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How to breed puppies

 Where will she give birth to the puppies?


In the wilds, dogs have their puppies in holes in the ground, which they dig under bushes.  The pups need to be hidden from predators. Our domesticated dogs still have the same instinct, and a few days before the pups are due, the mother starts to look around for a den.  She may dig holes in the yard, or dig holes in the carpet under the bed where it’s dark. We can help by planning a safe place for her to have the birth where she won’t be disturbed by people or other pets. She will relax if she feels the spot is hidden from view. A garage or spare room would do.  You will need light and heat in the room in case the birthing takes place at night. Better still is your bedroom. There you can listen for trouble during the night and jump up to assist. Maybe you could drape a blanket over a table or a dressing table to make a cave for her. A few days before the birth, show her where she can have the pups. Give her some tasty food in the den to get her accustomed to it. Encourage her to sleep there, if she will.  Cover the floor with plastic and put a deep layer of newspaper (or any paper) over it. Let her rip up the paper to her heart’s content. Newspaper can be thrown away when soiled and saves washing blankets. If you have carpets, the entire carpet needs to be covered or the mother will drip blood everywhere when she gets up to go out and in. Dog food bags can be used to cover the carpet.

Are there predators nowadays that might kill a puppy? Yes there are! Other dogs have been known to kill entire litters.  It you own more that one dog, they consider themselves a “pack” and the pack includes you and any other pets. They may decide that the pack is fine just as it is, without bringing puppies into it.  In the wilds, the whole pack was kept busy hunting for food for the mother who stayed in the den with the pups. Food is limited, so a pack controls its numbers. They would only allow one litter at a time. If another female dared to mate while one was already pregnant, the pregnant female might attack and kill her. 

You and I think it’s a good idea to bring more and more dogs into the world, but sometimes animals think differently!

Keep cats and all other animals away to avoid stressful situations. A cat may want to mother the pups and may end up being killed. Curiosity killed the cat! Also, other animals (and people) can bring germs into the room on their feet.




A newborn pup is called a whelp. The birthing is called “whelping.” The ideal place for a birth to take place is in a whelping box. You can make one yourself, or get the people who make dog kennels to make one for you. To estimate the size you need, lay the dog down on the floor and measure her.  It needs to be one and a half times the length of the dog, and twice the height of the dog (measured lying down—paw to head) It’s better to be too big than to small, as it will serve as a bed for a dog and the fast growing litter for the first few weeks. The dog needs room to stretch out and to turn round without standing on pups.

After a birth, dogs are so exhausted, that they fall into a deep, coma-like sleep and can easily lie on a pup without even knowing.  The pup smothers to death. A rail round the walls or the box will help to prevent this. The rail should be high enough for a tiny pup to fit underneath, but not too high, or the mother will be able to lie under it, which defeats the purpose. You might be able to find a wooden table in a second hand shop, which you could turn upside down.  A few planks hammered around the legs makes an easy start to the whelping box.  Remember to leave a low doorway so that the mother can get in and out without scraping her drooping teats.

Birthing is a wet, messy business, so line the box with a deep layer of newspaper. Ask your friends to save newspaper for you.  There’s never enough, as it has to be changed often. Any kind of paper will do, but absorbent paper like newspaper is best.

Bear in mind that the birth may take place at night.  In frosty weather you will need a heater to take the chill off the room.

A dog kennel is too small for a labour ward, as there is no room for you, the midwife, to get inside to see what’s happening.

Varnished whelping box with wide shelves


 "As newborn babes, desire the milk of the word (the Bible) that you may grow!"  1Peter 2:2


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