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Do dogs need to lock up to get pregnant?

Dogs have a strange way of breeding. It can be a bit shocking, or even scary, the first time you see two dogs locked together. There are several myths and misconceptions about dog pregnancy and locking. 

Do dogs need to lock up to get pregnant?

The short answer is no, dogs don’t need to lock up to get pregnant. However, it does increase the odds of pregnancy. 

How Dogs Tie

When dogs mate, the male will ejaculate. After he ejaculates, the tie occurs. The male has an area called the bulbus glandis at the base of his penis. When he ejaculates, this area swells. This causes the male to lock with the female. 

Picture a balloon in a coke bottle. The balloon will go into the bottle. If you blow it up, you won’t be able to remove the balloon. This is essentially what happens when the male locks with the female. 

The tie usually lasts about 20 minutes, but any time between 2-30 minutes is normal. The male releases prostatic fluid during the tie. 

Stages of Ejaculation

A male dog goes through three stages of ejaculation. The first is pre-ejaculate. It will look clear or slightly cloudy. This occurs as the male is thrusting into the female.

The ejaculate, or sperm, comes next. This occurs at the end of the thrusting, and right before the tie occurs. The sperm will look white and thick. 

The prostatic fluid comes next. This is released as the dog’s are tied together. 

While only the sperm can get the female pregnant, all three stages serve a purpose. The pre-ejaculate clears the way for the sperm, providing moisture and lubrication.

The sperm is then released, so it can make its way toward the eggs. The prostatic fluid is released last. This pushes the sperm forward. It also provides food for the sperm as it makes its way through the vaginal canal. 

Why Do Dogs Tie? 

You may be wondering what the purpose of a tie is, especially if the female can get pregnant without it. The tie, and the prostatic fluid that is released during the tie, pushes the sperm towards the female’s eggs. This increases the odds of eggs being fertilized and pregnancy. 

The tie also acts as a plug, preventing the sperm from dripping out. In humans, females attempting to get pregnant may keep their legs lifted up for about 30 minutes after intercourse for a similar reason. The more sperm that remains inside, the greater the odds of pregnancy. 

Managing a Tie

It’s natural for dogs to tie, but it can result in injury if the dogs get scared. You should always supervise mating, particularly the tie. Once the tie occurs, the male will typically turn around so they are facing butt to butt. 

He will then stand still until the tie is finished. However, the female isn’t always so calm. After all, she only understands that she is stuck to her new mate. The confinement can cause her to try to pull away. 

When they are attached, the female can seriously injure the male. If she pulls or tries to get away from the male, it can bruise the penis. 

To protect the dogs, you’ll need to stay close to them. It’s best to get down on their level. Pet them and speak softly. This will help keep them calm. 

Ending the Tie

The tie will end once the male has finished ejaculating the prostatic fluid. Ironically, he won’t be able to untie until he’s relaxed. If the female gets agitated, the male will be scared as well. This can actually prolong the tie. 

Never attempt to separate the dogs yourself. This can cause injury to the dogs. They may also bite you out of fear if they become upset. Some owners recommend applying ice to the tie, but this isn’t a good idea either. 

The best thing to do is remain calm and patient. Any stress to the dogs can prolong the tie. 

Signs of Pregnancy 

Once the mating is done, you’ll have to watch and wait for signs of pregnancy. This is often the most difficult part of the process. After all, you can’t pick up a dog pregnancy test at the store!

Dogs are pregnant for about 2 months, or 62-64 days. Determining the date of conception can be difficult, because sperm can live within the female for up to 5 days. This means your female may become pregnant several days after her last breeding session. 

The first sign of pregnancy owners notice is often an increase in nipple size. They will also gain weight and have an increase in appetite. Their belly will begin to swell noticeably at about 3 weeks.  

Your vet can test for pregnancy at 25-30 days. They may be able to feel the puppies in the womb by palpitation. An ultrasound or blood test can also confirm pregnancy. 

Can dogs lock and not get pregnant?

Perhaps you intentionally bred your dog, and are wondering if the pregnancy was successful. Perhaps your female slipped out while in heat, and locked with a local male. Is it certain she will get pregnant? 

Does Every Tie Result in Pregnancy? 

No, every tie doesn’t result in pregnancy. Just like human reproduction, it’s possible for your dog to have intercourse and not get pregnant. 

The process of pregnancy  begins with the male ejaculating in the female. The next stage is tying, which increases the chances of the female getting pregnant. Next, sperm must fertilize an egg. 

If the sperm doesn’t fertilize the egg, pregnancy will not occur. There’s no guarantee that this will happen, even if your dog’s tie. 

Does A Longer Tie Increase the Odds of Pregnancy? 

The answer to this isn’t clear. Many dog breeders believe that a longer tie increases the odds of pregnancy, but there’s no scientific research to back this up at this moment. 

Does the Length of Tie Affect Litter Size? 

No, the length of the tie isn’t known to affect litter size. 

How many times do dogs need to lock up to get pregnant?

When a dog breeds and ties, the odds of the female getting pregnant is 40%. Naturally, the more times they tie, the greater the chances of pregnancy. 

How Many Times Should I Breed My Dog? 

Most breeders recommend a total of 3 ties to ensure pregnancy. Each time they breed, the odds of pregnancy are 40%. Assuming both dogs are healthy and able to reproduce, mating 3 times makes pregnancy very likely. 

You should breed them about 24 hours apart so the male’s sperm can build back up. Older males may need to wait as long as 36 hours between breeding sessions. 

When to Breed for Pregnancy? 

Estrus, or the period when the female is fertile, begins 9 to 15 days after the heat cycle has started. The best indication the female is ready to mate is her behavior. 

When she enters estrus, she will pee small amounts more often. The pee contains pheremones that let males know she is ready to mate. 

She will also want to go outside, and may paw at the door or whine to get outside. When around a male, she will stand still and raise her tail. This is her way of saying she’s ready to mate. 

Testing During Heat 

Your vet can perform tests to confirm your female is in heat, and her optimal breeding time. One method is the vaginal smear. You’ll need to swab her vagina and bring this to your vet. 

If you aren’t comfortable with this, your vet can take the sample. The vet will look for changes in the vaginal cells that suggest she is in heat. This will also indicate the time when she is at her most fertile. 

The other test is progesterone testing. The vaginal smear is painless and non-invasive. Progesterone testing requires one or more blood samples. This is the most accurate method for determining when your female will be most receptive to mating. 

If you can’t allow the female and male to spend days together, this is the best way to increase the chances of pregnancy. You can get them together at just the right time.

When To Breed Dogs

A female should have at least one heat cycle before being bred. Most experts say two heat cycles are preferable. Smaller breeds go into heat earlier, from 6-9 months. Large breeds can be 18 to 24 months old before their first heat cycle. 

Breeding a female during her first heat can lead to many issues. She’s more likely to have pregnancy complications. She’s also more likely to reject her litter. Just because she is sexually mature doesn’t mean her mind or body are ready for the process. 

Males can become sexually mature as early as 5 months old. However, sperm quality will be lower in the first months after maturity. It’s best to breed a male at 12 to 18 months. 

How long does a dog have to be stuck together to get pregnant?

There’s no length of time that is required for the female to get pregnant. It’s unclear if tying impacts the chances of pregnancy at all. 

After all, it is possible for the female to get pregnant without locking at all. We do know that the tie increases the chances of pregnancy, but we don’t know how much of an impact the length of the tie has. 

Breeders believe that a longer tie increases the odds of pregnancy. They claim that the tie should be at least 12 minutes long for the greatest chances of successful breeding.