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I'm new here, a first time owner of a now 9 week old female golden retriever puppy. Her name is Shiloh. We were unpleasantly surprised to find out that the breeder wasn't as amazing as we had hoped. :eek:( Our puppy is a beautiful purebred, but due to some unfortunate circumstances the litter was weaned early (4+ weeks, the momma dog was starting to bite the pups) and the breeder and her vet thought that was why all the pups (9 in the litter) were so small. When we got her home at 8 weeks, she was shockingly small. She was the smallest in the litter, but she weighed 2lbs 13 oz. She was smaller than an average 3 week old golden! The other litter mates were closer to 4 pounds, so about a pound bigger than her - but still less than half of what they should have been at 8 weeks!

To make a long story short, we ended up in the after hours ER vet over Labor Day weekend when she started acting lethargic and sick, and she was diagnosed with coccidia. She responded well to the meds and actually has an appetite now. She has gained about 11 ounces in a week, including the sick days when she ate almost nothing. She seems to be growing, and I have hopes that she will be a normal sized golden someday. Other than being so very small, she is great! adorable, sweet, loves our six children and tolerates all their kisses and hugs and attention. Has already learned 'sit' and is eager to learn more. She seems to have tht amazing golden retriever family dog personality that made us decide to get one in the first place.

I guess I am wondering what could have made an entire litter be less than half the weight they should be? She looks like a miniature golden, she is chihuahua sized. She is proportional - not like a big frame with no meat on her bones, just tiny all around, paws and all. Even her bones feel slight and more catlike than doglike. She does not have that fat, fluffy round look that I see on other goldens when I look online at pics of goldens her age. She was skinnier than the rest, but they are all super tiny. The only reasons we are aware of are the undiagnosed coccidia and the early weaning, but could that be enough to make an entire litter of mini goldens? The parents are both standard size.

Has anyone ever had a super small puppy? Will she catch up or will she always be much smaller than average? Any suggestions on helping her to gain weight in a healthy way and grow as she needs to to reach her full potential for health and size?

Thanks. Sorry for the long post. Would love to get some feedback.
 

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Are you saying that your 8 week Golden weighed less than 3 pounds? Typical would be around 10 pounds. I do not know what would cause such a small puppy, but maybe someone else will offer an answer.

Some pictures of Shiloh might be helpful. Hope she continues to grow and gain weight.
 

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Many years ago, we fostered a golden puppy for our breeder that was very small. She was less than 6 lbs at 10 weeks. We soaked her kibble in goats milk instead of water, and she had a spoonful of peanut butter at least once and sometimes twice a day. After 4 weeks with us, she was heading in the right direction, and was still on the small side but definitely catching up. She ended up being middle of breed standard, passed all her clearances and is the mother and grandmother of my current 2 goldens. I think having the coccidia cleared up, is a key factor in helping her grow. Clearing up the coccidia will definitely help her gain weight. I am surprised the breeders vet was not more concerned about the size of the pups. If I took a litter of pups that small to my vet, she would have had a fit. She also would have had me supplementing the puppies with formula and would have noted her concerns on their puppy records.

Good luck with your puppy, she sounds smart and to be heading in the right direction, she has a lot of growing time left to catch up. A little small is not a bad thing either, my younger girl is only 47 lbs and is smart and much more agile than my bigger girl.
 

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This sounds downright neglectful. Puppies begin to eat puppy gruel at about this age to help mom out when they begin needing more calories than just milk alone can provide. The puppies should have been started on the gruel immediately if the mother needed to be separated from them. The breeder should still have kept the puppies until 8 weeks of age so that she could monitor their body weight/gain and so that the puppies could learn bite inhibition from one another. I am having serious doubts about this breeder. I have known breeders who had to stop nursing because of mastitis and the puppies were never underweight because they were fed food and monitored and weighed daily. In all likelihood, your puppy should grow up to a normal size.
 

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I have seen untreated coccidia cause extremely small puppies-not thin, but very small overall. That said, there is absolutely no excuse for the breeder or the vet not to have discovered and treated this. Coccidia is not at all uncommon, so I do not understand how it was missed. Because current treatment in the US does not kill coccidia, it is very common for pups who have been previously treated for coccidia to break out with it again under the stress of a new home but this does not sound like what happened here.

Four weeks is not that early for the weaning process to be well under way, and 8 weeks is an appropriate age for a normal puppy to go home. However, I would never let one of my puppies go home weighing so little. I have held onto smaller puppies until I can see that they are catching up with their littermates (several here will remember Sparky).

