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Glossary of Dog Breeding Terms

Do you often wonder what those terms are that you see or hear when dog breeding is discussed? Perhaps this glossary will help.

Artificial Insemination - a breeding where the sperm is collected from the male and manually inserted in a female.

Breeding terms - generally referred to the terms which are placed in an agreement when a dog/bitch is sold for breeding purposes.

Breech birth - the positioning of the puppy when the feet come first down the birth canal, instead of head first. This position can occasionally present a problem with a puppy getting stuck.

Brood bitch - a female dog used for breeding purposes.

Canine Brucellois - a highly infectious venereal disease in dogs, which causes abortion, reabsorption, stillbirths and sterility.

Chromosomes - the rod like structures of DNA which come in 39 pairs in dogs on which the genes are located and determine the genetic features of the dog.

Cleft Palate - a congenital abnormality where there is a hole in the palate. Culling of all affected puppies is necessary as they generally cannot nurse correctly.

Congenital - a condition which exists from birth and is generally inherited.

C section (caesarian) - surgical removal of the puppies.

Culling - generally refers to the putting to sleep of puppies who may be malformed or unhealthy.

Dam - mother of puppies.

Dominant - an inherited trait that will express itself in an offspring.

Dystocia - refers to difficult or problem whelpings.

Eclampsia - a condition that may occur in pregnant or lactating females due to a metabolic upset where the body's calcium becomes depleted. Signs may include nervousness, panting, vomiting, problems navigating, temperature rise and convulsions. Extremely serious requiring immediate veterinary assistance to prevent death.

Fading Puppy Syndrome - a condition where a previously healthy puppy suddenly stops nursing, becomes limp and dies fairly quickly. Generally thought to be caused by the herpesvirus.

False Pregnancy - a condition where the bitch may show many of the signs of pregnancy, including milk production but actually produce puppies.

Free Whelp - when a mother is able to give birth to the puppies naturally, without surgical assistance.

Genes - the sequence of material located along the chromosomes which are the carriers of genetic information.

Genetic - traits that are inherited by a combination of genes from the dog's parents.

Genotype - the makeup of a dog's genes, the blueprint of every trait that it has inherited and may pass on to subsequent generations. Gestation - the period of time from conception to birth, on average lasts 62 days.

Heat - a female dog's estrus cycle usually lasting around 21 days during which time she may be bred. Usually re-occurs approximately every 6 months.

Herpes virus - a disease which may affect puppies, often picked up from an infected dam during birth. Signs are puppies that suddenly become limp, ceasing to nurse, crying continuous and die within 24 hours. Quite often the whole litter will be infected, so veterinary assistance should be immediate to save the puppies.

Heterozygous - means two different genes in a pair and is a hybrid and will not breed pure for a characteristic. In a pair of heterozygous genes one will be dominant and the other recessive.

Homozygous - means an identical pair of genes. If a dog has a set of homozygous genes then it will breed pure for a certain characteristic. A pair of homozygous genes may be either dominant or recessive.

Horns of the uterus - a dog's uterus is divided into a Y shape of two separate sections in which the puppies can form. Puppies can occasionally "traffic jam" if they meet coming into the vagina at the same time.

Hydrocephalus - a congenital abnormality where there is water on the brain of the puppy. All affected puppies should be culled.

Inbreeding - the breeding of two closely related individuals within one generation of a pedigree, ie. brother to sister, father to daughter, etc.

Linebreeding - the breeding of two individuals which are closely related through a common ancestor.

Mastitis - inflammation of the milk glands.

Metritis - an inflammation of the uterus, usually caused by a retained placenta or fetus, or introduction of bacteria in the genital tract during birth by unsanitary practices. Signs are lethargy, smelly vaginal discharge and abdominal pain. Requires immediate veterinary attention to save bitch and puppies.

Outcrossing - the breeding of two individuals with no common ancestors within a five generation pedigree Pedigree - written family tree of a dog.

Phenotype - it is how the genes that a dog possess come together to present the outward appearance of the dog. Pick of litter - generally the best puppy in the litter as determined by the breeder.

Placenta - tissue which is attached to the mother's uterus during pregnancy allowing the puppy to receive blood and nutrients while developing. The placenta detaches from the uterus prior to birth.

Polygenetic - traits which are caused by the interaction of more than one gene. Re-absorption - a process where the pregnant bitch may absorb fetuses back into her body, possibly due to deformity of the fetus, disease or stress.

Recessive - an inherited trait that may remain hidden or suppressed.

Season - a female dog's estrus cycle usually lasting around 21 days during which time she may be bred. Usually re-occurs approximately every 6 months.

Standard - written blueprint or guidelines depicting the important points which will distinguish a certain breed.

Structure - the construction of a dog. May vary from breed to breed.

Stud - male dog used for breeding purposes.

Stud Service - the use of a male for breeding purposes usually for renumeration.

Temperature - a dog's regular temperature ranges between 100 degrees F and 102.5 degrees F. Up to 48 hours prior to whelping a pregnant bitch will usually have a drop in temperature of around a degree.

Testing (a) - various tests that may be carried out on a dog to check the health of dog with respect to genetic defects for which a breed is predisposed. Tests may range for ausucilation of the heart to x-rays, ultrasound, blood tests, etc. depending upon the nature of the disease being tested for.

Testing (b) - a series of test that may be required prior to breeding to determine that neither the female nor the male has a venereal disease such as canine brucellois.

Tie - the process during breeding where the male and female lock together caused by the dog's penis becoming filled with blood and the sphincter muscles of the bitch's vagina contracting and holding it in place. May last minutes to hours.

Toxic Milk Sydrome - a condition when the mother's milk has become toxic to the puppies due to an infection developed by the dam. Signs are the puppies become bloated, cry, have greenish diarrhea and a red, sore rectum. Puppies should be removed from the dam and hand fed. The dam will require veterinary assistance.

Tube feeding - the feeding of a puppy by placing a small tube directly into the puppy's stomach. Usually required in newborn puppies if the mother is unable to feed due to death or disease, eg. if the dam dies during a c section. Should never be attempted without experienced help as there is a real possibility that the tube can be placed in the lungs in error.

Umbilical cord - the cord which attaches the puppy to the placenta a llowing nutrients and blood to reach the puppy.

Umbilical Hernia - an opening in the wall of the stomach where the umbilical cord had been. Occasionally a little fat may push through, though there is a small danger that organs could come through. Quite often heals over as the puppy grows older.

Uterine Inertia - a birth problem where the mother's uterus does not contract properly to push the puppies through the birth canal.

Water Bag - sac filled with fluid which surrounds the puppy while in the uterus. Provides lubrication in the birth canal.

Weaning - the gradual process where the puppies are changed over from mother's milk to solid foods.

Whelping - the procedure during which a female dog gives birth to puppies.

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