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As breeders and Boxer (dog) owners I think we should all share our information freely so that our pets have the best of care. 

The information contained on this page is merely informational and not intended as veterinarian advice. No reliance should be placed upon it for making important decisions. This page is intended to share information; I am not a veterinarian, all materials consist of my personal observations, opinion and collected information from various sources on the internet. I have tried to give credit where credit is due, some articles have come to me from other sources and I do not have a web address for them. If your dog or puppy is ill, take him/her to your vet for an examination; do not rely on information here to make decisions on your puppy's health. As with all information, do your own research as a follow-up. All information is true and correct to the best of my knowledge".




Like with any breed there are certain things to consider before purchasing a Boxer. Make sure you understand the breed's characteristics and keep in mind, it's a commitment for the life of that dog.

Boxer dogs, although physically small compared to some other dog breeds, are big animals and can weigh up to 75+ pounds. Boxers are gentle and friendly; they are a very affectionate breed that require constant interaction and will follow you around all day if permitted. Boxers need to be with their family and thrive on human companionship. They do not thrive, and indeed, can develop bad habits if they do not spend time with their family. They are inclined to be boisterous which may not suit you or your lifestyle. Boxers mature very slowly, behaving like puppies nearly all their life, though they to start to settle more at around 3 to 4 years of age. If you are looking for an independent dog, which can spend hours in the yard alone, the boxer is not right for you. If you want a dog which will want to join in all your family activities, then a boxer may be for you!

Do you have children? Don't be turned off by their size Boxer dogs are gentle breeds that are great with children. But like any dog breed, they should be trained appropriately to make sure neither the dog nor child is harmed accidentally. Another consideration for any parent is do you have the time to care for another little one? Parenthood is already a full time job for many people, and the addition of a pet can cause stress for some people.

Boxers suffer from exposure to extreme temperatures. Their coats are short and offer no protection against the cold and their short muzzles make them unable to tolerate extreme heat. They are house dogs, even though they need plenty of 'outside time', so if you dislike animals in the house, then the Boxer is not right for you. Like all dogs, Boxers need baths, nail grooming, walks, training, and cleaning up after. Fortunately, Boxers are very trainable and training any dog is part of having the dog of your dreams, but you must be willing to dedicate the time that it takes. Owning a Boxer is a lifestyle choice, so make your decision carefully.

Boxers require 'obedience' training and to be taught good manners - so if you have not got the time for this a Boxer may not suit you. Boxers are very intelligent dogs and require firm, fair, fun training. If you want a dog who only wants to do what you say when you say, do not get a Boxer. Boxers are a very independent breed, very willing to work with you, but unwilling to be ordered around. Trained properly, a Boxer is the most delightful companion you could wish for.

Boxers are natural guard dogs and most will look after the family home and property. Some Boxers take this to the extreme and may guard too well for your liking, while others seem to have missed out on any guarding instinct. However, the Boxer should never be purchased as a guard dog - this is only a tiny part of their great character, and it does not suit them at all. 'True' guard dogs require extensive, expensive training to perform, and only those with absolutely sound temperaments can do this work. No layman is able to tell if a dog is suitable or not without professional help.

But as any Boxer owner will tell you - they are truly wonderful, devoted, loving pets.




7 Reasons Dogs Develop Behavior Problems

by Vet Depot on August 19, 2015

Next time you find yourself saying the words "bad dog" you might want to take a step back and think about what's really behind that undesirable behavior. Dogs exhibit "bad" behavior for a variety of reasons, from lack of exercise to health issues, and addressing the root cause of the issue can help. Below are seven reasons dogs develop behavior problems:

1. Lack of Exercise: A tired dog is usually a happy dog, and one that?s less likely to chew up your shoes or bark at the mailman. A lot of owners don't realize that a stroll around the block isn't enough physical stimulation to ward of problem behavior. A run, an afternoon at doggy daycare, or a game of fetch is necessary for many dogs to get the proper amount of exercise. Speak with your vet about the right amount of physical activity for your individual dog.

2. Lack of Mental Stimulation: Just as crucial as physical activity, dogs need mental activity to keep them at their best behavior. Work on some training or try a food puzzle toy to ensure balanced mental health and help deter unwanted behavior.

3. Health Problems: If your dog starts displaying an uncharacteristic problem behavior, like aggression or using the bathroom indoors, it's very possible that a health issue could be to blame. Any painful condition, from arthritis to an ear infection, can cause a dog to act out aggressively. A urinary tract infection could be the culprit for your dog's sudden inability to hold it while you're away. Be sure to discuss any sudden changes in behavior with your vet to rule out possible health issues.

4. Inconsistency: If you let your dog jump up on you in your everyday clothes, but scold him when you?re dressed up, this sends an unclear message. Inconsistency can also come in the form of everyone in the household not being on the same page about the rules. To ensure inconstancy doesn't hinder your pup's good behavior, work on training on a regular basis and be sure that the whole family is in agreement about expectations.

5. Lack of Socialization: Not having enough experience with other people, animals, and experiences outside of the home can result in fearful or aggressive behavior. Puppies should be exposed to a variety of experiences at a young age to develop healthy social skills. If you're adopting an adult dog, speak with the shelter staff to determine what kind of training and exposure is recommended (many adoptable dogs have great social skills, while other may need a little work).

 6. Disruption of Routine: Changes in routine can cause canine stress, which can lead to undesirable behaviors as a coping mechanism. Whenever something major happens in your household, whether it be a new four-legged addition or a move, keep your pet's well-being in mind. Stick to your dog's regular feeding and walking routine, offer comfort items like toys and and a soft bed, and be sure to spend a lot of quality time together to help combat anxiety.

7. Genetics: Although proper training and socialization can help curb some genetic traits, some breeds are just more prone to certain behaviors than others. For example, terriers are more likely to try to chase that neighborhood cat because of their prey instinct, and hounds are likely to express themselves by howling. While these aren't necessarily negatives and training can definitely help, potential owners should do their research about a breed's behavior quirks before bringing a new pet home.

- See more at:





What is the difference?

I have both; both are loving, goofy, intelligent and loyal. I have read several articles on the pros and cons of each sex. Some articles say a male will tend to mark his territory inside and outside, my male is an intact/stud dog and never marks his territory inside, he will usually only mark outside if there has been a male canine visitor. I've read that males are more affectionate; I find both sexes equally affectionate. I love the look of a well muscled male but they seem to be a bit more independent/stubborn.

Males tend to be larger but not always.

I see no real difference in temperament, ease of training, being good with children or any difference the amount of affection shown.

I will say my females are more obedient, I am not sure if this is true with all females/males.

Costs for Alteration

Here is one area where there is no generalization it costs more to have a female spayed than it does to have a male neutered.

Bottom Line

There is an old saying that has circulated for a long time among dog aficionados, if you want a good dog get a male. If you want a great dog, get a female and cross your fingers.





M. Christine Zink DVM, PhD, DACVSMR

I work exclusively with canine athletes, developing rehabilitation programs for injured dogs or dogs that required surgery as a result of performance-related injuries. I have seen many dogs now, especially field trial/hunt test and agility dogs, that have had chronic carpal arthritis, frequently so severe that they have to be retired or at least carefully managed for the rest of their careers. Of the over 30 dogs I have seen with carpal arthritis, only one has had dewclaws.

If you look at an anatomy book (Miller's Guide to the Anatomy of Dogs is an excellent one (see Figure 1 below) you will see that there are 5 tendons attached to the dewclaw. Of course, at the other end of a tendon is a muscle, and that means that if you cut off the dew claws, there are 5 muscle bundles that will become atrophied from disuse.

