Another Sleepless Night
It is 4:46 am and I have been up since 3am due to a phone call. Are you missing a dog? One is on my back porch her cries woke me up. I realize my 8 week pregnant Golden Retriever isn’t in bed with me. For some reason she has been getting into places she shouldn’t be able to and not getting out. Like a gated deck! Luckily it was my Mother’s house and not one of my neighbors.
Raising Golden Retrievers has its joys, although not for those who want to ‘experience’ just one litter. You have to be prepared armed with knowledge, patience and the willingness to lose sleep.
Preparations for an upcoming litter begins at selection of the mother from puppy hood. Let that sink in… PUPPY HOOD! You need to do research.
Research pre puppy purchase:
Lineage: Is it a sound lineage?
What is the Co Efficient of In Line Breeding?
In line Breeding? The percentage of like ‘parents’ in so many generations, personally I prefer under 10% in 12 generations. For more information:
Hips: Is the lineage plagued with bad hips? I tend to check OFFA- Orthopedic Foundation For Animals website to check- not just the parents, grandparents, half siblings, offspring ect. Sometimes the answer is hidden in the offspring or half siblings section. Recently I added a delightful female to my lines I heard ‘Excellent’ hip rating on the Sire, and ‘Good’ on the Dame. Ok, you are going isn’t that good? I didn’t do the research or it wasn’t there at the time….. The Sire had several daughters and half-sisters with bad hips…………. And this delightful girl had severe hip displaysia. Now, keep in mind you can get a preliminary hip rating at 9 months and a FINAL at 2 yrs. Hip x-rays can be done at your local vets office.
Heart: Is the lineage prone to bad hearts? Oh, this one hits close to home. I have had the misfortune of getting dogs from someone who went to ‘clinics’ and didn’t submit the paperwork. That should have set off warning bells. But, in all honesty I was new at this. The paperwork was the product of a paid dishonest discredited vet! If you breed a female with a bad heart you could lose her due to the stress of delivery and have an orphaned litter. On a side note I find the ‘clinics’ tend to be stressful for your dog, and noisy so you may not get a true result. You need a board certified Veterinary Cardiologist.
Eyes: Try as we must eyes is tricky if it is a known complication it will be caught. This is one of those certifications that breeders groan over, they are technically supposed to be done yearly…. Yes, yearly! Most of us do it every two years. Unless they are lucky enough to have a board certified Veterinary Ophthalmologist nearby.
Some other testing you may want to consider prior to breeding:
Icthyosis- This is a skin condition that is genetic.
Ichthyosis, whose name is derived from the Greek word for “fish” due to the fish-like scales that are observed on dogs with the disease, is a common inherited dermatosis observed in the Golden Retrievers of Europe and the United States. Dogs with Ichthyosis develop white scales on the skin soon after birth. The scales persist through the animal’s life and progressively blacken, becoming dry and rough with age but typically do not cause itching. Secondary infectious complications (bacterial, fungal or parasitic) are occasionally associated with the condition.
No specific or efficient treatments for Ichthyosis are currently available. Treatments mainly rely on increased hygiene measures (e.g. frequent brushing, kerato-regulating shampoo, weekly emollients) and providing a fatty acid-enriched diet.
Information on Ichthyosis provided by: http://www.optigen.com/opt9_ichthyosis_gr.html
Thyroid: Yes, Dogs can have Thyroid issues.
This was a recent surprise for me. I knew dogs could have the issue, but not how why spread. This can be tested for at your vets office.
With any breed there are area’s that may have other ‘hot spots’ of health issues. I have named the common areas for my specific breed.
What age should you consider breeding a female dog? I prefer waiting until two years of age. She is mature enough to be a Mommy. At first heat cycle it would be akin to an 8 yr. old human girl having babies. Second cycle that of an 11 yr. old girl. At the 2 yr mark… a 20 yr old woman. Her bones are mature, her mind is mature, and her body is able to handle the strain of delivery.
Now, are you prepared for:
The horrors of delivery:
NO sleep is a primary one. I keep saying no sleep and you are probably going so what? Like human babies puppies come when they want. I have had deliveries go as long as 13 hours long for one litter. The record is 24 hrs. You have to be hyper alert to make sure Mommy and pups are fine. NO SLEEP!
