This is written to caution ALL first time breeders of some hazards that my
befall newborn puppies.
Several times I have tried to prepare first time breeders about leaving the bitch with
her whelps unattended. A Bullmastiff is a very large breed of dog that cannot control its
movements when one pound puppies are squirming by them. When left unattended fatalities
occur. You will need to put a 48" exercise pen around the whelping box to keep mom
out when you are not able to be right with the pups.
The pups cannot regulate their body temperature for the first week, therefore, YOU
must control the temperature. Their internal body temperature must remain above 98
degrees. If it drops to 94 degrees or below, hypothermia can set in and they will FREEZE
You will need to feed them every two hours for the first week. After that, you can go
to three hour feedings and extend the feeding times as they grow.
The next hazard to watch for is electrical cords. If you use a heating pad for warmth,
wrap the cord in heavy duty electrical tape to insulate the cord. This is not fool-proof,
but will add extra protection against puppies chewing on it.
If it is winter time, and you must use a heating lamp, watch for dehydration and
burning of the eyes, nose and mouth. These are highly sensitive areas and the burning can
happen in just a few moments. This will cause blindness in the pups.
Puppies will tend to suck on one anothers umbilical stumps and genitals. This can
cause infections such as staph and strep. It can also cause umbilical hernias or damage to
Another hazard is bacteria due to not keeping the whelping box clean. Bacterial
infections can cause fatalities in the dam and her whelps.
Due to this, we do not use whelping boxes. We use individual bins for each whelp.
Each pup is in it's own environment and you can monitor who is going potty and who
is not. You can also monitor the pup to make sure each pup is kept at the right
temperature. I use a tube sock filled with rice and heated in the microwave for warmth!
Keep the ambient temperature of the room at about 75 degrees.
Here is a photo of the Nursery.
Each pup has it's own bin and is then covered to prevent any drafts. There is a
towel with the rice sock between the layers and a piece of fleece for the pup to snuggle
Have a microwave nearby for heating the rice socks and a reliable scale. I do not
use a digital scale as the pups move around too much. Then also have ribbons for
each pup for identication and racks for storing the towels on.
If the dam has a c-section, cleanse the incision before and after each feeding by using
an antibacterial cleanser, such as phisoderm. Make sure all nipples are thoroughly cleaned
before all feedings whether the puppies were a natural delivery or a c-section.
Keep ALL other dogs away from the whelping area whether the dam is with the whelps or
not. Other dogs may want to "play" with the babies, and will crush them in their
exuberance. Some will destroy the whelps on purpose.
Anything that can distract the dam, such as strangers, other dogs, and kids may cause
undue upset to "mom." This can cause her to destroy her pups, lose her milk
supply and snap at the intruder. Keep the maternity ward as quiet as possible. If
necessary, place the pups and their heat source in a Vari-Kennel. You can regulate the
temperature and the mom cannot do any unintended damage to the pups.
Dams normally do not try to hurt their babies. First-time moms are terrified of these
squirming, babies that are trying to nurse on them. You must be understanding and calm
during the time it will take for her maternal instincts to take over. This may vary for
each bitch and each litter. However, some dams never reach that maternal stage. Therefore,
YOU ARE MOM.
Breeding your female is not to be taken lightly. When breeding you must take all
precautions and know all the hazards you may experience during that time to assure
healthy, happy, well adjusted pups. Even if you do everything right, there is still a
chance you may lose the entire litter and the dam.
The puppies have not asked to be born and it is YOUR responsibility to do
everything in your power to protect them.
If an EXPERIENCED breeder gives you helpful suggestions, please use those suggestions.
They are only trying to help you prevent tragedy.
like to introduce myself before I tell you about my recent Bullmastiff litter of 19,
of which 17 survived.
Pam Henson, Escalade Bullmastiffs. I started in the world of Purebred dogs in 1980
showing Rottweilers. Then in 1999 I bought my first Bullmastiff. My first
Bullmastiff had horrible health problems and died at 14 months of age of multiple cancers.
