Perform Pre-Breeding Health Checks
Good puppies start long before breeding ever takes place. Both parents need long-term care-what dog people call conditioning-to produce the best offspring. This means regular veterinary care, screening for genetic problems, pre-breeding tests, and regular exercise and good nutrition. Bitches especially should not be overweight and be in good muscle tone before breeding. Additionally, a bitch that is in good mental condition will make a better mother than a bitch that is insecure, snappy, or has an otherwise unstable temperament.
One month before breeding, the bitch should have a thorough pre-breeding physical examination by a veterinarian. Her vaccinations should be current, and she should be tested and treated for parasites.
You may also want to have the bitch tested for brucellosis, an infectious bacterial disease that can cause sterility or spontaneous abortion in affected dogs. Males should also be tested for brucellosis. If a male is used for frequent breedings, a brucellosis test before each mating is probably impractical. In these cases, he should be checked twice yearly and be kept away from pregnant, whelping, or nursing bitches to prevent transmission of the bacteria.