Next, are you ready to face the down side? The side breeders tend not to mention?
You are going what does she mean???
Still borns- happen! Sadly if it is the first born pup you have to leave it in the whelping bed until a few more pups are born. Sometimes you can revive, others sadly you say hello and goodbye in one breath.
Mummy pups- these are actual Mummified puppies and believe me you do not want to see one. I still years later get shivers thinking of it. These are pups who would normally be reabsorbed if they died in utero- but, instead mummified.
Intestines on the outside of the chest cavity. We all start out that way, then we bring them into the fold so to speak. Sometimes the signal to move into the cavity isn’t received and sadly pups are born this way. The one time I faced this…. Mommy thought it was the umbilical cord and chewed them off!
Cleft Palate- yes, dogs can be born with this sometimes so much so they can’t suck milk from Mommies teats, or breathe the milk. I have heard of whole litters born with cleft palates because the parents were to inbred.
Hare Lip- Again this can happen
Swimmer Pups- this is when the muscles are connecting to the brain and it looks like the pups are limp bags. It takes time and effort but you can TRAIN the muscles to move properly so the puppy can walk.
Pneumonia- water in the lungs- or embryonic fluids. Some pups do not want you to remove this fluid from their lungs and you can lose pups. I had one puppy acting ‘off’ so I took her to the vets office. She had walking Pneumonia. NO symptoms until hours prior to death. If I hadn’t noticed her behavior I may never have known. I have a stethoscope to listen to their lungs now.
I constantly read on what can happen during delivery after 13 yrs I came across two new things. Luckily because of my research I knew what I now faced. One puppy never got the go ahead for its bones to solidify – in other words a sack in the shape of a puppy was born. Luckily it was already dead- interesting enough it was a twin! Yep, there were two pups in the sack the other was starting to reabsorb. I still get shivers down my spine thinking of that – also the smell. You don’t think of smell as a factor in breeding – like anything to do with biology a whelping has its own unique odors. Once again I blame the neighbors use of chemicals on the fields- this time I didn’t even hear the equipment, it was in a far field and didn’t realize until fully committed on our morning walk.
Veterinary care of puppies:
If you are lucky you may never face the above. The odds are however against you. You will lose a puppy maybe not this litter but later on. Or the whole litter.
Worming: 3 times is recommended. Rule of thumb puppies are born with worms. Over the counter stuff isn’t worth the money. Your pups will go home with worms if you trust an over the counter worming medication
Vaccinations: Depending on your region or vet … 6 or 8 weeks is common. Also KNOW what common diseases are in your area. I bought a happy bouncy male pup his lines were from another state. I was not aware that state was prone to Crono Virus- Parvo’s mean cousin. Luckily I noticed he was acting off and took him to the vet. My vet not sure what was going on since he didn’t test positive for Parvo…. exploratory surgery saved his life. With Crono Virus if you let air into the organs it kills the virus. Happily I had almost 13 yrs. with this sweet fellow. Oh, by LAW you are to vaccinate any SOLD Puppy
Also note in some states there are fines for selling puppies prior to a certain age. In Maryland it is $500 per PUPPY sold.
Post 8 weeks…. Are you able and willing to keep pups that haven’t been placed up to months? It happens. Are you willing to take back a puppy? It happens.
Now onto the practical side:
The first few days post-delivery you won’t get much sleep checking on Mommy. Not to mention every squeak and squawk will have you checking every 5 mins.
I have fallen asleep in the Whelping bed during and after delivery. It happens you are tired, and maybe had false labor the day before and were already running on fumes.
The MESS! Puppies are Messy there is no way around that. Especially post weaning. Then YOU are responsible for … the POOP! My mother jokingly calls it the Pee Pee Poo Poo Pee U stage. And if it is winter…. It is worse. After worming- ugh, even nastier.
Food- puppies waste food by playing in it, pooping and peeing in it. It happens. I do love watching them sleep in it though.
2 weeks of age- Eyes and Ears Open- aRRRRROOOOOOOOOOOoooooooo the vocalizations begin at usually 2am.
The escape artists- You can imagine what can and will happen when they manage to escape.
