Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Mother and her puppies are doing well. She’s eating her food right on schedule and you’ve increased it because of all the hungry little mouths she has to feed. You’ve kept a close eye on the puppies to make sure that they are all doing well and are nursing on their mother. You should note that when you observe the puppies while they are sleeping you will notice that their little bodies jerk quite often while they’re sleeping. This is normal and your puppies are healthy so no need to worry. They should feel warm to the touch. It’s the puppy that isn’t moving very much and feels cooler to the touch that you should have a concern with. Call your vet if you notice anything that doesn’t seem right. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

The first couple of weeks, you won’t need to do too much of anything besides change the newspapers in the whelping box and wash the towels or blanket. The mother is very capable of taking care of her babies at this stage. She licks and cleans them to help stimulate their need to defecate and urinate before they can do this on their own.

Normally you will see the puppies eyes begin to open around 10 – 14 days old. At this tender age, the best they can see is shadows. They will have a bluish looking tint to their eyes. By 3 weeks, most puppies are beginning to try to stand and walk although they are shaky at best. It’s comical to watch them as they fall like drunken sailors back onto the floor of the whelping box. They will try to play with their litter mates and you will see a pattern developing as the alpha puppy is determined among the litter.

It is also at this young age that the puppy will have been introduced to a mushy type food. Many breeders will first introduce the puppy to meat by putting a small amount of chop meat on her finger and put it in the puppy’s mouth. The funny faces that they make can give you a chuckle but no more so than when you place the puppies around their dinner bowel and watch them slide head and body first into their food. It’s not unusual that most of them will be wearing more of their food than eating it. But give it time, and they’ll get the hang of it. Then you can gradually add dry food to your puppy’s gruel like mixture which can consist of baby rice cereal, ground meat, puppy milk like replacement supplement that’s loaded with vitamins, etc. Most puppies will be fed four times a day with solid food while still being nursed by their mother.

Many times a breeder will take the puppies to different parts of the house at 4 – 5 weeks of age to get them familiar with different sounds and objects. Up to this time, I like to have a radio playing in the room where the puppies whelping box is so they are already familiar with different sounds. I love to put them on a rug and watch them taking their first steps in unfamiliar territory. By five weeks I’ve already picked my best puppies because at this age, I’ve get my first glimpse of their movement as they do their little puppy gaits across the rug. It amazes me how much a puppy at this age has already developed considering that five weeks ago they were still in their mother’s tummies!

Most mothers will still allow their pups to nurse for a little while, but the puppies at this age show their mother no respect and can be very rough on her by biting and scratching her already tender body. You may see the mother discipline them as well by gently but firmly biting them to let them know that she has had enough of their rough housing. As time goes by she’ll nurse them less and less but will still want to play with and discipline them. This bonding is necessary for their mental and emotional health. They learn from their mother who normally enjoys teaching her offspring.

In a couple of weeks, the puppies will receive their first inoculations. Most of the time you will have to bring a litter of puppies into your vets. If you’re lucky, you may have a vet that makes a house call. However, many breeders give their puppies their own shots that they’ve ordered from a veterinarian supply catalog. They will also have received their first worming mediation.

These initial weeks of a puppies life is crucial for their health and their mental and emotional growth. You don’t just breed a litter of puppies and leave them in a dog run. It is very important that they are played with and socialized. They should come into the kitchen where pots and pans are rattling or dropped on the floor intentionally to watch their reaction and recovery time from their initial “shock” of the intruding object. This is when you observe do your puppies come to investigate what it was that made all that noise? Do they sniff at the invading intruder lying on the middle of the floor or do they run and hide behind a chair? Do your puppies like people? Are they friendly towards strangers, or are they suspicious and cower in a corner somewhere unwilling to come and make friends? This is all an indication of the pups character and future personality.

This is also a good time to introduce them to being handled and groomed. Gently brushing them and combing their fur gets them used to being handled. Put them on a grooming table and most of the time they will stiffen up because they may be frightened. But once they get used to it, most puppies are cooperative. This is also the time that you can introduce them to their first bath. Oh they’re going to kick and splash and try to get out of the sink or tub but they’re German Shepherds and they learn very quickly.

