Pit Bull Puppies From Birth to Six Weeks
Need Info on Baby Pit Bulls?
Do you have a pit bull about to whelp her puppies? Are you planning on breeding your bully? Do you need to know what kind of responsibility or work this will take on your part as the responsible owner?
Read here for helpful information on the first six weeks of a pit bull pup's life, with tips and instructions for each stage. I've also included pictures of nine healthy babies, all born between 3 am and 9 am on December 31st, 2010. There were four black and brown (three of those males, one female), and three honey-colored (one male, two females). There was also one white female and one brindle male.
Don't fuss over or bother your whelping female too much during the birthing process. Also, unless she is in a horrible place, do not move her once she has given birth to the first puppy. Doing so can cause her to have acute stress, which can delay the birthing process and possibly kill her and the pups
The First Seven Days
For the next seven days, expect the pups to eat, sleep, poop, and not much else. What's important at this stage is to be careful with the mother.
- If the mother is of very docile temperament, you may be able to handle the pups a bit.
- If she seems immensely stressed out over your handling of them, return them to her. Do not force her to growl or do something that may get her reprimanded for behavior, when her behavior is only instinctively to protect her litter.
- Absolutely, positively keep any and all children or other animals away from the mom and her pups. She may be and may display extremely docile behavior, however, that can quickly change if a child gets grabby, or even falls near the litter.
- Stressing the mother out can cause her milk production to slow. With that in mind, I can tell you one thing for certain: bully pups are no small eaters. They eat vigorously and often. Anything that slows that process will cause the mother's metabolism to work overtime to produce enough milk. You may want to invest in a high protein food for the mom while she is nursing.
If you feel like your nursing mother is overly stressed, consult with a vet on a natural remedy to relax her. The coming weeks are going to be highly taxing on her body. She will need all of the help she can get to reduce fat-burning anxiety.
End of the First Week
After the First Week
If the mom was overexcited or overprotective initially, some of that will begin to die down by the end of this first week. However, this does not mean that it's time to invite over all of the small children in the family to maul the pups in front of her. Give them another week to grow used to simple survival while the mother can grow used to managing her protective instincts against the noise and chaos of the home, even if minor.
The Second Week
The second week will not differ much from the first with the exception of the pups spending a bit more time awake and a little less time eating (but they'll also have more vigorous eating habits). Pups are already starting to battle at this point, albeit with closed eyes, for the best position on the teats when mom jumps in the box.
- Mom will still be willing to clean up well after the pups poop, and there will still be tiny puddles of urine.
- She will want more time away from them beginning this week. She will enjoy some more time alone, and it is as early as the second week when some Dams begin to show signs that they may try to wean too early.
- Try to make sure that mom feeds them every four hours or so. If you do not encourage her, later feeds will cause them to munch more furiously, which can cause scratching and pulling on already sensitive nipples. She will naturally want to avoid this, but unless you are prepared to bottle feed an entire litter, several times per day for another two weeks, make her feed them regularly.
The Pit Bull was so popular in the early 1900's, they were our mascot not only in World War One, but World War Two.
Beginning of the Third Week
As the third week begins, there will be many more waking hours than sleeping hours, as opposed to the last two weeks. Most will have their eyes mostly open, although none can see too well, but they will start to recognize the smell of mom when she's close, and people visiting their box or enclosure.
When we retrieved a riding lawnmower box from a local store, the mom actually jumped for joy several times in the air as I began placing them in the new blanket-filled box. Seriously, do both of you a favor and get them enclosed ASAP if not done so already by this week.
Get an Enclosure
If you haven't put them in an enclosure, you are likely half-mad and a bit crazy. Do this immediately! An old playpen is an excellent idea for the next couple of weeks. A huge box even better. Without those things, you'll have mass chaos and a mother who may be a bit edgy that her pups aren't gathered in a neat area for check-ups.
End of the Third Week
By the end of the third week, there will be no doubt that living in a box with so many of your siblings can be really hard. Many mini growls and burks (not quite barks) are heard coming from the box at all hours. Closer observation reveals a painfully slow (at least from their point-of-view) process of growing, fighting, eating, and yes, pooping.
- Mom may not be so happy about cleaning up after the pups, as big as they are getting. This week will likely find you washing and rewashing box blankets, pillows, and other paraphernalia. Often.
- They have become the world's most ferocious eaters. Watching them at this point makes me think that they closely resemble a pack of wolverines nursing. You may have to begin preparing a puppy cereal for them to eat soon.
