How Often to Breed Labrador retriever? Dog Breeding Guide in 2024


How often to breed Labrador retriever to make sure the health of a female dog and her offspring? Professionals suggested breeding a female Labrador retriever between the ages of 2 to 8 years, with a careful approach to the heat cycles, which occur twice a year. It is suggested to wait until the third female dog heat cycle before breeding to have the dog to achieve full maturity to reduce health risks and increasing the predictions for a healthy litter. A male Labrador retriever can mate after one year of age.

It’s a great idea to wait for two years and ensure that a female dog has become fully grown physically prior to breeding. Now, let’s dive into what heat cycles are and why you must wait until the third heat cycle. In this guide, we will also discuss what happens if a bitch is bred early in her age how to ensure a female Labrador is ready to give birth.

Research shows that Genetic heritability of hip-dysplasia in Labrador retrievers is highly significant, with offspring hip scores significantly reduced by using only parents with zero hip score.

What Is the Suitable Age for Breeding a Labrador retriever?

Male Labradors

A male Labrador retriever becomes fertile after 6 months of age and achieves his full sexual maturity when he’s 12 or 15 months old. A mature male Labrador retriever can mate at any time. If your Labrador is healthy, he might be sexually active even in old age.

It is straightforward with male canines. However, numerous factors come once we try to breed a Labrador bitch. Thus let’s discuss breeding female Labradors in depth.

Female Labradors

A female Labrador retriever will get her first heat cycle when  she is 6 months old. This is the stage in which she can become pregnant. It happens again around every 6 months until late in her life. We will explain extra about the heat cycles of female Labradors in the following section.

You should not breed a female Lab in her first heat cycle. She is pretty young at this stage, and you don’t need to impose the pregnancy stress as well as lactation on her because she’s still growing.

Although she might be sexually active, she isn’t entirely mature physically. Breeding during the first heat cycle enhances the chance of pregnancy and additional health-related problems.

We shouldn’t mate a female Labrador until she becomes physically mature. Meanwhile Labradors fall into the group of large dog breeds, they mature in the age of 18-24 months, therefore it’s good to avoid mating until the third heat cycle or she becomes two years old.

Understanding Female Labrador Heat Cycles


Understanding female Labrador heat cycles is important to avoid unsuccessful breeding efforts or unexpected litter of pups. When a female Lab comes into heat, it means that its body is preparing for conception.

It’s your Lab’s reproductive cycle. Sayings like heat cycle, breeding cycle, as well as periods, all talk about to the same thing. A female Labrador retriever stays in her heat for around 3 to 4 weeks; there’s no precise number of days.

Even though your dog might stay in the heat cycle for up to 4 weeks, the days once she’s most fertile initiate after 9 to 10 days into the heat cycle. This period continues for around 5 days, thus you should mate your Labs between the 10th to 14th day of the female’s heat cycle.

This heat cycle consists of 4 stages: proestrus, estrus, diestrus, and anestrus. Let’s discuss these phases.

Proestrus: A female dog is becoming ready for pregnancy. Male Labradors will start getting attracted to her; however, she won’t let breeding as of yet. This period usually lasts for 9 days. You will see physical symptoms like the inflamed vulva as well as bloody vaginal discharge.

Estrus: At the start of this phase, the ovary releases eggs. The levels of estrogen in your dog’s body drop, whereas the progesterone levels increases. A female dog is fertile in this phase, ready to mate, and bitch will follow her physical instincts and admit a male. This phase also lasts for approximately 9 days.

Diestrus: This phase lasts for 2 to 3 months or until a female Lab conceives (if she’s pregnant). In this stage, she will not be accept males. A bloody vaginal discharge might still be present; however, it slowly stops. At the end of this period, the hormonal levels in your bitch become normal.

Anestrus: This is the last stage of a female dog heat cycle. There’s no sexual activity throughout this stage.

Most female Labrador retrievers go into heat two times a year. The ovarian function starts to reduce in the 6th year of female dog’s life. Most of the females stop giving birth after they are 7 years old.