Alright so your puppies are now eating solid food, they’ve had their initial puppy shots, they’ve been wormed, they’ve been handled and groomed and played with and socialized. You’ve enjoyed them, (but the parties over) and it’s time to find them their loving “forever” homes. Let’s hope that you have already received some deposits on these puppies when they were first born or you had a waiting list when you bred this litter. No litter (in my opinion) should be bred unless you have homes for them to go to. You’ve also probably advertised your litter and are hopefully receiving inquiries about them.

Your first concern as a breeder should be to find the very best homes that you can for your puppies. You’ve screened your potential buyers by asking them the right questions like what are their plans for your puppy? Do you have a fenced in yard? Do you have references? Who is the vet that you plan to take care of your dog? Do you work a full time job? Where will the people stay if you do? How will he be taken care of when you’re not home? Do you have other animals and how will they take onto the puppy? Do you have children and do they know how to treat a puppy? Do you know how to train a dog? Will you take him to obedience classes?

You will give the new owner a health guarantee on the puppy. You will tell them that they are to have the puppy neutered if they are not sold as a show or breeding animal. You will take the puppy back at whatever age it is if they can no longer keep him. You will give them a list of shots and worming and dates that they received them. You will tell them what food you recommend that they feed him. You might even give them some food for his first few days in his new home. You will ask them to get in touch with you with any concerns and ask that they give you an update on the puppy periodically. You will tell them that you might drop in on them occasionally just to see how things are going.

Now most of your puppies are sold into loving homes, but there still remains a few that were not so lucky. These are the puppies that no one seems to favor. Did you think of this BEFORE you bred the litter? Are you prepared to hold onto puppies after 8 – 10 weeks old knowing that the older they get, the less desirable they are to the pet market? Most pet people like to buy young puppies. Many a time a breeder will find themselves with puppies that are now over six months old? Do you have the space to hold onto them and the finances to feed them? This is all part of being a breeder……preparing yourself for the unexpected. Or how about the person that buys the 8 – 10 week old puppy and was never prepared for all the chewing, scratching, biting and destructive behavior of the little darling? Are you prepared when that person calls you first thing in the morning whining and complaining that they need to return the puppy to you and want their money back?

This folks is all part of being a breeder! So the next time you get an “urge” to breed Daisy to Duke, stop and think before you do it. Leave it to the breeder that knows what they’re doing because even the best of them can find themselves in situations that they didn’t plan for. It is not all about the cute, fluffy little butterballs that you see in the pictures that you just want to reach out and grab. It’s about the daily taking care of and meeting the needs of a very needy animal. Treat him right, raise him with love and care and he should give you 10 – 13 years of devoted and unconditional love that will leave paw prints on your heart forever!

KONG Extreme Kong Dog Toy, Extra Large, Black.........

* Stuff with KONG Treats and Ziggies
* Recommended for power chewers
* Keeps dogs busy and help deter misbehavior
* Made in the USA of nontoxic, extremely durable natural rubber
* Measures 5-inches long, for dogs 60 to 90 pounds

My rating: Dog breeding: (1 - 4)

1 comment:

  1. Barbara: Thank you for educating us uneducated folk who have no clue on breeding or what it takes. I just got back to the computer long enough to read all your excellent posts. That took a lot of planning and work, thank you as I now understand more of what goes on in the breeding world.
    I don't want to breed but when I'm able will hopefully do more volunteer work for the Colorado GSD Rescue. That is another aspect of the GSD that has its special interests. When those little fluff balls grow up and the owner is ignorant of their needs or characteristics they sometimes end up on the street or in a rescue. Then volunteers like myself help process applications. Since they want something from you they all appear friendly and cooperative. That is why we need to dig into every investigative nook and cranny to see what they really want. As an old criminal and civil investigator when something looks right but my gut tells me it isn't then I know to go with my gut. The dog fighter will seem nice up front, and if you think he will tell you what he wants your dog for - guess again. Or the people who want a baby sitter for junior, or a friend for their cat or life long dog, etc. I guess that is why some rescue's get to doubting their own ability and judgement. The front that people put up is nice, and they can convince people they would make a good home for a pet when they really have ulterior motives. Experience counts but investigative skills takes a lot of the guess work out of the equation.
    Good planning makes for a good home for a GSD, but you can't be careless and make a mistake or the dog may be doomed to misery and neglect. Breeding is really being a surrogate mother if done right.
    Thanks again for educating and teaching what it is to be a responsible pet owner and how much effort goes into bringing these guys into the world right. Left me exhausted just reading it. Great job...Thanks.