UKC Forum Member
Registered: Jun 2003
I have had emergency C-sections in dogs who were young (not quite 3 years old), and in dogs who were "in their prime". I have had OLDER dogs deliver live litters by themselves with no problems. Some times, odd things happen, and problems occur as a result.
My very first litter from a 3 year old dog who had pregnancy X-rays showing 3 puppies, properly-positioned and normal sized, ended up in a near-disaster. At 3:30 am (during an ice storm in Michigan), she was in hard labor but no puppies. I have learned to always supervise my females, so I know right away when there is trouble starting. This female was rushed to the vet, a C-section was done, and surprise.....the previous X-ray did not show up the 2 Mummies, and their cords had become tangled around the 3 live puppies' cords, and this created a "Log-jam", so no one could get out. Had I waited another 30 minutes, I would have lost ALL puppies AND the mother (this, according to the Emergency vet). The 3 puppies survived, but I never bred the mother again.
My second litter was also a real "near-disaster", and over the years of breeding dogs, I have had MANY disasters that were all different from one another. Some litters were saved, and some were not. Never did I leave a female alone once she started labor; even so, I still had "disasters". Some folks leave their dogs alone to whelp and never have any issues. Mostly, I wanted to watch and help out if necessary. There were times when I had to turn puppies (inside the mother), and times when I had to help her with a "stubborn" pup that just would not come out. We got them out, & everyone did just fine. Over the years, you will lose your share of puppies, even when you do nothing wrong. Sometimes, they have occult infections and die before you know they need help. I learned that the hard way, too.
One thing I learned to do was to keep a notebook with the following info: sire, dam, date & time labor started, and then I just documented EVERYTHING that happened during the labor & delivery. When all pups were born, I got their weights (important to know, because weight loss is often the first sign of puppy problems). I am very glad that I decided to keep the "birth journal", because I have referred back to it on many occasions, and it has helped me in deciding whether or not to head to the emergency vet, since these dogs always seem to whelp in the middle of the night, or on a weekend when no vets are open...
I am very sorry for your bad luck. Dead puppies can be a real source of trouble, and can quickly cause serious infection in both the mother and the rest of the litter. There are a variety of reasons as to why puppies die prior to birth. I don't think your 7 year old female was too old. The reproductive specialist vet told me that it should be no problem for a dog to give birth even up to 9 years of age. He said the main thing is that we get them bred by the age of 4 years. He said that even if we breed once at 4 years, then we don't breed them again until age 9 years, it should still not be a problem because "the uterus was primed when we bred the dog at age 4". If they have never been bred, and we suddenly decide to breed them when they are older, the vet said that it could still work out, but it would be a "higher risk" for the mother, as her uterus would be "more prone to rupture" if she had never had puppies before.
In both cases of your dogs, the mothers each gave birth to one or more live puppies. The problems started after that.
It is possible that if they were bred again, things might go right the next time - or, you could have something entirely different go wrong.
I have always given dogs 2 chances when it comes to having pups. If the dog has problems with the first litter but her second litter is normal, that's no problem. However, if she has the SAME problems giving birth to her second litter - that's a female I don't breed again.
Hope this has been helpful to you.
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