Every breeding is a time of anticipation. Even though there is only a nine week pregnancy, and pups stay with us for eight weeks, we do a lot of planning and background work prior to each litter. This work is like home renovations, you don't see it and it does not make the house look any better, but it does make the home a better place to live. It is also sometimes the most expensive part of the process. So what I am speaking about are the health clearances and finding a stud dog with the same. These clearances are identified by breed associations as being health concerns within the breed, that can be identified through phenotyping and genotyping. For the Labrador Retriever, screening of Hips, Elbows, eyes (opthamologist screening), Exercise induced collapse (EIC), and dilute gene, are currently desired. Desired but not required are screening for centronuclear myopathy (CNM), prcd-PRA (adult onset blindness), and cardiac exams. We also have to ensure our girl is free from Brucella prior to breeding.
Our new Dam is Hope. She is now over 3 years old. She has excellent hips, and is free from other defects. She does however carry the prcd-PRA gene, so although she will never go blind, she may pass this gene to half of her progeny. That is why we found a male who does not carry this gene, so none of the pups will be affected. However, half of the pups may be carriers, so if you plan on breeding your pup sometime down the line, you need to check for this gene, and make plans accordingly. We can do genetic tests on the pups if needed.
Let's talk a bit about the sire. Duxbac Prairiestorm Vortex. We had to find a Canadian sire this time due to Covid restrictions for travel to the USA. However, we have been looking at the Saskatchewan chocolates for a few years now. Some really fine males over there. We had picked a male from Prairiestorm last time for the 2019 litter, but when we double checked the pedigrees decided the lineages were too close. That took us over to the eastern side of the province and the two males that Kristy at Oaklane Retrievers has. Both are fine boys, but we decided on Tex as he had a softer personality and is a slightly smaller dog. As this was Hope's first breeding, it is always nice if things go smoothly and the male was not too large as she is smaller. From what Kristy told us, Tex and Hope got along fine and had three matings.
So now we wait. Hope does not look pregnant. But as it is a very rapid gestation, we don't expect her to look pregnant until 6 or 7 weeks. And how big she gets will depend on the size of the litter. Maggie never did look pregnant with her first litter of eight. We will do an ultra-sound at 5 weeks, and if it shows fetuses, will do an x-ray at 7 or 8 weeks. These are more for our sake, so we can make plans, and get information out to people. The x-ray is important so we will get a rough count. If there are fewer than 4 pups, we would elect for a c-section, as pups would get very big and be an issue for a first-time Mom. And if there are more than 10 pups, it could be an issue to get them all out alive and without Mom having problems with uterine inertia.