Socio-biological Aspects of Canine Reproduction

Originally published in the European IW World magazine in July 2006, and subsequently in 2007 in The Sighthound Magazine, published in the U.K. by Ledcameroch Publishing.

A common feature in all fields of animal husbandry appears to be a rather clinical approach to reproduction. Natural selection has largely been exchanged with a selection based on human logic and desires. For more than 12,000 years, man has shaped and altered natural species into a vast selection of domestic animals, whose sole purpose has been to serve the needs of those who moulded them. This is an ever-ongoing process, where each mating is based on manmade choices, which rarely take sociobiological aspects of reproduction into consideration. In spite of an effective domestication process man’s choices may still go wrong from time to time; a planned mating between individuals, thought to be perfect matches, may fail either to mate or to produce progeny.

In the following I would like to propose that there might be perfectly logical explanations therefore. Claimed fertility problems in many kennels may not necessarily have anything to do with the feed or water, or be caused by poor reproductive health. According to reproduction specialist and veterinarian Birgitte Schjøth, a very common reason for dogs’ failure to reproduce is poor management on behalf of the owner. Other theories bring forth a possibility of an instinctual avoidance of genetic incompatibility, which individuals can detect through the smell of the other dog’s pheromones. I would like to add that a bit of insight and understanding of dog behavior can be very helpful toward a successful breeding program.

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