Preparing for Puppies – Maternal health and Whelping setup

(This post is part of a series of posts, please be sure to read the others to learn all about the Roverchase Service Dog Program puppy raising protocols)

Prepping for the actual breeding and arrival of puppies begins the day our female comes into season (for pre-breeding prep, please see our previous blog).  We want to be sure we breed our females on the optimal day.  We start taking vaginal swab samples to look under microscope to help determine the best day to begin breeding.  We take these swabs every single day until we see the results that indicate optimal breeding time.  We then breed for 3 days, once or twice per day.  We do assisted breedings in our program, which means that we stay with our dogs every step of the way.  Once each breeding occurs, we sit with our breeding dogs to ensure they are both safe and comfortable until it is completed.

Gestation for a dog is 60-63 days from the successful breeding.  If we breed for 3 days we have a 9 day spread of when puppies might be born.

After breeding has taken place, we begin the LONGEST wait.  It takes approximately 25-30 days to confirm pregnancy!  Pregnancy is confirmed via ultrasound.  Here is an image of a little canine fetus at approximately 28 days from our “D” litter born 1/22/2020.


At 48-55 days of pregnancy, we do an X-ray to get an approximate head count on puppies.  This is very important so that we are prepared for how many puppies we think we may be having and to know when we are done or close to done with whelping.  Counting puppies via X-ray is an art and very rarely an exact science.  Can you tell how many puppies are in this X-ray?


(answer: 10 puppies)

About 2 weeks before the expected due date, we CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN!  Everything has to be sanitized and set up.  This takes about 2-3 days of full time work.  Every single piece of the whelping box, every piece of laundry, and every piece of whelping equipment and aids needs to be sanitized, organized, setup, and ready to go.  Here are a few pictures of our typical setup process.

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After all that setup, we are ready for puppies whenever they decide to arrive!  We also have two vets on call and an emergency vet 15 minutes away, just in case we should have any complications.

Published by abigailwitthauer

Lover of animal behavior, impassioned for social justice, demander of service dog reform. Please bring wine and cheese.

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