Tips for Breeding Novices
With all due deference to those who claim that bitches should be left alone to whelp, I find that they appreciate the assistance of their master, provided he knows what to do and goes about it quietly. I have even known a bitch to come and awaken me when I went to sleep between arrivals, and then go back to her box and have another puppy. There was nothing haphazard about this. She came over and tugged at me. When she was sure that I was awake, she gave me an understanding look and went straight back to the box. Within five minutes the puppy was delivered.
Some aspects of whelping will seem revolting to the beginning breeder. For instance, when left to herself the bitch will eat the after-birth. This instinct goes back to the days when it was necessary for her to destroy any evidence of her presence or that of the litter, since the scent would be sure to attract unwelcome visitors. It has another function, however. It is nature's way of regulating the system of the bitch, since it acts as a laxative. Following whelping, the bowel movements of the bitch will be almost black in color for two days or so. This is quite normal, and is caused by having eaten the placenta immediately following the birth of each puppy.
Another thing which does not appeal to some novices is breaking the sack, when this has to be done. Do not hesitate, however, for even seconds may count. Once the placenta has separated from the wall of the mother's uterus, the puppy is dependent on its own vital organs.
During intra-uterine life the blood of the foetus is purified by passing through the circulation system of the mother. The heart of the puppy is beating before birth, but the lungs, which purify the blood, do not start to function until he has reached the outside world and the sack is broken, admitting air to them when the puppy starts to breathe. Thus it may be seen that the blood is circulating in an impure state through the body of the puppy, and death will occur unless this condition is rectified immediately. Break the sack, no matter how much it revolts you, and let the little fellow breathe. The first few dozen are always the worst!