AKC eNewsletter



Pick-of-the-litter Question

Last issue's question: When faced with a large litter, how do you determine when supplemental feeding is needed?

Compiled by Lisa Peterson, AKC Club Communications director

  • Siberian Huskies — Whenever we whelp a litter, regardless of size, we like to record the birth weights and then do daily weight checks, just to assure that there are no puppies who are falling behind. If a litter has an obvious runt or two, I will segregate the larger littermates for an hour or two per day and leave the smaller puppies with their mother, so they don’t have to compete for nursing space and can receive her full attention. If daily weight gains are not satisfactory despite the smaller puppies getting more individual feedings, I will begin supplementation via tube feeding, but this is rarely necessary. — David K. Qualls, D.V.M., Indigo Siberians, Jacksonville, Florida
  • German Shepherd Dogs — When one of my girls has a large litter, I closely monitor all the babies. If a puppy seems to be smaller or weaker than the others, I give this puppy special attention. Often the smaller pups may get pushed out by the larger, more aggressive feeders, and so I immediately give these little guys a special feeding of pure goat’s milk every day to help them grow. In addition, if any puppy seems to be doing a lot of crying or is pushed out by the mom, that puppy is also supplemented and watched very closely. I also weigh the babies once daily to ensure they are healthy and growing. This close attention has ensured that we have happy healthy litters. — Lavern Shapley, Von Shap Shepherds, Lewisville, Ohio
  • English Mastiffs — I have had two very large litters. The first litter had 13 puppies, and the second litter had 11 puppies. I marked each pup with a ribbon and weighed them constantly. The first litter had to be bottle-fed, and the second litter did great on its own. The mom actually let me know the first time around. She could never satisfy all of the puppies. Regardless of what she did, most of them were screaming. We ended up bottle feeding them while she would nurse them. — Renee Stevens, Meant 2B Mastiffs, Dacula, Georgia
  • Labrador Retrievers — Assuming the litter is simply large and there are no glaring nutritional deficiencies or needs identified, breeders may feel comfortable with simple watchful waiting. As long as all puppies get adequate and equal time at a breast and as long as Mom is not becoming physically or even emotionally overwhelmed by the size of the litter, all goes well…We also begin hand-feeding a gruel made of milk and top-shelf dry puppy food as soon as the pups can safely take this in between feedings taken from Mom. We make sure each pup gets its time at the breast, then we remove that pup and feed it some of the fresh gruel by hand. — Greg Hubbard, Circle P Kennels, Breckenridge, Missouri
  Ronald N. Rella, director, Breeder Services
Theresa Shea, editor | Email: AKCbreeder@akc.org
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