Those muscles indicate that the dewclaws have a function. That function is to prevent torque on the leg. Each time the foot lands on the ground, particularly when the dog is cantering or galloping (see Figure 2), the dewclaw is in touch with the ground. If the dog then needs to turn, the dewclaw digs into the ground to support the lower leg and prevent torque. If the dog doesn't have a dewclaw, the leg twists. A lifetime of that and the result can be carpal arthritis, or perhaps injuries to other joints, such as the elbow, shoulder and toes. Remember: the dog is doing the activity regardless, and the pressures on the leg have to go somewhere.

Perhaps you are thinking, "None of my dogs have ever had carpal pain or arthritis." Well, we need to remember that dogs, by their very nature, do not tell us about mild to moderate pain. If a dog was to be asked by an emergency room nurse to give the level of his pain on a scale from 0 o 10, with 10 being the worst, their scale would be 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. Most of our dogs, especially if they deal with pain that is of gradual onset, just deal with it and don't complain unless it is excruciating. But when I palpate the carpal joints of older dogs without dewclaws, I frequently can elicit pain with relatively minimal manipulation.

As to the possibility of injuries to dew claws. Most veterinarians will say that such injuries actually are not very common at all. And if they do occur, then they are dealt with like any other injury. In my opinion, it is far better to deal with an injury than to cut the dew claws off of all dogs "just in case."

Figure 1. Anatomical diagram viewing the medial side of a dog's left front leg demonstrating the five tendons that attach to the dewclaw.

--from Miller?s Guide to the Dissection of the Dog

Figure 2. In this galloping dog, the dewclaw is in touch with the ground. If the dog then needs to turn to the right, the dewclaw digs into the ground to support the lower leg and prevent torque.


Very interesting video on the use of the dew claws!


What happens when - how your puppy changes and develops

"Puppies provided with poor socialization or deprived of environmental exposure often develop lifelong deficits and dysfunctional behaviors. A puppy isolated early in life from other puppies and humans will not only fail to establish satisfying social contact with con-specifics or enjoy companionship with people later in life (such puppies are extremely fearful of any social contact), they will also exhibit widespread behavioral and cognitive disabilities as well. Isolated puppies exhibit poor learning and problem-solving abilities and are extremely hyperactive or rigidly inhibited, are emotionally over-reactive and unable to encounter novel social or environmental situations without extreme fear and avoidance, and are socially and sexually incapacitated." - Handbook of Applied Behavior and Training, Steven R. Lindsay

Developmental stages


Learning and Development

What you should be doing

Early development & reflexive behavior:

Neonatal period

Birth to 12 days

Puppy can't hear or see well, stays close to mother and littermates.

Breeder provides warm environment. Dr. Michael Fox conducted a study showing mildly stressing puppies during the first five weeks develops dogs which are superior when put in learning or competitive situations. They are better able to handle stress, are more outgoing and learn more quickly. Mild physical stress at an early age will actually increase the size of the brain.

Transitional period

13 to 20 days

Eyes open, puppy can hear, begins to walk in a wobbly fashion. They will begin to hear and will respond to taste and smell.

This is the time to introduce novel stimuli to the whelping box such as a plastic milk bottle, knotted towel, cardboard box, etc. This is also a time to introduce puppies to friendly cats. It is important to continue picking up the pups daily, admire them, talk to them, and spend a few minutes with each one individually.

Primary Socialization begins.

Awareness period

21 to 23 days

Puppy is able to use senses of sight and hearing.

Learning begins.

It is a time of very rapid sensory development. A stable environment is crucial. It is important not to overload them. Radical changes in the environment must be avoided, i.e. do not move the whelping box!

It is essential that the puppy remain with the litter and the mother.

Each day introduce a new surface such as concrete, linoleum, wood, carpet, matting, etc. Taking them two at a time will make it less stressful than one at a time. Very mild auditory stimuli is introduced, such as a radio playing quietly.

Learning he's a dog:

Canine Socialization

Primary Socialization period - 3 to 5 weeks

Secondary Socialization period - 6 to 12 weeks

"This period is especially important for the development of a stable emotional temperament and affective tone. Many social and emotional deficits observed in adult dogs are believed to result from removing puppies too early from the mother and littermates." - Steven R. Lindsay

21 to 49 days

Puppy learns species specific behavior that makes him a dog (biting, chasing, barking, fighting and body posturing.

Learns to accept discipline from mother and to use submissive postures.

Learns not to bite too hard.

Learns to relate to other litter mates and develops a pack hierarchy through play.

Mother begins to wean puppies between 4-8 weeks, but should be allowed as much time with the pups as she wants.

Puppies require plenty of playtime with littermates, so they can socialize.

Leaving the litter before 7 weeks can affect the puppy's ability to get along with other dogs later and they will likely have trouble learning to inhibit the force of their bite.

Put an open crate in the puppy pen. Clear distinction between sleep and play area should be made. This ensures the puppy can leave his sleeping area to eliminate. This will make house-training later much easier.

Each puppy should have one-on-one individual attention with humans. Take two at a time for short car rides.

Occasionally isolate puppies to prepare them for separation.

Puppy's rate of mental development will now depend on the complexity of their environment. Exposure to a variety of noises and different floor surfaces is important.

Begin positive training sessions at 5 weeks.

Into a new home with a human family.

Human Socialization

"100 new people by 12 weeks" - Dr. Ian Dunbar, PhD

?From now to the 16th week of the puppy?s life, his basic character is set by what he is taught. This will apply especially to his attitudes toward people and toward his ability to serve them the very best he can." -Pfaffenberger

7 to 12 weeks

The 49th day. The brain waves of the puppy are the same as a mature dog, but the puppy is a clean slate.

Puppy should be completely weaned from mother.

This is the age when most rapid learning occurs. Greatest impact on future social behavior will be made by any experience that happens at this point.

The window of opportunity is closing. Although puppies can continue to learn to be comfortable with new things, it is not as easy.

Best time to bring a puppy into its new home is around week 7or 8. "The 49th day" is recommended by Guide Dog raisers and supported by studies.

Absolutely critical period in which puppy should be socialized - maximize this time! Enroll in a good puppy class!

Ideal time to capitalize on educating your puppy.

Take into account puppy's physical limitations and short attention span.

Fear Imprint Period

Experiences a puppy perceives as traumatic during this time are generalized and may affect him all his life. It is a fact that a dog is most likely to develop an avoidance response if subjected to physical or psychological trauma during these four weeks.

8 to 11 weeks

This period falls within the human imprint period.

Anything that frightens the puppy during this period will have a more lasting effect than if it occurred at any other time.

Keep training fun. Use short sessions, and keep all training positive. Gentle guidance and management are essential. Set your puppy up to succeed. This kind of mindset will enable you to be successful, as you continue to socialize your puppy.

Puppies should not be shipped during this period, elective surgery should be put off until the 12th week, and necessary visits to the vet should be made fun.

Learning to compete and cope.

Seniority Classification

Social dominance - 10 to 16 weeks

10 to 16 weeks

Puppy has been in the home for approximately six weeks. This period is known as the "period of cutting teeth and apron strings." Pups will attempt to clarify and resolve question of leadership.

So long as you provide structure, control and leadership, this transition should be relatively painless.

If these things have not been provided, all heck is about to break loose!

Flight Instinct Period

"Seems to forget everything previously learned."

- "How to Raise a Puppy You Can Live With"

Even if you have done your homework it does not mean your puppy won't go through this - just be aware of it and ride it out.