I had sworn to never get another Bully and then I met Tracy in 2000 and have been
involved with showing Bully ever since!
story is about my girl Pepper, AM/INTL. CH. Wild Wests Red Hot Chili Pepper,
OFA-Good, EL, CA, CROM.
We first bred Pepper in February 2006 and she had a litter of 14 pups. Five of those
pups have finished their AKC Championships and one pup, Dawn, CH. Escalades Look But
Dont Touch, is a Group placing bitch and finished from the Bred By Class! Another
pup is BISS, CH. Escalades All Tricked Out, OFA-Good, EL. There are still a
couple others that will be shown from Pepps first litter. Pepper earned a Top
Producing Dam Award for this year and she also has earned her Copper ROM Award!!!
My friend Tracy has written this story for me. I hope you enjoy it.
our Story begins
fellow breeder told me, The ONLY way youre going to get your bitch pregnant is
to do a surgical implant
My repro specialist said, Why, Whats
wrong with your bitch? I told her Nothing
25+ years in breeding and showing dogs, Id never heard this before, so I talked with
Peppers breeder and shed never heard this before either
So we opted for
2 regular AIs using fresh chilled semen. We figured it worked for the first litter
so why not do it this way again.
the old days, natural breedings were hit and miss. Then with technology we learned that by
using progesterone levels we could pinpoint the correct time to breed. This along
with the ability to ship semen in for the bitch instead of shipping the bitch to the dog,
made the possibility of conception even greater!
almost 2 years of searching for a second mate for Pepper, we found him 3,000 miles away!!
We signed the contract, paid the deposit and anxiously awaited Peppers
The day finally came and we made the phone call to the stud owner, Dorothy Martell, who
literally, dropped what she was doing and raced home to get her boy Hemi, I.B.
Man O War
We had 2 shipments of fresh chilled semen flown in from Massachusetts!
The sperm quality was GREAT and the 2 AIs were done during our Bullmastiff
Specialty! The same day that the 2nd AI was done, Peppers son from her
first litter, won BISS at the ABA Far West Specialty!
in our wildest dreams could we have expected what followed
weeks after the breeding we KNEW Pepper was pregnant. She was already thickening in
the belly and her ribs were spreading. By six weeks, we started a guessing game with
other Bully owners on a talk list we belong to. By eight weeks, we were getting
worried as she looked as big as she did with her first litter and she still had the final
week to go!!! Peppers breeder came to check on her and guessed 14 pups
had a dream that she had 18. I wish I had never had that dream
day 57, we took her in for a progesterone test to get an idea if she was getting close.
She was still at 7 ngs, so we knew it would be a day or two. That was Friday,
June 20th. Grandma Tracy came to see her again and changed her count to
11, as she didnt think she looked that big
had been eating several small meals a day the last few weeks of her pregnancy. She
was moving slower, but that was to be expected. She also had quite a bit of swelling
of her ankles the last week and was having trouble getting up and down. We were
concerned about this, but she seemed fine other than that.
Sunday night, June 22, 2008, all hell broke loose
We were spending every minute with Pepper and she seemed agitated with us so we left her
in the bedroom for about an hour to give her some alone time. At about
8pm, we went back in to check on her and with NO SIGNS of labor, there was a pup under her
back leg. She had cleaned him, but in her hurry to clean herself up, she crushed the
all my years of dog breeding, Id never lost a pup. I was devastated, but I
knew we had to spring into action. I called my vet and he rushed to the office and
had the staff waiting for us when we arrived.
the way there, two more water sacs burst, and no pups were coming out, and I knew we were
in trouble. On arrival, my vet immediately started prepping Pepper for surgery.
As the c-section got under way, the pups started coming at such a fast pace that we
had no clue how many there were or what the sexes were.
was so much blood on the floor. We knew Pepper was in trouble. It
was so quiet in the recovery room, no one wanted to say anything. Everyone started praying
that she would be ok. The Tech monitoring Pepper had a serious look on her face
concentrating very hard. We had no Idea that she was breathing for Pepper.