That said, once treated, the small coccidia puppies I have seen all ended up normal sized (assuming there are no other physical problems). Just feed her an appropriate amount of food, adjusting it as she grows, and she will be fine. Because she is so small, you may want to soften her food for her for awhile.

Good luck with your little girl and keep us posted.
 

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As Tahnee said, if she's small simply because of coccidiosis, she should catch up to most or all of the size her genes dictate. Don't try to catch her up early by jamming calories into her now. You still want her to grow slowly in order to minimize the chances of growth-related problems.

It doesn't sound like the breeder has his or her act together, though. Without knowing anything else about the situation except that the breeder appears to have dropped the ball badly on the coccidia issue, the extreme small size of the puppy, combined with the carelessness of the breeder, makes me think that there's also a small possibility that she's not 100% Golden.
 

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It doesn't sound like the breeder has his or her act together, though. Without knowing anything else about the situation except that the breeder appears to have dropped the ball badly on the coccidia issue, the extreme small size of the puppy, combined with the carelessness of the breeder, makes me think that there's also a small possibility that she's not 100% Golden.
Good point, tippy, and one that had not occurred to me.
 

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Thank you for all the responses already. Yes - I believe it was downright neglectful for the breeder (obviously she was not a good one! Hindsight is always 20/20.) and the vet to miss the coccidia and to overlook the small size. The breeder did keep the pups until 8 weeks, and she did feed the puppies soft food after the mom self weaned them early. And I guess all concern about the litter's size was focused on the weaning instead of looking for other causes like coccidia. She had never had it before in her history with her dogs, so I guess she just didn't know to look for it? None of the puppies acted sick until going home, apparently. But obviously there was some major lack of oversight and awareness in the whole thing. Whenever we get our next golden, we will definitely be much more careful when screening the breeders. I never want to bring home a sick puppy again. That ride to the ER vet was very scary and sad. :(

Yes, to answer Max's dad's question, at 8 weeks Shiloh weighed 2 lbs 13 oz. An 8 week old the size of a 2-3 week old. From the other responses, it sounds like the missed and untreated coccidia may have been enough to have caused them to be so small? And thank you all for the stories and reassurance that once cleared up and moving in the right direction, she will likely be normal, or just on the small end of normal, in size.

I was only able to attach one picture. She is darling, and now that we feel better about her appetite and health, we can enjoy her sweet smallness without being quite so worried. She looks like a perfect stuffed toy golden - she is really so sweet. And though I am terribly disappointed in the ”breeder's” mistakes and handling of everything, we feel very blessed to have gotten an a amazing little pup out of the whole thing despite all the trouble.

I'll post updates on Shiloh's growth. And I'll try to post more pics later for a better idea of her size and proportions. Maybe I'll take a pic of her in my toddler's lap for an even more clear pic of how small she is. :eek:

Thanks again!
 

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We had friends who fell in love with our golden puppy a few years ago, and went out and got one of their own at a pet store :doh: I had tried to educate them about the importance of finding a good breeder, but the attraction of a pet store I suppose is deciding one wants a puppy, going out and making the purchase that same day. I was pretty upset. Anyway, theirs was only a few weeks younger than ours but the two looked nothing alike. Their puppy was small and slight, didn't have as much coat as ours, and had a much different looking face. She ended up growing up fine, though she was limping at 10 months from elbow troubles, but that's another story. She looks like a golden to me, just a little smaller than the breed standard. I don't know what the circumstances were for her litter, or what her parents looked like.
 

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It doesn't sound like the breeder has his or her act together, though. Without knowing anything else about the situation except that the breeder appears to have dropped the ball badly on the coccidia issue, the extreme small size of the puppy, combined with the carelessness of the breeder, makes me think that there's also a small possibility that she's not 100% Golden.
Actually, that thought had crossed my mind. She looks like a chihuahua golden. I hope it's not the case. She looks very golden - slightly red, but still a golden - as did the mom, dad and litter mates. I'm hopeful that it was just the coccidia, and for Shiloh at least, the fact that she is the smallest (the runt, I guess, for lack of a better word) that account for the size issue.

