Raising Puppy Litters Great and Small

Singleton and gargantuan litters each present a distinct set of needs and challenges to breeder, dam, and puppies.

By | Posted: Tue May 31 00:00:00 PDT 2005

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Puppies of one breed can even be successfully introduced into a litter of another breed. Kristen Read of Durango, Colo., reports that she once had a singleton Australian Cattle Dog born on the same day that her Smooth Fox Terrier whelped four puppies. The Cattle Dog dam was ill, and so Read moved her puppy immediately to the Smooth's litter. Read says, "She took him (after a second look) and raised him till weaning. He never nursed on his natural mother, and spent all his puppyhood with the terrier puppies, though he did get to play with other Cattle Dogs as he matured. Interestingly, his temperament is identical to his natural mother, even though he spent no time with her!" When moving puppies to a different litter a very close eye must be kept on the dam for at least a couple of days to be sure that she has completely accepted the newcomers and is feeding and caring for all of her family.

Ready to Wean
A breeder's real work starts when the puppies are up on their feet, starting to play, and needing to be weaned. All that cleaning and feeding and playing with the litter takes up an enormous amount of time. Gueck, who has had as many as nine puppies in her Tibetan Terrier litters, says, "It's a real challenge to find enough time to work with each puppy one-on-one during the key socialization times." It's a huge advantage to be able to enlist the help of friends and family to spend time with the growing puppies.

My William grew into a self-confident dog, thanks to all the attention he got as a lone baby. Another litter born a few weeks earlier helped to teach him about being a dog, and he still carries his teddy bear "brother" around occasionally!

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Sharon   Celina, OH

1/24/2010 5:39:07 PM

Thank you so much for this information. I'm a basset hound breeder, and have a mother that lost all but one pup. This was very helpful.

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