Half way through the surgery she had stopped breathing on her own and the tech she was
bagging her every breath. My Vet was working very hard and very fast to safe my bitch.
lost one other male pup during surgery that had gotten turned sideways and was blocking
the cervix. The live pup count was 17 10 girls and 7 boys!
breeder and her daughter left as soon as the last pup was dry and ran home to get more
bins and towels then took them to my house and started getting everything set up.
was spayed on the table to try to save her life. She was horribly weak from the loss
of blood and fluids and her gums were white. She was in shock but responsive.
After a few hours on an IV she was allowed to come home. It was after 2:00 am
when we got home.
we got home, the pups each got a few turns getting colostrum from mom. I continued to
worry about my girl as her color was not improving and within a couple of hours we were
rushing her back to ER. The prognosis was NOT good. No one expected her to
live. My vet began emergency treatment on Pepper. By 7:30 am it was decided
that if she did not have a transfusion she WOULD die. Her PCV level was down to a
17. My son rushed to another clinic to pick up some whole blood and get it back to our
clinic while Pepper was being prepared for the transfusion.
at home, my daughter and I began the arduous task of bottle-feeding the 17 babies.
Two of them were only 10 ounces and the heaviest was 16 ounces. Peppers
breeder came back to help us with a few feedings.
the 2nd day, Pepper started to bloat. The staff had been giving her
little sips of water while she was lying down. My vet decompressed her and another
disaster was diverted.
kept praying for a miracle
I have never cried so many tears in my life. I felt
this whole nightmare was my fault. We just wanted to breed Pepper one last time and
bring in a new line and it almost killed her. Peppers breeder kept telling me it was
not my fault and that sometimes Mother Nature just didnt play fair, but I couldnt
help the way I felt.
the 3rd day, Pepper was doing better and Because I have worked for my vet he
felt that I could take care of her and she was allowed to come home. She was so
emaciated. Every bone stuck out of her body. She looked like a skeleton.
She had to be fed ¼ cup of ID every couple of hours and was so weak, she couldnt
stand and had to be carried outside to potty. She was on antibiotics, Calcium and so many
other medications to try to save her.
kids and I worked 24/7 keeping the pups going and tending to Pepper. We took turns
sleeping on the floor up against Pepper so we would know if she was in distress and using
our body heat to keep her warm. Every day she grew a little stronger and could eat a
after a week, she was able to stand on her own. We all clapped and cheered for her
and she wagged her tail for the first time in a week!
bottle fed every 2-3 hours. It was pure hell we would just finish feeding,
cleaning and pottying the pups and would have to start all over again. We took
shifts, 2 of us would feed and one would sleep. We felt and looked like Zombies!!!
2 weeks of age, Ellie Mae started fading
I was terrified. She was lethargic
and wouldnt eat. She just lay there
I was told that was to be expected
with such a large litter and I said that wasnt an option. I called Tracy and
she told me to first take the pups temperature to make sure she wasnt hypothermic
and give her a little Nutri-Cal to bring up her blood sugar, and see if she would eat.
then after the 2nd missed feeding I called my vets and they told me to come and
get some subcutaneous fluids
We thought she might have aspirated formula and could
have pneumonia so we also started her on amoxicillin.
hours later she was back to normal and was eating a little bit, so I kept her on the
antibiotics for 3 days and she was fine!
week later, to the day, Knight, started with the same thing, but he had diarrhea so bad I
wasnt sure hed make it. I started him on the subcutaneous fluids and
changed to clavamox, which made the diarrhea worse so I went back to Amoxicillin. It
took 2 days for him to get back to normal. He lost quite a bit of weight but was
fine. None of the other pups got sick, YEAH!!!
started getting around and we started getting calls congratulating us and asking us how
many were still alive! I flat out told people that ALL of them were alive and that
they were ALL going to stay that way! How insensitive people can be
the pups were about 3 weeks old, Pepper wanted to go outside. When she got out she
collapsed and I thought, OH GOD, NO!!!!
son carried her back in the bedroom and she was breathing heavy. She calmed down and
I realized that she had just exhausted herself after having no exercise for so long. Whew!
