There is a lot you need to learn about having puppies. From knowing what to do before she even gets pregnant, right through to the delivery stage and when they are due to leave for their new homes.
Our girl Piper recently gave birth to 14 puppies. Although it was a great experience, I found it difficult to accumulate all the information I needed to prepare for our journey.
To help things go as smoothly as possible, I have compiled what I learned through the process here, and in my other articles.
It is an enjoyable experience, but when preparing for the birth of puppies, here are some things to consider.
Preparing for Birth of Puppies
Before getting your dog “in pup” there are some essential things you need to know. A female isn’t physically mature until she reaches two years of age or her third heat. If possible, it is best to wait until she reaches that age.
If you breed her too early, this can give her behavioral problems, as she is bypassing her puppyhood.
The physical danger is that as soon as she gets pregnant, she stops growing. This can lead to conditions such as hip dysplasia later on, as her growth plates won’t have closed.
Choosing The Time And Place
It can be a good idea to work out when the puppies will be born. Gestation is typically 63 days.
Which season will the arrival date be?
Newborn puppies can not regulate their own body heat in the first few weeks of life. Giving them a stable environment is a must.
Will you have them indoors or outdoors?
The mother and her litter need to be warm and comfortable but not overly hot. In the warmer climates, a fan may be required, giving a cool breeze.
Based on where you will raise and care for the puppies, you can plan what you will need for the duration and how to set the area and whelping box up.
Waiting until she is almost due to give birth adds unneeded stress to both you and the mother.
Keep in mind, whelping is a messy business and it is best not to move her or the puppies once she has whelped.
Preparation in finding a spot where she feels safe and you can keep clean is crucial.
Make Or Buy A Whelping Box?
The mother is going to need somewhere warm, safe and quiet to give birth to the puppies.
A great place for this is a whelping box. It needs to be large enough for the mother to stretch out comfortably. She will lie on her side when she feeds them, so there needs to be plenty of room for both her and the puppies.
Remember a puppy will double and triple in size very quickly. So choosing a whelping box large enough to accommodate them is important. Having portable dog fences are a great way to give the puppies more room to run around but still being in a contained environment.
Make Sure She Is Healthy Before She conceives
This is so important. It will help her not only carry to full term but she will have fewer (if any) medical problems during or after her pregnancy.
It is a lot harder to put weight on a female once she starts feeding the puppies.
Talking to a veterinarian about her ideal weight can be beneficial. It is important she isn’t underweight or overweight at the time of conception.
She needs to be in optimal condition both pre and post whelping.
Even if the pregnancy is unplanned, it is never too late to begin exercising her or changing her food to a puppy formula.
My expenses totaled $2500 AUD.
This included the stud fee, check-ups at the veterinarian, food for them all, worming, microchipping and vaccinations.
If you are planning on having a litter of puppies, you need to be aware of the financial costs involved. There are veterinarian bills, an increased amount of food and the stud fee. The stud fee can be anywhere from $500 – $1000 depending on pedigree and the owner.
If you are using a registered breeder the costs will be higher than an independent owner. Our fee was $800 with a guaranteed mating.
This means I could take her back for another service the next day to ensure she got pregnant. If the mating resulted in no pups, my money would be refunded.
This is a good way to avoid any disappointment.
Yet not all pregnancies are successful for a variety of reasons.
It can be due to the health of the female at the time of conception. Or sometimes the males DNA does not mix well with the females, resulting in no puppies.
Veterinarian bills can be bank-breaking. If there are problems, such as sick puppies/mother or the puppies can’t be delivered naturally, she will need a cesarean. Then there are check-ups, microchipping and first vaccinations during the 8 weeks.
To avoid any surprises, it is a good idea to prepare and set aside enough money to cover any issues that may arise.
This can be off-putting, but keep in mind if your female is fit and healthy and the enclosure where she will whelp and raise the puppies is sanitary, you should have little to no problems.
The amount of food she needs will increase dramatically as the puppies begin to develop. Like a human, she needs more sustenance to grow them all.
For example, Piper had an overnight “playdate” and came home ravenous. She ate 5 and a half pounds of kibble in one sitting, instead of her usual 2 pounds for the whole day.
Piper is a 72-pound medium-size dog who had 14 puppies. If your dog is smaller or has fewer puppies, there will be less food needed, resulting in lower costs.
However, it is best to be prepared in case you do have a large litter.
It may be a good idea to buy food in advance to spread the costs. A bag a fortnight for example or when there are specials on.
There is a large number of items you will need for this time, and getting it all at once can be tough on your bank account.
It is always best to let the mother feed the puppies if possible. Her milk has all the nutrients required. Only supplement them if she is struggling to maintain weight or the puppies are hungry.
The last thing to consider is your time. Having puppies is rather time-consuming and can be stressful.
You will need to be prepared for late nights, hours of sanitizing and cleaning up poop. This can be tough when coupled with a full-time job.
Overall, I found my experience to be a positive one, even with a few scary moments involved. The copious amounts of cuddle time made up for the less pleasant moments.
Choosing to breed is a very personal choice. After reading my impressions you may find it easier to buy or adopt a new furbaby instead of making one so to speak. But if you have decided to give it a go, congratulations in advance and I hope my other articles help you too.
I love sharing my experience and I will be glad if I can help guide even one person and relieve some of the worries that arise.
**Internal link – Food – feeding her and the puppies article
**Buy or DIY
Frequently Asked Questions
What does whelping mean?
Whelping is a term to describe a dog giving birth to a litter of puppies.
Why are whelping boxes needed?
They satisfy the expectant dog’s natural behavior to nest. If nothing is organized beforehand, she will prepare an area by herself in the days leading up birth. This is known as nesting. The place she chooses is often unsuitable and sometimes even dangerous. A whelping box is safe and tidy.
Introduce your dog to the prepared whelping box a couple of weeks before her due date to get her comfortable with the scents.
What do I need to be prepared for puppies?
Preparation is key. A birthing kit will make the delivery process easier by having all the required items ready for any problems that may arise during the dog’s labor.
How do I prepare for my first litter?
It is best to test the temperament and health of the parents before mating so you can expect a healthy and kind natured litter of puppies. You will need a safe place for the mother to give birth, a trusted vet, puppy food in preparation for the litter and a birthing kit (whelping kit).
Can my dog deliver her puppies at home?
Yes. Dogs have a strong natural instinct that will guide her through the process. It is best to be around in case she needs help. First-time mothers often need supervision but only intervene if necessary.