Helping your German Shepherd give birth is an incredibly rewarding experience, while also being a slightly nerve-wracking one. If you are wondering what to do when your German Shepherd is giving birth to her pups, there are plenty of ways to help your dog. So, here’s what to do.
To help your German Shepherd give birth, be prepared, provide a clean and comfortable environment such as a whelping box, give her space, but be ready to intervene if needed. After the birth, support her by encouraging her to urinate, eat, and re-hydrate, ready for nursing the puppies.
It may be surprising to some, but German Shepherds and most other dogs are very self-sufficient during birth. That does not mean you won’t play any role. A crucial part of the process is recognizing when they need you versus when you need to let them do their thing.
In this article you’ll learn:
- How to prepare your German Shepherd for giving birth, including a checklist of supplies you’ll need.
- What to do during the birth.
- Making a post-pregnancy plan.
Let’s get started!
- How to Prepare for Your German Shepherd Giving Birth
- Ensure the Environment is Clean and Comforting
- Giving Your German Shepherd Space During the Birth
- Be Ready When She Needs You
- Have a Plan for Post-Pregnancy
- Final Thoughts
How to Prepare for Your German Shepherd Giving Birth
German Shepherds are truly great pets and preparation for your dog giving birth will be one of the most important things you do for her throughout the birth process. These are the things that she can’t do herself and that she will be grateful for once the birth begins.
But first, take a look at this incredible 3-minute video of a German Shepherd giving birth. Wow! Nature is truly amazing:
Even though dogs are relatively low-maintenance when it comes to the actual birth, there are still plenty of things you will need to do to get them ready, as well as getting the area ready where she will be giving birth.
Talk to Your Vet
The best way to be proactive in the success of your German Shepherd giving birth will be to have frequent discussions with your vet and to maintain an open line of communication with them. In any case, once you suspect your dog is pregnant, you will need to take her to your vet for regular check-ups.
Ensuring her overall health is the crucial first step. Your vet will conduct a thorough exam and will alert you to anything you need to be aware of. As with humans that are pregnant, health concerns are elevated during gestation so be sure to take your mom-to-be to the vet straight away and continue to monitor her throughout the pregnancy.
Be sure to ask your vet any questions or concerns you may have about how to care for your German Shepherd during the coming months and the birth itself. They will be able to give specifics for your dog and anything else you need to be aware of.
Diet: You’ll want to have a healthy diet in place, with proper exercise, and do everything you can to make sure she stays healthy throughout the pregnancy:
“Good nutrition sets the stage for successful breeding and pregnancy.”VCA Hospitals – Robin Downing, DVM, CVPP, CCRP, DAAPM
During the first two trimesters of the pregnancy, your German Shepherd’s nutritional requirements will be essentially the same. Make sure she doesn’t either lose weight or become overweight during this time.
During the third trimester is when the pups develop rapidly and your girl will need more calories for energy, depending on how many pups she is carrying.
Your vet is the best person to advise you exactly what your dog needs at this stage in the pregnancy but usually, high-quality puppy food is recommended as it’s richer in nutrients. This should be gradually transitioned and the feeding schedule should be little and often to aid digestion.
Prepare a Checklist of Supplies
Keep in mind that this is a general checklist that will be useful to have handy for your pups’ birth. But if your vet specified anything additional due to an individual circumstance for your GSD, always adhere to their instructions.
Having the checklist ready is an essential step to making sure you are ready. You don’t want to be scrambling at the last minute to find those clean blankets or a thermometer.
And remember, you will want this checklist to include everything you may need before, during, and after the birth. That will also include emergency items that you hopefully will not need, but should have ready.
- Clean sheets, towels, and blankets
You will want to have some of the blankets around the mom. They will help keep her warm and feeling safe and secure. If she has a favorite blanket or an old shirt of yours that she loves to snuggle up with, use those.
But you will also need additional towels and blankets ready for the little pups after birth. Ensuring they are all warm and cozy after the birth will be, first and foremost. A pile of German Shepherd puppies bundled up with mom surrounded by comfort blankets is also just really adorable.
- Heating Pad or Heat Lamp
Newborn puppies are unable to regulate their body temperature. The new mama understands this and will do her best to keep her pups warm using her body temperature and cuddling them close. But having a heating pad or lamp ready to go will help keep the space warm for the newborns.
If you opt for a heating pad, you can place it underneath the towels and blankets where the puppies are lying. I like the OMORC Pet Heating Pad from Amazon as it has an auto power-off if the pad becomes too hot. It also has 3 temperature settings and 3 timer settings, giving you plenty of options.
If you opt for a lamp, just be sure it is far enough away as not to be too hot and burn the puppies. Place your hand underneath it to gauge where it gives a subtle warmth without causing your hand to feel hot. I would prefer a heating pad as it just seems the safer option.
