Those who are thinking of getting this dog breed should learn everything about German Shepherd newborn puppies, from feeding and care to character, traits and education.
The German Shepherd is a widespread breed of service dog that is popular with breeders. This breed develops into a beautiful large size body with well-developed muscles giving the dog the ability to perform well in many different environments. With proper care and competent training, an owner will get a loyal and devoted friend.
Raising German Shepherd puppies is a responsible and difficult task which will require a lot of patience and love. Of course, we can easily fall for these German Shepherd newborn puppies whose photos look so cute on the Internet and in magazines but they also need competent care.
The normal litter size for this breed is often of interest to novice dog breeders and this information is especially relevant for those who have their first experience with a young bitch. Amongst German Shepherd breed experts, there is consensus that the normal litter size is generally driven by genetics and the conditions or the timing of mating do not have a significant influence.
A shepherd dog can give birth from 1 to as much as 15 puppies but in most cases a little less than the median of this range is more typical. Basically, you can expect a litter size of five to six puppies, which is really the optimal size.
Of course, a healthy bitch is able to feed twelve babies, but it will be much more difficult for her, and the babies may not grow strong enough.
Experienced dog breeders recommend no more than one mating per year, otherwise it may affect the physical appearance and health of German Shepherd newborn puppies and the health of the mother herself.
First two weeks of the German Shepherd newborn puppies
Learning to care for the puppies during the first two weeks of their lives is particularly important. The condition of a German shepherd puppy immediately after birth, already speaks volumes to the fact that he is absolutely helpless as babies are born blind and deaf.
However, despite this obstacle, their sense of smell is already quite developed and they perfectly feel the maternal scent and look for nipples of the mother by touch. Moreover, newborns instinctively know that the rear nipples contain more milk, so a struggle begins between them for the most advantageous places.
Hearing in newborns starts functioning three to four days after birth. In the first hours after birth, babies are susceptible to various kinds of infections and they are especially vulnerable in cases when the health condition of the mother is not good.
Real life experience shows that those who were born last have a much higher survival rate than those who came out first.
Prevention & planning
To keep the litter alive and healthy, it is recommended that the bitch be examined during pregnancy and just before giving birth to prevent possible health problems. If there are more than six newborns in a litter, the owners will need a lot of strength and patience to help the mother hatch and provide the conditions necessary for their survival.
The litter will need to be divided into two areas and newborns fed in two steps. It is recommended to set up two box or containers to separate the group. Sometimes, the bitch’s milk volume is not high enough to feed a large number of babies. In that case, you will need the help of a nurse dog who could take over some of the feeding responsibilities. Therefore, it is important to plan ahead in case the need comes up.
There are certain criteria for selecting a nurse dog:
- Height at withers more than 50 cm
- Milk availability
It is important, to pay special attention to the weak and small puppies and place them against the rear nipples.
Monitoring of German Shepherd newborn puppies
You will need to closely monitor the behavior of newborns, weigh them daily and record the results in a log book. In doing so, you can track the evolution of the babies and identify those that may have development issues. In the first week, babies suckle their mother about twelve times a day, then the frequency drops to eight and in the final days it will go down to four times.
At first, the mother stimulates the physiological functions of the puppies by licking them. Once the German Shepherd newborn puppies begin to eat a little solid food, the mother stops doing it. Keep in mind that from that point on you will have to take care of the cleanliness of the birthing area where the bitch lives with her puppies.
If you notice that the mother does not really care for the babies, you will need to massage their abdomens. You can do so with a cotton swab dipped in sunflower oil. When the babies are five days old, the dog owner should start changing the litter in the box on a daily basis.
Make sure the area where the litter is set up is warm but well ventilated and that nothing can contribute to suffocation of the puppies such as fabric, attachments, etc.
On the seventh day, trim the small claws of the front legs as they can scratch the mother while feeding. If the case she has wounds, lubricate them with synthomycin liniment. The mother’s nipples may suffer from intensive feeding and they may start to dry and crack. In that case, wash them with a weak potassium permanganate solution, rosehip oil or sea buckthorn oil and make sure that she does not lick that area.
Feeding of German Shepherd newborn puppies
You can start feeding puppies once you notice a decrease in their daily growth, despite the fact that they become restless, whine and try to crawl. Appropriate timing is crucial as rushing the process is just as dangerous as delaying it.
If you start feeding too early, the mother will have less milk production, which is a source of vitamins and antibodies to various infections. In fact, breast milk is the best whey that protects droppings from all sorts of infections. In general, feeding can start around the fourteenth day.
In cases where the shepherd mother has problems with lactation, you can start on the twelfth day. You can give milk from a cow, sheep or goat by mixing egg yolk and powdered milk into it.
A bottle with a nipple is suitable as a feeding tool and the hole should be of such a size that milk does not pour out, but drips. The frequency of feeding in case of insufficient lactation in a bitch is every three hours and three times a day with normal lactation.
Learning to care for Shepherd puppies
A one-month old German shepherd puppy is not much different from its younger counterparts, but it is much larger. Its weight is from two and a half to four kg and height at the withers is from 19 to 21 cm.
Once the puppy starts eating solids, the diet should be optimally balanced. The young German Shepherd is growing fast and his food intake must be nutritious!
Meals should be provided at regular intervals with 6 meals a day being the optimal frequency. Then, gradually increase the amount of servings and decrease the number of meals. The main principle is that each meal should provide the shepherd puppy with the necessary complex of vitamins, fats, carbohydrates and proteins.
One serving of food is usually around 200 g. Only select premium quality food for large dog breeds and make sure they contain all the necessary nutrients.
Alternatives to processed food are natural products cottage cheese, porridge with meat broth, grated vegetables, boiled eggs, boiled or raw minced meat.
Both approaches in their pure form have their advantages and disadvantages. Get the help of a dog nutritionist, if needed. Good luck!