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Whelping: All puppies do not always survive

Not all whelping situations are joyous occasions for the kids to witness. I see a lot of this during my “midwoof” services. Here is yet another scenario of what can go wrong when whelping.



Warning—some photos are not for all to see. There are pictures of a dead puppy

It is day 60, and we think our dam will have puppies soon, in a couple days. But she goes into labour a day or two early. She had some black tarry discharge from the vulva the night before and a little more in the morning. I question this… Is this OK?? (It turns out, it wasn’t OK). No problem.  We are ready. And she was not left alone, we were there. She does the digging, and then, out comes GREEN stuff and a dark fluid sac with no puppy...this isn't what is supposed to happen is it?? Yes, a sac can come out empty, before the first puppy, I read, but this one was different. It was very messy, and yucky.

We had called our midwoof, and she is on her way (but an hour away) AND it is snowing. We call the vet, and she is on call (but also an hour away). We are told to relax, and stay calm. YEAH, RIGHT!!

Then out comes a thing that looks like liver…? Is this normal? Nothing I had read could have prepared me for this. I felt so helpless and scared. Intuition, and all we have read, tells us something is wrong. This is just not right.

Our dam pushes and pushes, and pushes, and just gets DARK black-green stuff (light green, and a little is normal; lots, and dark, is not good).

DARK black Green stuff coming out of the dam

Our midwoof arrives, takes one look, and assesses the situation. She looks so calm. (She is acting, she tells me later.) She does an internal, and by looking at the intensity of the contractions, she knew a puppy should be coming, but it isn't. Things are not progressing normally. Also the liver-looking thing, is looking like a placenta. (I thought, isn't it supposed to be puppy born first, and then placenta? This is not right, I just know this is not right.)

The vet is called, and we are off to the vet. (IN A SNOWSTORM…oh great!!)

Snow Storm

Our dam is not in distress; we acted BEFORE this became a medical emergency. If we had NOT gone to the vet when we did, or soon, this would have become a medical emergency, and we could have lost our dam and the puppies. We acted before this became a critical situation. Some vets will tell you to leave your dam alone and let nature take its course. DO NOT LISTEN when someone tells you this if your intuition tells you otherwise. Go with your gut feeling. At the vet, the decision to do a C-section and spay is made quite quickly.

C-section prep

C-section prep


The hold-up WAS a dead puppy. The liver-looking thing WAS a placenta. But it hadn't just detached. This puppy was inside the dam, and had been dead for a while. The placenta must have detached some time ago, which was very sad, but these things can happen. Thankfully we didn't lose the whole litter. Thankfully, she only came into labour two days early, and the remaining pups will be able to survive.

Dead Puppy

It is very hard for a dam to push out a stiff dead puppy (almost impossible). Here are photos of the dead puppy. You can see the ears are not formed, nor the eyes, and the skin is peeling off of the belly and chin, thus telling us the poor thing has been dead for a while, and did not just die.

Dead Puppy

Dead Puppy

Look at the ears and eyes, they are not fully developed.

Dead Puppy

See the dead skin across the face.

(PLEASE think TWICE before you decide to breed your dam. You could lose her and your whole litter if you do not have the right help standing by, or if you have left her home alone. Please READ before you BREED.)

THANK goodness we made the call to do a C-section, and I had done a lot of reading to know this was just not right.

Three Surviving Puppies

The other three puppies were born healthy and thriving.

Photos property of MistyTrails (midwoof), compliments of Deanna
Article compliments of Deanna and MistyTrails.

