As someone interested in getting into the business of breeding dogs, you first need to know how to care for those new puppies. In this guide, we’ll outline the basic care tips, but also how to get your litter ready for their new forever homes.
Responsible dog breeding takes a lot of time and energy–but the rewards can be well worth the effort.
You don’t need a lot of money to get started–just a breeding female dog and a love of animals. If you can’t get enough of spending time with canines–and you’re looking to start making some money off that passion–breeding puppies could be the perfect job for you.
But for a first-time breeder, it’s important that you know how to handle your new litter. Breeding and caring for puppies might be rewarding–but it’s time-consuming, labor intensive, and sometimes even heartbreaking.
It takes a lot of planning and commitment to make sure your new puppies grow up healthy and strong.
As soon as the puppies start to arrive, it’s time to start caring for the newborn babies–and getting them ready to sell. Check out our guide to help you master the art of raising a puppy to sell.
A New Breeder’s Guide to Raising a Puppy
Before the puppies are born, it’s crucial that you have a long-term breeding plan.
How are you going to care for the puppies? What do they need to grow up healthy and well mannered? When are they ready to sell?
Here is a first time dog owner guide to help you handle every step of the process–from raising the puppies to sending them off to their new home.
Right After Birth
When the puppies first emerge into the world, they’re nearly helpless without their mother. Weak, blind, and barely able to crawl, they’ll need a lot of support in the first few weeks.
Here are a few tips to help you guide them through this crucial time in their development.
A newborn puppy can’t regulate its own temperature, so it must be kept in a warm environment. If the temperature is too low, the puppy could be exposed to diseases. If it’s too warm, the puppy might die.
The ideal temperature is between 85 and 90 degrees for the first five days. In the next few days, you can gradually take the temperature down to 80 degrees. By the end of their first month, you can bring it down to 75 degrees.
Keep the mother and the puppies in a shallow box lined with newspaper or another type of bedding. Use a heating pad or a heat lamp to control the temperature–but make sure the puppies have a cooler place to crawl to if they become too warm.
Every puppy needs to drink its mother’s milk as soon as possible after birth. Not only does the milk sustain them, but it also contains nutrients that protect newborns from contracting diseases.
Some litters will have a puppy that’s smaller or weaker than the rest–the runt of the litter. If you notice that a puppy is pushed away from the teat and doesn’t seem to be getting enough milk, it’s safe for you to intervene.
Try positioning the puppy at a teat to encourage it to drink, and don’t let the other puppies push it away. If necessary, you can hand feed that puppy with formula instead.
If you find yourself with a litter of puppies–or just one–without a mother, you’ll have to step in yourself. Sometimes a mother might die, get sick, or simply refuse to take care of the puppies.
Hand-feed the puppies with a bottle. Don’t try to substitute with other types of milk–find a dog milk formula. Start with a small amount and slowly increase as the puppy gets used to hand feeding.
You’ll also have to massage the dog with a warm, wet towel. This stimulates their body to help them breathe, move, and defecate. Normally, the mother would do this by licking the newborn with her tongue.
After Four Weeks
Once you hit the four-week mark with your puppies, it’s time to start weaning them from their mother and getting them socialized.
One way to get the puppy adjusted to solid food is by offering them a bowl or shallow pan of dog milk formula. As they get used to drinking out of the pan, start mixing in wet dog food or presoaked dry food into the formula.
Then you can slowly start decreasing the amount of formula until the dogs are eating solid food. If they aren’t drinking the formula out of the pan or eating the dog food, you can try smearing it around their nose and mouth.
Make sure you do this process very slowly–over the course of several weeks. Puppies have sensitive digestive systems and they need time to adjust to solid food.
At four weeks, all the dogs should have their eyes open and be able to run, walk, and play. By the time they hit six weeks, they should be fully weaned.
If you’re preparing your puppies to be sold when they are older, it’s important that you start socialization early.
Hold them, play with them, and talk to them as they get older. You don’t have to start any training just yet, but it’s important that they get used to being handled by people.
If you’re looking for more resources on how to handle the new puppies–and the best ways to keep them stimulated–check out some of the articles on Paw Castle.
Between Eight and Ten Weeks
Once the puppies are between eight or ten weeks, it’s time to start looking at potential buyers.
While they’re technically mature enough to sell at six weeks, it’s best that they have a few more weeks to socialize with their litter mates, mother, and human handlers.
Before you even think about selling the puppies, make sure that they’re fully weaned and seem to be in full health. They should be active, at a healthy weight, and eating regularly.
Make sure you get them checked out by a vet. They’ll need the appropriate vaccines before they can be sold.
Decide where you’re going to find potential buyers.
You can put a listing for your puppies up on your website or an appropriate forum, as well as advertisements on social media. Make sure you take high-quality photos and have a detailed description for each puppy. Networking in your immediate circle can also help you find potential puppy owners.
Once you have people asking about your puppies, it’s time to start the screening process. You don’t want to just pass off your puppies to anybody who can pay–they need to be a good fit.
Here are some questions to ask:
- Why does this person or family want a dog?
- Who will be responsible for the care of this dog?
- What is their home like? Do they have adequate room for a dog and an outdoor space?
- Do they have time to exercise and care for the dog?
- Are there children at home? How old and how will they be instructed in dog care?
- Do they have any prior record of animal abuse or neglect?
And if they pass these questions, take a look at how they interact with the puppies. Do they seem like a good match personality-wise?
When it comes to setting the price, you can decide based on a variety of factors.
What breed are the puppies? Are they purebred, and if so, how valuable is that particular breed on the market?
How well bred are the parents? What are their physical attributes and do they have pleasant temperaments?
It’s also important to keep in mind the length of time it took to breed the dogs, prepare for birth, and raise the puppies. In addition, the price of certain vaccinations can factor in as well.
Ultimately, the price is up to you. Dog breeding isn’t necessarily a lucrative business, but it’s possible to set reasonable prices that can earn you a decent profit.
Now that we’ve gone through the timeline of the litter’s development, here are some frequently asked questions about the process:
How Do I Know the Puppies Are Healthy?
You should be checking the weight of the puppies on a scale every few weeks. Their weight should more than double over the first few weeks. Make note of any puppies that seem underweight or sickly.
Healthy puppies should be quiet and be sleeping most of the time, at least in the early stages. If the puppies seem restless or they cry often, try adjusting the temperature, light, or food supply.
If the puppy develops diarrhea–especially during the weaning process–contact a vet.
How Will I Know if the Milk Supply is Adequate?
The babies should be plump and steadily be gaining weight. If any puppies seem thin or restless, you can give them supplemental feedings with formula.
Milk should be white in color. If you notice blood or puss in the milk–or if the mother’s teats are red and painful to the touch–contact a vet immediately. If the mother contracts a bacterial infection, both the puppies and the mother could be in danger.
When Should I Check on the Puppies?
For the first few weeks, the mother will do most of the work caring for the pups. But you should still check up on them every few hours.
Make sure that they’re gaining weight, staying quiet, and looking healthy. Any puppies that seem restless, crying, or malnourished should be placed at the teats closest to the hind legs. These teats provide the most milk.
Putting It All Together
Dog breeding might be a long, challenging process, but by the end, you’ll have helped bring new life into the world.
After all the hard work and care of raising a puppy, parting with your new litter can be hard. But it’s all worth it in the end–after all, dog breeding is all about bringing puppy love to as many homes as possible.
Looking for more advice on how to kick start your new business? Check out our blog for more tips and tricks.