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Whelping and Raising a Singleton Puppy

When the dam only has one puppy... There IS cause for concern. There are many things not in the puppy’s favor.

1. The pup may be too big to deliver naturally; MOST singletons must be delivered by C-section.

2. Many dams often will not go into labor with a singleton puppy, as there are not enough hormones to trigger labor.



3. As we have found, many dams will not produce milk with a singleton. The hormones are just not there, as a dam produces milk based on demand. No demand, no milk!

Read about all the other things to watch for, and follow Saul's story.

Singletons have a lot against them. Only 50% live. It starts in utero, they get bigger, like a fish that grows to the size of its bowl, so they are harder to get out. Sometimes one puppy is not enough to provide the needed hormones to make the dam go into labor. If you have not done an x-ray or an ultrasound, this may come on you unexpectedly; this is why I ALWAYS do an x-ray. A singleton can also risk the life of your dam.

Meet MistyTrails Soltero of Czar (Saul). He is VERY vocal and lively with a good set of lungs. He has a very dark muzzle and is quite handsome and manly. There was only one Mastiff pup born this time. This is going to be quite different than Sassy's 11 puppies born last litter. I thought, BONUS, this will be a piece of cake, but NO, it is just as hard. And very frustrating.

The puppy is on a warm rice pad because he does not have any littermates to keep him warm.

Since there is only one puppy, I am using only the back four teats, and not the other five. I hope the others dry up. I have marked the four back teats with a Sharpie: A, B, C, D, and I will rotate him on these ones. If I let all nine nipples come active, apparently I am asking for mastitis, as there is no way he can keep up to draining all nine. By one week old, I discovered, I should have only worked on the back two.

The marking of the teats is more so my helpers and kids can help. We also make a chart to help keep track of feedings.

The singleton pup is put into a box with a lot of stuffed toys so he can climb and snuggle up against them. He also needs the exercise of climbing over littermates to stimulate him.

The pup has gone from 750 grams to 744 grams in the time between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. I will suppplement once before bed. I gave him 7 cc and brought him back up to his birth weight and now he is sleeping with his teddies on a warm mat and is more content. I’ve got a long night ahead of me.... I shouldn't have to supplement him again, but will sleep with them and put him on his mom to nurse every two hours. He is soooo cute.

Sassy, the mommy Mastiff, is pretty sore. Poor girl, but she did eat a can of tripe. I am a little concerned as this was a painful surgery and before labor, so milk can be slow to come in. We did give her an injection of oxytocin right after the C-section, as this can assist in milk production/let down.

The pup was born at 750 grams on Tuesday. By Wednesday he went down to 720 grams. TIME to interfere. Mom does not have milk yet, BUT, you don't want to supplement too much and not have milk come in. I let pup suck and cry for an hour, then I tube fed him 20 cc. You have to watch with a bottle not to aspirate him. Bottle is the better option, but this puppy refuses a bottle, so must be tube fed. Also with this breed, and a bottle, they often get fluid in the nose which is asking for pneumonia. So tubing is much easier (BUT...ONLY if you know how).




You have to watch that singletons do not get too fat. Pups that get too heavy too fast and do not learn to walk by two weeks old are called swimmers. Swimmers cannot walk and their chests flatten. They need therapy to get up and moving, and it can ruin their bodies forever. A singleton is a candidate to become a swimmer because he doesn't have to move or fight for a nipple. This is something I am aware of, and will watch for.

Some cuddle time, keeping the pup warm.

4:00 p.m. on day two. The pup’s weight is down to 710 grams.

Worried?? Yes! But if I totally supplement the puppy, the dam's milk will not come in. The dam is sore and growling at the puppy, I cannot leave the puppy alone with her for a minute, yet she needs to suckle. This is taking up JUST as much time as a litter of 11. OH my. But, I did this. I will see it through.

The pup sucked for 45 minutes on colostrum, and never got more than a gram. So I tubed him 20 cc to give him a boost and then he had a nap. When he wakes in 2 to 3 hours, he will have the energy to suck to bring in that milk. If I do not supplement this puppy a little, then he will become weak, and not have the energy to suck in a couple hours.

I am only supplementing him enough to keep him strong, but not fill him up, and I do not supplement until AFTER he sucks for a good half hour.

I can save this puppy by taking over. If I let nature take its course I would lose this puppy. Many breeders would call this fading puppy syndrome. I WILL NOT LET THIS HAPPEN. I could take over anytime, and just start tubing every couple hours. But, I want to see if I can get the dam’s milk to come in. It IS BEST if this puppy has a doggy mommy, and not all me.

I just want the milk to come in. He is down to 708 grams, but good news, he nursed for an hour, and went up to 712 grams; that is a start. So I am getting some milk production. I also tube fed him another 20 g.

At 2.5 days, I am worried; the most I can get is 3 cc of colostrum, and NO sign of milk.

This puppy is NOT suffering. I am trying to find a balance to supplement him enough to keep him alive and strong enough to nurse to bring in the milk. So what I am now doing is letting him nurse every two hours for up to an hour, then supplementing him after his exhausted efforts of sucking. He is content. If I did not supplement him, this puppy would die.

The puppy has been sucking for a minimum of 30 minutes, every 1.5 hours, for three days, and still nothing. I gave the dam lots of liquids, good food and the room is not too hot. It's been three days and we are still waiting for milk.

I AM NOT SLEEPING as I have to be up every two hours around the clock. I am getting tired.

While I wait for the milk and hope it comes in, I am faced with two choices. I could take him off and totally tube him and hand-raise him. Or, a breeder friend has a dam in whelp; I think I may borrow her dam and four puppies for a week. Just to get past this every two hour thing. Once he is at every four hours, it will be easier.

