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Miracle of life and all, right? But breeding is not for the faint of heart. If you do it, I suggest you get a mentor, first.

So many things can (and do) go wrong. It is heartbreaking to watch a puppy fade, and even though you're up 24 hours with the puppy, doing everything you can for it and making frantic trips to the emergency vet, you watch it slowly die before your eyes. Or to have a puppy born with its intestines on the outside. Or to have your whole litter get sick with something like Parvo and it costs $50,000 to care for them at the vet and they still die. Or to have your dam have complications during whelp and you have to rush her to the emergency vet in the middle of the night for an emergency c-section, and be in danger of losing not only the litter but your dam, too.

And even if everything goes right, as a breeder you have to spend 24/7 within arm's reach of the puppies, day and night, getting very little sleep, for their first three weeks. If you're lucky there are two of you who can split duties, but even then you can forget about having a life for a while. What happens if your dam rolls over and smothers one in the middle of the night? What happens if they get too cold, or too hot? They are extremely fragile the first three weeks. What if your dam gets mastitis and can't nurse her puppies? What if your dam freaks out from calcium deficit, or turns on her own puppies, or gets pyometra or another infection from failing to eject afterbirth?

Even when everything goes right it's time consuming. We take temperatures twice a day, and take the dam's temperature daily. We weigh them and track them every day. We have to make sure that the smallest one is getting enough to eat. We are constantly washing and changing bedding, multiple times a day, as puppies simply poop and pee everywhere. You hope the dam keeps the whelping box clean, but they don't always. You have to repeatedly clean and bathe your dam in the beginning, too, as well as take her out multiple times a day, feed her multiple times a day as much as she will eat because she needs as many calories as you can force into her. Sometimes you have to tube feed neonatal puppies, meaning sticking a tube down their throats into their stomachs and put food in through the tube. Sometimes you have to supplement puppies, and make a complicated formula with all sorts of hard to find ingredients. We have to trim their nails every other day starting on Day 3. Then you have to start potty training them. If mom isn't good at cleaning them you have to clean and potty all the puppies (neonatal puppies can't eliminate on their own; they need their mother's stimulation to be able to go).

Proper development is important, so starting as young as three days old we start working with them, beginning with early scent introduction and early neurological stimulation. We do this daily with each puppy. As they grow, open their eyes, and become more mobile, we have to change their environment every couple days to continually stimulate the puppies with new challenges. We have to expand their living area several times. We have to constantly change the toys and challenges in their environment, like every couple days so that they keep developing and become confident, capable dogs. Eventually, you have to start weaning them and making gruel for them, and make sure they all get enough to eat. Plus, at first they practically bathe in it, so you are constantly cleaning up to a dozen puppies each time they eat. LOL! You have to give them obstacle courses and things to explore. Then you have to start potty training them, which involves lots of cleaning of poop from everywhere, hopefully mostly the litter box you have to buy/make and keep fresh litter in it. And by that time they are making a mess of their entire area, so you are constantly cleaning it and sanitizing it.

Eventually, you have to get all those puppies outside to start experiencing the world. You have to watch them every second. And then we take them on "adventure walks," where we lead them through the "world," and force them to solve problems, get over and around obstacles, learn to follow human beings, and gain confidence in the world. Also, we do things like temperament testing, which takes two entire long days with each litter, and requires setting up a sanitary environment somewhere where they have never been, with various controlled situations for temperament testing. We crate train them. We start to housebreak them. We teach them a basic recall. I mean, imagine doing that with one puppy, then imagine doing it with 8-10 puppies. It's chaos! LOL! We also start to socialize them by taking them for car rides (and an expensive trip to the vet), having them meet safe animals, try to get their little feet on every conceivable surface, and have them meet as many different people as possible, all while trying to keep them healthy and safe from Parvo and other disease.

And then, if everything has gone right, you'll get to the day when you say goodbye to them. It takes ALL DAY. We educate every buyer. We have lots of paperwork to do. We microchip every puppy. We vaccinate them all. We register them with the AKC. We prepare "puppy packets" for every buyer, with everything about their own puppy, a wealth of information for rearing their puppy, all the records they need, photos, pedigrees, nomographs, vaccine records, food, toys, a blanket that smells like mom and their siblings, and a million other details. You have to answer questions, and buyers have a million questions.

And then they're gone, and it's time to put everything away, clean everything up, and get back to normal life. But at first you're getting almost daily calls from multiple puppy buyers. Is this normal? How much should I feed? Is my puppy too fat/thin? My puppy wants to eat poop! Or sticks. Or pebbles. Or socks. She screams in the crate. He won't come when I call. He's going to the bathroom everywhere in the house. She's biting my daughter. She doesn't want to cuddle with me. We're not getting any sleep. I'm overwhelmed and want to return the puppy (I can't tell you how often we get people frantic because they thought they were getting a plug and play cute toy rather than an infant of a predator species that doesn't speak English or know what it is supposed to do in a human environment).

Meanwhile, your dam is blowing her coat and there is dog hair everywhere. Her body has gone through a lot of trauma, and you have to nurture her back to normal health, and watch for complications even after the puppies are gone.

Finally, about a month after you send the puppies home, you start to get some peaceful days. And if you're lucky, you'll get pictures of some of those puppies from proud and beaming owners. More often, you think about the puppies often and wonder how they're doing, and you just have to trust that you've chosen homes well, and that they are all in happy, healthy, productive environments, and that you didn't make any mistakes in placing them. Because when you breed and create these precious little lives, your most solemn responsibility is to make sure they go to homes where they can have the biggest little lives they can possibly have. And if you place them in a home that beats them, or neglects them, or otherwise mistreats or maltreats them, you know that you've sentenced that innocent little soul to a decade or more of torture and abuse, and there is nothing in the world you can do about it. You just have to live with that knowledge.

