When buying a bitch puppy for breeding purposes, ask about the breeding and whelping history of her dam and grand dam.
Allow her to be a dog; interacting with other dogs of both sexes.
Breed her for the first time on her second heat. She will be physically and emotionally mature by then.
Put her in with an experienced male. Let them play. Let them get to know each other. Let the male breed her when they feel the time is right. Bitches are ready to breed when they are ready, not when "the book" says so; not when the vet says so; not when your best friend's bitch is ready; not when you are ready. Some bitches will breed on the 4th day of their heat cycle; some on the 21st day. A good male with experience will know just when to breed the bitch, and the bitch will stand and be receptive when her body is ready.
Do not force breed a bitch. A bitch that doesn't want to breed should not be bred. It is Nature's way of saying NO. Perhaps there is something wrong with the bitch -- thyroid, small vagina and birth canal, did not ovulate, etc.
Allow the pregnant bitch to exercise and live a normal life. Do not put her in a crate. Feed her well, but do not overfeed so she gets obese and flabby. Allowing her to exercise will make good muscle tone and strength which she will need for whelping.
There are a wide range of due dates. Just because a bitch mates at 2 PM on Tuesday does not mean that she conceived at 2 PM on Tuesday. And most bitches are bred more than once during a heat cycle. Don't panic if she does not whelp at 2 PM on the 59th day after the first breeding. As long as she is healthy, she will whelp when the pups are ready to be born.
In nature, the first litter is a learning experience for the mother. The same goes for the domestic dog's first litter. It is a learn-by-doing experience. The bitch learns by doing; by trial and error; and ultimately by succeeding. Allow her to learn. Allow her to do what her instincts dictate.
She will let you know when she is ready to whelp. She will dig and follow you around. She will probably spend several hours getting ready -- going out to wet and dig; coming in to pace and roll on her back. Do not confine her during this early stage of preparation. Moving around will make her feel better and will help the muscles turn the pups, ready for birth.
When the serious stage of the whelping starts, the contractions and pushing, put her in her whelping box and allow her to continue at her own pace. Allow her to labor; allow her to give birth; to bite through the cord; remove the sack; to clean the pup; to eat the placenta; to clean up the box.
People should stay out of the whelping process as much as possible. Be at home, be in the house. Look in on the bitch once in a while, but do not hover over her. Do not wring your hands and moan and groan beside the whelping box. Do not inflict your excitement, your apprehension, your stress on the bitch. You keep calm; she'll keep calm. You can allow a bitch to whelp naturally, without your interference, and still be there for her, alert to sounds or signals of distress and trouble. If problems come up, you can then step in and take care of them.
Some bitches will pop out 4 pups in an hour. Others will have 2 pups and then take a break for a hour or two, and then have another 2 pups. The bitch will want to get up, have a drink, go outside, move around during the break period. Moving around outside will also stimulate the muscles to contract and push out more pups.
There is less stress on the bitch and pups if the pups are left with the bitch during the entire whelping process. Nursing will again stimulate the uterine muscles to contract and push out more pups, the afterbirth and help clean out the bitch.
Norfolk really do not need C-sections. It would be a shame if the sturdy little Norfolk turned into a breed that needed man to do everything for them. If only bitches who whelp naturally are kept in a breeding program, breeders will end up with bitches that whelp naturally. Eliminate bitches that need C-sections from a breeding program.
Also eliminate from a breeding program:
The first week or so after whelping, don't fuss or bother the bitch and her pups. Keep an eye on the bitch to be sure all is going well. Check over the pups and pick them up when the bitch is outside. Norfolk are good little mothers if allowed to do the job themselves. give the bitch her food and drink in the box or very near to it.
There is less stress to the pups and bitch if you remove the dew claws and dock the tails yourself, at home. You also won't be running the risk of picking up a virus or other disease by going to a vet's office.
Carolyn Pyle, C. J. Kennels
ANTIC, Summer 1986 & September 2003
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