How can you confirm that kind of thing? She has paperwork and both parents are AKC registered, and I will be getting registration papers for Shiloh (family emergency for the breeder meant the paperwork is coming in the mail instead of coming home with the pup). Can people just lie on paperwork like that? Or is AKC registration and that kind of thing pretty reliable? Or do we just wait and see what she looks like as she grows? She certainly has the golden temperament we so wanted to see in a dog. I've never met a more patient, friendly and loveable puppy. Obviously the breeder had some major issues, but there was no lack of love, attention and socialization at least. Shiloh has such a sweet personality and is very social.
 

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I would like to see her again in a few weeks. She appears to have a fair amount of white on her, and her paws are smaller in proportion than what I am used to seeing. It could just be the malnutrition caused by the coccidia. It's been a long time since I have seen puppies with severe coccidia.

I don't put much stock in the DNA tests that are out there, as I have seen some really unbelievable results from them.

Time will tell :). And she is cute and sounds very smart.
 

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Actually, that thought had crossed my mind. She looks like a chihuahua golden. I hope it's not the case. She looks very golden - slightly red, but still a golden - as did the mom, dad and litter mates. I'm hopeful that it was just the coccidia, and for Shiloh at least, the fact that she is the smallest (the runt, I guess, for lack of a better word) that account for the size issue.

How can you confirm that kind of thing? She has paperwork and both parents are AKC registered, and I will be getting registration papers for Shiloh (family emergency for the breeder meant the paperwork is coming in the mail instead of coming home with the pup). Can people just lie on paperwork like that? Or is AKC registration and that kind of thing pretty reliable? Or do we just wait and see what she looks like as she grows? She certainly has the golden temperament we so wanted to see in a dog. I've never met a more patient, friendly and loveable puppy. Obviously the breeder had some major issues, but there was no lack of love, attention and socialization at least. Shiloh has such a sweet personality and is very social.
It was just a speculation, so I wouldn't worry about it too much. If she's not full Golden, it'll be pretty obvious as she grows, I'd imagine. It would be really hard to tell for sure right now unless she was showing non-Golden aspects in her coat. The pointiness to her face might simply be a result of the malnutrition and it'll correct itself over time, or it could be the presence of another breed. You can certainly get a DNA test, but that seems excessive at this point.

The fact that you don't have the AKC paperwork makes me a little suspicious. I'd really push the breeder to give you registration papers, and I'd register Shiloh once you get them. If she turns out to be a mix, you can report that to the AKC, which will handle sanctioning the breeder. If the breeder keeps making excuses and doesn't end up sending the paperwork, I'd also call the AKC about that.

AKC registration tends to be reliable because the AKC is pretty strict with breeders about the accuracy of registrations, and they lose their ability to register dogs if they produce false records, either intentionally or through carelessness. But it's not a perfect guarantee, and with BYBs, they aren't always careful, and they aren't always caught right away.
 

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Here is a picture of Shiloh with my 3 year old son.

The last pic was from the day we brought her home, this pic I took today, at 9 weeks old. She already seems to be changing a little, losing the pointier look and getting more alert and energetic. Clearly she seems healthier in every way. I'm comforted to know that her growth may still be on a slow curve and that I shouldn't worry if she doesn't have a massive growth spurt soon. We're feeding her soft food and kibble mixed together, and she just finished some probiotics from the vet. We'll add some good 'real food' after discussing it with our regular vet at her upcoming appointment next week.

Thanks for all the feedback everyone! It's great to have found this forum. It's been wonderful already!
 

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I'd question her being pure bred also due to the small frame but she is such a cutie pie! I think you'll only know for sure after several months of growth and seeing how she progresses. Maybe some of the breeders on here have come across something like this and can help.
Either way, you obviously love her and she's found a home for life. She's precious. Enjoy your very little bundle.


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You may want to consider insurance if you haven't already done so. It's likely that any intestinal issues in the future may not be covered due to the presence of coccidia & giardia now but I'd also be even more concerned if you haven't verified that clearances were accomplished on the sire & dam and exist throughout the pedigree (OFA hips & elbows, annual ophthalmologist exams & cardiologist cleared heart)--you can check those out at Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. I do hope the breeder comes through & provides the registration paperwork, did you at least get a contract with the litter # and the sire/dam listed?

Good luck with your pup! I do hope with meds, everything resolves itself & your pup can get on with growing into a magnificent golden.
 

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How is your Golden doing? We have a tiny male golden, only 8 lbs at 4 months. What did you find out, and how is her weight now/size?
 

