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Research article2008Peer reviewed

Reproductive patterns in the domestic dog - A retrospective study of the Drever breed

Gavrilovic, B. Bobic; Andersson, K.; Forsberg, C. Linde


The aim of this study was to examine the differences, between seasons of the year, in the distribution of matings and whelpings, litter size, pup deaths, and sex ratio in domestic dogs. Furthermore, we wanted to examine the effects of age and parity of the bitch at the time of whelping on litter size, as well as the effect of litter size on gestational length. A final aim was to investigate the fertility and frequency of whelping problems in a private kennel of Drever dogs. Data from the Swedish Kennel Club (SKK) registry for the Drever breed during 1995-2006, comprising a total of 2717 litters, were analyzed together with more detailed data from a private, professional kennel of Drevers, with a total of 285 matings and 224 whelpings, during the same time period. The most matings took place during winter, and the fewest during summer; consequently, most whelpings occurred during the winter and spring seasons. Of the 285 mated bitches, 78.6% whelped, 6.25% experienced dystocia, and 5.36% underwent Cesarean section. The pup death rate was 7.6%. The largest litters were born during spring. Litter size was negatively correlated with duration of pregnancy (r = -0.18). Each pup more than average caused a shortening of the gestation by 0.25 days, and each pup less a corresponding lengthening. Bitches giving birth to their first litter after 4 years of age produced a smaller litter than younger bitches. Litter size decreased after 5 years in all bitches. The number of born pups at the private kennel increased from the first to the third parity, then decreased. The number of registered pups increased from the first to the second parity in the SKK data and from the second to the third parity in the data from the private kennel, then decreased. Mating a bitch only once resulted in a smaller litter size. None of the studied factors had any effect on the sex ratio of the pups. There were significant differences between males in whelping rate among the mated bitches, but no difference in mean litter size, which indicates a female problem rather than a male one. Available data suggest that the domestic dog is still under considerable seasonal influence, although modified by ambient and management factors. (c) 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


seasonality; age; parity; fertility; gestational length; dystocia

Published in

2008, Volume: 70, number: 5, pages: 783-794

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    • UKÄ Subject classification

      Veterinary Science
      Animal and Dairy Science

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