We bred our dog, Callie, to a beautiful white male lab approximately two months ago. A few weeks later, it was very apparent that she was pregnant. We took her to a vet for an ultrasound and he confirmed that she was pregnant with at least seven pups! We determined her due date would be approximately June 1st and started preparing for the whelping process.
She had her litter this past weekend. We learned a lot, so for any one who is considering breeding their dog, I want to share a few tips based on our experience. The best advice I can give you is…
Items to stock up on: As soon as you decide to breed your dog, start saving old towels, sheets, t-shirts, newspapers and…money. The towels, sheets, t-shirts and papers will be helpful for cleanup during the whelping process. I found the t-shirts were the easiest to help clean up the puppies when the mom hadn’t quite figured out what to do with them yet.
Money, Money, Money: You may make some money off of the puppies, but there are many expenses you will incur prior to selling a puppy. First, you need to build, buy or borrow a whelping box. If you are planning to breed more than once, I’d recommend purchasing or building a whelping box. If this is the only time you will be breeding, I would suggest borrowing one. These boxes aren’t cheap. The one a friend lent us runs around $250. The biggest benefit of this box was how easy it is to clean and the rails that are built into the side and help prevent the mother from accidentally smothering her puppies.
Education and Preparation: I prepared a whelping kit a few days prior. Many of the items were things I had around the house. However, to save time, you could also purchase one already assembled. It had a few items that we used when we needed to assist with the first pup or two. This was our dogs first litter so she didn’t quite figure out what she needed to do until the second or third puppy.
I would recommend doing some research to find out what the whelping process will all entail and what the signs are that the puppies are coming. In addition to educating yourself through reading, seek out any friends who have delivered puppies before. We were very fortunate to have a close friend available for any questions we had prior to, during and after the whelping. We had several red flags that let us know our dog was about to deliver the puppies. First, she isn’t a digger, but she dug a huge hole in my flower bed for her nest. Then, twenty four hours before she went into labor, she started shaking. These two signs were our cue to take her temperature. Once her temperature dropped below 100, we were pretty certain they were coming soon. (Once the temperature dropped, she delivered around 12 hours later.)
Visit a few vets to make sure you are comfortable with the vet that will be caring for your dog and the puppies. Also, make sure you have your vets after hours number. We had an ultrasound done to have an idea of how many puppies to expect. It cost around $75 and was worth every penny. It was good to know that she was still going to have more puppies when there was a significant lull in the deliveries.
Paperwork: If you have your dog AKC registered, be sure to have your paperwork ready for registration of the litter. Create a contract for prospective buyers and include a deposit requirement.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but some additional things to keep in mind when you are new to dog breeding. The whelping process is incredible and something I’m really happy to have been a part of. I can’t wait to watch the puppy we choose to keep grow up.