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Hi Rob,
Shiloh is currently about 45lbs at 9 months old. It was mostly the parasites, plus the damage to her gut from them, and possibly some food allergies/sensitivities. She didn't start gaining weight until about 12-14 weeks, after a scary incident where she swallowed a chicken bone and almost died. Before the chicken bone, she had low appetite and don't want to eat any foods we offered, even good real food added to her kibble. After the chicken bone, she was put on pain meds for the partial blockage to pass, and they put her on a bland diet of only chicken and rice for over a week. The chicken and rice was the first food she ever ate like she was hungry. After that she actually ate her normal dog food and started finally growing and gaining. Shiloh had the coccidia and giardia for many, many weeks, and had to go through repeated doses of meds to get them under control. She also struggled with diarrhea for a couple of months after the parasites were resolved. I think the parasites just threw her system so out of whack that she couldn't handle digestion for a while. Eventually we found a food she tolerated and she was finally clear of diarrhea and still gaining weight. She is small for a golden, but still within range of the low end of normal for females. So she definitely played a lot of catch up between about 3 months and 6 months. She hasn't grown really at all in over a month, so really she did most of her growing in those few months.

I would just encourage you to get the best stool samples you can to rue out coccidia in particular. Also, if he seems thin in addition to being small, the bland diet worked wonders for Shiloh. Her parasites were gone by then, but her appetite was still not right. I think real kibble was just too hard on her system. If your guy has had any trouble, and most certainly if he ends up with coccidia, we found it took months for Shiloh's digestive system to heal and work properly. The chicken bone incident likely wouldn't have been much of an issue for a healthy, normal sized puppy. But because she was so small and her system was already so inflamed and taxed, she almost died over a simple small amount of fragmented chicken bone bits.

All that to say, if nutrition is the issue, even if it's not coccidia, getting him to eat enough and to digest it well is key. So I'd just advise you to try the chicken and rice diet if any if this sounds similar. If he picks at his food and doesn't seem interested, or don't eat what seems lie enough, maybe his gut is just taxed and it's hard for him to handle dog food.

Feel free to private message me. I don't know if your guy has any digestive issues or if his size issues are related to other health issues. But if it's digestive, particularly related to coccidia, we have a lot of experience we can share with you. And if you're looking for the right foods, we can talk about the foods we've tried and what's worked, and want hasn't.

Good luck to you! Hope some of this helps, even if it's just to rule out some issues.
 

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I'm having a lot of the same problems with our puppy, Blue. She is 10 weeks and only 5ish pounds. Our vet is not super concerned and after a round of antidiarehal and antibiotics (for possible coccidia) she was fine for about a week and a half. Today though she didn't eat and slept a lot. She's perky at the moment but I feeling very concerned. :/ If she doesn't eat tomorrow I'm gonna call the vet again.
 

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Hi, I'm sorry to take so long getting back. I don't know if you've gotten her tested again since you posted this, or if anything else has occurred, but coccidia was a pain to get rid of. We treated her several times, and also for giardia. She ended up having major unitary tract issues around 6 months as well. We think she may have had a UTI for a long time that the vets missed. I've since learned that UTIs can happen with coccidia infections. :(

If I were you, I'd push the vet for more meds, and for a longer dose. If she is 5lbs at 10 weeks then she likely has coccidia, giardia or both. That's so small for a golden.

Shiloh turned one in July, and she is full grown and beautiful now. She weighs around 50lbs and looks perfectly healthy. Her coat is full, her proportions and perfect, and even her long term UTI issues are finally resolved. So, even though we had sooooo many health and weight issues in her early puppy months, it did all turn out well in the end. Hope the happy ending encourages you as you navigate through the mess of health issues with an underweight puppy!

Also, we think she had food allergies. It was hard to find a food she tolerated. We now avoid grains, chicken and beef. Hope that helps!
 

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WOW! My Willow was 11.5 lbs at 8 weeks, very round & fluffy. Your girl looks nothing like Willow, she's so thin. That is a concern. (See her pic at 8 weeks).

The circumstances of your purchase of this sweet little dog sound very suspicious to me. First, the undersized puppies, then you find out she has coccidia, then an excuse for not having your paperwork ready. She may be a mixed breed - you won't know for sure until you get her papers. I hope you did not pay a lot, just in case she's not really a purebred - that would be unfair and unscrupulous. That being said, she is really adorable and sounds like a loving puppy. I'm sure once she gets through her medical issues she will be fine and no matter what, I hope you will love her (I'm sure you already do). I'm praying all goes well for this sweet puppy and glad that you are giving her a caring home
 

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