Puppies have NO alarm clocks.
Now… EXPENSES: Vet care, Food, Laundry (using newspapers can cause health issues like white lung), cleaning products, paper towels. My rule of thumb is usually 2 ½ pups sale price go towards that cost. Food is another puppy. Not to mention gas running to the vets office. Emergencies will and can happen.
Caring for MOMMY:
At 6 weeks Mommy will be sighing a lot, looking sad, but still needs exercise, and a special diet. I tend to feed: Liver, Cottage Cheese, Plain Yogurt, Cheese- Mexican blend shredded, Canned Puppy Food, and dry Puppy food is out at all times. Since her belly getting rather full several small meals a day.
At 6 weeks Mommy can no longer go for car rides except to the vets office- environmental issues can cause health issues in the fetus’.
Neighbors using chemicals on their lawns and a gentle breeze happens… and you have deformed puppies on your hands. If Mommy walks through and area that a dog had parvo in……. you get the picture.
8 weeks into pups- Mom’s go on walk about and why I say NO SLEEP!
Whelping Bed- Swimming Pools aren’t the best thing to use. You need something that has what is described as pig rails- usually 3 inches wide along the bottom of the bed. This prevents Mommy from killing her pups by laying on them. This is a common thing that happens with a swimming pool. If you are handy with building things great! Think around $300 for a professional one.
Why? They are looking for a place to have their pups. I have crawled under outbuildings to pull out a pregnant Mommy at 3 am in my PJ’s with snow on the ground.
Keep in mind Mommy still needs regular exercise. This is for her health and the pups.
Sometimes Mommies die………………… are you willing to Bottle feed up to say 12 pups? C-sections can happen.
I have touched only on some of the things that happen behind the scenes. If you aren’t prepared………… for any of the above let alone being a responsible pet owner. DON’T BREED! There are puppies and Mommies dumped into shelters everyday because people are not prepared for the dedication needed to raise well rounded pups.
Also did you consider Microchipping or Tattoos for the pups for id? Or… registration of the litter? There are so many factors involved. I have barely touched the surface, and may add to this as things occur to me… because it is now 6:03am and I tend to get up with the dogs at 7!
Raising dogs are not for the curious. It takes dedication. Think 6 times prior to breeding…
And on a lasting note………. Are you willing 7 or even 9 yrs. down the road to take back a dog because the family died? IT does happen if you are a RESPONSIBLE breeder.
It is now 6:06am………. Off to bed again maybe I will think of more to add. Please think before breeding.
J. Ellee Neilands
Cassiopeia’s Golden Legacy Kennel & Boarding
& Oddie’s Legacy Rescue & Placement.
I know some of you are following the blog going ohhhh and ahhhh. Not to mention the videos. Yesterday I had a puppy who was fussy, so I moved said puppy. 10 minutes later she is still fussy…….. so I pick her up……….. still fussy! After an hour of trying to calm said puppy down. I walk over to my parents house ( they live next door) and ask my Mom if I am being paranoid………….. she said nope, she can’t poop! Yes, I said the P word. Poor little girl was constipated. I pick up the phone and call the vets office. Now mind you I did try to make her poop, and so did her Mom. She didn’t even pee! Never a good sign. I end up rushing said little lass to the vets office. Since she will have a medical file I had to give her a name quick. I was driving down my lane and passed our Cherry tree and it hit me ” Cherry”. She is a dark red girl so it fit. Poor girl got an enema and her temp taken. I was told to massage her belly and keep trying to get her to poop. Mean while she is still crying non stop. She finally peed and a tiny poop 3 hrs later. This morning she was fighting over a teat with her brothers. If you want to know which one she is- look for a green squiggle.
The vet said that my knowing something is off is well a good breeder thing vs a vet thing. See, most puppies with a blockage die and are never brought into the vets office. This is according to my research on the subject. It is a rare thing actually usually happens at two weeks. Cherry was ahead in the antics. I hope this is her last scare for her Grammy. I think three or four new white hairs cropped up. For those who sent out positive vibes, thoughts, and prayers. Cherry Says Thank YOU! And sends tiny kisses. 🙂
I have been doing a small series of posts concerning the ups and downs of breeding. I am currently going through the woes of weaning. You are going “what is hard with that?”. The change in digestive smells from the pups are enough to make your eyes water….. and the fact you are NOW responsible for cleaning up their little stinky gifts. The worst is how it effects Mommy. She goes through the painful process of drying up. You feel like the meanest human alive when they give you the pitiful look. I do this weaning process in stages so it is less painful. But…. you still have two days that MOMMY that is totally miserable. So… be prepared for the following image. Total misery- tomorrow she will be better. But tonight I am a “mean Mommy”.
