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The course of the delivery:


  1. Opening phase

The delivery begins with the opening phase. The duration of this phase completely depends on the bitch. Vera’s took 26hrs, so a bit over a day. She was slightly uneasy during this time, but otherwise she was normal: slept for most of the time, every once in a while stood up and went to check her “dens” she had dug in our back garden. It is completely normal for the bitch to prepare her “dens” in this phase for the arrival of the puppies. Vera started panting heavily about 22:00 on 24th November 2009.

Her body temperature dropped a few days before the puppies were born. The prolactine in the dog’s body is at its highest at this point, and because of this the bitch’s appetite is practically non-existent. At the end of the opening phase, the pelvis is fully dialated and loose. The most important thing for you to do in the opening phase is to keep the dog calm and relaxed. If the dog is calm, do not pay any attention to it and let it sleep in peace. The next night will be tough and exhausting for both of you.

Remember to keep the dog hydrated!! Offer the dam food which contains a lot of energy, so that you need to only give a little. Do not worry if the dam does not eat anything.


  1. The delivery (Pushing phase)

Vera’s birthing pains started around midnight on 26.11.09. We waited for half an hour before we went downstairs to the puppy-room. During the pushing phase, the bitch will often calm down and concentrated on the delivery. After the first puppy, the interval between births is often half an hour to an hour. Vera’s first puppy, Oslo, was born with his tongue out at 01:20 a.m. The rest of the puppies were born almost exactly at half an hour intervals (table below).


Puppy's call name Colour and sex Time of birth Birth weight
Oslo black male 01:20 480g
Navy brown bitch 01:52 460g
Mona brown bitch 02:35 480g
Pipari brown bitch 03:01 400g
Akseli black male 03:34 610g
Kasper black male 03:47 410g
Scout black bitch 05:30 530g
Cooper black bitch 06:10 480g

READ: Equipment and preparation for the birth of the puppies

As soon as the puppies were born, we helped Vera to break their fetal membranes, after which Vera licked and cleaned each puppy. Only Navy was born behind first, all the other puppies were born head first. Mona pooed twice and Pipari once right after they were born. We cut their umbilical chords with the small nail scissors. We tied Scout’s umbilical chord with dental floss. We did not have to do anything to the other puppies’ umbilical chords. Vera was a bit hesitant about licking the first puppy clean, but when it came to licking the other puppies, Vera was already a pro. Licking the puppies is important as it stimulates the puppies' blood flow and the digestive tract. It also releases endorphins (important hormones which make the puppy feel good and relaxed). We rubbed the puppies with the small towels, so that they would dry and stay warm. We always placed each puppy to feed during the birthing intervals (until Vera started pushing again).

               Vera licking a newborn puppy                                                                     We also rubbed the puppies with small towels              

If the puppy has liquid in its lungs, it is better if you rub its chest and “push” the ribcage (what the dam would do) instead of swinging the puppy. Also let the dam lick the puppy hard to get the liquid out of the lungs.

Count the number of placentas, so that none are left within the mother. Often the placentas exit with the puppy, but they can also exit before or after each puppy. In Vera’s litter the seventh puppy’s (“Scout”) placenta exited with the fourth puppy, 2h29 before the birth of the puppy. She was full of energy and wriggling when she was born. You can ask your vet to give the bitch an oxytocin-shot, which will result in the bitch having additional contractions and this way you can make sure everything has come out. Do not give the shot before the birth of the first puppy, so that you know that the opening phase is finished.

You can let the bitch eat the placentas, as it gets precious energy and nutrients from them. The placentas also contain hormones which stimulate milk production. We let Vera eat two placentas, as eating them may cause diarrhoea for some bitches.

The bitch may drip coagulated dark blood for about a week, do not worry as it is completely normal (as long as it does not smell bad). It is a good idea to wash the bitch’s behind as soon as possible after the birthing, and keep it as clean as possible for the coming weeks until the bitch does not drip coagulated blood. You can also cut the dam's coat into a more hygienic cut, meaning shorter fur especially on the paws and teats. The feathers should also be cut, so that the bitch brings less mud and dirt inside to the puppy room.



(c) Salmelin