Birthing Puppies

When it comes time to birth your puppies, there are a few things that you should know so that your puppies can be happy and healthy and that your mother dog will be safe.

First of all, keep track of the due date. Your vet can help you with this, and so can information regarding your specific breed.

As the due date comes closer, be sure that you are gathering your supplies. Your mother dog should have a birthing box that she can go to. Make sure that this is in the room where you want your puppies to be born. It should be in a room that you go in often, like your bedroom – and if possible, it should be in the place where your mother dog sleeps at night. This will allow her to be comfortable with the puppies.

As it gets closer, put together a birthing kit for yourself.

  • Clean rags
  • Gloves, if you want them
  • Iodine
  • Scissors
  • Eye dropper
  • Infant nose and mouth cleaner
  • q-tips
  • a scale

Make sure that the mother is comfortable in her birthing box and then, wait. When the time gets close, you’ll be able to tell. Your mother dog will spend more time nesting in her box. As she goes into labor, she’ll usually sit up and pant.

You’ll be able to see the contractions that she is having in her body. Move her to the birthing box and then wait with her. Most mother dogs don’t like to have puppies alone if they have good relationships with their owners.

As the puppies begin to be born, you will have to decide whether or not you want to assist. Most of the time, nature can take its course, and the mother will deliver the puppies.

If the mother is laboring for more than an hour after you have seen the sac and the puppy has started to be born, you will want to call a vet to help you. The puppy might be stuck. Otherwise, you can gently guide the puppy out by pulling gently but firmly with a soft and damp rag. Try not to break the sac open while the puppy is still inside of the mother dog. If the sac does break, you’ll need to get the puppy out right away.

Once the puppy is out of the mother, she should break open the sac and lick the puppy’s face. If she doesn’t do this in a matter of moments, you can break open the sac using your fingernails or a scissors.

Present the puppy’s face to the mother and get her to lick it clean. You should hear the puppy begin to breathe. If the mother doesn’t lick the puppies face, you might need to clean it for her and clear the puppy’s nose and throat. You can do this by using the rag or the infant cleaner. Most of the time, the mother will clear the passages so the baby can breathe.

In between puppies, the mother should clean up most of the mess and should clean the baby. Try not to get in her way unless she is having problems with something. You can put the puppy onto a nipple while she does this. Healthy puppies should want to suck right away.

Most puppies will be born within a couple of hours of each other. If the mother dog is laboring and it has been more than a couple of hours between puppies, you should call a vet because there might be something wrong.

Once all of the puppies have been born and the mother is no longer laboring, you can weigh the puppies and change the bedding in the box. The mother will probably want to go outside to go to the bathroom. When she comes back, be sure that you put the puppies onto the nipples to eat.

Your main goal should be to assist the mother if she needs it. Check on them from time to time. It is always a good idea to move puppies closer to the mother if they have been moved, and to put them on a nipple so that they can eat.

There are some things to watch out for right away when it comes to puppies. You should seek vet help immediately if:

  • A puppy doesn’t eat
  • A puppy isn’t moving around
  • A puppy is being pushed to the side by the mother
  • A puppy is noisy.

Healthy puppies should:

  • Stay mostly quiet
  • Gain weight each day
  • Be actively eating
  • Breathe at a normal rate
  • Seem content.  

Please note: This article is part of a collection of dog-related content that we purchased the rights to. Opinions expressed may or may not agree with those espoused by Master Dog Trainer Adam G. Katz. When in doubt, please refer to the advice given in Adam’s dog training book.   This article is provided for your enjoyment, only. It’s relevance to real world working dog training may be limited.

2 thoughts on “Birthing Puppies”

  1. I have a pregnant minature schnauzer, this is her second time at this, the 1st litter all died. I am not sure if it was her or if I did something wrong. I use to raise Great Danes and never had any trouble with them. This last litter with Maggie one of our schnauzers all she wanted to do was be close to me, have me hold her like I usualy do or just rub agaist me. He 1st pup was breech and extremly large. Our vet lives about 35 miles away but I was on the phone with him. That is why I say I might have done something by no calling him after midnight, didn’t want to bother him. I guess this time my biggest concern is her wanting to be right with me and how you handle that. All her life she has also slept with her sister we still have and separating them is going to be a problem to. Any suggestions with be GREALY appreciated. Thanks and we are due on Christmans Day!

  2. Hi Judy:

    This is really something you need to work out with your veterinarian. They are infinitely more knowledgeable about this subject than most breeders (or dog trainers). Good luck! — Adam

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