Armenian Gampr in Talin, Armenia. Photo: Lala Minasian

PREPARING TO BREED

Questions

should i breed?

There are several reasons why a person might choose to become a Gampr breeder:  They love their dog, passion for the Breed, and wanting to help conserve the ancient genetics.  Those are great reasons but breeding is a big responsibility and not a decision to take lightly.  Prior to deciding to become a breeder, there are many things to consider: 

  • Is your Gampr a good representation of the Breed and would they make a positive contribution to the gene pool?

  • Are you willing to pay for and have time to devote to completing the recommended evaluations?

  • Are you knowledgeable enough to advise new owners about caring for their pups and being a mentor for those owners for the lifetime of each puppy produced? 

  • Can you pay for an emergency caesarean should the dam have trouble whelping?

  • Are you able to devote a lot of time to a litter, such as taking off work or reprioritizing your daily routine in order to monitor labor and rear puppies?

  • Do you have space to rear a large litter of puppies until the minimum 8 weeks old and the ability to handle puppies getting into mischief, tearing up landscaping and supervising early training every day?

  • Do you have a plan and budget for proper de-worming, vaccinations, vet appointments and emergency services, if needed?

  • Are you able to care for puppies long term if they are not spoken for quickly and remain in your care for much longer than 8 weeks?

  • Do you have a waiting list or parties who have expressed interest in offspring from your adults, or are you able to find homes for your puppies?

  • Are you willing to interview potential homes, in depth, to ensure they are an appropriate placement for a Gampr puppy and handle any potential issues with any home you select?

  • Are you aware that it is the responsibility of the Breeder to take back possession of or actively help rehome any failed placement and are you willing to make that a top priority over everything else in your life, if the case arises?

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Watchful, relaxing Gampr, Photo: Rohana Mayer

Checklist

prior to breeding

If you answered no to any of the above, breeding may not be for you or it may not be the right time.  However, for those of you who can commit things such as time, funding, emergency planning and mentorship, becoming a good breeder and helping conserve the Armenian Gampr is a rewarding experience.  Producing great puppies starts with a sound breeding plan and setting your program up to succeed.  Start with this checklist:

  • Does your Gampr(s) have a good, breed appropriate temperament?

  • Are they good with children?

  • Does your Gampr(s) perform their job well?

  • Are your Gampr(s) healthy, fit, and clear of any weakening afflictions such as heartworms, parasites and current on vaccinations?

  • Are they 20 months of age or older?

  • Are both potential parents Registered in your name?

  • Are there any known illnesses, genetic faults or structural problems on either side of the pedigree to consider?

  • Have the parents been DNA tested and are they clear of genetic diseases, ruling out the possibility of both parents being carriers of the same disease?

  • Did you compare the COI% of both prospective parents?

  • Have you read and understand the Code of Ethics?

  • Have you decided if becoming a Conservation or Merit Breeder is right for you and have the necessary evaluations been scheduled or completed?

  • Are your Gampr(s) a credit to the conservation efforts concerning lineage and not of an already overproduced line?

  • Do you have clear understanding that just because two dogs may both be equally great in terms of evaluations and health screenings that it doesn't mean they should be bred together considering genetic variety, type, sub-type, characteristics, etc?​​

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First time meeting, checking each other out. Photo: Rohana Mayer

Estrus

& mating

Sexual maturity in the female Gampr usually occurs at around 9 or 10 months of age when they have their first estrus or "heat cycle" but it can be as early as 4 months.   Typically, they will cycle every 6 months but in some cases only once a year.  The first heat cycle may be "silent" or without any clinical signs. The length of estrus is usually 2 to 4 weeks, the average being around 21 days long.  

There are noticeable signs that your Gampr is in estrus, such as change in personality and swelling of the vulva but vaginal bleeding is the most telling sign. Each Gampr may be very different and may not show signs to the same extent.   There are four stages of estrus, each stage having differing signs related to behavior, physical, hormonal and physiologic changes:  

  • Proestrus starts with mild swelling of the vulva and bloody discharge, lasting approximately 9 days (this time can vary depending on the female in question). During this time the female will be very attractive to the males but will not be receptive to being bred.

  • Estrus is the mating stage when the female is receptive to the male, lasting anywhere from 2-3 days, or less commonly up to 7-11 days.  During this time will be when the female is fertile and will allow mating.  This usually coincides with a decreased amount of blood in the discharge, turning from bright red or pink to a darker reddish-brown.  If an intact male is present, your female is likely to present herself to him, hindquarters first, and with her tail held to the side.

  • Diestrus stage occurs directly after the “in heat” stage and lasts for about two months. Her body will prepare for pregnancy or return to normal state.  The vulva returns to normal size and there's no longer a vaginal discharge.

  • Anestrus is the time between diestrus and the next proestrus, lasting about 4 months or longer.  The vulva is no longer swollen, there is no vaginal discharge.  The body uses this time to allow the uterus to prepare for the next possible pregnancy. 

Whether you're breeding or keeping dogs separated, remember, just because your dog is not bleeding does not mean she can no longer get pregnant.  A female is more likely to let a male breed her once the bloody discharge stops.  It is ideal to keep her in a controlled setting for three to four weeks after the first sign of bleeding.

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Hasmik and Andranik, Owner Darren F, MI

Pregnancy

timeline

Signs of pregnancy can vary from one dog to another but deviations from your Gampr's normal behavior might be an early indication of pregnancy.  The average gestation is 63 days but whelping may happen several days sooner.  

Day 1-7:  Fertilization occurs and the 2 cell embryos are in the oviduct. Your Gampr may have morning sickness, possible noticeable personality changes

Day 8-14:  The embryo will be 4 cell at start of week and 64 cell by end of week, the embryo enters the uterus

Day 15-21: Implantation of embryos in uterus

Day 22-28:  Clear discharge and increase in teat size is possible this week.  Puppies eyes, faces and spinal cords are taking shape. 

Day 29-​35: Fetuses have toes, claws and look like puppies now.  ​The eyes are now closed and gender can be determined.  An ultrasound can be performed in a small window of time around day 30 for a puppy count and movement.​

Day 36-42: Nipples darken and enlarge, the abdomen "tuck" continues to disappear.​ Fetal heartbeats can be heard with a stethoscope.

Day 43-49: Your Gampr may look visibly pregnant at this stage.

Day 50-57: You may notice fetal movement while the dam is resting and puppies can be safely born during this stage. Milk production has increased and teat size may be noticeably larger

Day 58-65: Puppies will begin to move into whelping position in the birth canal over the last few days of the pregnancy. The dam will start to nest by digging holes, pacing or panting, preparing to whelp. She may not have much of an appetite during the final stage of pregnancy.

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Haykaz and puppies, Owner Armen Khechoyan