Additional post from last year:
After 4 failed tries I finally got one- a male breach. He is eating so don’t worry folks. Mom is doing fantastic………. ( if you can’t handle blood do not watch- this was a clean delivery very little ugh)
The WOES Of A Stubborn Nursing Female….
Went to town to get groceries- had barricaded the sofa- I THOUGHT so Lotus would NOT keep going to the sofa. When I came home there she was perched on the sofa, puppies stuck in between cushions, under the covers …. and one casualty… a little girl. 🙁 I finally figured out what the problem was… the whelping bed wasn’t soft enough for her liking. I piled the old quilt she ruined off of the sofa and put several blankets under it. This is one stubborn girl no sooner did we put the pups back in the bed she would pick one up and take it back to the sofa. She destroyed the trim on my doorway and clawed up the door! First time I have ever had to fight a female over location! Another one for the think before you breed category! Sigh… that poor little girl puppy. 🙁
Did I mention she had already chewed up the cushions? And I need to replace them. Ugh.
Your going C- Section I bet. Yes, it happens with dogs as it does with humans. There are some breeds of dogs that require- yes, REQUIRE C-Sections.
My boy Ozzy had a ‘date’ with a lovely red Golden girl Sierra and she had a due date of 5 Jan- by 10 Jan I was getting a tad concerned. Then again if she fertilized after the second breeding we were well in the limits of safety and if there was the 24 hr delayed fertilization again safe. I stayed home the whole weekend waiting for the call……… No call. Monday rolls around Sierra’s Mommy ( human of course) calls the vet he said no problem she could wait til the 16th- both of us Grammy’s were still on our tippy toes…….. This is what happens next….
My comments are in ().
(These are the notes provided by a fellow breeder who used one of my males for stud. This goes to show you another reason to stop and think about if you want to breed. This is what she went through. I also like to do x-rays to know how many pups. )
Pre notes: I like to get x-rays done to see how many babies are inside, but Sierra all of a sudden got fat and I couldn’t get her easily into a car so I skipped the x-ray this time.
9:00am – pre-labor has started. Sierra stayed on her bed all day, slowly panting and refusing water/food. This is a sure sign of her labor every time.
6:30pm – Finally decide to put Sierra in her whelping pen but haven’t seen her start to push yet ( no contractions) Still refusing water and food. She is restless but settles down to make a nest by scratching all the blankets and newspaper up.
10:30pm – I am down with her for the night. Very restless and looks like small contractions may be starting but nothing yet so I turn off the light and wait for pups to come. She never gives birth if I am watching her.
1:50am – 1st pup is born. It’s a girl! Breathing ok, but looks like she may have been in the birth canal for a while. ( An experienced breeder/midwife can tell this- pups tend to be a slightly off color or sluggish)
3:15 am – 2nd pup is born. Had to work for almost 20 minutes before I could hear this one breathing evenly. Had lots of fluid in its lungs so I think she has had these pups lined up inside for a while. When she just pops them out, they breathe quicker. ( when each pup is born you have to gently shake out the fluids or have pneumonia set in)
3:45am 3rd pup is born. Breathing within 10 minutes, still hear fluid in lungs but it’s doing ok
4:50am – 4th pup is born
5:50am – 5th pup is born
6:50am – 6th pup is born
7:30am-8am – I fall asleep by accident and wake up to no contractions. Mom is resting quietly with babies but still refusing water so I have a hunch she is not done. Make her stand and palpitate (gently) for signs of more pups. Find a hard knot at the end of her stomach but it doesn’t quite feel like pups. Nothing is wriggling so I am worried. ( I have fallen asleep in a whelping bed numerous times)
9:50am- call vet and they are worried too. Want her brought in ASAP!!!
