Whelping 101: A Comprehensive Guide for New Breeders

Welcoming a new litter of puppies into the world is an exciting yet responsible task. For new breeders, it’s important to be well-prepared and informed about the entire whelping process. This guide provides a detailed step-by-step walkthrough, covering everything from pre-natal care to post-natal care, ensuring the health and well-being of both the mother and her pups.

Pre-Natal Care:

Veterinary Check-ups:

  • Schedule regular check-ups for the female dog during her pregnancy. This allows the vet to monitor her health, detect any potential issues, and provide appropriate guidance.

Proper Nutrition:

  • Provide a balanced and nutritious diet tailored to the needs of a pregnant dog. High-quality food with essential nutrients supports the mother and her growing puppies.

Comfortable Living Space:

  • Create a quiet, clean, and comfortable environment for the pregnant female. Designate a quiet corner with soft bedding where she can give birth and nurse her puppies.

Monitoring Body Temperature:

  • Take the female dog’s temperature daily in the week leading up to the expected due date. A noticeable drop in temperature is a strong indicator that labor is imminent.

Signs of Labor:

Nesting Behavior:

  • The female may become increasingly restless and start exhibiting nesting behavior. This includes digging or scratching at the bedding to create a comfortable space for giving birth.

Temperature Drop:

  • A significant drop in the female’s body temperature, below 100°F (37.8°C), is a clear sign that labor is impending.

Restlessness and Panting:

  • The female may display restlessness, pacing, and heavy panting, indicating that early labor has begun.

Progressive Contractions:

  • As labor progresses, the female will experience contractions. These contractions become more frequent and intense as labor advances.

Rupture of Membranes (Water Breaking):

  • This occurs when the sac containing the puppy breaks, releasing amniotic fluid. It’s a definitive sign that labor is in progress.

Active Straining:

  • The female will exhibit strong, rhythmic contractions, indicating that she is actively trying to push out a puppy.

The Whelping Process:

Provide Support and Comfort:

  • Be present to offer reassurance and support to the mother. Maintain a calm and quiet environment, free from disruptions.

Allow Natural Progression:

  • In most cases, the female will instinctively know how to proceed with giving birth. Avoid unnecessary interference unless there are signs of distress.

Monitor Puppies:

  • Once a puppy is born, ensure that the mother cleans and cares for it. If necessary, assist in removing the amniotic sac and clearing the airways. Allow the mother to bond with her puppies.

Keep Track of Birth Times:

  • Record the time of each puppy’s birth. This information is crucial for monitoring the progress of labor and ensuring all puppies are delivered.

Post-Natal Care:

Mother’s Well-being:

  • Provide the mother with a nutritious meal and access to fresh water after whelping. Monitor her closely for any signs of discomfort or distress.

Monitor Puppies’ Vital Signs:

  • Check each puppy for signs of health and vitality. Ensure they are nursing and gaining weight. Address any concerns promptly.

Keep a Clean Environment:

  • Regularly clean the whelping area to maintain a hygienic environment for the mother and her puppies. This helps prevent infections and promotes a healthy start for the puppies.

Seek Veterinary Assistance if Necessary:

  • If there are any concerns about the health of the mother or puppies, consult a veterinarian promptly. Early intervention can make a significant difference in their well-being.


Whelping is a natural process, but being well-prepared and informed is crucial for a successful outcome. By providing the right pre-natal care, recognizing the signs of labor, and offering post-natal support, you’ll be on your way to raising a healthy and happy litter of puppies. Remember, each whelping experience is unique, so trust your instincts and seek professional assistance if needed. Happy breeding!

October 10, 2023 4:13 pm