AKC eNewsletter

Pick-of-the-litter Question

Last issue's question: Which, if any, pregnancy tests do you perform or have performed on a bred bitch? When and why?

Sixty-seven percent have an x-ray done during the last week of pregnancy. Thirty-four percent of breeders who answered the last issue’s Pick of the Litter question generally have an ultrasound performed, most between 25 and 32 days. Fourteen percent have their bitches palpated between the 21st and 28th day after the last breeding.  Eight percent of the answers accounted for breeders who have blood tests or progesterone tests, use monitoring devices or do no pregnancy tests at all.

Some breeders stated that under certain circumstances they will do one test early on and another later in the pregnancy to get a better idea of the size of the litter.

We do an ultrasound at approximately 30-33 days (after the last breeding). It confirms pregnancy and lets us know how many puppies to expect. Counts are usually accurate. —V. Rittner

I do an ultrasound for pregnancy between 28-32 days after the last breeding. I have access to an exceptional technician who has not missed a 'head count' on litter size. Plus, she gives us a printout of the results. —R. DeLorto

I always do an ultrasound to confirm pregnancy between days 25 and 30. I use the results to determine if the bitch should begin to receive additional nutrition for her puppies. I also use the ultrasound results as a planning tool. It helps me know if I will need to set aside the time to whelp and care for puppies. But, most importantly, the results help me maintain good relationships with my puppy buyers who can be assured that puppies are on the way and they can begin preparing for their new arrival. —L.C. Herzog

I use ultrasound to test for pregnancy at 30 days from breeding. This has always proven to be accurate and enables me to plan and prepare for the litter. —B. Casner

I do an ultrasound at 30 days. My main reason is for the safety of the moms. With an ultrasound not only do I know count, but I get to see that the puppies are growing healthy and that their heart rate and size are okay. By knowing count, I know that if she stops at 3 and there are 4, then I need to watch in case she needs to go in for a Caesarean. —J. Smith

Ultrasound Plus
I always have an ultrasound done about 30 days after breeding. That way I have a real good idea of the number of pups due. I also have used 'Whelp Wise,' which allows you to monitor the puppies’ heart rates and contractions of the bitch so that you will know when labor begins. —R. Eaves

We do an ultrasound at 30 days from breeding and an x-ray about one week before whelping to confirm the number and positioning of the pups. —G. Wood

I have an ultrasound done at 4 to 5 weeks to count babies. If I suspect over-sized puppies, I may do an x-ray at 8 weeks. —S. McCrady

We do an ultrasound at 28 days post-breeding and x-ray one week prior to whelping. —B. McGaughey

...The only thing I do is have an x-ray taken a week before she is due to whelp. Then I know for sure how many to expect and just what extras (pitocin/calcium injections) I may need to have on hand. It is also a wonderful opportunity to inform the vet of the bitch's impending whelping date. —Micki

...At day 53-57 I have an x-ray done to get an actual count. I need to know how many pups to expect so that if a situation arises, I can use better judgment as to whether she needs an emergency c-section or I need to walk around the backyard! There is still always the possibility of losing pups, but, the more you know, the better your chances are of delivering a full healthy litter. —K. Boyle

....We recommend an x-ray at about 50 days to determine litter size, as well as positioning and size of the puppies. —J. Kurzban

Most all of my females are x-rayed prior to the birth of their litters to determine the quantity and size of the pups. In this way I know what to expect number-wise and the possibility of a Caesarean. —L. Jones

I have my vet palpate at 21-23 days. So far it has been 100 percent reliable....—M. Marks

I have a bitch palpated at 28 days after her last breeding. If the vet feels fetuses, I then begin a regimen of feeding her higher calories, proteins, etc. —P. Johnson

I palpate at 23 days. If I do not feel puppies, I go to the vet and get his confirmation or a pleasant surprise if I am wrong! —C. Melton

And …
I do not perform any pregnancy tests on by bitches. Nine weeks isn't too long to wait. —D. Grimaldi

  Ronald N. Rella, director, Breeder Services
Theresa Shea, editor | Email: AKCbreeder@akc.org
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© The American Kennel Club 2006