- Whelping Box and Mat
To prepare for whelping, a whelping box will be required for the German Shepherd puppies to snuggle up in after the birth while mom is recovering. You can purchase a large basket or make one yourself using a large cardboard box. She will know when she is ready to nurse and cuddle, but when she’s not, the newborns need a warm, safe, area to sleep and snuggle with one another.
A whelping mat may not always be necessary if you have sufficient towels and blankets, but it doesn’t hurt to have one around. You can look on Amazon and Pinterest for some ideas, but there’s no need to spend a fortune unless you are a breeder.
- Baby or Puppy Scale
It’s important throughout the puppies’ early stages that they are gaining weight at a healthy pace. German Shepherd puppies, on average, weigh around 0.8 – 1.3 lbs at birth. It’s wise to measure their weight early so that you can begin monitoring their growth journey.
As we know, German Shepherds seem to go from adorable 2-pound pups to majestic 85-pound protectors in the blink of an eye. So, knowing how much they weighed after birth and monitoring their weight gain throughout their infancy is an essential step to proper health.
There is no need to take them directly from mom and plop them onto a scale straight away. Give them time. But have it ready to take their weights within the first day or so.
- Digital Thermometer and Indoor/Outdoor Thermometer
You will need a digital thermometer to track the temperature of the mom GSD before and after pregnancy to make sure she is okay. You will also need to check the puppies’ temperatures if anything doesn’t seem right or you believe one may be sick.
The indoor/outdoor thermometer will be to help ensure the room and, specifically, the whelping box area with the puppies is warm enough.
According to VCA Hospitals, the area where the puppies are kept should be between 85-90 degrees for the first four days. Then gradually decrease the temperature to 80 degrees by the 7th – 10th day, and finally, 72 degrees by the end of the fourth week.
- Baby Nose Suction Bulb
Sometimes newborn puppies have built-up mucus around their nose, and the mucus causes breathing troubles. The mom will do her best to lick it away, but if you see one of the German Shepherd puppies still struggling with taking breaths, you need to have a baby nose suction bulb such as this one from Amazon ready to go.
Gently swaddle the puppy and use the bulb carefully to suction the mucus out and hold him for a while after, massaging his chest very gently.
- Gloves, Sterilized Scissors, Thread, and Antiseptic Solution
Typically, the mom will cut the umbilical cord herself by biting through it. But if she doesn’t, you will need to cut the cord using newly sterilized scissors about an inch from the newborn’s belly. You will then need to use the thread to tie off the cord about ½ inch from the belly. Once tied off, ensure the end of the cord is cleaned with antiseptic.
Cleanliness during this is critical, so a pair of medical gloves and a clean workspace is essential.
- Soft Travel Crate
Hopefully, the birth goes smoothly, and there is no need to take your German Shepherd to the vet during it. But if there is an emergency or you have any concerns, always call your vet or nearest animal hospital immediately.
Have the crate by the door with plenty of cozy blankets and familiar smells ready to go if you need to transport your GSD. This is never an ideal situation, so it should be avoided whenever possible, but under emergency circumstances, an impromptu trip to the vet may be needed.
If you haven’t got a travel crate I would recommend you invest in one as part of your preparations. I love this Premium Soft Dog Crate from AmazonBasics. It’s specifically for large breeds such as the German Shepherd, comes in a range of colors, and is reasonably priced.
Pro Tip: Use the buddy system. If you need to take your German Shepherd to the vet during birth, it will be helpful to have someone with you. Consider asking a few close friends or relatives. They can drive while you sit in the back with your girl to comfort her. This is going to be a scary moment for your German Shepherd, and she will appreciate being able to have you by her side.
Ensure the Environment is Clean and Comforting
Much of this will be taken care of during the prep stage. You will be placing clean towels down, ensuring everything is sterilized and ready for the momentous occasion. But during the birth itself, you will want to help maintain that environment.
Here are a few things to consider that will help you make this a comfortable environment for your German Shepherd:
- Have familiar sights and smells around, such as toys, soft clothing, and blankets that she likes.
- If there are open windows and loud noises, shut the windows and do everything you can do limit the amount of noise and distractions happening around her.
- Don’t allow multiple people in the room unless she is already familiar and 100% comfortable with all of them.
- Give words of encouragement occasionally in a soft and soothing voice, letting her know she is doing great.
- In between puppies, she will need a breather. Make sure she is supported and comfort her during these breaks.
Giving Your German Shepherd Space During the Birth
Oddly enough, one of the best ways to care for your German Shepherd during her birth journey will be to leave her alone. All dogs are instinctual in ways that amaze us mere humans. German Shepherds are animals that are especially gifted in the “instinct” department.
GSDs are also incredibly smart. So, between their instincts and intelligence, they have a knack for understanding what to do both during and after giving birth. They will know what is best for their health, as well as the health of her newborns.
Interfering too much during birth can cause frustration and even anger from your German Shepherd.
