S'Dandi Shih Tzu
All Rights Reserved
2000 - 2008
Sally and Dick Watkeys
8235 Outer Drive South
Traverse City, MI 49684
Graphics courtesy of:
S'Dandi Shih Tzu
Just BePaws . . .
A few friends suggested that I share my whelping procedures with those of you who might be new to breeding. These are some of the things that have worked for me in keeping records of my litters along with recording the health of the mamas as the puppies grow.

It is helpful to keep detailed records just in case you canít remember what happened the last time you bred a particular bitch. (I thought Iíd never forget some of the information, but as breedings repeat and/or new girls are used in a program, I find that some of the details run together.) Maybe thatís what they call ďsenior moments.Ē ?

After recording the breeding dates and expected whelping dates on my doggie calendar, I wait, not so patiently, for the babies. The mamas are fed a high quality food sometimes supplemented with some stewed chicken, rice, hamburger, etc if they go off their feed during the third to fourth week of gestation. I give them anything theyíll eat to keep them going during their pregnancy making sure clean water is available at all times. During the last 3-4 weeks, puppy food is exchanged for the regular kibble due to the added Calcium in the puppy food. A healthy mama produces healthy babies.

As the whelping day approaches, providing the nesting area in a quiet spot gives her added security that everything will be OK. This is the time that my girls donít want me out of their sight for very long. Beginning at the 56th day, I start keeping a temperature chart. It is only necessary to take it once a day for the first few days, but at the 59th day, I take it three times daily; early am, about 4 P.M. and before bed which is usually about 11 P.M. When the temperature drops below 99 degrees and stays there without coming back up, the babies are usually born within 12-24 hours in my experience. During these last days, my mamas are never left alone. Babies have been known to be born without assistance and be fine, but Iíve never trusted nature to do it without me there. I have also heard of instances when beautiful puppies were born, left in the sac by a mama who didnít know what to do and subsequently, suffocated. Another situation happened when an inexperienced bitch unknowingly chewed off part of the puppy during the birth process. These are horror stories, of course, but weird things can happen during whelping. NEVER LEAVE THE BITCH ALONE TO HAVE HER BABIES!!!!

The temperature chart is also used to note any unusual circumstances during labor. I record when contractions begin, when the stages of labor change, the agitation or lack of exhibited by the mama and when the first water sac appears.

As each puppy is delivered, I fill in the puppy-drawing page with the markings of the puppy, along with any other information I feel is pertinent. Later, I can go back to these drawings just in case a couple of the puppies are too similar to distinguish one from the other. I also take 24-hour pictures to put with the drawings. That way, there will be no question as to which puppy is which. Once each baby has had the chance to nurse which supplies that valuable colustrum, they are placed in a basket lined with clean towels under which is a heating pad set on the lowest setting. Another towel covers the basket leaving one side open for me to keep track of each one while waiting for the next puppy to be born.

As soon as they are all delivered, mama and babies are transferred to a 2 X 3 pen right beside by bed. I immediately connect a baby monitor so that wherever I am in the house, I have audible knowledge of the babies. I have one professionally made whelping box, but if I have more than one litter at a time, we have cut down the side of a plastic storage container and found that it works just as well and was much less expensive. These boxes are lined with clean, white, cotton throw rugs, towels or whatever one has on hand with a heating pad under the lining again turned on the lowest setting. I attach a small meat thermometer to the side of the crate that enables me to check the temperature in the area quickly. I also completely cover the crate with a comforter during colder weather. If the bitch becomes too hot, you can raise part of the comforter to help her be more comfortable. Babies need the area to be 80 degrees for the first few weeks, after which you can gradually decrease the temp by 5 degrees per week. Puppies that get cold become lethargic and usually get pushed away from the mama. If this situation isnít corrected quickly, they can be lost. It is imperative to keep the puppies warm. If one does happen to chill, take it out of the nest, wrap in a warm towel, (a surgical glove filled with hot water works well for warmth under the towel and provide a few drops of warm water with Corn Syrup for energy. Anne Seranne states that the mixture should be: ď1 teaspoon Corn Syrup with 4 tablespoons boiled water. Add a few grains each of sodium chloride (ordinary table salt) and potassium chloride (salt substitute). This resembles a Ringers Glucose-Saline fluid but cannot be used for subcutaneous or intravenous injection because it is not sterile." pg. 197, The Joy of Breeding Your Own Show Dog.

Once the puppy is warm again, it can usually be put back on the mama to nurse. Then, watch carefully during the next few days for any additional problems. Occasionally, one puppy will need to nurse all alone to be sure itís getting enough from the mama. I will put that puppy on a nipple all alone allowing it to nurse until it falls asleep several times a day. Those little ones often need additional help to make it. They canít always fight off the bigger puppies and get on the nipple all by themselves.

This is where the weight chart comes in handy. I weigh my babies daily rolling them over in my hands so they get the experience of being handled lovingly. Each puppy should gain an ounce per day. If the breeder notices that one puppy isnít gaining as expected, intervention might just be necessary. Tube-feeding is a scary thing for me, but I have learned to do it and have saved several puppies by doing so. A veterinarian can help show you the technique or an experienced breeder would know if youíre close to someone who will help. I also use the side of the weight chart to record any problems with the puppies or mama. That way I have a record of any medications used if needed and/or any alerts about the puppies, etc. I also note when eyes open just for fun. As each baby opens its eyes, I welcome it to the ďreal worldĒ with kisses and loves. I always wonder what each is thinking as they view the world and the people around them for the first time. They are filled with such innocence. Their little eyes look at me with so much trust. Maybe thatís what makes being a breeder so special. It is such a miracle in progress from conception to birth to happy puppy.

Before I forget and get all wrapped up in the wonder of these babies, another important thing for my mamas is a Calcium supplement. Osteo-Form is the brand I like best but PetCal is another good one. Osteo-Form is available from the vet while, I believe, PetCal is available at pet stores. Each mama is given one tablet twice a day. They are chewable so most of my girls take them like treats. In fact, thatís what I call them so they will chew them up. If the Calcium level remains high during lactation, the chance of Eclampsia, a life-threatening problem due to Calcium deficiency, is less. After experiencing Eclampsia, Iíve decided itís not something I ever want to deal with again if I can help it.

When the babies are old enough to be on their own, I put all the above information together with the litter record in a 3 ring binder under the bitchís name. I add the contract for each puppy sold as well. Itís good for me and good if AKC comes knocking at my door. Everything is recorded and at my fingertips. I also have an extra binder for those girls that have been spayed. Sometimes, itís good to go back to see characteristics in the bitches or puppies that might help make breeding decisions in the future.

Thatís the way I do it here at SíDandi. Hopefully, you will find some helpful hints in this article that will make your next litter an easier one. As always, anyone having other ideas or suggestions to make breeding an easier experience is welcome to email them to me. I would be more than happy to include them in another article giving credit to the author unless asked for anonymity. The more we help each other, the better our breed will be.

Remember, whoever said you canít buy happiness forgot about puppies!
Good luck with your next litter!
Whelping Specifics For New Breeders