WHELPING A BULLDOG BITCH

Several breeders , in the UK , will usually sell a bitch puppy with an endorsement on her Kennel Club registration papers stating “PROGENY NOT ELIGIBLE FOR REGISTRATION”. And/Or “ NOT ELIGIBLE FOR ISSUE OF EXPORT PEDIGREE” This may be done because the bitch puppy has been sold as a pure pet , not to be bred from or as a good specimen who may be bred from under certain conditions which could be a) age b) number of litters limited by agreement c) use of a particular stud dog etc or all of these plus other conditions ALSO  that the pup may not be sold overseas. It is important therefore that when purchasing the puppy, a contract of sale is signed by both parties clearly defining all its conditions after being carefully read and understood by the purchaser

Some people will sell a bitch puppy for payment free of any restrictions. Beware of purchasing a bitch on “breeding terms” as these can force you to breed the bitch against your will to fulfil the terms of such an agreement. Read and understand thoroughly the terms of the contract you are being asked to sign 

The Kennel Club will not register pups conceived from a mating which took place before the bitch is twelve months old as this is contrary to current legislation. However ,in our opinion, Bulldog bitches mature slowly and it is inadvisable to breed a bitch prior to its having its second season or under fifteen months of age, whichever is the latest.

The decision to breed has to be carefully considered ; You should have a good mentor in the breed to advise you especially  if you cannot decide if to proceed or not .Your bitch should be a good healthy specimen having been health checked, preferably had reasonable success in the ring :You are financially and mentally able to cope with looking after a litter around the clock for several weeks, you are prepared for your bitch to undergo a caesarean operation, if necessary, and plan to keep a puppy for show ;you are also able to house any unsold puppies indefinitely

Wrong reasons to mate your bitch are “Oh we thought she should have one litter before we spayed her” or  “ we thought we would let her have one litter to justify her reason for being” …

Your mentor will have advised which stud dog to use and described the various type of stud fees that exist.

Some stud dog owners may ask you to sign a contract. Some of the conditions may be to give your undertaking not to sell puppies sired by their stud dog before they are 8 weeks old, (soon to be made law in the UK) that bitches may not be sold on breeding terms, that  all pups should have one or both endorsements offered by the Kennel Club. etc. etc.

Others may have no conditions.

Some may charge a handling fee at the time of mating then request payment of a stud fee once the bitch has been confirmed to be in pup

Some may just charge a stud fee with an agreement that should the bitch fail to conceive a free mating is offered either with the same bitch to the same stud dog, a free mating with another bitch to the same stud dog, a free mating to a different stud dog .No free subsequent mating.

It is usual to take the bitch to the stud dog and she can be served once or more (depending on your agreement with the stud dog owner). 

Stud dog owners, caring enough about the future progeny of their males who ask for a stud contract to be signed are usually ethical people who will be more than happy to act as additional mentors as the pregnancy develops.                                                    

Before your bitch comes into season ensure she has been wormed and if you do give your dogs booster shots ensure that these are up to date before the mating. There are several ways of determining the optimum time to mate the bitch to maximise her chances of being pregnant .Either be guided by the stud dog owners, provided they are experienced breeders and/or by your veterinary surgeon. Ensure that your vet is experienced in dealing with Bulldogs and is preferably listed on the Bulldog Breed Council website.

It is advisable that , thirty days after mating, the bitch is taken to be scanned by ultra sound which, when done by a proficient technician, will not only reveal if she is pregnant or not but also pretty much identify the number of pups present and when they were conceived.  

Once you know the bitch is pregnant she must be brought into the house in a room or into the area where she will whelp and rear the pups in a place where she will not be disturbed. As she grows in size you may have to feed smaller portions more often. You may well find that later in the pregnancy she will only eat chicken and mince but leave any complete food or biscuit. The room temperature should not be allowed to drop below 75 degrees Fahrenheit. A whelping box or plastic bed large enough to allow the bitch to stretch out should be made available so she can have the time to get used to it. If a whelping box is constructed make sure it is draught proof and fit a pig rail round the sides for a puppy to escape from the rear of her mum who might otherwise accidentally squash her. A Vet bed for the bitch to lie on is as good a bedding as anything else on the market as it absorbs moisture, reflects heat and is washable. Make available one or two hot water bottles ,fleece to wrap them in carefully so as not to scald the pups, or have some available to cover the pups in the whelping box when they are suckling. Heat pads can be obtained and are highly recommended as a heat source. Heat lamps should only be used to improve the room’s ambient temperature and not to direct heat onto the pups or their mother as this practice has been known to be the main cause for dehydrated pups to die and to overheat the mother. A separate holding box should be made available with its own heat pad to keep the pups in if taken away from their mum while she is fed or goes to the toilet.