Just keep your pup on a leash until this passes.

4 to 8 months

This stage can last from a few days to several weeks and can occur anytime during this period.

A puppy will test its wings.

He may challenge you in an attempt to resolve the question of leadership.

He may not come when called.

He may not play fetch even though he once did.

He will be uncomfortable because his adult teeth are growing in.

It is because of this stage that prevention over cure is advocated -- you must start socializing and training before now! When you notice a change in your dog during this time, he is probably going through his "flight instinct" period. Like a teenager going through puberty, your puppy is changing physiologically. Your awareness of these changes in behavior will help get you through this commonly difficult period.

This is the time when obedience schools get most of their calls. Puppies that have not been socialized and worked with take a different path in life than pups that have.

Be prepared with appropriate chew bones (large enough so that the pup will not choke) to help with your pup's need to chew. Use a long line in the park if your pup is not coming when called.

Second Fear Period

Many dogs will show a rise in their level of aggression (reactivity) during this time. They may become protective and territorial. Incidents of teenage flakiness may recur.

6 to 14 months

In large breeds this period could extend longer since it is tied to sexual maturity. Incidents may occur more than once.

Corresponds with growth spurts. Therefore it may happen more than once as the puppy matures.

May suddenly be apprehensive about new things or shy or timid of new people or situations. Most of height growing is over, but pup will start to fill out over the coming year.

Puppy begins to mature sexually: male begins to lift leg, and female has first heat period anywhere from 6-12 months. Puppy coat being replaced by adult coat, starting down the spine.

This is a fear of new situations and are handled with the utmost patience. The dog is encouraged to work it out on his own. If anything, it is better to ignore the whole situation than to reinforce the fear by praising the dog or petting him while he is afraid. When you "reassure" a dog with pets and "it's okay, fella", you are telling him it is okay to be frightened and you are creating a potential problem.

If your puppy appears apprehensive, avoid confrontation.

Build confidence through training.

Avoid any potentially overwhelming circumstances you cannot personally oversee, such as shipping your pup in the cargo bay of an airplane.


Are you done socializing? NO! Like your training efforts, which continue on into adulthood and throughout your dog?s entire life, you are never done with socialization. He still needs to meet and greet people, go places with you, and continue to share your world and your experiences, if you want him to continue to be the happy, friendly dog he is today.

1-4 years

Refers to sexual maturity as opposed to being full-grown. Smaller dogs mature earlier, larger dogs later. If you were lax in your work earlier on, you may now see the things you have missed: object guarding, unfavorable reactions towards unfamiliar people, animals, or things that your dog missed during the socialization stage.

Until this period has been reached, it is recommended that your pup remains crated or the equivalent (structure) when you are not available to supervise his behavior.

You will know when your dog can be trusted by testing him for short periods (10-15 minutes) while you leave the house. If your dog is damaging property while loose, he is not ready.

Information gleaned from:

"The Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training", Steven R. Lindsay

Weimaraner Club of America website, article by Ellen Dodge

"The Urban Puppy Toolkit"

"How to Raise a Puppy You Can Live With." Clarice Rutherford & David H. Neil

"The New Knowledge of Dog Behavior" Clarence Pfaffenberger

Instructor Training Course - Dr. Ian Dunbar, PhD




Please read this article - it could save your Boxers life.

 Believe it or not, a quite common cause of aspiration pneumonia is faulty administration of liquid medication either administered by drench (drench is when a stomach tube is passed down the back of the throat), or by a dose syringe. Any liquid that's given via syringe, whether medication or food, must not be given any faster than the animal can swallow, or the risk of aspiration pneumonia becomes very real. Click on the link below.






Vaccine Reactions: What's Normal and What's Not After Your Pet Is Vaccinated

 Normal Vaccine Reactions Which May Be Observed in Dogs and Cats

Lorie Huston, DVM

When a vaccine is administered to your pet, it stimulates his immune system. It may be easy to think of vaccination as a routine and innocuous procedure. However, by their very nature, vaccines create an inflammatory response in your pet's body. As a result, they are actually far from innocuous and can cause reactions which may range from mild and unnoticeable to severe and life-threatening.

Some pets may experience no symptoms at all or symptoms so mild that they go unnoticed after vaccination. However, mild symptoms of inflammation are not unusual.

  • It is not unusual for a pet to become sluggish and/or lethargic after vaccination.
  • Recently vaccinated pets may experience some soreness and stiffness.
  • A mild fever may be present for 24-48 hours after vaccination.
  • Some pets may experience a lack of appetite for a day or two after vaccines are administered.

These reactions are generally not considered to be cause for alarm.

More Serious Vaccination Reactions Seen in Pets

One of the more serious reactions that can occur in your pet after vaccination is an allergic reaction. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include:

  • hives
  • facial swelling
  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • shock
  • sudden death

If you observe hives or facial swelling in your dog or cat after he has received a vaccination, you should contact your veterinarian immediately for instructions. Antihistimines are frequently administered to halt the reaction.

Vomiting may be a symptom of an allergic reaction or may be a symptom of a less serious issue, such as car sickness or anxiety. Pets that are vomiting after a vaccination should be observed carefully. If in doubt, contact your veterinarian for instructions.

Vaccination reactions may occur immediately after the vaccine or within 48 hours after the vaccine is administered, depending on the type of allergic reaction.

Other Vaccination Reactions

Other complications can also occur as a result of vaccinations.

  • Vaccination sarcomas are a specific type of cancer that occurs at the site of vaccination. These growths are most often seen in cats and have been associated with the rabies and feline leukemia vaccinations in particular. Adjuvanted vaccines are thought to be more likely to result in vaccination sarcomas than those that are non-adjuvanted.
  • Kidney disease and immune-related disease have also been associated with vaccinations in pets.

What does this mean for your pet? It does not mean that you should forego vaccinations for your pet completely. In some cases, the risk of vaccination may be far less than the risk that your pet may develop the disease itself. However, it does mean that you and your veterinarian should consider the risks and benefits of each vaccination before administering the vaccine.

How often your pet needs to be vaccinated depends on the type of vaccination. Some vaccines need to be given yearly, others only need to be administered every three years. Most vaccinations require an initial vaccination series of two or more vaccines at predetermined intervals. Your veterinarian can help you establish an individualized vaccination schedule tailored to fit your pet?s needs.

About Lorie Huston, DVM

Lorie Huston is an accomplished veterinarian, an award winning blogger, a talented author and a certified veterinary journalist. She is available for writing assignments, blogging and social media consultation, and SEO strategy.



One the most imperative and confusing responsibilities in caring for your puppy is making sure he gets the right vaccines at the right time. There is controversy nowadays about whether or not adult dogs need every vaccine every year (except for Rabies which is required). But with puppies, getting their rounds of vaccines is crucial.

For instance, if a puppy catches Parvo, he has less than a 20% chance of recovery. So, put your pup's vaccine dates on your schedule and send yourself reminders.

This tip has a list of necessary vaccines for the first round and further tips will cover the next two rounds. Vets and local laws differ a bit about exactly what to give when so use these tips as guidelines and follow your vet's advice. The vaccines to give at this age are 1. Distemper 2. Parvo and 3. Corona.

There are rarely side effects to vaccines but there are a few serious ones that you should look out for:

  1. Swelling of face, neck, head or body.
  2. Loss of consciousness.
  3. Seizures.
  4. Hives, or large swellings anywhere on the body.
  5. Difficulty breathing.
  6. Disorientation or poor co-ordination.

