Your puppy won't be little forever. In short order a puppy is ready for mating. Dogs mature differently, depending on their genes, breed and gender, but in general they become capable of breeding, if not actually sexually active, around 6 months of age.
Get Ready for Puberty
Ah, the teenage years. A time when hormones run amok and cause various changes to transition the body from youngster to adult. Your puppy undergoes the same type of change you did, but with less acne and bad hair. Instead of waiting until your pup enters his teen years, Mother Nature has decided that a greatly accelerated cycle is more practical for your pooch's puberty -- usually before his first birthday. While this may seem unbelievably quick, keep in mind that dogs haven't always had that nice cushy spot on the couch. They had to mature and perpetuate the species fairly quickly in the wild, thanks to the whole survival-of-the-fittest thing.
Little Girl's Growing Up
Because the act of gestating and birthing the next generation falls onto their shoulders, girl dogs tend to mature sexually a little earlier than males. Exactly when your little girl can become a mother varies depending on her breed, but the average age is usually around 6 months. Larger breeds can take longer to mature, sometimes taking up to a year and a half or longer, while smaller breeds can mature earlier than the average. Sexual maturity in your little lady presents through the appearance of heat cycles, which essentially means her reproductive system is gearing up to make some puppies.
Male dogs aren't bound by heat cycles to dictate when they're able to reproduce, and can essentially father puppies year round for practically their entire lives. This hankering for hanky panky usually starts around the same age as the girls, but can lag a few months behind depending on the individual dog. Breed and size can alter the average just like with females, but males typically become sexually mature between 6 and 10 months of age. This hormonal upheaval can have an effect on his personality, and he could start marking become more aggressive and roam in search of a girlfriend.
Nip It in the Bud
Don't romanticize your dog's urge to make puppies -- Mother Nature implanted this desire as a way to perpetuate the species and nothing more. Your little girl won't feel unfulfilled if she doesn't have babies, and your male won't feel like less of a man by not fathering puppies. Unless you're an experienced breeder with new loving homes lined up for all future puppies, get your pooch spayed or neutered before they become sexually mature. This not only prevents lots of puppies, but can also prevent health issues such as mammary or testicular cancers.
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