I was relieved!
the time the pups were five weeks, it was time to start deciding which ones we wanted to
keep. At that point prospective buyers started backing out. Some had heard
that in a big litter like this the pups never grew to full size. I spoke with long
time breeders and multiple vets, and they all concurred that the pups WOULD be normal
size. The pups were behind for a while due to the sheer number of pups and the fact
that they did not get to nurse. Commercial and homemade formulas keep pups hydrated,
but do not promote growth.
8 weeks, the pups started to blossom! Now at 14 weeks, the biggest boy, Pike, is
31.5# and my 2 pups that were only 10 ounces are now 21#s! All are healthy and
full of energy and if youve never heard 17 pups start howling, you DONT know
what youre missing!
the pups was my daughters job. Here are their names and where they are today!
(now Angel) is in Northern California.
(now Mona) is in Colorado.
is in Southern California.
(now Coco) is in Arizona.
Mae is in Southern California.
is with us.
(now Ariel) is in Southern California.
is staying with us.
(now IceMan) is staying with us!
(now Mesa) is in Arizona.
(now Remington) is in Idaho
(now Mickey) is in Northern California
is staying with us!
is in Southern California.
(now Dutch) is in Southern California.
(new name pending)is in Southern California
(now Vito) is in Colorado.
have personally met all of our pups new owners, a luxury most breeders never get to
experience. The pups are all doing great in their new homes and I think their owners
are wonderful and theyve already spoiled the pups rotten! That makes it easier
to sleep at night!
we breed again? Hmmm, I just dont know. I dont ever want that many pups
again. The costs both monetarily and emotionally were astronomical but the rewards were
priceless. Thank GOD Pepper made it. Peppers breeder and I knew that she was a
tough bitch and that if any dog could make it through this horrible time she would.
I think that her survival instinct was passed on to her pups as well and they have
been fighters from the start!
youve been through caring for a litter without a momma, you just cannot grasp the
weeks of sleep deprivation and worry and the amount of tears that were shed over the
condition of my girl. But there is an upside. We cannot wait to get our new
batch of Pepper Snush babies out in the ring!!!
now sleeps exclusively in my sons bed! She comes in to the TV room at night
and looks at Justin as if to say, Im ready for bed, come on! and he
tells her Go get your binky (a crochet blanket my mom made) She grabs it
and flies through the air landing in the middle of the bed and sits there patiently
waiting for him to come to bed! She is REALLY spoiled now!!! She is back to
her full of energy self now!
Oh yeah, one final note to clear the air of whispers
. Pepper was never, at any time,
given anything to conceive such large litters (14 and 19). The fertility was
natural. Peppers mother, Destiny (Intl. CH. Wild Wests Manifest Destiny,
OFA-Good, Cerf), came from a litter of 11 and her parents Petra (CH. Guardmans Petra
of Lone Pine, PH) and Mac (CH. Keepers Midnite Marauder, OFA-Good), came from
litters of 10 and 16 respectively! Add that to the technology of progesterone
testing, proper techniques of an AI and the extender used for the fresh chilled semen and
you have success, but sometimes it works a little to well.
every waking moment with these babies was the hardest yet the most rewarding experience weve
ever had. Keeping them clean and fed was a never-ending feat!
could never have done this without the help of my son, Justin (25) and my daughter, Jamie
(21). They were the glue that held me together throughout this ordeal.
cannot thank my two veterinarians, Dr. Marvin Helphrey and Dr. Margaret Lake, enough for
saving my Peppers life. Ive known and worked for them for over 23 years!
also to Carol Bardwick, Canine Cryobank for the AIs on both of Peppers
litters. She is a true professional! Hey Carol, next time, I only want 4 PUPS,
to Hemis owner and Breeder Dorothy Martell and Cheryl Pike for your constant
e-mails and sincere concerns. You touched my heart.
lastly, to my friend Tracy Ferrick, who has not seen this paragraph until time of print.
Words cannot express the gratitude that I have for you. You have always been there for me.
Not many people will answer a frantic phone call at 1:00 am in the morning. Or drop
what they are doing to Rush to help with a C-Section at wee hours in the morning, and stop
at an all night market to buy bottles and evaporated milk. To go to my home at 2:00 am to
set up for the home coming of the babies. For this I applaud you. I have had many breeder
friends and not one has ever offered to help. I want to say Thank you