterine inertia or pups that are too large for the bitch to whelp naturally...but you are correct in that there are two questions in the original post--the first asking about the safety (which is asked again at the end of the post, with the word danger substituted for safety), and the second question asking for people's thoughts  on the practice.  Everyone is certainly entitled to their own opinion on the matter as far as that goes, but they don't get to create their own science--and the science indicates that it is not a concern in that regard.

by OGBS on 14 August 2012 - 21:08

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I stand corrected.
I looked it up.
There actually is:

by hexe on 14 August 2012 - 21:08

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And here is the Society for Theriogenology's position statement on the breeding of dogs, which addresses breeding on each estrus after the first one, as well as the question of breeding older animals:

Board certification IS NOT 'just taking some extra classes'--there's a lot more involved, which is why most veterinarians, and most medical doctors and osteopaths don't pursue board certification, if all they plan on doing is general practice.

by GSDguy08 on 14 August 2012 - 21:08

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Hexe when I said back to back.....As I also mentioned in my post.....back to back all the way from two until nine years of age.   

Beetree, I do know it's better to breed "back to back", better for the female, of course;   I'm more so concerned about what I mentioned above in this comment.   If a person breeds six or seven females back to back every single heat they have, and they are selling at a high price, how could they not be in it for money is kind of what I was getting at as well.  I'm sure the breeder I'm speaking of is known by members on here; Maybe, maybe not. I just know in the past they were said to be a very reputable breeder to me from others who were trainers/breeders.

by Prager on 14 August 2012 - 21:08

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I do not breed past 8 years  because all the breeding I needed had been done by then.
 But I agree with Hexe. Healthy female in nature will breed thus you should be able to breed healthy female in proper shape at 9 years.  The rest is PC gibberish without any common sense foundation or feeble attempt to stay on the safe side of the issue.  I have seen young females die  giving birth and I have seen old proven females do just fine. I have found out that unhealthy or too old female ( what ever that is) will often not get pregnant.  Breeding is always risky for even a healthy  female and with age the risk increases slightly. Thus it is prudent to breed at 2 years, and get all such breeding done ASAP. 
As far as breeding back to back I think that it  is easier on the female then to breed years apart. If you breed back to back you will get smaller litters which are easier on the female then to give birth to large litters. ( 5 is easier then 9:)) . 
 That said I would not breed female of that age if she never had a litter before  though. 
 In these matters look to the nature for guideline. You can not find a better adviser. 
 OK now you can stone me.

by dcw on 14 August 2012 - 22:08

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I bred a very good bitch, in good health, that was 8 years old, and she ended up having 5 healthy puppies, who grew to be great dogs.  She, however, was not bred back to back.  It had been a couple of years since her last breeding.

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