Sassy, the real mommy, cries constantly. I do not know what is going through her mind, but she is frustrated as well I think. She licked the puppy for the first time last night.

Most people do not have this option, but if you know of someone with a dam in whelp, you can use a surrogate mother. I do have the opportunity to borrow a friend's dam and puppies that are one day older than Saul. I JUMP at this opportunity!!!

Here we have Saul and his new brothers and sisters. When you add a puppy to a different litter, you MUST use caution. The new dam can and often WILL kill the new puppy, so exercise caution; do not leave unattended for the first while.

Saul got 4 cc of milk from his new mom, and I tubed him another 20 cc. I still have to help, as his foster mom is a 10-pound Havanese.... And I will still need to supplement him.


I have added a very large breed dog to a toy breed dam. The larger puppy is very, very hungry, and is a bit too assertive. He wants food. So, what I am doing is every two hours, I am giving him 20 cc of Mammalac to take off the edge, and he is now gently nursing and not in a panic to get food. He knows there is food. The dam was worried, but with this technique of taking the edge off of the puppy, and with him being more gentle, she is accepting him. This is the first time I have done this, but with the help of mentors and friends, we have come up with this awesome answer to our situation.


In the morning the pup weighed 796 g and at noon he weighed 832 g.

Sassy the Mastiff mom is howling for her puppy. I put him on Sassy, and he got 8 grams of milk. WOW unbelievable! Grin! Her milk is finally in on the back two teats.

I will put the puppy on the real mom once a day, as well as on the Havanese mom. Sassy the Mastiff mom is not as attentive to cleaning, so I will still put him with the Havanese mom too.

By the end of that night the pup weighed 874 g

DAY 6—Mastiff getting some milk

DAY 6—Milk in the Mastiff mom. Not a lot, but enough for one feeding a day.

In the morning the pup was 874 g. I left him alone with the Havanese dam all night, from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. and she tended to him 100%.

A PLEASANT turn to his FATE...

Saul the Mastiff puppy is doing very well. He is with the Havanese dam and four adoptive Havanese puppy siblings who are one-fourth his size. The Havanese dam tends to all his needs.

During the day I tube him 20 g every couple hours while the Havanese dam tends to him all night. Sassy comes in once a day, and he gets about 10 cc of milk from her back two teats.

I would say he has the best of everything. ONE SPOIL'T puppy.

At one week old, his weight compared to a nursing puppy is exactly on. In fact, he is bigger.

All the Havanese puppies cuddle up to Saul the Mastiff puppy. All is wonderful. The Havanese dam cares for him 100%, however I still supplement him every two hours during the day, on top of her milk. She loves him as her own.

Look how much larger the Mastiff puppy is than the Havanese puppy. The Havanese pup is one day older than the Mastiff pup.

By keeping the singleton Mastiff puppy with the Havanese litter, it gives the Mastiff pup all of the stimulation and warmth he needs from the other puppies. Not to mention the care the mommy Havanese dam is giving him. The pups and dam do not know they are different breeds. To them, they are all one happy family.

Sassy the Mastiff mom has been giving 10 cc a day of milk from her back two teats. On day nine Sassy gave 20 cc milk letdown to Saul.



Sassy pulled Saul in close, cuddled him and put her arm around him. Soooooooooooooo sweet.

Kissed him. Sassy does love him. She has very little milk today. But LOVE overflowing.

And they went to sleep.

Sassy has minimal milk, but twice a day she gets to snuggle and feed Saul. She gives him about 10 cc. I tube him 60 cc of goat’s milk every few hours.

I think Saul is going to be a BIG boy. He is not chubby. He is starting to walk about and gets OUT of the whelping box. So nice and agile.

At three weeks, as sad as it was, Saul was getting too big to be raised by a toy dog mom and her babies. He started to walk on them, so we have started him on goat’s milk and pablum. His Havanese mom will leave in two days.

3.5 weeks old—Saul ate, made a mess, and fell asleep in it, so we left him to rest. LOL.

Saul is totally paper trained at 3.5 weeks.

I have put Saul next to the 10-week-old Havanese, so they visit through the fence.

A 10-week Havanese puppy is socializing with 3 ½-week-old Saul.

He still visits with his mom, Sassy, but she doesn't tend to him at all.

Saul the Mastiff Puppy at 5 weeks old

Saul the Mastiff puppy at five weeks old

Saul the 10-pound Mastiff puppy at five weeks old playing with 12-week-old Havanese puppies. Saul pins them down; part of his instinct at play; he wants to be dominant.


Saul the 18-pound Mastiff puppy at six weeks old playing with 13-week-old Havanese puppies

  Saul the singleton English Mastiff puppy at 8 weeks old.

Saul the singleton English Mastiff puppy at eight weeks old

  Saul the singleton English Mastiff puppy at 8 weeks old.

Saul the singleton English Mastiff puppy at eight weeks old


Singleton Mastiff Puppy

At nine weeks, Saul is 30 lbs. and ready for his new home.

Saul the singleton Mastiff puppy at 3.5 months old, weighing 60 pounds. He is the YOUNGEST and BIGGEST in his puppy class.

Saul the singleton Mastiff puppy at 3.5 months old, weighing 60 pounds

Saul the singleton Mastiff puppy at five months old, weighing 110 pounds, at the beach

Saul the singleton Mastiff puppy at five months old, weighing 110 pounds, at the beach with his Border Collie friend.

Saul the singleton Mastiff puppy at nine months old



Saul the singleton Mastiff puppy at nine months old

Saul the singleton Mastiff inside a smart car




Whelping a Premature Litter


Courtesy of MistyTrails Mastiffs


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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