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Orphaned Litter (Almost), Whelping and Raising Puppies

One of the biggest worries in whelping is to have your dam die at birth, or reject, or kill her puppies.



This particular litter is almost the same as an orphaned litter. Sassy, the English Mastiff dam, is refusing to clean and potty her puppies. She is not aggressive toward them and is not rejecting them totally; she is tolerating them. She will allow them to feed if the pups are manually placed on her teats, however she shows no interest in them. I was hoping if the pups suckled that her hormones would kick in, but we are on day five, and she is still showing zero interest.

Usually if I had a dam that just refused to clean and potty her puppies, I could at least leave the puppies with her all night to keep warm, stimulate and feed, then I can potty them in the am.

This time, I cannot do this. Many breeds cannot stay with their puppies, as they could purposely kill them or accidentally kill them in this case, because of the size of the dam.

I must take the pups away, and give them to her every two hours.

Even if I had a GREAT dam with little milk, I could at least leave them all night, and do supplementing during the day.

This litter is presenting the breeder with a similar challenge as an orphaned litter.

She has milk, but cannot be left alone with the puppies, nor will she stimulate, or potty them.

This means a committed breeder must put a whole lot more into this litter than ever imagined, being robbed of a once-welcomed act called sleeping.

Every two hours (and each feeding takes an hour)…

She must take the pups out of the warm box, and put them on the dam. With this litter, there are only 9 teats, and 11 puppies, so she needs to rotate, and top off with supplemented canine milk.

Then she needs to gently massage each puppy’s vulva or penis, to make them potty.

Manually helping a puppy poop and pee

Then she needs to massage each puppy’s anus to make them poop.

It's a messy job! But someone's got to do it!

This is very time-consuming, a messy job and mentally and physically draining.

Wet Ones, every breeders best friend

If you don't have convenient access to a sink, you can use wet wipes to clean your hands before pottying each puppy. Occasionally you may need to use them to clean up a puppy bum, (make sure they are baby wipes, meant to clean a baby’s bum). Floor wipes should not be used on puppy bums.

Sassy calmly lays back and watches her humans do her job

Sassy calmly lays back and watches her humans do her job

Sassy calmly lies back and watches her humans do her job.

In a case like this, where a human is keeping track, not the dam, EVERY puppy needs to be identified. I am using colored ribbon, as the tails are too dark to color.





Even with a dam in total control it is wise to identify the puppies so when you weigh them, you know who is gaining how much.

Every step of the way must be recorded to make sure no puppy or the dam is being neglected.

We are winning! Mastiff puppy weight chart:

  17th 18th 19th 20th 21st 28th Nickname
Red boy 614 634 628 640 714 1118 Pluto
Green boy 658 644 622 680 720 1144 Chip
Yellow boy 700 692 672 730 802 1134 Moose
Pink girl 614 600 620 652 694 1100 Minnie
Green girl 514 522 522 574 636 932 Lady
Red girl 588 580 548 598 670 1030 Tinkerbell
White girl 534 514 508 534 594 908 Alice
Aqua girl 620 612 624 688 736 1050 Daisy
Orange girl 502 500 526 544 614 968 Lilo
Brown girl 434 446 452 498 522 910 Thumbelina
Black girl 510 518 528 544 638 1000 Cinderella

500 g = 17.5 oz.
600 g = 21 oz.
700 g = 24.5 oz.
800 g = 28 oz.


I put Catreeya, a Havanese dam, in the guest room, moved the blue kennel back, and put in its place, a big Rubbermaid bin. I then gave her two pups at a time until she had them all.

Catreeya, a Havanese Dam Foster Mothering English Mastiff Puppies

Catreeya, a Havanese Dam Foster Mothering English Mastiff Puppies

Catreeya, a Havanese Dam Foster Mothering English Mastiff Puppies

Catreeya, a Havanese Dam Foster Mothering English Mastiff Puppies

Catreeya came in and got them all exercised up.

Catreeya, a Havanese Dam Foster Mothering English Mastiff Puppies

She was willing to nurse them, or let them try. She lifted up her leg.

Catreeya, a Havanese Dam Foster Mothering English Mastiff Puppies

Catreeya, a Havanese Dam Foster Mothering English Mastiff Puppies

She was very accommodating; she licked all their heads, but didn't go for their bums (but I had just done that). She got them good and exercised and moving.

Catreeya, a Havanese Dam Foster Mothering English Mastiff Puppies

Sassy the Mastiff was up on her feet wondering WHAT was up so I let her go look, hoping she would be jealous. And she saw Catreeya, greeted her, kissed her and thought, “OH...OK...go ahead, keep doing whatever you are doing, thanks.” Sassy then went back in her room without the pups.

Catreeya, a Havanese Dam Foster Mothering English Mastiff Puppies

I may use Catreeya at night to keep the puppies company; too bad she didn't have milk.


Today's problem: we are dealing with constipation.

WELL, NOW they are all constipated.

They need heat, but it can dehydrate them, you turn the heat down, and risk fading puppy syndrome, or deal with it?

Too much heat can cause constipation, while too little heat can cause death. (WAY too much heat can also cause death.)

It took me from 7:30 till 9:22 to feed them and try to get them all to poop; they hadn't pooped since this morning. Yesterday I tried a bottle of water and a drop of oil, but it wasn't working; their poops were pasty.

Nature works soooooo well when it does all for you.

Anyway, I had to give them (9 of 11 of them), a nice warm enema and lickety split, all pooped.

This is so much work, just like having quintuplets!

In the end of all this, these puppies will be better than ever, because they have been mainly hand-reared, using the dams milk. The hands-on time that these puppies are getting will make them exceptional pets, and worth all the effort.



She licked and kissed three a very small way, but she is falling for them....

Last night was brutal.

I fed them at 9 p.m., finishing at 9:30. If I just potty them, then they want to eat at 11 p.m., then 1 a.m., then they wouldn't settle. At 2 a.m. they were scampering and screaming, finally at 2:30 a.m. I fed them again, and spent the rest of the hour topping them all off with a bottle, so I was done at 3:30, and they slept till 7ish, so I got to sleep from about 3:45 a.m. till 7:00 a.m.—3.25 hours.



FRIENDS: at times like this, it sure is nice to know you have some (grin).



Courtesy of MistyTrails Mastiffs

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


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


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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