I decided to breed my Lhasa Apso dog, Pippa, when advised by a vet that allowing one litter of puppies is usually healthy for a female dog – I also loved puppies and wanted more! From the process I learnt that behind all the cute puppy photos, there is a lot of hard work… But it is worth it!
Below is the stages of what to expect, if your dog is expecting puppies:
1. Finding a mate
First you have to find a suitable partner for your dog. Prepare for the awkwardness of setting up a dog date at the owner’s house, however it is quite funny. You have to pay a fee to the owner for the dogs’ time, usually this is the price you intend to sell one puppy at. In my case the owner wanted to keep a puppy from the litter so she got first pick.
2. The wait
Pregnancy in dogs is much shorter than a human span at only 9 weeks. You can even get a puppy scan at the vets, which determine the number of puppies. Poor Pippa had a very noticeable bump, she was very tired throughout which actually made her needier and almost childlike. (See below when she started stealing dummies from the house.) During this time it is important to ensure your dog receives extra attention, sleep and nutrients.
Witnessing the strain pregnancy put on her, I only think dogs should be allowed to have one litter of puppies in their lifetime. It is unfair to think puppy farms put dogs through this sometimes twice in one year for financial gain.
3. Be prepared
Preparation is essential. At around six weeks dogs start thinking about where to give birth, so prepare somewhere warm and enclosed with lots of blankets, and encourage your dog to start sleeping there.
4. The arrival
It is important that an owner is aware of their dogs’ due date – just like humans, dogs water breaks and they go into labour. House dogs generally do not have the wild instincts to cope with situations like this alone so it is important they are carefully monitored if anything was to go wrong.
Originally at Pippas puppy scan, the vet predicted she would have four puppies. To my surprise on the night, after the fourth, more just kept coming! It turns out she had six puppies!! I received regular updates from my parents who were on midwifery duty from 1am in the morning right up until 4am!
5. How to look after six puppies
It is a challenging task. You have to ensure they are all fed regularly, therefore it is essential the mum bonds with them. Within the first two weeks it is advised not to handle the puppies, unless it is absolutely necessary as this may make the mother disown them.
At the start, the mother does the majority of the work as the puppies mostly sleep – this makes it an easy task of just admiring how cute they are!
As they get older, the process gets more challenging. Once the puppies open their eyes at two weeks, they start running around more and crying earlier in the morning to go to the toilet or play. Be prepared for layering the floor with newspapers to avoid accidents, constantly cleaning up, cornering off areas and having eyes everywhere to prevent them running away!
The mother begins to actually run away from the puppies when she feels they can survive alone and is no longer up to the commitment of feeding them all. (See below Pippas look of despair from feeding and being followed everywhere by six puppies!)
6. Finding suitable owners
Promoting puppies surprisingly takes a lot of effort – four people to be exact, to sit, pose and distract hyper puppies for the perfect photograph. After many failed attempts we eventually got the best photo and advertised them on Facebook.
Failed photo attempt number 1 of many. (I don’t think they liked photos)
One of the final promotion photos.
The best photo of all six puppies sitting still.
Prepare to answer many queries and send additional information. We found genuine owners for all puppies within two days, ensuring all new owners visited their new puppy to make sure they had the right intentions before agreeing to sell.
7. Letting go
Puppies are ready for their new home within 8-12 weeks. Before they go to their new home, they have to be vet checked and wormed, so the expense is something to consider.
It is very sad letting puppies go when you grow attached to them. This can be hard on the mum and vets advise to separate the mother and puppies in advance to make the process easier. However, Pippa had got to the stage of wanting her own independence again and did not notice as she was running away from them.
Of course – I had to keep one! It is only fair for the mum and makes it a lot easier on everyone. I kept the ‘fatty’ of the litter and called her Peanut, who resembles a teddy bear! We still receive regular updates from the new owners and are reassured they all went to good loving homes.
I would advise anyone who is considering dog breeding to do their research and speak to their vet first, it is more challenging than it looks but it is so worth it!
Elizabeth Owens is a final year BSc Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Twitter @eowens12_ or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elizabethowens32/