It is important to keep your puppy from any situation with multiple dogs or unknown dogs until he's had his third round of boosters. At the least, keep him away from other canines for five days after his vaccines, as it takes that long for them to start working. Ignoring this rule could expose your puppy to something like the aforementioned Parvo and have deadly consequences.

While it's tough to make all those vet appointments with a new puppy, just think of it as insurance against illness and assurance of a healthy puppy.


It may seem like yesterday when you took your pup in for his first round of vaccines but it's time again to make a trip to the vet. The second round of vaccines is as important as the first. Your puppy needs the full three rounds to ensure he is safe against illnesses such as Distemper, which is often fatal. If your puppy does get Distemper, excellent vet care is essential and signs of neurological control such as seizures are hopeful indications of a recovery. But better to get to the vet now than take a chance.

In the second round of vaccines, your pup is less likely to develop serious side effects. However, be on the lookout for lesser side effects such as:

  1. Shaking
  2. Vomiting
  3. Diarrhea

Call your vet if any of these last more than 24 hours.

The vaccines your puppy should be getting are:

  • Distemper
  • Parvo
  • Corona

Always follow your vet's guidelines, as different localities have different schedules. And remember to keep your puppy away from other dogs for at least five days and preferably until after the third round of vaccines. This is a great time for puppies to socialize with new humans, however, in order to keep them open to new beings in their environment.

This is also the time to start worm checks and to start Heartworm prevention. You can help your vet by looking for worms in your puppy's stool. Do not start Heartworm prevention without talking to your vet. It is important that a Heartworm test be done first and that the correct dose is given to your pup. You're well on your way to having a healthy puppy!


Once again it's time to get your puppy to the vet for his vaccinations. The good news is this is the last round of puppy vaccines. Unless you have some problems, you can stay out of that sterile waiting room for months. It is essential to finish his vaccines with this round because, if you don't, you're undoing all the good the first two rounds provided. One of the biggest misconceptions is that one booster is adequate when, in fact, your puppy is not fully protected until all rounds are finished.


Opinions vary on when this vaccine should be administered, please check with your veterinarian. Personally, I would give it separately after the last round of puppy vaccinations. I wait until my puppies are 6 months old.


Taking blood for an annual titer test, to check a dog’s level of immune defenses, should replace the habit of vaccinating dogs annually whether or not they need it.



Leptospirosis Vaccination

By Christie Keith

Lepto is, for a variety of reasons, a vaccine where the risk vs benefit analysis changes tremendously from case to case.

First, lepto vaccine causes more adverse reactions than any other canine vaccine.

Second, there are many, many strains of lepto, known as "serovars," but there is no cross-protection among lepto serovars (as there is among parvo strains, for instance). A dog can be immune to one serovar of lepto and have no protection at all from another.

To make that worse, there are only four available vaccine serovars of leptospirosis: L. Canicola, L. Gripophytosa, L. Icterohemorrhagiae, and L.Pomona. However, there are two more that are causing disease in dogs, L.Autumnalis and L. Bratislava, for which we have no vaccines.

Fourth (and this is a problem that lepto immunity shares with all bacterial immunity, natural or from vaccines), immunity to bacteria is only temporary. This is why you can get strep throat (a bacteria) over and over, but only get measles (a virus) once. So the immunity will always wear off over time, sometimes in less than a year. This means that you have to repeatedly vaccinate for leptospirosis in order to maintain immunity. Repeated vaccination of course increases the chances there will be an adverse reaction.

Fifth, while vaccination can prevent clinical disease in a vaccinated dog, it does not prevent the dog from becoming a carrier.

Which brings me to my sixth and biggest problem with lepto vaccination. Since there is no cross-protection among serovars, and immunity is temporary, you always have to assume that a dog, vaccinated or not, might have lepto if the symptoms indicate it. It takes a couple of weeks to get the results of a lepto test, so you have to treat the dog based on symptoms and can't just test first. So even if you vaccinate your dog, you may end up having to treat him or her for lepto anyway, and the dog may or may not have it. It kind of takes away the main reason that we vaccinate our dogs, ie, peace of mind and freedom from worry about a certain disease.

People need to be extremely aware of the symptoms of lepto and treat it aggressively from the very first suspicion that it's lepto, regardless of the vaccination status of the dog, and long before the diagnostic test results are known - if you wait that long, it may well be too late. Caught early, nearly all lepto can be treated with antibiotics. Caught late, many dogs will die, or require costly and mostly unavailable dialysis to survive.

I don't think that routinely vaccinating a dog for those four serovars of lepto annually or even more often makes a great deal of sense for most dogs. However, if there is a known outbreak, you know the serovar, and there's a vaccine for it, then you may want to consider it. Lepto does infect humans, so it's often a reportable disease, so your local public health department might be able to tell you if there is an outbreak. Beyond that, word of mouth among dog owners and at the vet's office is your best early warning system.

There is more information on leptospirosis on


Wendy C. Brooks, DVM, DipABVP

Educational Director,

Vaccination Options

Vaccination against at least two of the four serovars mentioned is commonly included in the basic distemper shot (DHLPP - the ?L? stands for leptospirosis). The vaccine can be made up to omit the leptospirosis portion. Of all the sera in this basic vaccine, it seems to be the leptospirosis portion that has been associated with hives, facial swelling, and even life-threatening vaccination reactions much more than any of the other fractions.


PLEASE RESEARCH BEFORE GIVING THIS VACCINE - If you decide to have leptospirosis vaccine administered to your pet, have it given as an independent injection, and not in a combination vaccine or multiple vaccines given on the same day. First get your dog immunized against parvo and distemper virus. Then let several weeks pass before the leptospirosis vaccination.


Over exercising your puppy (Author unknown)

A Boxer Puppy's skeleton isn't completely mature until at least 18 months of age. The bones' growth plates fuse sometimes in the tenth month, but then the bones undergo a lot of remodeling-the structure changes as the bones adapt to the stresses put on them. 

While the bones are growing, it is not safe to over exercise your puppy. It is important that you bring your puppy outside at an early age to get him/her used to all the smells and sounds. But it is also important not to do any permanent damage to the puppy's growing skeleton. When you damage the skeleton, joint problems may result. Such problems are painful and may result in lameness.

Growing puppies need to get plenty of rest, the right food, lots of love and gentle exercise. Playing in the yard and a gentle walk to the end of the street and back is more than enough exercise for a young puppy. Remember to stop all activities and let your puppy rest as soon as he/she shows signs of tiring. Young bones and joints can be damaged by overly strenuous exercise, with problems sometimes only becoming apparent as the dog matures.

To understand why we say this, we need to have a very quick look at bone/joint growth and development in puppies.

Puppies bones aren't fully formed and hardened until at least 18 months old.

Until the bones have fully formed - the hip, elbow, and limb joints will not fully set.

Until the setting takes place any over exercise of these joints will result in a loose and irregular and final fit.

Even though both parents may have excellent hip scores, it?s still very possible for a puppy to develop hip dysplasia - caused by over exercise.

There's no real cure for dysplasia and at best it will result in early arthritis which is an irreversible condition and is very painful. 

Bones should eventually become tough and strong structures able to support the weight and normal functioning of the animal they belong to, but they are not that way while they are growing! During growth, bones/joints are relatively soft, fragile and highly vulnerable to physical trauma. Excessive exercise or any stresses that are too great for a young puppy will cause the bones/joints to become misshapen, deformed and painful. The trauma that bones/joints can experience from excessive "simple walking" can result in minute fractures in the cartilage, blood loss to the joint and the growth plate. This produces a wide range of orthopedic diseases including dysplasia, osteochodritis and DJD.

