Breeding, My First Litter, Puppy and Kitten Care, Whelping

My First Litter: 5 Things to Know Before Raising a Litter of Puppies

What do you need to consider before breeding a dog? What do I need to know about raising a litter of puppies? 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.

How Much Work is it to Have a Litter of Puppies: Time Commitment

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.

Where Should I Keep My Litter of Puppies: Space Requirements

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 Dog Breeding Supplies Will I Need?

What dog breeding supplies and equipment do 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 of puppies:

It is also helpful to have a scale, disposable gloves and both a rectal thermometer and a room thermometer.

To help ensure you have all the whelping supplies you’ll need, check out the Revival Whelping Kit!
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What Dog Breed Is Best for Me?

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”.

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How Do I Start My Own Dog Breeding?

Now that you know what it takes to raise a litter and you feel ready to start dog breeding, it’s time to educate yourself on how and when to breed your female dog. 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.

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.

If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.