Breeding Advice

Breeding Advice2017-12-12T14:17:03+00:00


There is nothing more rewarding in greyhound racing, than breeding a litter, rearing the pups, schooling them and finally winning races with your pride and joy.

Breeding is a huge project for those who like a challenge, but make no mistake, it should never be undertaken without fully appreciating the pitfalls.

From the time your brood comes into season to getting the pups to the track, can take as long as two years. So it’s not a venture anyone should be doing on a whim. Breeders have responsibility for the pups they bring into the world, whether they make it to the track or not. Regardless of their ability, all are entitled to a good life.

Choice of brood bitch is very important to the success of any breeding project. The competitive nature of greyhound racing, means that there is no room for sentiment. Just because you own a bitch, does not mean that she should be bred from. If your bitch is low grade, or deficient in some way, then it may be wise if you simply look for a better starting point for your breeding plan. Good quality bitches are regularly advertised for sale or lease.

There isn’t ONE correct way of rearing pups. Different breeders have their own ideas of what is best. Some like to rear in long straight runs side by side so that the pups can ‘race’ against each other. Some prefer larger open paddocks so the pups can twist and turn as well as gallop in straight lines. There are even some who keep pups in a small confined area but take them to open land to fully stretch and gallop. All of these methods have produced champions. It all depends on what you prefer and what facilities you have. The one thing they all have in common is that the pups have ample opportunity to gallop freely and develop. Exercise, good quality feeding and attention to health and husbandry are the basic principles.

If you are new to greyhound breeding, it is advisable to speak to successful breeders, who will gladly help you and answer your questions. There is a lot of dubious ‘advice’ offered by people who have little or no greyhound breeding experience. If you are still not sure about taking the plunge into greyhound breeding, then an easy way of ‘dipping in your toe’ without taking on a full litter, is to start by rearing a couple of pups from earmarking age. As well as experiencing the pleasure of seeing pups grow and develop, with a bit of luck, you might end up with a top race dog.

For those still not quite sure, or just for more advice, please contact the forum and we will try our best to help.


This is a general guide to assist you through the journey of your bitch’s pregnancy, it is in no way to be used instead of seeking advice from your vet.

If you intend to breed from your bitch, it is advisable to make some initial preparations. This includes increasing your bitch’s weight by a couple of pounds from her racing weight. As soon as she comes in season, she needs to be wormed and if travelling (transporter), flead to avoid picking up any parasites. Don’t forget to have her passport in order if intending to use a sire based in Southern Ireland.

Pregnancy in dogs lasts 63 days, (or 9 weeks) so it is important to be as exact as you can be with your mating date to be able to prepare properly. However, with modern AI matings, it could be a day or two earlier. After 3 weeks many bitches (not all) show signs of morning sickness and go off food. It is important at this time to tempt them with tasty treats (sardines, chicken). Usually after a week, they return to normal appetite. Also at 3 weeks the bitch’s nipples will appear more prominent and enlarged. At around 5-6 weeks the abdomen will appear slightly larger, especially after a meal. At this stage, the bitch’s food intake needs to be increased gradually. It is better to feed two or three smaller meals throughout the day rather than one big meal. The food given also needs to be of good quality protein. What you put in now will be paid back later when you have pups.

It is important that your bitch continues to exercise regularly. Fit, healthy muscles are necessary to help push the puppies out. Your bitch should have some exercise every day, although the amount may decrease as she gets nearer to her due date. Day 40 – it has shown to be beneficial from day 40 to worm every day with a 10% puppy wormer obtained from your vet and at the dosage recommended on the bottle. This will ensure that the pups are born worm free, and therefore get off to the best possible start. During the last few days of pregnancy, the bitch may not eat up completely, especially if she is heavily in pup. She should be moved to her whelping area, to familiarise herself with her new surroundings.

The whelping area should be private and preferably well away from other dogs, this will help her to relax and start the whelping process. She will not want to eat, instead she will start nesting, which means that she will be raking the floor of the whelping box and ripping newspapers etc. She will be restless, panting and agitated. This may go on for some time (can be several hours). There will be no obvious pushing, just restless behaviour. She may shiver and shake, and her temperature will drop. Many bitches will show signs of impending labour during the day, but it is common for bitches to whelp at night.

At the next stage, you will notice the bitch starting to have contractions (pushing), they will be spaced out to start with, but get closer together until the first pup is born. The pup will be inside a fluid filled sac. If the bitch does not open the sac and release the pup (some bitches instinctively do this, but maiden bitches are sometimes unsure) you will have to do this yourself. It is a good idea to have plenty of dry towels handy so that you can dry the pup vigorously and stimulate it’s breathing. Sometimes the placenta will come out with the puppy, other times it will be passed sometime later. It is normal for the bitch to eat the placenta and chew through the umbilical cord. In most cases you will not need to do anything at all except supervise her to make sure she is not too rough (especially first time mothers).

Every whelping is different. The time between puppies varies, and some bitches will rest even an hour or two between puppies. The main thing is to watch her closely. If she seems settled and calm, things are probably fine. If she is restless or contracting, then a puppy should appear within a short time or there may be problems. Any doubts or concerns then you should contact your vet or an experienced breeder. Sometimes it can be hard to tell if the bitch has actually finished giving birth or whether she is just resting between pups. If you can get her to stand, you can ‘gently’ feel her abdomen to see if you can feel more pups. It is always a good idea to make a note of the time that each pup was born. This way, if there are any problems, you will know how long since the last pup was born.

Any doubt at all, or anything not covered here you may need to contact your vet. It is a good idea to let your vet know in advance and maybe obtain an emergency phone number. Even if everything goes as smooth as possible, it is still a good idea to have your vet give your bitch an oxytocin injection after whelping has finished. This will ensure that the uterus is cleared out and prevents infection.

After whelping it is always a good idea to give the bitch a good wash down to remove all the bloody discharge from her hind legs and tail. Check that all the pups are feeding well and that mum has adequate milk. You should see the teats become gradually larger over the first few days post whelping. The bitch may not eat too much on the first day after whelping especially if she has eaten all the placentas. She should be offered food and it should be good quality. It is vitally important that the bitch is fed top quality now as it will help her produce milk to feed her pups.

All of the pups need to be wormed at 2, 4, 6, 8 and 12 weeks with an appropriate puppy wormer. It is a good idea to trim the puppies’ nails at the same time as it stops mum’s teats from getting sore. We hope this guide is helpful and best of luck with your litter.

The British Greyhound Breeders Forum will not accept any legal responsibility for the contents of this advice and any views or opinions presented in the text above are solely those of the author. You should always seek the advice of your Vet if you’re unsure


We feel British breeding has always been underrated, we regularly hear that all of the best greyhounds are bred in Ireland. The reality is somewhat different. Take a look at the pedigrees of most of the top greyhounds, you will usually find a British bred somewhere in there.

Irish bred greyhounds out number British bred greyhounds by over 9 to 1 (recent stud books), yet, they only out number open race wins by a ratio of around 5 or 6 to 1. This shows us that the British bred greyhound is performing well above the level of expectancy.

As for the breeders table which is based upon open race wins, the top 20 breeders (2014) contained 8 British based breeders and 12 Irish. This is a fabulous achievement when you consider the small numbers being bred in the UK at present.

With the introduction and support of the British Greyhound Breeders Forum, and representation at the GBGB table, we are extremely hopeful that British Breeding will flourish in the coming years.