Because the American Water Spaniel is such a rare breed, mating and pregnancy should be approached with great care. While there are several American Water Spaniel breeders in existence, there are only three bloodlines left in the entire world. This makes it extremely important to do the proper amount of research before taking on this task. At twenty five to forty pounds the female American Water Spaniel is a medium size dog that generally sails through uneventful episodes of mating and pregnancy. The uncommonness of the breed has kept it in very good health and there is very little worry of genetic deficiencies.
Those who plan to expect at least four to six healthy puppies from their American Water Spaniel will need to wait at least two years before taking the first mating opportunity. Prior to this time, the pelvis of a female Water Spaniel is still developing and not fully ready to support the growth requirements of pregnancy. It also gives an owner time to recognize the female's heat cycles and ensure that proper nutrition has been established. American Water Spaniels that are overweight or too thin pose health risks to both themselves and unborn pups. Certain tests that a veterinarian must perform before mating and pregnancy can begin will not be performed on any female dog less than two years of age.
Most commonly, a female is taken to the stud for breeding but this is not always the case. Having someone present with experience in breeding is a good choice for the owner with little experience in this area. Sometimes dogs are taken to a veterinarian's office for breeding; however, this is not always recommended as there may be sick dogs on site that can pose a health risk. It is not uncommon for dogs to mate more than once to ensure pregnancy occurs. After the first mating, most owners wait forty eight hours and then mate their dogs again. Upon confirming the pregnancy, owners can expect a gestation period of approximately eight weeks.
Unless otherwise directed by a veterinarian, most American Water Spaniels keep their regular activity and diet right on up to the fifth week of pregnancy. Owners can then begin feeding the female a diet for pregnant and nursing mothers. While this ensures that mother and pups are being sustained nutritionally, it also supports the large amount of milk production that will be required in the coming weeks. Owners should also set up a private area where the mother can give birth when the time comes. This out of the way area should be a non carpeted surface that can be covered with sheets, towels or blankets that can later be thrown away. A visit to the vet will likely occur in the last week of pregnancy so that the doctor can explain signs of labor and complications that warrant emergency attention.