While she will most likely understand you are trying to help – she knows best and she will need her space. Once you have completed all preparations and have done all that you can from your end, the best thing you can do is sit back and enjoy the incredible experience of watching your German Shepherd Dog give birth.
It’s amazing to see their instincts take over and to watch them handle the birth and care for their pups afterward, even if this is their first litter.
Be Ready When She Needs You
Part of sitting back and watching as your German Shepherd gives birth is also knowing that you may be needed, and, if so – be ready.
If you have done the proper preparations, everything will be ready in case of an emergency or even a small hiccup. Here are some warning signs to be aware of as you watch the process and when you need to intervene:
- Your GSD has shown signs of going into labor, including a temperature below 100 degrees, and does not end up going into labor with 24 hours.
- A puppy has only come halfway out, and mom seems to be struggling.
- She appears to be in pain, is yelping, or crying.
- One of her breaks in between puppies lasts more than 4 hours and you know there are more pups to come. Typically, a long break will happen halfway through that can be up to 4 hours. But past that, there could be something wrong.
- She is having contractions for more than 45 minutes without another puppy coming.
If any of these issues occur, or even if you just notice something that doesn’t feel quite right: Call your vet immediately. Hopefully, it is something the vet can talk you through over the phone to ensure mom’s and pups’ safety.
If there is something more complicated, you will need to take your girl to the vet. This will always be the last case scenario because you don’t want to move your German Shepherd during birth. This is another reason the buddy system is a great step to take. It’s always helpful to have a second set of hands available.
Have a Plan for Post-Pregnancy
Your German Shepherd has had the pups. Now what?
A big part of the preparation is to ensure that everything is ready for the new mom and pups once she is done. She is going to be exhausted, needing lots of rest and love. And the newborns will be adorable little helpless creatures that need their canine mom and their human mom or dad too!
Making sure they all stay home, clean, and healthy is the number one priority after birth. During your discussions with your vet, this should be something that is covered.
Your vet will offer specifics if there are particular health concerns for your German Shepherd. But otherwise, they will have general guidelines to keep the new family safe and sound.
Once your German Shepherd has had enough time to recuperate and seems to be doing well after the last birth, take her outside to urinate and get some fresh air. She may not want to, as she will want to stay with her newborns, but encourage her to go outside for a quick pee and to move around.
Next, try to get her to drink some water and see if she has an appetite. At this point, all the puppies should be warm and snuggled in the whelping box. Let mom join them and begin nursing them.
They are going to be hungry, sleepy, and hungry again. Your job is to make sure the pups are getting enough food from mom, and that mom is getting enough rest to be able to care for them properly.
If your German Shepherd stops being able to produce milk for a while, you will need to have supplements and formula on hand so you can feed them yourself from a bottle. It’s normal for this to happen from time to time, and nothing to worry about unless it persists at which point, give your vet a call to alert them, and they can direct you.
German Shepherds are smart, instinctual, and fiercely protective. They also make amazing moms. And they know exactly what they need to do during the birth of their puppies.
We hope this article has given you confidence in knowing what to do when your German Shepherd is giving birth. You are going to be your girl’s co-pilot, helping whenever you need to, but letting her take the wheel to handle most of the work.
You will know when you are needed, and you will have everything ready to go from your checklist if she tags you in. Good luck and you will soon be hugging those little bundles of joy!
This article is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute pet medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment for your pet. Please consult a licensed veterinarian in your area for pet medical advice.
My 5 Favorite German Shepherd Products to Make Life Easier:
- Walk Your Dog With Love. I love this no-pull harness as there’s just no way your dog can pull. Easy to fit and inexpensive.
- Midwest Homes for Pets iCrate. A crate is a must-have product. This cool all-inclusive one has a ton of features and there’s nothing extra to buy.
- FURminator Undercoat deShedding Tool. This grooming tool is by far the best – it gets right through to the undercoat.
- KONG Classic Dog Toys. I love KONG toys as they’re super tough and made for your German Shepherd’s teeth!
- Big Barker Orthopedic Dog Bed. Scientifically proven to prevent and reduce joint pain in big dogs. The 10-year guarantee is also pretty cool.
My full list of recommendations can be found here.
Related Posts You May Like:
- VCA Hospitals: Feeding the Pregnant Dog
- PDSA: Whelping – A Guide to Your Dog Giving Birth
- VCA Hospitals: Breeding for Dog Owners – Caring for Newborn Puppies
Willow Online Publishing is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. We also participate in other affiliate programs that compensate us for referring traffic.
When the German army officer Captain Max von Stephanitz selectively bred the German Shepherd to create a working dog, he had in mind a breed that would also be perfect for military and police tasks,...
Most German Shepherd owners want their beloved pet to be healthy. But with so many different dog food choices on the market, it can be challenging to decide which type of food is right for your dog....