Friday, September 3, 2010


So your girl is digging up her papers in her whelping box. She’s shredding them with her teeth. She’s whining and is naturally restless. She might run out of the box and then jump back in. She circles some more. You see her first contraction. Most German Shepherd bitches don’t have too many problems when they deliver their puppies. But there are those few times that things don’t always go as you had hoped. That’s why I said you should have your vet on call.

Some breeders let their bitches do all the work and don’t interfere with the birthing process. I’m not one of those breeders. I am very hands on. Each and every puppy is valuable to me and I want to make sure that I give it every chance for survival. Losing a puppy or even puppies is something we all want to avoid. For the new mother, I believe it’s even more important to be right there when she is giving birth for the first time. I want to be on top of any problems while they are happening. I don’t want to walk in the room after a problem and it’s too late to save a puppy or the mother is in distress.

When the puppy is delivered, the most important thing to do is to remove the sac from the head that the puppy is in. Then I take the puppy and rub him with a soft towel and open his little mouth to make sure it’s not filled with mucous. Normally when I rub the puppy, he will let out a little (or sometimes a big) cry. This is good as it opens his air passages so he can breathe. I also cut the umbilical cord although most of the time the mother will do this. My main focus is that the puppy is breathing normally. I put the puppy down so the mother can lick and clean him. Most of the time the puppy with look to nurse right away. Sometimes you have to encourage them by placing them on a nipple. If he’s still reluctant, I make sure I squeeze the nipple to expel some milk to entice the puppy. Then there are those that take a little longer to nurse. Sometimes the trauma of birth is exhausting to the puppy and he just lies there resting. If all is well, he’ll come around and nurse on his own.

Remember to keep the puppies warm at all times. You don’t want them to get a chill. In between the mother delivering her puppies, I will normally put the puppies that she already delivered in a box with a plush towel in it so they don’t get stepped on while she’s delivering her next puppy. I keep the box in the whelping box so as not to stress the mother and to ensure that they remain warm.

Sometimes your bitch will run into delivery problems. Some of those reasons can be because the puppy is huge and the mother is having a hard time delivering him. This is when it’s wise to have two people there when she’s delivering. Sometimes when she is contracting you can help gently guide the puppy out, but many times because of his size this is a painful birth. So if one person can gently hold the mother’s head while the other person removes the puppy, it can make it easier on everyone. I hate breech births……you see the puppies little feet and tail sticking out of the mother and the sac is already broken. Then she sometime sucks him back up and you’re ready to pull your hair out.

Other problems that can arise is that the puppy is laying across the birth canal and you may have to gently turn him around because he will not be able to be delivered in that position. Then you can have a bitch that has uterine inertia which I’ve already written an article about on this blog. This is when the bitch has delivered a puppy or even several pups and she stops contracting. There are still puppies inside her, but she’s no longer contracting. Call your vet immediately for advice. I told you one of my bitches did this every time she delivered puppies……….that was the biscuit eater that I mentioned earlier in this article. I lost a few puppies with this bitch in her first litter because of this condition. I was better prepared in her next litters. My vet was on call all the time with this girl.

The mother will be exhausted while she is delivering her babies. I like to offer her a little refreshment in between delivering her puppies. Sometimes they will drink a little water. Other times they won’t. The last litter I had, I offered the mother some vanilla ice cream. She loved it and it also helped with her contractions.

When the mother is finally finished delivering her puppies, take her out to go potty while you stay with her to make sure she doesn’t deposit another puppy on the lawn. Sometimes a bitch will eat a little food when she is finished with her delivery. Give her whatever she wants to help restore some of her energy.

Check the puppies to make sure they are all breathing correctly and nursing on the mother. Watch for any puppies that lay off on their own away from the mother. Sometimes the mother will even push a puppy aside. This may indicate that the puppy is sickly. So watch for this. Many breeders will have weighed each puppy and made note of it in a journal that they keep on their litters. I always kept one for each of my litters and I would write in it everyday reporting on their progress.

Normally your vet will want to see the mother the next day and he will give her a pit shot (it helps clean her out). Many breeders have this shot on hand and will do it themselves. It will help expel any afterbirth that did not come out with the puppies.

Okay, so now you have your first litter. The mother and babies are content and resting peacefully. Now the fun begins. The raising of those puppies is when your work really starts.

To be continued…….

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My rating: Breeding puppies: (1 - 4)

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