Have available a first aid kit including sharp sterilised scissors a spool of cotton if you intend tying the umbilical cords, plenty of cotton wool , veterinary powder, sudocreme, Milton may be used as an antiseptic cleanser .In addition rough towelling with which to rub the pups dry as they are born, scales to weigh them, some brandy (place a drop on the tongue of a pup difficult to revive) Ensure the bitch has a drinking bowl filled with fresh water at all times. A radio or CD player playing soft music is relaxing and muffles noise from elsewhere in the house which might spook your bitch. Make sure you have adequate help on hand as you may need to supervise the bitch for twenty-four hours a day for at least two or maybe three weeks.

For your bitch to self whelp is absolutely natural but it is advisable to warn your vet that the bitch is whelping and for them to be on hand in case of emergency .

Some people today prefer to have elective caesarean which may cost from £500.00 upwards ; 

The justification to have a caesarean can be given if the bitch has inertia, if she has oversize whelps she may not be able to pass, if pelvic abnormalities are unexpectedly encountered or  vaginal obstructions e.g. tumours or fibrous bands. 

Do not have an elective caesarean because you have been told by someone it is the best option, because it is fashionable, so you can book time off work, because you think it will be safer for the bitch, because you think it will be cleaner (it wont), because you think you will not be able to cope with the whelping. If an elective caesarean is what you wish to do then it is highly recommended an approved Bulldog Vet be contacted who is willing to perform the operation.

The gestation period is 63 days , on the 55th day start taking your bitch’s temperature, morning, noon and night and do so every day. Normal temperature hovers at 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit a one degree drop signifies the start of labour. She may then refuse food ,vomit, pant ,shiver, start tearing paper and/or scratching her bed. This first stage of labour could last as little as two hours or as long as 48 hours. Inform your vet and agree to remain in contact. As a bitch goes into the second stage of labour she will become a little quieter. There will be a clear mucous discharge at first, followed by the release of more fluid which she will try to lick up and provided the environment is clean, she may do so. You should then notice the first signs of contractions which may appear as a rippling along the flanks.

The first pup should be born within an hour and could take up to two hours, however if there is a dark green discharge not followed soon by the birth of a pup ,call your vet. Once the first pup is delivered the others will arrive in intervals which can vary from 5 minutes to 2 hours. Your bitch may rest ,sleep or feed her pups at any stage and start again. Check that you have an afterbirth for each pup (write it down or you might forget in all the excitement).

The pup may be delivered free of its sac or enveloped in it. Your bitch will start licking at her pup to clean it , if in the sac tear it at the pups head holding the pups head down to avoid fluid getting into its lungs and release the puppy from it leaving the bitch to eat the sac up. Keep talking to your bitch in a reassuring manner, do not make quick movements, be deliberate, pick up the puppy check to make sure it does not have a cleft palate, look at the roof of its mouth , if there is a gap it is not worth reviving the puppy  and should it be breathing , it is best to take it to the vet to be put to sleep painlessly , if not,  then rub it vigorously in the rough towels .If the pup is strong, breathing well and a good pink colour round the mouth  everything is fine. you can shred the cord about one and a half inches from it’s tummy, you may wish to tie it but current thought is to leave it as is. If tied it should be no less than a quarter of an inch from its tummy and it should drop off after a couple of days, otherwise, if left ,it will similarly drop off because of the bitch licking the puppy’s tummy. Introduce the puppy to its mother, let her sniff and lick it, encourage her to lie down and put the pup on one of her rear teats, this will trigger off further contractions and facilitate the arrival of the second puppy. Do not allow the bitch to eat all the afterbirths as this may cause her to have diarrhoea , wrap them up in paper for disposal.

When the next puppy is about to be born it is wise to put previously born puppies in a warm box or basket .Proceed as with the first puppy. When all the pups have been born and the mother cleaned and made comfortable check for hare lips or other deformities ,do not worry if the hind legs appear to be twisted or “back to front” they should straighten  out within a week or so, with gentle massaging if necessary.

If things do not go as expected take your bitch to the vet who may be able to help things along  without having to resort to a caesarean.

If the puppies have been delivered by caesarean section  and you have returned home smear some of the bitch’s discharge onto the pups this will encourage her to lick them. If the pups appear to be reluctant to feed ,wash down the milk gland area with cool boiled water and cotton wool, then express some of the bitch’s milk and rub it over the milk gland area, this will eliminate any operating table smell and the pups should start to feed. Your bitch will sleep a lot to clear the anaesthetic and the first day or so the room needs to be kept very warm as she will be suffering from a certain amount of shock from her operation but you can reduce the warmth gradually.

Most bulldogs are good mothers but some can be somewhat clumsy at times. You have to monitor her closely until she becomes used to her new family.