Gosh, I didn't even get into all the stuff that goes on pre-whelp, before the puppies are even born or conceived. The literal hundreds of inquiries you have to manage and research. Choosing a stud. Getting health clearances. Doing the deed I don't think we have ever just put two dogs in the back yard and let nature take its course. We have medical tests. Often our stud is somewhere else in the country and we have to ship semen and get the timing just right. There is progesterone testing every other day. Figuring out when they ovulate. Making vet appointments for insemination. The insemination (usually two; usually transcervical, occasionally surgical). Ultrasound to confirm pregnancy. Pre-whelp vet appointments. Pre-whelp x-rays (in our case) to count puppies. There are a ton of supplies to buy. You have to prepare the whelping environment. There are planned c-sections and emergency c-sections. And if everything goes right, you are up literally all night long whelping puppies, which is after spending a restless night with your bitch in Stage I labor.

Well, I think I've said enough. LOL! I'll be surprised if anyone has read this far.

Breeding is not for the faint of heart, as so many things can go wrong, and do. And even if everything goes right, it is a long, exhausting process that begins well before birth and lasts until well after the puppies go to their homes.

Any smart person would be with your daughter on this. Clearly, Theresa and I are not smart! :)
I read to the end! I’m beyond impressed with your knowledge, patience, and absolute love for your dogs. Wow 🤩
 

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Puppy No. 6: Stillborn male. 2:05 p.m. Buried on our property. Very sad. 😭

Theresa worked on him for quite a while trying to bring him around, but he never breathed, never had a heartbeat. He was breech, with the cord wrapped all around him. He was gone before he ever came out.

I hate this part of breeding.
♥😢🙏
 

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Thank you so much for your detailed post from A - Z, including the post farewell after the pups are settled in their new homes. Best wishes to you & Summer!! I do have one question though...some breeders prefer to go for the C-section immediately skipping the "natural birthing" cycle thinking it is the safer option for the mum and the unborn pups. What are your thoughts on this. Thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #114 ·
Thank you so much for your detailed post from A - Z, including the post farewell after the pups are settled in their new homes. Best wishes to you & Summer!! I do have one question though...some breeders prefer to go for the C-section immediately skipping the "natural birthing" cycle thinking it is the safer option for the mum and the unborn pups. What are your thoughts on this. Thank you.
I considered it after losing two puppies in this litter. But (1) surgery is risky, too; (2) if enough breeders do nothing but planned c-sections we could eventually wind up with dogs who can't whelp naturally; and (3) I don't believe that a natural whelp is riskier than surgery, and even if it is, we are always ready for a trip to the emergency vet rather than starting with surgery.

Lots of breeders I know are going straight to planned c-sections, but we're not there. We also think that first day of whelp is important to mom and pups, and a dam coming out of anesthesia isn't very plugged-in to her puppies.
 

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I considered it after losing two puppies in this litter. But (1) surgery is risky, too; (2) if enough breeders do nothing but planned c-sections we could eventually wind up with dogs who can't whelp naturally; and (3) I don't believe that a natural whelp is riskier than surgery, and even if it is, we are always ready for a trip to the emergency vet rather than starting with surgery.

Lots of breeders I know are going straight to planned c-sections, but we're not there. We also think that first day of whelp is important to mom and pups, and a dam coming out of anesthesia isn't very plugged-in to her puppies.
If a dog has a c section does that affect her ability to have a litter in the future?
 

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I've spent too much time watching these babies - same as I did with Khaleesi's litter a few years back. I'm a bit clueless about what makes a great mother but I've been super impressed by both Khaleesi and Summer ... so calm, attentive and patient. Do you (Dana and Theresa), as breeders, rate one higher than the other? Just interested.
 

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Discussion Starter · #118 ·
I've spent too much time watching these babies - same as I did with Khaleesi's litter a few years back. I'm a bit clueless about what makes a great mother but I've been super impressed by both Khaleesi and Summer ... so calm, attentive and patient. Do you (Dana and Theresa), as breeders, rate one higher than the other? Just interested.
Summer is being a great mom, so far. We are thrilled. This is her first litter, so there is still some discovery to be had, as there are several times of change ahead. How is she when the puppies start to get teeth? Does she wean them appropriately? Does she teach them bite inhibition? Does she play with them? Etc. So far she's doing great. Different from Ziva, but great. Summer doesn't spend as much time with the pups at this age as Ziva did. But they are all fat and happy and clean, and she's doing everything she's supposed to do, so far. It's too early to be able to compare Summer to her grandmother Ziva, and we don't really think in terms of who is a better mom, just whether they do the things they need to do at the times they need to do them. And you know what? It always amazes me that they know just when to make necessary changes. Nature is amazing.

One thing Ziva did that I hope Summer does is that Ziva started to house train her litters, teaching them to go to the bathroom outside. That was awesome, and saved us some nasty poop and pee cleanup. Ziva also played with her puppies when they were outside. Deuce also plays with puppies, mostly by rolling onto his back and letting the puppies climb on him and bite him. Amazingly patient. It's great discovering their behavior with litters. You realize how sophisticated their "society is, and how innately sensitive to the puppies' needs they are, each of them in different ways. It's great to watch. I hope people get to see some of it on the puppy cam as the babies grow.
 

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It shouldn't unless there was bad scar and it healed bad. But I don't think a breeder would do that.
I guess I was wondering about the scarring. I know each time you have abdominal surgery (speaking of people here) you develop adhesions and such that make the next surgery more difficult, and I have heard that women who have C sections sometimes need to continue to have them with subsequent births or they risk uterine rupture, so I just wondered if dogs had any restrictions/issues if they had to have a c section.
 
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