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Rearing of the Newborn Puppies

Breeding Business Thursday 7 November 2019

The new family needs peace and a lot of rest during the nursing of the puppies. Initially, for the first three weeks, the mother and the pups are one unit. The mother dog ends up doing everything for her litter:

  • providing them with immune defenses,
  • keeping them warm,
  • feeding them,
  • stimulating them so they can defecate, and
  • cleaning their excrements.

Some new breeders or occasional breeders are having a difficult time going through their first litter with all the crying going on. Often wondering how much a newborn puppy should weigh, how do they look like and what to look out for?

In the first few hours after their delivery, the puppies will be fed by their mother every two hours or so. Never interrupt that as these first milk feeding sessions will deliver the puppies with what is called colostrum. If the mother fails to nurse her puppies, you will need to step in in order to bottle-feed the puppies with a puppy-specific milk formula; do not hesitate as it is a matter of life or death during the first days. If your puppies are way too small to suckle on a bottle’s teat, you may need syringes to practice tube-feeding instead.

There is so much to say about the rearing of newborn puppies so it is an actual module in our dog breeding master course. Crucial focus points include:

  • nutrition and hydration of the mother
  • hygiene of the whelping box and the whelps
  • weighing of each puppy daily
  • keep the room temperature at 30°C (or 86°F)
  • balanced nutrition of the growing puppies
  • stimulation of the puppies for sanitation

From the third week, puppies should start to accept solid foods that are moist and fine-textured. From the fifth week, they should be completely weaned.

Puppies have a fragile and weak immune system during their first weeks. Their only defense comes from the colostrum delivered by the mom during the first hours after delivery. First parasites to eliminate: worms. They are actually not a huge threat, they do not want to kill, they simply want to use the puppy as a dinner plate.

A vaccination course is recommended to prevent a particular illness. They must be given by a professional following a particular timeline. The most convenient option is to use a multivalent vaccine to protect the puppy against multiple diseases in one injection.

Throughout the nursing of the litter, you may notice that one or several puppies may seem weaker, smaller, and less alert than their littermates. Such a puppy is colloquially called the runt of the litter. Although there is no medical definition to describe a runt in a litter, just make sure you provide enough care and perhaps a special diet plan to make sure the runt of your litter has a steady weight growth.

Over the last decade, there has been a surge in a more natural, ethical, and responsible approach to nursing a litter of puppies. We’ve written an article on holistic dog breeders to highlight what do they do differently.

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Published on
Thursday 6 October 2016
Last updated on
Thursday 7 November 2019