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Whelping and Raising Puppies
Sometimes things do not go as planned

Things started off VERY normal. Temperature dropped 18 hours prior to labor to 98° F. We knew labor was to start, and then things didn't go as planned.


At 4:15 Catreeya's first water sac broke; looks like coffee on the floor.



At about 4:30 her second water sac presented and broke in about ten minutes.



Normally labor would be next to start (in about 20 minutes), but it didn't.

NO contractions...not one (sometimes they take up to two hours).

Then, at about 4:45 p.m., she was jumping up, as she is VERY mother-driven, DESPERATE to have her sisters puppies, blocked in the next room.

We got a large pool of bright red blood. (This is not always a concern, but not normal.)

I did an internal; the bright red blood did concern me, as we still had no contractions.

I did an internal, around 5 p.m., and there WAS a puppy in the birth canal. I could feel feet and tail, no sac. Breech doesn't worry me, but the canal was not big enough for him to get out, she wasn't dilated enough. I panic?? >>>>>>> Not yet, but worry and wonder set in.



GREAT, so we waited and no contractions. I feathered and feathered, but could hardly get contractions. I could feather the pup almost far enough to grab feet but no luck, so I would push her back up inside hoping to re-position, And also to ensure the cord was not pinched off in the birth canal. There was NO green discharge, so I was sure the placenta hadn't detached, which was good.

You cannot give oxytocin with a pup in the birth canal, not that I like that stuff, and there are NO contractions, feathering is not working >>>> What do I do? >>>>> And how long do I leave a puppy in the birth canal? My mind is really starting to worry.

Two plus hours of a puppy in the birth canal, and NO contractions was enough to fry my OFF to the vet.

During ALL OF this, Catreeya was Catreeya: bouncing and lively, but she did get a little tuckered by about 6 p.m. At no time was I worried about her safety, she was in no distress. The question I had to ask was... Do I do a C-section and try to save the one pup before it detaches, is the puppy already dead? The decision for me was an easy one. Things are not normal, we have a puppy in distress, operate!



It is a happy ending...


Two boys…

and two girls.


One was way down in the birth canal. The vet said the last girl was way far up. She was the hardest to get out and her placenta was way, way up and it was not letting go.

Forcing could cause too much blood loss, so we left that placenta in her and gave her a shot of oxytocin, which didn't do a thing. We will just be careful. I think the placenta did come out the next day. 

The pups are doing well. The one little girl was a little slower to revive. Three pups were screaming within five minutes, and she was going strong within ten minutes.

All pups are nursing and Catreeya is totally beat... 

Of all dams, Catreeya is my healthiest. I couldn't believe that she would not go into labor.

Normally after the water breaks, it is half an hour before labor starts, but waiting up to two hours without a vet exam is OK. But my advice to all is GO WITH your GUT feeling.

I did my own internal, and new a pup was engaged in the birth canal, so I totally assumed all was going fine, however after waiting and waiting and waiting with no contractions, NO contractions...then I got scared.

In a situation like this, most new breeders will wait it out, as they do not have the experience to know this is just not normal.

In many births with a problem like this, one or two pups will be stillborn. And they will be told there was nothing they could have done to save them. There is...and that is having someone around that knows what is normal, and what is not. We call these friends


It is understanding the difference between normal and not normal that saves puppies.

Going on intuition, knowing your dog, and going with your gut feeling.

Courtesy of MistyTrails Havanese


Video clip of a dam in distress. A puppy was breech. The breeder had to assist the dam by putting a feeding tube into the dam's vagina and injecting lube paste around the puppy, and pulling. There is a way to pull—toward the dam’s head. You try to touch the puppy to the dam's belly button. You do not just pull, or pull outwards. This should only be done by a very experienced breeder and you should always contact your vet before performing any such methods. If your dam is in distress, take her to the vet. Someone without many litters of experience or a vet present would not have gotten this pup out alive. This dam pushed on this puppy for 1.5 hours, and this is NOT normal. A dam should not push on a single puppy for more than 2 hours.


We have domesticated these dogs to where most dams need our help. Do NOT listen to our ancestors that used to let dogs whelp under the front porch. They now need help... We have completely domesticated them and they rely on us. This dam would not have gotten this puppy out by herself. Courtesy of MistyTrails Havanese


Another case where things did not go smoothly: Everything turned out OK in the end, thanks to the breeder’s experience, however in this case things could have turned out very badly. The dam and pups could have died. Courtesy of MistyTrails Havanese

The dam is ready to deliver her pups
The dam is ready to deliver her pups. It is 5 p.m., and she has been in mild labor all day. She is fully dilated, and a pup is in the birth canal. We are just WAITING for some strong contractions. Calsorb was given orally to make the contractions stronger but she vomited it up. She is quite exhausted from the mild labor all day, so we are also giving her small amounts of Nutri-Cal. She is also a little dehydrated, as she has not taken any water for 12 hours, and spits it out when we syringe it. Things are not going normally, but there is no reason to panic yet.

The x-ray shows four puppies. One is on top of the others.

It is 8 p.m. and a pup has been in the birth canal for three hours. With very weak pushes and an exhausted dam, it is time to go to the vet. This dam had NO push, so she had to go to the vet for a calcium drip. She kept vomiting up the Calsorb. The IV gave her fluids and calcium was given, and we had 2 pups out within half an hour.

Pup number three was stuck solid, can see her feet out, no sac and the cord is gone. She was scared, and stuck solid.

The stuck puppy that we are pulling by the feet would have been easier to get out if a contraction came, but none did. This pup was stuck, head in, cord cut, and basically was drowning/suffocating. The shoulders were stuck. The puppy lost all color. The pink wiggling feet went still and white. It was VERY, VERY difficult to get out, but we got her out, and she revived very fast. The dam screamed and tried to snap on every contraction and every puppy; this is NOT her temperament, it was just fear biting, She fought delivery all the way. Video clip of dam delivering puppy (this was puppy number two, and a fairly normal delivery). The clip is a normal birth, but NO sac to break. Remember if the pup comes out IN a sac, which is normal, get the sac OFF the puppy’s face ASAP.

Puppy number two normal delivery

Everything turned out fine in the end, however, I would not have gotten that pup out without about four years of whelping experience. If I had not known what to do, the dam and the pups could have lost their lives.


Courtesy of MistyTrails Havanese




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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