Do Dogs have to Tie to get Pregnant? Doodle Mating Explained

This is a slightly unusual article for two reasons. Firstly, it is not Doodle specific as the mating process is the same for all canines (including the wild ones) and secondly it is not one I expected to write. The idea for this article came about when I proudly and excitedly sent a photo of my young Poodle stud dog ‘tied’ with my experienced Goldendoodle girl to a friend.

An odd thing to send a photo of you may think but to a dog breeder this is not only very exciting but a pivotal moment in the life of any stud dog. My friend responded with ‘but he’s the wrong way round’ which led to an explanation and the realization that many people, although dog lovers and owners, do not know how dogs mate and have never heard of the term ‘tied’ in terms of dogs so we decided to cover it here at Know Your Doodles.

Quite simply yes, dogs do have to tie in order to conceive. Tie is the technical term used during the canine mating process. When the dogs are tied they will be back-to-back with a head at each end. The tie can last anywhere from five minutes to longer than half an hour.

The Female Doodle’s Reproductive Cycle

Most people are familiar with the terms ‘on heat’ and ‘in season’ in relation to female dogs and for many it is part of the process of choosing whether to have a male or female puppy. A female dog reaches puberty any time from six months of age up until around eighteen months with the averaging being around one-year-old.

Smaller dogs usually become sexually mature earlier than the large or giant breeds. Although you should not consider breeding from your girl until she is close to two years old, you must be prepared for her to start her seasons (fertile periods) anytime from six months.

You can read in further detail about when dogs go into heat in our article when do Bernedoodles go into heat where we also discuss the best time to spay or neuter your dog.

Some people have their girls spayed before six months so that they never experience a season, but some vets recommend waiting until three months after the first season to carry out this procedure. The most obvious sign, one that is difficult to miss, of a female dog being in season is bleeding from the vulva. However, there are other signs that you may notice before this. In fact, there are four stages to the season:


This is the start of the heat period or season when the bitch is preparing to mate. You might notice slight behavioral changes in your girl before anything visible happens. She may become clingy or sulky and might even urinate inside like a puppy, and if around other female dogs some girls become more dominant or even slightly aggressive.

In a multi bitch household this is the time that fights may be likely to break out. If you examine your bitch you may notice that her vulva is starting to swell, and she might lick herself more than normal.

The next sign is blood spots or a discharge that can vary from very little to quite heavy. This stage lasts between three and seventeen days. To begin with, she is not attractive to male dogs and may snap at them if they approach her.


This is the stage where it all happens. The bleeding lessens or changes color and the novice owner may think the season is over. Quite the contrary, this is when the bitch is irresistibly attractive to male dogs and will even attempt to seek them out.

When presented with a male dog she will turn her backside towards him and stand with her tail held high and to one side. We breeders call this ‘flagging’. She will also become very playful and flirt with other dogs, even females if there is no male available.

It is important to keep your girl away from other dogs (except her intended mate if you are going to breed) during this time. Also, take extra care when exercising her in public places by keeping her on the lead.

This stage can last anywhere from three to fourteen days. You may also notice your female Doodle urinating more frequently outside in lots of different places during this stage. She is advertising her availability to any males in the vicinity.


This is the phase straight after oestrus when the female dog is either pregnant and preparing for the arrival of her puppies or her body is returning to normal.

The discharge stops and her vulva will go back to its normal size. She is no longer fertile or receptive to male dogs.


This is the stage when your girl is back to normal. No hormonal or sexual behavior is present and if you are not planning to breed this is the time to have her spayed.

This stage lasts between 90 and 150 days after which the cycle starts over again.

The Mating Process

Now we come to the mating process itself. If you have decided to mate your bitch it is important that you introduce her to the male dog at the right time. This varies from girl to girl so if you are traveling to stud it’s important that you have her tested for ovulation. This can be done via a blood test or vaginal smear.

The vet will check the progesterone level, and this will tell you when the right time to mate your girl is. The timing of the mating is critical and varies from bitch to bitch with some ovulating as early as the third or fourth day of oestrus and others as late as the eighteenth day.

In my experience most bitches conceive between days ten and fourteen. It is best to mate your bitch at least twice during this time and if you are traveling to use a stud dog most owners will offer two mating’s 48 hours apart.

Now we come to the unusual part! Once the stud dog and bitch have been introduced, they usually have a brief period of flirting where, as described above, the bitch will bounce around the dog and try to entice him to mount her.

The stud dog will mount the bitch from behind and start ‘humping’ but his penis will not be erect and indeed you might not even see it at this stage. Once he penetrates her (you will see him perform a funny little dance at this point and if he is slightly shorter than the bitch perhaps even a little jump) his penis will rapidly become erect and the bulbous gland at the base of the penis (you will not see this part of the anatomy at any other time) expands inside the vulva.

The vulva then contracts to allow the bitch to trap the dog inside her. This is known as the ‘tie’ and can last from five minutes to thirty minutes or even slightly longer. The male then swings his leg over the female’s back and turns around to stand behind to behind with the female. This is what has occurred if you ever hear anyone say their dogs got ‘stuck together’. Bizarre eh?

There is a very important reason for this though. It is while the dogs are tied that ejaculation occurs and because the penis is locked inside the vagina, no sperm can leak out. This gives the eggs which the female has released the very best chance of becoming fertilized. For this reason, once a successful tie has been achieved there is a very good chance that puppies will be on the way.

So, why do they turn back-to-back like that whilst they are tied? This is the part that I find most fascinating and it harks back to our dog’s wild ancestors such as wolves and coyotes. Imagine if these animals were out in the wild rather than safe in our homes, they would be extremely vulnerable to attack by other predators as they are unable to move for quite some time while they are locked together.

Other males may even approach to try to mate with the female themselves once she becomes detached from her current partner so by turning back-to-back, they have a head at each end and are still able to bite and fight off would-be attackers even while in this most vulnerable position! Indeed, they could even spin in circles creating a snapping wheel if they needed to! Pretty incredible when you think about it. Mother Nature thinks of everything.

Once this process is complete the bulbous gland will shrink back to its normal size and the male will pull away from the female and usually, both will give themselves a lick and settle down for a nap while you can grab a cuppa and dream of the puppies that you hope this mating will produce.