So You Want to Breed Puppies

Pros and Cons of Inbreeding Dogs

Stages of Puppy Development

Whelping and Raising Puppies: Breeding age

Reproduction: (The Heat Cycle): Signs of Heat

Breeding Tie

Dog Pregnancy Calendar

Pregnancy Guide Prenatal Care

Pregnant Dogs

Pregnant Dog X-Ray Pictures

Full-Term Mucus Plug in Dog

Whelping Puppies

Whelping Puppy Kit

First and Second Stage of Dog's Labor

Third Stage of Dog's Labor

Sometimes Things do not go as Planned

Mother Dog Almost Dies on Day 6

Whelping Puppies Unfortunate Troubles

Even Good Moms Make Mistakes

Whelping Puppies: A Green Mess

Water (Walrus) Puppies

C-Sections In Dogs

C-Section Due to Large Dead Puppy

Emergency Cesarean Section Saves Pups Lives

Why dead puppies in utero often require c-sections

Whelping Puppies: C-section Pictures

Pregnant Dog Day 62

PostPartum Dog

Whelping and Raising Puppies: Birth to 3 weeks

Raising Puppies: Puppy Nipple Guarding

Pups 3 Weeks: Time to start potty training

Raising Puppies: Pups Week 4

Raising Puppies: Pups Week 5

Raising Puppies: Pups Week 6

Raising Puppies: Pups 6 to 7.5 Weeks

Raising Puppies: Pups 8 Weeks

Raising Puppies: Pups 8 to 12 Weeks

Whelping and Raising Large Breed Dogs

Mastitis in Dogs

Mastitis In Dogs: A Toy Breed Case

Why are Toy Breeds are Harder to Train?

Crate Training

Showing, Genetics and Breeding

Trying to Save a Fading Dachshund Puppy

Whelping and Raising Puppies Stories: Three Puppies Born

Whelping and Raising Puppies: All puppies do not always survive

Whelping and Raising Puppies: A Midwoof Call

Whelping and Raising a Full Term Preemie Puppy

Whelping Small for Gestational Age Puppy

C-Section on Dog Due to Uterine Inertia

Eclampsia is Often Fatal for Dogs

Hypocalcemia (low calcium) in Dogs

SubQ hydrating a Puppy

Whelping and Raising a Singleton Pup

Premature Litter of Puppies

A Premature Puppy

Another Premature Puppy

Pregnant Dog Absorbing Fetus

CPR Needed to Save One Puppy

Whelping Puppies Congenital Defects

Puppy with Umbilical Cord Attached to Foot

Puppy Born with Intestines on the Outside

Gone Wrong, Vet Makes it Worse

Dog Loses Litter and Starts to Absorb Puppies

Whelping Puppies: Unexpected Early Delivery

Dog whelps 5 days early due to dead pups

Lost 1 Puppy, Saved 3

An Abscess on a Puppy

Dewclaw Removal Done Wrong

Whelping and Raising Pups: Heat Pad Caution

Whelping and Raising a Large Litter of Dogs

Whelping and Raising Dogs While Working

Whelping a Messy Litter of Pups

Whelping and Raising Puppies Picture Pages

How to Find a Good Breeder

Pros and Cons of Inbreeding

Hernias in Dogs

Cleft Palate Puppies

Saving Baby E, a Cleft Palate Puppy

Saving a Puppy: Tube Feeding: Cleft Palate


Although this section is based on a whelping of an English Mastiff, it also contains good general whelping information on large-breed dogs. You can find more whelping information in the links above. The links below tell the story of Sassy, an English Mastiff. Sassy has a wonderful temperament. She loves humans and adores children. An all-around mild mannered, wonderful Mastiff, Sassy, however, is not the best mother toward her puppies. She is not rejecting them; she will nurse them when a human places them on her to feed, however she will not clean the pups or pay any attention to them. It is as if they are not her puppies. This litter is getting mom’s milk with major human interaction, manually giving each and every pup what they need. In return, the pups will be super socialized and will make remarkable pets, however the work involved is astounding. It takes one dedicated breeder to keep this situation healthy. Thankfully this litter has just that. Read the links below to get the full story. The pages within include a wealth of information that everyone can appreciate and benefit from.

C-Section in a Large Breed Dog

Newborn Puppies... What you need

Whelping and Raising Large Breed Puppies: 1 to 3 Days Old

Things do not always go as planned (imperforate anus)

Orphaned Litter of Pups (not the plan)

Raising Puppies 10 Days Old Plus +

Raising Puppies 3 Week Old Puppies

Raising Puppies 3 Weeks - time to start potty training

Raising Puppies 4 weeks old

Raising Puppies 5 weeks old

Raising Puppies 6 weeks old

Raising Puppies 7 weeks old

Socializing the Puppies

Mastitis in Dogs

Whelping and Raising Large Breed Dogs Main

Whelping and Raising Puppies, a new found respect


Whelping: Close-to-Textbook Case

Puppies' Progress Chart (.xls spreadsheet)

Cuban Mysti Puppies: Full Term Mucus Plug - 1

Cuban Mysti Puppies: Labor Story 2

Cuban Mysti Puppies: Labor Story 3

Cuban Mysti Puppies: One-Day-Old Pups 4

Easy Delivery a Day or Two Overdue



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