What amount of exercise is safe:

There aren't any scientific studies to determine where exactly to draw the line between a good amount of exercise and over exercise. One jump or a single 40 minute hike for a 10 month old is probably reasonably safe and may be impossible to avoid. But the more consistently you go beyond the guidelines, the greater the chances of injury. We suggest the following guidelines for exercise until your Boxer reaches 18 months of age. These are only guidelines for healthy puppies - as always be aware of the risks and use your own judgment.


To determine how much your puppy is allowed to walk on a leash, multiply his age in months by five. The resulting number is how many minutes per day your puppy can do walks on a leash and this works for puppies from 3 to 12 months old.

An 8 week old puppy is not allowed any leash walks.

A 3 month old puppy will be allowed 15 minutes a day, and a 10 month old - 50 minutes.

A 12 - 18 month old Boxer should be allowed a maximum of one hour leash walking/per day.

Don't walk your puppy for more than the recommended number of minutes a day. What you?re trying to minimize is the stress of repeatedly jarring the joints.

At 3 months, start daily walks on a "non-extending" lead and on a good firm surface such as the ground, grass, sand road, but not asphalt, concrete, or ice, for 15 minutes a day, gradually building up the time of the exercise to, at 6 months about 30 minutes per day. This provides an opportunity to introduce your dog to the outside world of traffic, people and the general noises of everyday life. If walking in the park, drive or carry your puppy to and from the park. 


It is not a good idea to ride your bicycle or roller blades and expect your puppy to follow alongside until at least 18 months old!

Eating Exercise

Providing your puppy with a raw meaty non-splitting bone (no Rawhides Please) to chew on several times a week is an essential part of developing puppy's bones and muscles to be strong and his joints to be tight. Eating exercise provides isometric exercise for every muscle in the body and stresses the bones/joints in a very healthy way.


Playing tug-of-war is a wonderful way to exercise your Boxer puppy as long as he/she does not become tired. You should always stop when your puppy is still asking for more. For future Schutzhund dogs, make sure your puppy wins every time. For puppies that are family pets, make the puppy sit and release the tug on command when done playing - you should win every time. Exchanging the tug for a treat is a good way to accomplish this.

Playing Fetch

Fetching is OK, within reason. For example, you wouldn't want to throw an object over 20 meters, 10 times in a row for your puppy to retrieve. We know a lot of Boxers have fun chasing balls. It is ok to play ball with a couple of rules.

Don't make it the only or the major exercise your dog has.

Always play carefully and on a safe surface - soft grass without holes or dips.

Be careful of heatstroke, even in winter.

For a puppy less than 6 months old roll the ball on the ground instead of throwing.

From 6 months on throw the ball as far as you can, so there is more running and less scrambling over the ball.

Use a frisbee only with caution and throw them low. It is best to avoid frisbees altogether until 12 months old.

Time guidelines: No fetching before 3 months old, between 3 to 12 months old multiply the age of the puppy in months by two, the resulting number is the number of minutes your puppy is allowed to play fetch per day over several sessions.

Playing with other puppies

Wrestling and play-fighting with other puppies of similar age and size is very beneficial and can be safely allowed. 


A puppy under 8 months old should not ever be allowed to jump beyond his carpus height. From 8 months old a puppy is allowed to jump up to his elbow height. Jumping and twisting games must be avoided altogether until 18 months old.

Free running

This is an excellent exercise for your puppy and he/she can be allowed to do as much free running as he/she wants providing there are no older dogs, children or adults that persuade the puppy to keep up with them!


Swimming is excellent exercise- just be careful about how the puppy gets in and out of the water. Steep, muddy banks are definitely not good. On a sunny day and if the water is warm, you can allow your 6 month old or older puppy to stay in the water for as much as he/she wants. Do not have him retrieve a toy from the water by repeatedly throwing it in. Never allow your dog to remain cold, wet, or tired after a swim or even walk in the rain. Towel dry the best you can.


It is definitely a good and safe exercise to teach your puppy to track. Start with simple "find the treat" games and do not progress onto long difficult tracks until at least 12 months old. For working prospects, follow the advice of your trainer, but do not do tracks that are too long.

Additional important notes:

No Forced exercise before 6months of age! Right after 6 months, most of the puppy?s exercise would need to be strength exercises.

Leave any type of endurance exercise for until after 18 months old.

Don't let an adult dog or human set the pace for a puppy! You don't want to force your puppy to keep up to you or his older buddy beyond the point of what hurts him. Since boxers are so eager to please their human master and just loves other canine members of their family, the puppy will try his best to keep up, even if running makes him sore. Never allow your puppy uncontrolled free running with an older dog! By all means let them meet and play for 5-10 minutes, but keep the puppy within the pen or a small confined area in the yard under your ever watchful eye. Please do your best to explain to your children that they should not be engaging the puppy in chasing or fetching games and do be around a lot to make sure they follow your request. 

IF possible don't allow your puppy to jump up or down from the back of the car! Put on his/her leash and then lift him out.

No Stairs! Obviously, most puppies must get used to going up and down stairs. But don't have extended play periods where your puppy is chasing people, cat or another dog up and down stairs. Avoid stairs- there's nothing worse for a puppy?s hips/elbows than allowing it to run up and down. If you want the young pup upstairs, carry it up. Do not ever let him climb up no matter how cute he might look when doing it.

Listen to your puppy! When out exercising. if your puppy stops and sits down, you have certainly overdone the exercise, and the puppy will need to be carried home. Your goal should be to get your puppy some exercise with him still ending bouncy and full of himself, not tired and dragging.

No exercise after eating! Never allow your puppy to have vigorous exercise just before or after a meal - it could be fatal for your dog!

Sondylosis warning! Many agility instructors suggest that you don't teach a puppy to weave poles until 18 months, since the side to side motion puts stress on the back and spine. Additionally, avoid games where your puppy repeatedly twists his spine.

Let them be puppies! For those owners who plan on doing competitive sports with their Boxers - what is seen in dogs pushed too hard physically when they are too young is that it's really difficult to keep them motivated as they get older. Most of this is because they are not as sound as they would have been had they been brought along at a healthier pace, and some is from trying to instill a work ethic into a youngster who needs to be learning to enjoy life. There is a lot that goes on in a dog's body that they don't tell us about. Little aches and pains, and maybe the occasional sprain or strain, or the beginnings of arthritis developing, etc. You should be letting their bodies develop before training intensively or competing.

Dewclaws! If you are planning on doing any sports with your puppy ask your breeder not to have his/her dewclaws removed. The best evidence for leaving dewclaws intact is right there in every dog anatomy book. the dewclaw is attached to FIVE TENDONS. Tendons are attached to muscles or muscle bundles. SO that is five muscle bundles in the leg that will atrophy (shrink from not being used) once the dewclaw is cut. Additional evidence comes from the fact that working dogs will get grass and dirt stuck in the dewclaws, indicating that they are being used, and from photos showing the dog's foot on the ground and the dewclaw dug into the ground. The pressures on the dog's foot are the same, but if there is no dewclaw there to grip the ground, the pressures will go to the elbow, the other toes, the wrist, and the shoulder, possibly causing unsoundness and arthritis later on. Gratefully, most Boxer breeders in Europe recognize the important function of dewclaws and don't remove them. 


The importance of being careful when administering exercise to your Boxer puppy cannot be overstressed enough, especially for that first year! The bones of your puppy must become a support and movement system which will serve him well for the rest of his life. Their initial fragility means that the only reliable and healthy forms of exercise a pup should have until his bones are mature are eating exercise, short walks, free running and play.