10:00am- load a stiff mom and 6 whining pups into the car and drive to vet.
10:30am – sierra gets x-ray and confirmed three more pups in-utero. Gets first oxy shot
11:00am- 7th pup is born. Not breathing, tongue hanging out and off color. Comes out without sac and placenta is already detached. Vets rush her away.
11;15am – vet brings a healthy screaming pup back!! ( at this point I would have been exhaling in relief)
11:30am – Sierra passes dark blood (maybe old) and then delivers next pup. In sac but not breathing, tongue hanging out, head flopping. Totally limp. Vets rush away.
12:00pm – vet comes in and shakes head. Pup had no heartbeat and could not be revived. I am saddened by the news but thankful that I still have 7 healthy pups! ( We all try to revive a puppy it is in our nature, mourn the loss and enjoy the live pups it is the only way to handle this sadness)
12:30pm – Sierra’s contractions have almost stopped, gets a new shot of oxy
1:30pm-2pm – Sierra has lots of straining and contractions, fluids come out etc. no pup. Get another shot of oxy
3:00pm or so – Vet tech takes Sierra for x-ray to confirm that the pup is still stuck. It is too far back for vet to pull out manually but lined up in birth canal. Sierra goes for a walk because her bladder is full (no kidding!) she passes blackish blob of yuck.. Possibly the placenta of last pup. Good and hopeful!
3:45pm – No pup still. Sierra is obviously so tired out but the meds keep her contractions (hard contractions) coming steady!! Vet finally decides that she needs to go into surgery for a C-section and recommends a spay as well because C-sections drastically reduce litter number in next litter. I agree that Sierra has had three good litters and I am ready to send her out to pasture. We let pups nurse once more to get a pump of colostrum and then vets take Sierra away for surgery.
4:15pm – I take pups home and put them under a heat lamp. They cry because they miss their mom and are hungry.
6:45pm – I go to pick Sierra up. She should have a few more hours to recover from the meds but she needs to get home to the pups. I choke when I see the vet bill – $1,160!!! I feel like it is totally worth it though because Sierra and her pups are safe. Her milk has come down so she shouldn’t dry up now. I work with vet to get her into car and we drive home.
7:30pm – Sierra reunites with pups. Tired and doped up so I have to be with her for a few hours until I know she won’t’ roll on them by accident.
11:00pm – give final meds and collapse into bed!!
Choosing a STUD!
I have touched on this subject somewhat. I look for certain qualities- HEALTH is priority one. Intelligence is another – this can ‘bite’ you in the butt with super smart problem solving pups but worth it. TEMPERAMENT is the last ingredient for me usually. With my latest adventure looking for a stud for my petite Penny I wanted a male close to her size and weight. NOT always easy. I drove over 1000 miles for this breeding total. I thought I had her days calculated correctly- alas we got only ONE tie in. We just crossed our fingers it took. The long miserable drive with bad directions and they tied on the first night, the next day NOTHING.
Keep in mind you sometimes don’t know for a minimum of 6 weeks if a breeding took. Calculate in your time, money, and emotional roller coaster. IS it worth it. The male I chose for this special breeding was only 1 inch taller at the shoulder and 10 pounds heavier. They had a blast rolling in the snow together and playing a perfect match in personalities. Again we have to wait.
Contracts with some stud owners is something to consider- if you do AI – Artificial Insemination some stud owners want ALL the money up front, and won’t guarantee a litter! This means if it doesn’t take you are out the fee, and no repeat breeding.
Some stud owners require a series of tests on your female to see if they are worthy. I do not begrudge the test for STD’s… yes, dogs can get Sexually Transmitted Diseases just like humans. Progesterone tests may be required.. as with everything it can get a bit expensive.
What size litter does a stud owner consider as a full sized litter some it is two puppies some three! Considering some breed of dogs this is a drop in the bucket.
AGE of the stud should also be considered. I didn’t notice on his page he was now 8 yrs old, white faced. But like humans male dogs can still sire a litter up into ‘old age’ or double digits. I was lucky Rusty was a handsome sweet fellow. And knew his ‘job’.
Remember RESEARCH your studs lineage.
