Planned Pregnancy – A bitch will only be receptive to a dog when she is in ‘standing’ estrus. In most bitches this is generally 7-10 days after bleeding starts and may last a week or more. Within this time she will ovulate but there is no visible sign that tells you when. The best time to mate is 2 days after ovulation. To cover this time a rough guideline is to put the dogs together every 2 days from day 9, until she no longer stands for him.
Alternative vets can take a blood test at day 7-10 and measure progesterone that starts to increase just prior to ovulation. A more precise ‘breeding’ day ( within 2-3 days) can be predicted once a certain level of progesterone is reached. This precision is beneficial if you have to travel far distances to a stud dog, or you don’t want to exhaust a stud dog with several unnecessary matings. There is a slim chance you may test too early (if rise is not reached yet) and will have to test again 2-4 ds later, or occassionally you may be too late (if your dog has an ultra short cycle), but it gives you a guide to your bitches breeding cycle and often gives exact days which increases your chances of a pregnancy.
Pregnancy Tests – Dogs are generally pregnant for 63 days (8 weeks). There are a variety of ways to confirm a pregnancy but most won’t detect it until she is at least half way ie 28 days. At certain times the vet may be able to palpate foetus’s in her abdomen but this can be wrong and gives you the least information. A scan (3-4 weeks) is the easiest and most informative method indicating healthy heart beats and numbers. Alternatively there is a blood test at 28 days that detects relaxin present in a forming placenta. Lastly there is an xray but pup skeletons need to be calcified to be detected which is later in pregnancy (6+ weeks).