Yorkie Terrier Pregnancy Guide

Written by angela brady
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Yorkie Terrier Pregnancy Guide
Yorkies are popular dogs, but breeding requires a lot of preparation and diligence. (yorkie pup image by Maria Bell from Fotolia.com)

Any Yorkie that is going to be bred should meet the breed standard and be completely free of congenital defects, like patellar luxation, hypothyroidism and cardiomyopathy. This prevents the passing along of bad genes which would contaminate the Yorkie gene pool, as well as produce unhealthy puppies. In addition, you should the dog for bacterial infections and brucellosis, as these can be passed to the puppies during the pregnancy. The stud should also have a clean bill of health, and the owner of the stud should be able to produce a veterinarian's statement to that effect. The size of the dog is also a factor, as any dog weighing under 2.27kg. is not considered fit for breeding and could potentially die during whelping. Any reputable breeder will know that there is no such thing as a "Teacup Yorkie"--a mature Yorkie should weight 2.27 to 3.18kg., and anything less is considered a defect.

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Mating

Once the stud has been chosen and both dogs have been determined to be good candidates for breeding, timing becomes a factor. Female dogs go into heat once or twice per year. The first stage, proestrus, is characterised by the swelling of the vulva, decreased appetite and menstrual bleeding. Proestrus can last anywhere from four to 20 days. The next stage, oestrus, is characterised by a lightening of the vulva secretions and the dog's willingness to be mounted. This is the proper time to allow the stud and the female to mate, and can last up to 13 days. The next stage is called diestrus, where the menstrual discharge stops completely. If the mating was successful, the female would begin her pregnancy.

Early Pregnancy

If a pregnancy has occurred, the vulva will not return to its original pre-mating size, but will remain somewhat swollen. Pregnancy lasts about nine weeks, and there should be no visible discharge from the vulva. Any discharge from the vulva warrants a trip to the vet, as it could be a sign of miscarriage, pyometra or endometriosis, all conditions which can threaten the life of the dog. The pregnant Yorkie needs a very high quality diet, as well as a vigorous exercise program to keep her in shape for whelping. Because the Yorkie is a small dog, labour and delivery can be very rough on her body, and she needs to be in the very best condition possible going in.

Late Pregnancy

Around the fifth week, the dog will begin to show signs of swelling around her middle, and her nipples will begin to darken. At this time, you must feed her about 25 per cent more, as the puppies are beginning to deplete her energy and nutritional stores. Ask the veterinarian for supplemental vitamins at this time. During week six, increase her diet by another 25 per cent, and split her food into two daily meals. At week seven, although she'll be sleeping more, you should increase her diet once again by 25 per cent to keep up with the growth of the puppies, which is rapid at this stage. Week eight is the time to start preparing for delivery. Prepare an area for the birth of the puppies, and gradually introduce the pregnant dog to it and make her feel comfortable. The area should be private, warm (about 29.4 degrees C) and soft, and it should contain a whelping box for the puppies to be born in. The whelping box is useful because it provides a "den" for the mother and keeps the puppies contained. This is also the time to increase the diet by another 25 per cent and split the food into three daily meals. Exercise should be less intense but more frequent, and you should take the dog's rectal temperature twice daily. A normal temperature is 100 to 101. A high temperature could indicate infection; consult the vet immediately. A lower temperature of about 36.7 degrees C indicates impending labour within eight to 24 hours.

Labor and Delivery

The dog will generally refuse all food and water at the onset of labour. This is a crucial time, and the dog should not be left alone for more than a few minutes until the last puppy is born and breathing successfully. Often, the dog requires assistance in the delivery of the puppies, and owner neglect can cause the death of both the dog and the puppies. As the time draws nearer, the dog will become restless and agitated, and will circle frequently. Soon, she will begin having contractions every eight to 10 minutes. When the contractions become visible, move the dog to the whelping box. When the contractions begin coming about a minute apart and the dog lifts her tail with each one, the first puppy is on its way. There will be a squirt of lubricating fluid, and a portion of the puppy will be visible in the vaginal opening. Many first puppies are breech births, making it very difficult for the mother to deliver. If the puppy seems to be coming out tail-first, it is helpful to gently hold the puppy to keep it from slipping back in until the birth is completed. Subsequent puppies will generally come more easily, although there may be a delay of up to an hour between each one.

Immediately After Birth

As the puppies are born, be sure the mother chews the umbilical cord and clears the breathing passages by licking the placenta off of the puppy's face. If she does not, it is up to you to do this with the help of a warm, soft, damp cloth. The new mother should also suckle each pup while she delivers the rest. Ensure that all of the puppies have access to a nipple, and gently position any puppies that may seem lost. After the birth, a trip to the vet is in order to ensure that all puppies have been delivered. The new mother should take to nursing and caring for her pups immediately, but you should be on hand at all times to fill in if necessary. Do not leave the new mother and pups alone at all for the first 10 days.

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