Yet another addition to this post. Last night was a very unusual delivery for me. I am used to puppies coming fast and furious. This litter was different. Number one the first born all I saw was the bubble of the sack for 15 minutes. This caused me some alarm.. the puppy could suffocate! So, when I saw toes and hips I reached down and assisted. Normally I pull slowly with contractions… but, there weren’t any!!! Let that sink in NO contractions. I just pulled firmly and quickly and paid a dear price. It was so painful for my girl she lashed out at the pain. I am typing with bruised hands with a few nicks from her nipping at me. I don’t blame her at. Sorry I had to add to her discomfort. My left hand is still swollen almost twenty four hours later. Have I been nipped at before? Oddly one other time and it was her mother first born had a huge head she only nipped near my hand. I had to put Flora in a kind of head lock to calm her down.
We had long pauses between puppies. So, in the dark we were walking Momma to help her along. Flash light in hand and an emergency delivery bag along. In the bag we had towels, a grocery bag, and wash clothes.
I am going to try and add the whelping chart. So, you can see why we ended up walking her up and down the driveway to hurry things along.
Time Sex Notes
10:45 pm female Back wards Mommy bite
11:40 Female No problem
1:22 am Female Backwards
1:30 Male Backwards Stillborn
3:58 Male Fast
4:36 Male Backwards and slippery
6:09 male Fast
6:29 male backwards
8:24 a male Fast: head first
You will note the still born puppy. He was beautiful little fellow born blue. You can usually bring those back with a little snout to mouth cpr. Sadly this little fellow was in rigor! A first after all these years. There was NO saving him. He was given a name and buried in our little cemetery with love. A sad fact of raising dogs. It frustrates me seeing that potential awesome pup… gone before I could experience that awesomeness. Alas, we can’t save them all.
As you can see it was a LONG night. I feel like someone ran a steam roller over me.
When TO Retire A Female Dog.
Ah, the hardship of deciding when to retire a female dog. There are several options to consider.
Age. I like to breed between 2-7. Every other heat. My rule of thumb is if the females coat looks like ‘crap’ don’t breed. Why? Her hormones are still wonky and you will most likely not get a litter. Not to mention the stress on her system. Remember they blow their coats about 12 weeks after delivery.
Health of the litter. Now, everyone wants a healthy litter. But… Yes, BUT! You need to consider is the female able to produce enough milk? Is she keeping weight on. Those puppies literally suck the life out of their mothers especially if she isn’t keeping a decent weight on her frame.
Another consideration how many pups were still born? If your female tends to have one maybe two non viable pups… sigh, and say good bye. This happens.
Sadly this last litter for Lotus was horrible emotionally. Why? We actually had a litter of 16. I went to bed and we had lost 3 pups at that point. She started at 7:30am, finished around 2:35pm. I woke up at 1am and found one of the pups was dead. It had a habit of sneaking behind her and I feel that one contraction made her strain too much and it was the end of the puppy. She squished him. I woke up at 3am to let her out- she woke me up knocking down the ex-pen. Lotus took way to much time outside I began to worry. Apparently she had another outside. One of the other dogs brought me it’s tiny frozen body to me this morning. At 7am I found three more dead in the corner. Two large and one 1/2 the size of the smaller ones. It was almost a mummy puppy. I was upset that we lost so many. At 9:30am my helper came to me and said I think she had another puppy. I had been outside feeding and playing with the other dogs since I missed out on my quality time the morning before since 8:30 am. The puppy was covered in birthing juice and very dead. All in all we lost 9 puppies out of 16.
Since Lotus was having difficulties holding her bladder with this litter I felt she needed retirement. I didn’t want her to go through that ’embarrassment’ again. Now, looking back to her previous litter where she also lost 7 puppies. I feel it is only fair to retire her. Why? Simple putting her through hours of labor only to have a few live puppies is well, a moral issue. See, Lotus cries when she has a non viable puppy. I kid you not.
We did have a slow starter puppy. One that is live but barely. I was able to get her to start breathing, and finally she screamed. No worries, she is an active feisty one already!
I love my dogs and they are family. So, retirement is not a sad thing. Just a new chapter. Retiree’s get to raise the next generation, so they are still part of the ‘program’ here.