When breeding dogs, it takes a good deal of time, money and effort to ensure the bitch is a good specimen of her breed, is healthy and is free of any genetic diseases she might pass on to her puppies. However, even an otherwise healthy bitch might present with a split heat. During a split heat, the female will begin to come into season and show all the signs of a full heat, only to regress and come back into a full heat a few weeks later. A split heat can be difficult to deal with but can still produce a full, healthy litter.
Schedule a visit with your veterinarian to have your female examined. Any female should have a full physical and be free of any genetic conditions prior to breeding. In addition to a physical, a culture will be taken to check for any transmittable diseases or infections.
Watch your girl for signs that she is coming into heat. Typical pro-oestrus signs include swelling of the vulva, a light pink discharge and presenting herself to other dogs. Females in both split heat and true heat cycles will show these same behaviors, although a female with a split heat will only be in this phase for a day or two while true heat lasts much longer.
Note the day your girl went into pro-oestrus on a calendar or in a journal to help you in keeping track of her heat cycle. If you notice a reduction in your female's vulva and a lack of discharge two or three days after the date in your journal, then she is likely in the first half of her heat. If she remains swelled and the discharge turns a darker red in approximately seven days, she should be fertile for breeding.
Set up a quiet breeding area in your home once your girl shows signs of a full heat cycle. Many dogs will be very nervous during breeding and any distraction can deter them from mating, so a quiet, low-traffic area is best. Clear the area of any furniture or other obstructions to prevent injuries while the dogs explore each other.
Place your female in the room and gently introduce the male to her. Let him greet her and sniff her, and watch closely for signs of acceptance, such as turning her rear end towards him and moving her tail to the side. If she is in full heat, she should be receptive. If she is not and this is just the first half of her split heat, she likely will refuse him.
Contact your vet if your female shows all the signs of a full heat but still refuses your stud dog. He will draw blood and check your female’s progesterone levels before giving you the go ahead to breed her. A level of 9 is recommended for optimal breeding success.
Reintroduce your stud and female if your vet determines her progesterone levels are high enough for breeding. A female in full heat will let the dog mount her and tie with her with little to no refusal. Let the dogs mate every day for as long as the female is receptive to give the mating the best chance of success.
Observe your female for two to three weeks post mating to see if she comes back into heat. If she shows no signs of going back into heat, schedule a visit with your vet to check for pregnancy. You vet can do a blood test at approximately 20 days and an ultrasound at 25 days that will let you know if breeding was successful.