A puppy should never be allowed to become fat or to be exercised or walked or run until exhaustion. As the puppy gets older, he will be more able to cope with longer exercise periods. Hold him/her back, if necessary, and do not let his drives overcome your common sense.

Moderation is the key, and if you are careful with that young puppy, then at 18-24 months your dog should be healthy, fully developed, and, with proper training, will happily travel much further than you'd dream of and come back for more!

As for exercising your adult dog, there's an old saying "if your dog is overweight - you are not getting enough exercise!" 


Haws: this term refers to the third eyelid pigmentation. Some boxers have unpigmented haws which are pink or flesh colored giving the dog a “hung over look”, they are common when flashy dogs are bred together. If a dog is flashy, it carries a copy of the gene that causes white markings (flash). Some boxers have one dark haw and one un-pigmented haw, others have “double dark haws” this term means both eyes have the black third eyelids and are the desired trait. Non-pigmentation is not considered a fault according to the AKC standards for Boxers.

My male Capone has double white (unpigmented) haws his son, Nelson, has double dark haws as do my females Moxie and Nessa.

Boxer Markings


Dog safety expert Melanie Monteiro demonstrates how to perform CPR on a dog.


Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation, or CPR,

as it is called, is a version of artificial

respiration that includes assisting the

HEART to BEAT. The purpose of CPR is to

keep oxygen moving to the lungs and blood

circulating throughout the body. The

directions contained here APPLY TO DOGS.

While these instructions may be good in an

emergency, it is wise to check with your VET

to establish the procedure that is best for your DOG.

How To Administer CPR

If your DOG is NOT breathing use a finger to

clear any mucus or other objects from the mouth.

TILT the head back to straighten the airway passage.

Hold the mouth shut with one hand, and place

your mouth over the DOG'S nose and mouth

making sure the seal is tight.

Blow into the nose while watching to see if

the chest expands.

If the chest DOES NOT EXPAND start over

again by clearing the mouth.

If the chest DOES EXPAND release your

DOG'S mouth so it can exhale.

Repeat the breathing procedure once every

five (5) seconds until your DOG is breathing

normally, or until your Vet or other Emergency

technician is available to begin treatment.

PUT your DOG on its right side. PUT the heel

of your hand on the ribcage just behind the elbow.

PUT your other hand on top of the first hand.

Firmly press on the ribcage in quick, smooth

movements. Depending on the size of your DOG

press down 3-4 inches using both hands. The

compression should last no longer than 1/2 second.

The smaller the DOG the fewer inches of

compression and less force are needed. At all

times try not to damage the ribcage.

Repeat this procedure a total of 10 times.

Then, if your DOG is not breathing,

perform CPR as described above.

Alternate between the chest compressions

(10 in a row), and one breath into the DOG'S nose.



  • What is rabies?

Rabies is a disease that is caused by a virus. It affects the brain and spinal cord and can cause death if left untreated. Rabies in people is very rare in the United States, but rabies in animals - especially wildlife - is common in most parts of the country including Maine. An animal with rabies is called a “rabid” animal.

  • How is rabies spread?

The rabies virus lives in the saliva, brain and spinal cord (neural tissue) of infected animals. It is spread when a rabid animal bites or scratches a person or animal, or if a rabid animal’s saliva or neural tissue comes in contact with a person or animal’s mouth, nose or eyes, or enters a cut in the skin. Rabies is not spread by petting or touching dried saliva, blood, urine, or feces of a rabid animal.

  • What animals can carry rabies?

In Maine, the most commonly infected animals are skunks, raccoons, bats, and foxes. Rabies can infect any animal that has hair, but is very rare among small rodents like squirrels, rats, mice, and chipmunks. Bat exposures are often difficult to detect, especially in the cases of a sleeping person awakening to a bat in the room or an adult witnessing a bat in a room with a previously unattended child, mentally disabled person, or intoxicated person.

  • What is a rabies exposure?

A rabies exposure happens when the saliva or neural tissue of a rabid animal comes in contact with a person or animal through a bite or scratch, cut in the skin, or gets into the eyes, nose, or mouth.

How can I prevent exposure to rabies?

Generally, you can avoid contact with wild animals. Also, make sure your dog or cat is up-to-date on rabies vaccination.


A dog's normal temperature is 99.5 - 102.2 F

A dogs pulse is 60-120 beats a minute

Respiration - 14-22 breaths per minute

How old should a puppy be before being trained to the electronic fence?

The age at which the dog is introduced to the fence is also important. Animal behaviorists state that puppies display a definite "fear stage" which will emerge during certain periods. It has been researched and documented that for most puppies, this occurs around the eighth week and again around the eighth month of their lives. When the puppy is introduced to the fencing area, the owner needs to be aware of the puppy's fear and whether or not the dog is psychologically ready to experience the shock. If the puppy is in one of the fear stages, or is of a breed that is naturally timid, the fence can be more damaging than effective. This traumatic experience can deter the dog from going into the yard at all. When the electric collar is on the puppy, owners should be present to watch for adverse reactions and to step in with positive reinforcement when the dog stops before approaching the boundary.

A puppy should not be placed on the electronic fence before the age of four months of age! It does not matter the size, personality or temperament of the puppy. Some puppies should not be put on the electronic pet containment system until as late as five months of age or later.

All puppies go through a fear imprint stage from approximately six weeks to sixteen weeks of age. Any thing that could psychologically damage a puppy during this time can affect it for life. This has been thoroughly researched by dog behaviorists and professionals.

Do not take a chance with your puppy because some electronic fence company wants you to go ahead and commit to them. Most of our Dealers are true dog training professionals and can assist with determining your puppy's personality and temperament.

You can read more about fear imprint stages of your puppy in relation to fencing by going to our Dog Training and Fencing Blog.

Note: Beginning in 2007, Contain-A-Pet has mandated all new Contain-A-Pet Dealers be certified dog training professionals. We are the only company that has endorsed using true pet professionals in this industry.

One of the most difficult parts of owning an electric dog fence is deciding when to introduce it to a younger dog. Young dogs can react unpredictably to electric dog fences, so understanding a puppy's development is essential to deciding when to start training the animal with the fence and collar.

Generally, puppies should not be introduced to electric dog fences until they're at least four or five months old. This will lower the chances that the electric dog fence will traumatize the animal - something that occurs due to the "fear" stages that all young puppies go through, not due to the static correction administered by an electric dog fence system.

Be sure to use an electric dog fence with adjustable settings when training a puppy. Use the lightest settings and spend plenty of time training the dog. Pay attention to any signs of fear that the dog exhibits; a fearful dog isn't learning properly, and you should immediately stop your training to avoid traumatizing the animal.

Every electric fence is approved for use with puppies and always carefully read the included instructions before you begin electric fence training. Focus on positive training and be patient with your new dog. If you can't seem to train the dog, all the manufactures have professional dog trainers on staff that can help you via their toll free number located in your product manual. Your electric dog fence can be a vital tool in establishing boundaries and keeping your puppy safe, but only if the right training methods are used from the start.

Puppies can be introduced to an electric dog fence from a fairly young age. K9 Electronics provides great tips for introducing young dogs to electric dog fences and selecting the right fence for your pet.

 I use an underground electric fence and I love it!!! I start my Boxers on the electric fence at 6 months old.