What are The Health Concerns When You Breed Labrador Retrievers Too Young?

We’ve explained that we must wait till the third heat cycle before breeding. However what are the health worries if a Labrador becomes pregnant too early? You must allow your Lab’s body to grow fully. If s female Labrador retriever becomes pregnant before growing physically, it’ll create additional stress on her. The physical stress of carrying additional weight is a burden on the developing joints.

Other than this, pregnancy will extract nutrients from a dog. As a female Labrador retriever is young, its immune system isn’t completely developed. It means that she’s more susceptible to diseases than a mature dog would be.

Numerous bacteria can infect her ovaries, causing abortions, miscarriages, and even the death of fetus. Your Labrador can even end up dying while conceiving. As she hasn’t fully mature, her pelvic canal might not be large for the offspring to fit through without compromising their own lives and the mother’s life. In this case, she must undergo surgery, which enhances the chances of health problems for her.

As she is also not fully grown biologically, she is more expected to abandon her pups than a mature mother. She might fail to care for them, which reduces their chances of survival.

Veterinary Health Checks before Breeding


Both parent dogs need long-term care to give birth to beautiful, strong pups. They should be physically as well as mentally healthy. A female Labrador retriever must have decent muscle tone, plus a balanced weight before mating.

In addition to physical health, both parent dogs should be in good mental situation. A mentally stable Labrador bitch will make a better mom than one that’s anxious or has an unstable nature.

One month before mating, a female Labrador retriever should undergo pre-breeding physical check-ups by a veterinarian. You must get her checked for common health issues, like elbow and hip dysplasia, plus an eye disorders.

The vaccinations of parent breeding dogs must be current, and a female Labrador retriever should be examined for parasites too.

DNA Testing

One more health examination that is highly recommended for any Labrador owner; however, mainly for one who is considering breeding, is to do DNA testing.

Nowadays, human DNA testing has become very popular with firms such as 23andme developing. People are attracted in knowing their background, health understandings, etc. This is not dissimilar for dogs!

A company known as Embark contains a Breed + Health testing kit that lets dog owners to learn about their breed, health, and heritage! This kit tests for more than 170 health disorders and uses above 200,000 markers to recognize and build a whole genetic profile. It is easy and non-invasive. All you need to do is accomplish a rapid oral swab and mail it in! Simple!

When to stop breeding your female Labrador?


There is no suggested age for when to stop breeding your dog. It’s different for each female dog, and you should ask your vet at each breeding to decide with her whether it’s suitable to keep breeding your female dog or if it can be time for retirement.

Stop breeding your dog when litter size reduces or problems begin to arise.   In my opinion, I prefer to stop breeding your dog before problems start. You would rather miss out on getting one last litter than risking difficult birth or other issues.

In addition to this info from Dr. Hutchinson about attempting to start early, breed repeatedly, then retire early, you should try to retire your bitch by 4. Hopefully, there’s sufficient information here for you to go chat with your vet and adopt where your own boundaries lie.


How Often to Breed Labrador retriever?

Labrador retrievers enter the heat cycle two times a year. The cycle continues for 2 to 3 weeks. Your female Lab will be most fertile among the 10th to 14th day of the heat cycle. Then, allow your Labs to mate every other day for 4 to 6 days.

What month can a Labrador retriever breed?

We should not breed a female Lab until she becomes mature. As Labs fall into the group of large dog breeds, they physically mature around the age of 18-24 months; therefore, it’s good to avoid mating until the 3rd heat cycle or until she becomes 2 years old.


We’ve just discussed many things. Here are the key points from our guide:

Male Labrador retrievers reach complete sexual maturity after 12-15 months of age. Female Labs have their primary heat cycle after 6 months of age. We must wait until the 3rd heat cycle before mating, which occurs after 18-24 months of age.

The mating must occur between the 10th to 14th days of a female Lab’s heat cycle, because she is fertile in this stage. Conception prior to physical maturity can lead to health problems.

We also have to perform pre-breeding health examinations to make sure that a female Labrador retriever is healthy and all set to conceive.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *