What do you need to consider before breeding a dog? Helping a female dog through her pregnancy and raising a litter of puppies is an amazing experience you will never forget. But before you make this sort of commitment, there are things you need to know to ensure that your first time raising a litter is a positive and successful experience.
Be sure you understand the “babies” require a lot more time than you think! You can’t just whelp them out and say here you go. You have to be there for mom constantly the first two days then often during the first two weeks. Momma dog can’t call her mom and ask, “Is this normal?” You have to be the go-to and assure her everything will be okay. After 72 hours, the mom usually has it under control and understands nursing. Your job at this point is to watch for any issues, make sure mom eats and drinks (a lot more than usual) and that she has everything she needs to be comfortable raising her litter.
At two weeks of age, it is time to start deworming with pyrantel pamoate once weekly. From two to four weeks the load is lighter and you start weaning. Make sure puppies stay on food when it comes time for weaning. Introduce a litter box for the pups to use for urination and defecation. At six weeks, start with their puppy vaccinations. A puppy’s “juvenile delinquent age” is often described as the time period between weaning and 10 weeks of age. You must confine and supervise otherwise, like kids, they tear the home and yard apart!
If you do not want to commit time, leave raising puppies to the experts who have success. But don’t worry, if you want to do this, we can help you one step at a time from breeding to the next home. Every age has its challenges, but our breeders lose less than 10 percent and some even have a five percent loss through all stages.
Whelping Boxes and weaning areas take up space depending on the size of breed.
Once the litter is here, we need an area for mom, a whelping area and an area to wean the puppies. A kennel with a run is the best option. A litter box helps immensely in keeping the pups clean and dry.
Once the puppies are on the move, if you don’t keep them confined to a certain area, they will terrorize your plants and anything else they can get a hold of! Eight Great Dane puppies will tear the house down at six weeks of age before they are old enough to go to a new home at eight weeks.
What Supplies Will I Need?
Pregnant moms and new puppies need special care and safe supplies. Here is a list of some items that are must-haves when raising a litter:
- Whelping Box– available in extra-small, small, medium, large and extra-large breed sizes.
- Safeguard Dewormer for Dogs – give to mom after day 50 of pregnancy to prevent worms and giardia. It is also safe to give to puppies at six weeks and prior to selling.
- Pyrantel Pamoate Nemex – give to puppies at two, three, four and five weeks of age to eliminate roundworms and hookworms.
- Breeder’s Edge Oxy Mate Prenatal Vitamins– for mom during pregnancy, while nursing and between cycles.
- Liquid Vitamin B and Iron Supplements (Breeder’s Edge B Strong)– good for puppies during weaning and females between heat cycles.
- Breeder’s Edge Oral Cal Plus – helps with contractions during whelping and to prevent eclampsia.
- Bulb Syringe and DeLee Mucus Trap – removes fluids from airway at birth.
- Saline – flushes nasal passages if the puppy is struggling with nursing. It’s a sign they can’t breathe!
- Breeder’s Edge Clean Cut Umbilical Forceps– use to clamp umbilical cord if needed and declaw at three days old.
- Breeder’s Edge Clean Cut Iodine – helps reduce the risk of common navel infections in puppies and kittens.
- Breeder’s Edge Nurture Flora – give to puppies on day two and three and/or for a full week if having an issue with puppy loss. It can also help during weaning.
- Chlorhexidine– a disinfectant that is safe around nursing puppies. It can be used for cleaning the area.
- Vaccines– Parvovirus and 5-way vaccine by the time puppies are six weeks old. You want to prevent anything you can from the start.
- Long-Lasting Penicillin – prevention when there is an injury or after birthing before they get an infection.
- Breeder’s Edge Foster Care Milk Replacer and Miracle Nipple and Syringe – good idea to have on hand just in case mom needs help.
To help ensure you have all the whelping supplies you’ll need, check out the Revival Whelping Kit!
What Breed Is Best?
Often we are asked, “Which dog breed is best to raise?” The answer is always the breed you love! You will be successful and you will be able to watch them close for changes in behavior that alert you when they don’t feel well, come into heat or start into labor. In saying that, I don’t suggest starting with breeds that you need to artificially inseminate (AI) or that require a C-Section to get babies, such as English and French bulldogs. Once you are well versed in what it takes to breed, whelp and raise puppies, then we will talk bulldogs if that is your “must-have” breed.
Many people lose a large percentage of the litter when they are not aware of the puppy’s issues and when they are in trouble. We do not want you to have that experience. Always- always get the breed you love! Then it is not work to spend time with them.
What to Consider When Selecting Dogs for Breeding?
Dog genetics plays a big role when it comes to selecting the best dogs for breeding. Dogs we raise are above average and the males are near perfect before we keep them for breeding. It’s best to talk with several breeders and find out what is the best type, conformation or structure and hair coat for your favorite breed.
You can find information on breed standards on breed clubs’ websites, but nothing can replace a breeder showing you what they are looking for in replacement females and males. Once you find a breeder you trust, then you can ask for help and they will be sure you get quality you need. Remember, you’re buying their success and genetics so be prepared for criticism of the puppy you “have to have”.
How Do I Start My Own Dog Breeding?
Now that you know what it takes to raise a litter, it’s time to educate yourself on how and when to breed your female. Our goal is to coach you through this experience without puppies being lost. If you have issues or just don’t understand what is happening, call us at 800.786.4751. We have heard it before or seen it ourselves. We are here for you!
This is the first article in our My First Litter Series. The next few articles in the series talk about breeding and heat cycles, dog pregnancy stages and whelping. Be sure to check out all the articles in the My First Litter Series.
My First Litter: Dog Pregnancy Stages
How long does a dog pregnancy last? When will I know my dog is pregnant? Discover the answer to these and other canine pregnancy related questions.
Dog Whelping: The Complete Guide | Revival Animal Health
Revival Animal Health put together a complete guide on dog whelping to ensure you have the right information. Learn about how to prepare for whelping.
My First Litter: Newborn Puppy Care
How do I take care of newborn puppies? From puppy umbilical cord care to feeding, vaccination schedules and deworming newborn puppies. Learn answers to your newborn puppy questions.
My First Litter: Weaning Puppies
When should mom stop feeding puppies? How do I start weaning my puppies? Learn when to start weaning puppies and how to make the transition smooth.
Written by: Marty Greer, DVM
Director of Veterinary Services
Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has 40+ years’ experience in veterinary medicine, with special interests in canine reproduction and pediatrics. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 1981. She’s served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services since 2019. In 2023, Dr. Greer was named the Westminster Kennel Club Veterinarian of the Year.