10 Reasons Not to Buy Pet Store Puppies


What To Do If Your Dog Gets Lost

By Mary Meador

Signs, you'll want to put up lots of signs in your surrounding area. Divide sheets of poster board into four

sections. Keep your message brief (Lost Golden Retriever male/female, light gold, etc.). Write in large block

letters so the sign will be easy to read and add the word "REWARD" and a number where you can be reached. Slip the signs into large Zip Loc baggies (2 gal) so they will be weather proof. When you are placing the signs, remember they they will most likely be read from a passing car so put them at eye level from that perspective.

Recruit some friends to walk the neighborhood (remember that someone needs to be home to answer the phone) and ask if the dog has been seen. Kids are great because they are most likely to be on foot and probably know the good hiding places. Talk to as many as you can, describe your dog and tell them about the reward (the amount doesn't have to be large) and give them your number.

If your dog hasn't strayed too far, the above will probably reunite you with your wandering companion. If, by the

second day, he/she is still missing you'll want to launch a second "attack."

Place and ad in the newspaper describing the vicinity where the dog was lost, give a brief description and a phone number. Also be sure and check the lost and found to see if your pet has been picked up by someone.

Use a good picture of your dog (if you don't have one, be sure to take one and put it in a place where you can

easily find it) and have some reward posters printed. Take the handouts to local shopping centers and post them

(with the merchants approval) in shop windows. Try and place some of them by cash registers so that people can get one when they are checking out.

Alert area vets and rescue groups about your missing pet. Also check to see if there are organizations that

specialize in reuniting lost pets with owners. Walk the area animal shelters. Physically checking the shelters is much better than simply calling because shelter workers are often overworked and may not realize your dog is there or they may be unfamiliar with your breed.How to Calculate Your Dog?s Age

Translating Dog Years into Human Years

It's common knowledge that dogs age faster than people. But the conventional wisdom that one dog year equals seven human years is an oversimplified view of how old your dog is in human years. Although a dog's age averages out this way, there is quite a bit of variation. For example, dogs mature more quickly than children in the first couple of years. So the first year of a dog's life is equal to about 15 human years, rather than seven.

Size and breed also influence the rate at which a dog ages. Although smaller dogs tend to live longer than larger dogs, they may mature more quickly in the first few years of life. A large dog may mature more slowly at first but already be considered elderly at age five. Small and toy breeds don't become "seniors" until around age 10. Medium-sized breeds are somewhere in the middle in terms of maturation and lifespan.

In the chart below, use these general ranges for dog size:

  • Small dog = 20 pounds or less
  • Medium dog = 21-50 pounds
  • Large dog = More than 50 pounds 

Age of dog

Small breed -

age in human years

Medium breed -

age in human years

Large breed -

age in human years


































































According to a UK Kennel Club health survey, cancer accounts for 38.5% of Boxer deaths, followed by old age (21.5%), cardiac (6.9%) and gastrointestinal (6.9%) related issues. Average age of death was 9 years and 8 months. Responsible breeders use available tests to screen their breeding stock before breeding, and in some cases throughout the life of the dog, in an attempt to minimize the occurrence of these diseases in future generations.



                 Frequency of breeding your female.

Below is some interesting information from reputable sources to form your own opinion on this topic.

Scientific Research

 Vonward Kennels

Once a dam has passed my initial requirements and is entered into my program, it has always been my instinct to breed her 'back-to-back' through each heat cycle, with the occasional skip for whatever reasons I deemed necessary at the time. My own experience has guided this practice for years and my thoughts have always been that if my dams are healthy and happily raising their litters then I was fulfilling my job as their owner; People who viewed this practice as sub-standard didn't really know what the breeding process was all about. There is resistance to this method of breeding and often inexperienced or non-breeders profess that it is not healthy to allow a dog to have more than one litter a year, without specific data to back up their self-righteous position. The scientific data, though, proves that skipping a heat is actually DETRIMENTAL to the dam's health! In an AKC Breeder Symposium with keynote speaker Dr. Claudia Orlandi Ph.D, it was revealed that scientific studies have proven that a dam's health is better served by breeding her for every heat cycle. Studies were done on Labrador bitches in which half were bred every other heat and the other half were bred every heat. They were all spayed at the same age and the removed uteri were dissected. The findings were that the females that had skipped heats had noticeable damage to their uteri and the other dogs' were normal and healthy. The reasoning is that the dog's body operates as if it were pregnant after a heat even if the bitch was never bred and the hormones released can cause considerable damage to a uterus without puppies. In nature a dog would be pregnant every heat. This is what their bodies were designed to do. 

 To read the full article please click on the link below:

Von Ward German Shepherd Dog Breeder's Position on Breeding Frequency " class="fw_link_website" target="_self" >Breeding Frequency

Revisiting back to back breeding

It is frequently claimed that breeding dogs on every heat or ?back to back breeding? is bad for a bitch?s long term health and well-being. However the research in canine reproduction shows that not breeding a dog when it comes into heat can in fact be bad for its health.

Scientist have shown that pseudopregnancy ['phantom pregnancy'] increases the risk of mammary cancers which are the second most common cancer in dogs after skin tumors.

Pseudopregnancy often occurs when a bitch is not bred. She will show signs such as nesting, weight gain, mammary enlargement and lactation ? usually about 6 to 12 weeks after oestrus. Pseudopregnancy represents the extreme of the changes which normally occur during the oestrus cycle and it is suggested that it is a hang over from dogs evolution from wolves. Subordinate non breeding pseudopregnant female wolves in a pack can help to raise pups by nursing the litters of other females? 2

In 1994 Donnay and his associates showed that there is a relationship between the number of pseudopregnancies a bitch goes through and the development of mammary cancer ? see Table 1 below3. Verstegen and Onclin (2006)1 have also studied canine mammary cancer and found that a large number of bitches presented for mammary tumors also show pseudopregnancy, that a large percentage of these females had had frequent pseudopregnancies and that the bitches with recurring pseudopregnancy at each cycle tended to develop mammary tumors significantly earlier than other animals.

Both of these authors say that there is need for more research but clearly bitches which don?t breed are likely to become pseudopregnant and pseudopregnancy increases the risk of cancer.

Skipping cycles in breeding has been linked to mammary cancer

Pregnancy protects against life threatening uterine diseases. The most common uterine disease in the bitch is cystic endometrial hyperplasia. It is linked to several serious uterine diseases including the potentially life threatening disease ?pyometra? (literally ? a uterus full of pus) which affects nearly one quarter of dogs under 10 years old which are not desexed4 . According to canine reproduction specialist Dr S. Romagnoli ?bitches whelping regularly throughout their reproductive life almost never develop pyometra, while those who whelp rarely or never in their lives have a greater chance of developing this condition?. Furthermore a standard textbook of veterinary internal medicine notes that uterine diseases are less common in kennels where bitches are bred and conceive regularly indicating that pregnancy has a protective effect on the lining of the uterus or ?endometrium?5,6

Given that artificially restricting bitches, which haven?t been desexed, from breeding is bad for their health, it is not surprising that many breeding dogs bred have reproductive problems. If they are show dogs they often don?t start breeding until they are three years old, and have finished their show career, and then kennel club rules and even government regulations require that the bitch is only bred on every second season. Frequently older bitches need veterinary intervention to reproduce, and good bitches may end up being bred well beyond 6 years of age when their fertility is beginning to decline.

No responsible breeder who cares about their dogs would breed their bitches until they are exhausted, and rules certainly need to be in place to ensure that irresponsible breeders don?t exploit their dogs, however the current regulations in place in some states do not take into account the biology of the bitch. Breeding should be regulated by limiting the number of litters a bitch can breed or the age at which they should be desexed and retired.

Breeding dogs regularly while they are young, followed by desexing and rehoming them early is in the best interest of the bitch and a good pet breeder can use this knowledge to work with the natural biology of their animals.

Breeders must be aware of and comply with any government regulations regarding dog breeding in their state.

1. J.P. Verstegen III and K. Onclin. Prolactin and Anti-Prolactinic Agents in the Pathophysiology and Treatment of Mammary Tumors in the Dog. NAVC Proceedings 2006, North American Veterinary Conference (Eds).

2. Canine Pseudopregnancy: A Review (Last Updated: 23-Aug-2001)

C. Gobello1, P. W. Concannon2 and J. Verstegen III3, Recent Advances in Small Animal Reproduction, Concannon P.W., England G., Verstegen III J. and Linde-Forsberg C. (Eds.)

3. Donnay I, Rauis J & Verstegen J ? Influence des antécédents hormonaux sur l?apparition clinique des tumeurs mammaires chez la chienne. Etude épidémiologique. Ann. Med. Vet. 1994, 138, 109-117

4. Simón Martí Angulo Clinical aspects of uterine disease in the bitch and queen. Proceeding of the Southern European Veterinary Conference

Oct. 2-4, 2009.

S. Romagnoli, How I Treat? Pyometra. Proceeding of the SEVC

Southern European Veterinary Conference Oct. 17-19, 2008 ? Barcelona, Spain

5 Davidson AP, Feldman EC. Ovarian and estrous cycle abnormalities. In:

Ettinger SW, Feldman EC (eds) Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

WB Saunders, 2004

6 Johnson CA. Cystic endometrial hyperplasia, pyometra, and infertility. In:

Ettinger SW, Feldman EC (eds). Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine

WB Saunders, 1992, pp. 954.

About Dr Kate Schoeffel

Dr Kate Schoeffel is a NSW based veterinarian and professional breeder of Labradoodles. Kate is an international pioneer of crossbreeds (designer breeds), having introduced the Labradoodle some 20 years ago.

Kate is also a pioneer of the professional dog breeding industry in Australia, being the founder and president of the Australian Association of Pet Dog Breeders Inc. (website:

She and her husband Bruce live on their farm in NSW and have four daughters.

Below article found on:

My friend just went to the Dog Breeding Symposium that had been advertised on the AKC website for this weekend at MSU. One of the most shocking informational things she came back with, was that there have been scientific studies to show that it is WORSE for bitches to be skipped heat cycles, and once you have begun to mate a bitch that you should NOT skip any heat cycles until she is completely finished breeding. You know a bitch is 'done' breeding when there is a drastic decline in litter size.

The study followed 5 colonies of dogs (labs, min-pin, 2 other purebreds and 1 group of lab mixes) in the college research breeding program. 1/2 of each colony was bred every single heat cycle, 1/2 skipped every other one.

After they were finished breeding, the bitches were spayed and their uterus dissected. Those showing most stress, and damage was the ones that had been skipped, since it is NATURAL in the wild for dogs to be bred EVERY HEAT CYCLE it is what their bodies were meant to do.

The SCIENTISTS and DOG EXPERTS explained that the skip every other heat program was a myth, probably started by people trying to impose their human emotions on to their dogs. Women try to get back their girlish figure between pregnancies, and that is not a priority for dogs.


How often to breed your Bitch

The experts all seem to agree that the least healthy approach for a breeding bitch is to skip heat cycles and keep the bitch unbred. This is not only Dr. Hutchinson's philosophy as Dr. Threlfall at Ohio State Univ. teaches the same thing (my husband just attended a Cont. Ed seminar on Canine Repro earlier this year at OSU). This is NOT new information, either. I was reading Dr. Billinghurst's book GROW YOUR PUP WITH BONES, which addresses the health of puppies as well as their parents and reproductive issues. This is not a new book (maybe 10 years old?). He states the same thing. Canines are meant to be pregnant on every heat cycle.

As Dr. Hutchinson explains it in his seminars, the hormones are the same and the bitch goes through the same changes whether they are bred or not. So when the hormones 'do their thing' to a uterus that does not have pups, it is "hammered" (his term) by the hormones and causes aging and thickening which makes the uterine lining less conducive to implantation and more prone to infection over time. The recommendation it to breed them young, breed on every heat cycle until you are done, then spay them. THAT is the healthiest scenario for your breeding bitch. While Dr. Threlfall and Dr. Hutchinson don't see eye to eye on some issues, this one they completely agree on. I have to wonder if anyone has found a vet knowledgable on repro issues who states otherwise.

Yet there are still people who refuse to believe this advice. I have often wondered about the practice of condemning back-to-back breedings. I wonder if it stems from the way bitches blow their coat post weaning which may lead people to feel the bitch is not recovering well. I know that our girls blow their coat at the same time they would after being in heat (about 4 months) whether bred or not, but the post puppy coat loss is usually more. I suspect that this appearance made people believe that the bitch was completely run down and it "was hard on her" having the pups.

Unfortunately, in our current PC environment, we want to suggest that people who breed more than one litter every several years are simply money hungry puppy mills and some of us are quick to condemn their practices based on this mentality. So if someone follows the EXPERTS advice concerning their dogs, the self appointed Ethics Police talk poorly of them ignoring the fact that what they are doing is biologically in the BEST interest of their dogs.

I think many people want to act like dogs are little people in fur coats. They want to suggest that what we may feel is how a dog feels. While I wouldn?t personally want to have a new child every year, I do believe that my dogs have always adored having puppies. Granted, there are certainly reasons why some bitches should probably not be bred again. Some are poor mothers. Some don't produce much milk. Some can't whelp or conceive w/o veterinary intervention. But the bottom line is that in a healthy normal bitch, breeding every heat cycle for as many litters as you want from that bitch, then spaying her, is the most healthy way to go. And that is from the people who are qualified to say so.

You know, cattle are kept pregnant every year starting when they would "freshen" (have their calf) at 2 years of age. They breed them until they won't breed anymore. If a cow is "open" (not pregnant), the farmer either tries to get her bred or sells her because wintering an open cow is a big money loser. Yes, it is certainly a business having calves (no one denies that), but the cattle certainly seem fine being pregnant all but three months of the year and well into their teen years. Just as an aside, cows/heifers start having calves at 2 years of age (earlier and they aren't fully grown so often can't calve on their own). They are bred back EVERY year. I know cattle is a money business and many of the Doggy PC Police want to say that breeding more than a few litters a year is only out of greed, but cattle NEVER get a break and apparently have no ill effects as a result. Also, dairy cows won't have milk unless they are bred back each year. But my point is that this does not seem to effect their health in a bad way at all and has been the way cattle have been kept for many many decades. If you tried to tell them that it is too hard on the cow to be pregnant every year, they would think you were a COMPLETE idiot!

The bottom line is that if you are a breeder? well, you breed! Perhaps it is time for some of us to rethink our beliefs that dogs should get a break between heat cycles for their health because under normal circumstances, this is simply not true.

As always, I encourage anyone with ideas on issues I?ve discussed, or issues they would like to see addressed, to please share their thoughts with me. I can be reached at [email protected] Thanks so much!


There's no set number of litters for an individual bitch to have. It should be determined by the health of the bitch, how she recovers from carrying, whelping- thru weaning and how she continues to produce.

Before every breeding, a good breeder factors in the health of the female, as well as factoring in the health of the puppies that have already been produced and whether the mom is producing healthy, well-balanced puppies.

A good breeder has appropriate health checks in place, cares deeply for the bitches even when they have retired from breeding, ensures the pups go to good homes, and provides life-time support to the buyers.