Reproductive performance and pre-weaning mortality: Preliminary analysis of 27,221 purebred female dogs and 204,537 puppies in France
The objective of this study was to describe efficiency of reproduction of purebred dogs in field breeding conditions, from mating to weaning in France. Data were collected between 2010 and 2014 in 5,667 French breeding kennels via a reproduction management software (Breeding Management System, Royal Canin, Aimargues, France). Effect of breed size (Mini: adult body weight <10 kg; Medium: 10–25 kg; Maxi: 25–40 kg; Giant: >40 kg), age of dam and male on pregnancy rate, abortion rate and litter size were evaluated by multivariable models. Data on 45,913 heats (all with mating), from 27,221 bitches from 248 breeds, were analysed. At mating, mean age (±SD) was 3.1 ± 1.8 years for bitches and 3.3 ± 2.0 for males. Males originated from the same kennel as the females in 88.5% of the matings. Based on breeder's evaluation of the pregnancy status, pregnancy rate (number of pregnant females based on breeders declaration/number of heats) was 87.8% and abortion rate was 6.8%. Finally, 81.9% of the mated females gave birth to a litter. On 37,946 litters (204,537 puppies), mean litter size was 5.4 ± 2.8 puppies (range 1–24), which was influenced by breed size and dam age (p < .0001). Stillbirth rate was 7.4% and puppy mortality rate (stillbirth + mortality until 2 months of age) was 13.4%. Prolificacy and puppy mortality rates were affected by breed size and within a breed size, by breed. Despite probable approximations (as data originate from breeders declaration), this large-scale analysis provides reference values on reproductive performance in dogs.