The words Dog Breed Info with the letter D inside of a black paw print

Orphaned Litter (Almost), Whelping and Raising Puppies

One of the biggest worries in whelping is to have your dam die at birth, or reject, or kill her puppies.

This particular litter is almost the same as an orphaned litter. Sassy, the English Mastiff dam, is refusing to clean and potty her puppies. She is not aggressive toward them and is not rejecting them totally; she is tolerating them. She will allow them to feed if the pups are manually placed on her teats, however she shows no interest in them. I was hoping if the pups suckled that her hormones would kick in, but we are on day five, and she is still showing zero interest.

Usually if I had a dam that just refused to clean and potty her puppies, I could at least leave the puppies with her all night to keep warm, stimulate and feed, then I can potty them in the am.

This time, I cannot do this. Many breeds cannot stay with their puppies, as they could purposely kill them or accidentally kill them in this case, because of the size of the dam.

I must take the pups away, and give them to her every two hours.

Even if I had a GREAT dam with little milk, I could at least leave them all night, and do supplementing during the day.

This litter is presenting the breeder with a similar challenge as an orphaned litter.

She has milk, but cannot be left alone with the puppies, nor will she stimulate, or potty them.

This means a committed breeder must put a whole lot more into this litter than ever imagined, being robbed of a once-welcomed act called sleeping.

Every two hours (and each feeding takes an hour)…

She must take the pups out of the warm box, and put them on the dam. With this litter, there are only 9 teats, and 11 puppies, so she needs to rotate, and top off with supplemented canine milk.

Then she needs to gently massage each puppy’s vulva or penis, to make them potty.

Manually helping a puppy poop and pee

Then she needs to massage each puppy’s anus to make them poop.

Dog Poop on a persons shirt

This is very time-consuming, a messy job and mentally and physically draining.

A container of Wet Ones antibacterial wipes

If you don't have convenient access to a sink, you can use wet wipes to clean your hands before pottying each puppy. Occasionally you may need to use them to clean up a puppy bum, (make sure they are baby wipes, meant to clean a baby’s bum). Floor wipes should not be used on puppy bums.

Sassy the Mastiff is laying in the corner on a blanket Sassy calmly lays back and watches her humans do her job

Sassy calmly lies back and watches her humans do her job.

Paper Towels with Puppy Poop and a blue glove next to it Paper Towels with Puppy Poop Lady with dog poo on her robe

In a case like this, where a human is keeping track, not the dam, EVERY puppy needs to be identified. I am using colored ribbon, as the tails are too dark to color.

Even with a dam in total control it is wise to identify the puppies so when you weigh them, you know who is gaining how much.

Puppy Weight Chart

Every step of the way must be recorded to make sure no puppy or the dam is being neglected.

We are winning! Mastiff puppy weight chart:

  • 17th
  • 18th
  • 19th
  • 20th
  • 21st
  • 28th
  • Nickname
  • Red
  • 614
  • 634
  • 628
  • 640
  • 714
  • 1118
  • Pluto
  • Green
  • 658
  • 644
  • 622
  • 680
  • 720
  • 1144
  • Chip
  • Yellow
  • 700
  • 692
  • 672
  • 730
  • 802
  • 1134
  • Moose
  • Pink
  • 614
  • 600
  • 620
  • 652
  • 694
  • 1100
  • Minnie
  • Green
  • 514
  • 522
  • 522
  • 574
  • 636
  • 932
  • Lady
  • Red
  • 588
  • 580
  • 548
  • 598
  • 670
  • 1030
  • Tinkerbell
  • White
  • 534
  • 514
  • 508
  • 534
  • 594
  • 908
  • Alice
  • Aqua
  • 620
  • 612
  • 624
  • 688
  • 736
  • 1050
  • Daisy
  • Orange
  • 502
  • 500
  • 526
  • 544
  • 614
  • 968
  • Lilo
  • Brown
  • 434
  • 446
  • 452
  • 498
  • 522
  • 910
  • Thumbelina
  • Black
  • 510
  • 518
  • 528
  • 544
  • 638
  • 1000
  • Cinderella

500 g = 17.5 oz.
600 g = 21 oz.
700 g = 24.5 oz.
800 g = 28 oz.

I put Catreeya, a Havanese dam, in the guest room, moved the blue kennel back, and put in its place, a big Rubbermaid bin. I then gave her two pups at a time until she had them all.

Catreeya the Havanese Dam Foster Mothering English Mastiff Puppies Catreeya the Havanese Dam Fostering English Mastiff Puppies Catreeya the Havanese Dam Fostering Puppies Catreeya the Havanese dam foster mom staying with puppies

Catreeya came in and got them all exercised up.

Catreeya the Havanese Dam Foster mom attempting to let the puppies nurse

She was willing to nurse them, or let them try. She lifted up her leg.

Catreeya the Havanese Dam Foster mom sleeping with the PuppiesCatreeya the Havanese dam foster mom laying in the corner with the Puppies following it

She was very accommodating; she licked all their heads, but didn't go for their bums (but I had just done that). She got them good and exercised and moving.

Catreeya the Havanese Dam Foster mom surrounded by puppies

Sassy the Mastiff was up on her feet wondering WHAT was up so I let her go look, hoping she would be jealous. And she saw Catreeya, greeted her, kissed her and thought, “OH...OK...go ahead, keep doing whatever you are doing, thanks.” Sassy then went back in her room without the pups.

Catreeya the Havanese dam fostering English Mastiff Puppies

I may use Catreeya at night to keep the puppies company; too bad she didn't have milk.

Today's problem: we are dealing with constipation.

WELL, NOW they are all constipated.

They need heat, but it can dehydrate them, you turn the heat down, and risk fading puppy syndrome, or deal with it?

Too much heat can cause constipation, while too little heat can cause death. (WAY too much heat can also cause death.)

It took me from 7:30 till 9:22 to feed them and try to get them all to poop; they hadn't pooped since this morning. Yesterday I tried a bottle of water and a drop of oil, but it wasn't working; their poops were pasty.

Nature works soooooo well when it does all for you.

Anyway, I had to give them (9 of 11 of them), a nice warm enema and lickety split, all pooped.

This is so much work, just like having quintuplets!

In the end of all this, these puppies will be better than ever, because they have been mainly hand-reared, using the dams milk. The hands-on time that these puppies are getting will make them exceptional pets, and worth all the effort.


She licked and kissed three a very small way, but she is falling for them....

Last night was brutal.

I fed them at 9 p.m., finishing at 9:30. If I just potty them, then they want to eat at 11 p.m., then 1 a.m., then they wouldn't settle. At 2 a.m. they were scampering and screaming, finally at 2:30 a.m. I fed them again, and spent the rest of the hour topping them all off with a bottle, so I was done at 3:30, and they slept till 7ish, so I got to sleep from about 3:45 a.m. till 7:00 a.m.—3.25 hours.

lady sitting in the corner next to the puppies nursing

FRIENDS: at times like this, it sure is nice to know you have some (grin).

Sassy laying next to a bin with puppies in it while nursing her other puppies

Courtesy of MistyTrails Mastiffs

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