Animal Info Dogs Family Life and Reproduction

About the family life and reproduction habits of dogs including sexual maturity, heat, mating, litters and male and female behavior.



The average female dog reaches sexual maturity at approximately six months of age, about four months earlier than the male. Most females come into heat (signaled by menstruation) every six months, but heat frequencies can vary from one to three times a year. Each heat lasts about three weeks.

During heat the female exudes a sexy scent which attracts every male dog in the neighborhood. The female lets the males chase her until she decides to catch one. The mating act can last up to 40 minutes because the male dog is often unable to free himself from the female. This is called a "tie." If a female mates with more than one dog during her conception period, it is possible for different puppies in her litter to be sired by different fathers.

Gestation lasts about 63 days. The female usually delivers the litter herself, biting open each puppy's birth sac. Litters range from 1 to 10, depending on the breed, but some number as many as 20 pups. The female dog is a loving, protective mother. Most males, though, lack a paternal instinct.

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