Purchase a good quality puppy chow and run it through the blender, add puppy formula or goat's milk, baby rice cereal and baby strained chicken. Mix until it's fairly thick. After they have mastered that for a few days, start adding softened puppy kibble.
First Day of Gruel
You may need some tips on how to do this. This does get nasty. Personally, I have what I consider a fairly strong stomach. But the results of nine pit bull pups moshing, rolling, and rooting around in a pile of gooey mess still required me to give it a good strong swallow or two while watching.
The Best Ways to Manage Puppies' First Solid Food Feedings
Everyone has a different set-up, but according to what you have available, here are the best suggestions I have on managing these feedings without needing to spend hours cleaning, crying and growing your slang/rant vocabulary twice a day.
- Garden Tub or Walk-In Shower. If you have either of these, you are golden. It may not look any prettier, but it will save you incredible amounts of time and frustration if you simply feed them via a large, low-sided dish in the center of your large tub or shower. Your regular tub may work if you have a smaller litter. However, if they can't get a nose into the bowl, this can cause much scrumming and begin to form a food-fiend pile of pups. You do not want any pup to believe they aren't going to get enough, which will obviously encourage aggressive eating. In a dog this powerful, there is no need to tempt this fate. If you have an immense litter, feed them in shifts.
- The Box. If you do not have a large enough area aside from their box or enclosure, you can use the box and help it to remain somewhat mush and odor-free. Remove all of the blankets and place a piece of plastic, tarp, or even garbage bags in a pinch on the bottom of the box. Toss the low-sided bowl, or even a high-fluted plate in the center and let the scrum begin. Note: If you do not protect the box, i.e., clean up any mush piles, stay-tuned, as there is one sure way to get some of the serious grunt work done.
- The ...Floor? Really? It can be done, although hopefully you have had a bit better planning, if you have a rescue or an unexpected litter and no huge accommodating box or used playpen in sight, you can certainly let the food scrum occur on the floor. However, I would NOT suggest ever doing this if you: have expensive wood, tile or otherwise grainy or textured flooring. Do not have an area uncovered by carpeting or rugs. You will cry if your precious faux-linoleum incurs a scratch or a brown mush haze temporarily.
If you are going to feed on the floor, plan to do two things.
- Section off an area, even if you have to use a pile of books, kids toys or even just a couple of long-armed and familiar adults. Tuck them in a corner if alone, you will need to referee the match. Ever the millers, they will eat, roll around in the mush, and in generally roam off while following yet more mush piles on the floor, tub bottom or box. Be prepared to gently nudge them or if brave and not averted by said mush, place them back in the scrum pile.
- Keep mom away. For many reasons, this is beneficial and necessary. Mom definitely needs to know that gruel is for pups. You should not let her overwhelm them while they are learning to eat, nor compete with them for food. Also, this will supply you with the best cleaning partner you have ever had. Once they are done and starting to mill slower, and likely sleepier, set mom loose. Not only will she clean up the floor, albeit in a way not entirely sanitary and once done with the bigger obvious mush piles, she will turn her attention on cleaning her pups.
The floor certainly isn't the ideal method. The garden tub or a walk-in shower are far more ideal (with a detachable shower head for quick clean up). However, the other methods will work, and ultimately, you will really come to rely on creating a sort of ritual when doing the feedings so that everyone, even Uncle Eddie, my litter of pup's stepdaddy, gets to participate in the cleanup.
Also, be sure to sanitize the feeding area after each feeding. Even if you feed them in a box, sprucing up, applying Lysol and a light bleach wash will kill the germs and ensure a cleaner surface for the next feeding. For tubs, a quick bleach wash is usually enough.
The Most Important Thing
Do NOT give them cow's milk. Goat's milk is ideal, and puppy or baby formula works too.
Fourth Week Mosh
There sure is a lot of milling around.
- They are probably quite tired of a box if you have them in one. If you don't, you are probably quite tired of them by now. They are on-the-go these days in a lot of ways.
- They should have tried the gruel by now, and you should be preparing to supplement a morning or mid-day meal from mom with the gruel mixture.
- They will likely need some roaming time now. This means more messes to clean up, but socialization is important with all dogs, most especially Pit Bulls, at this critical age.
- Everyone is getting around pretty good. There may still be some shaky legs and wobbling heads, but there is certainly no shortage of willpower. Box floppers are more and more common, even using a box that shipped a large riding lawnmower.
- There will be power struggles happening in the box. In or out, they are determined to elicit screams from their siblings at any cost. Must be those weeks stuck together, but they are really letting off steam this week.
Eating Habits by the Fifth Week
The pups should by now have had several gruel meals and their food should be closer to the dry side now, as opposed to the wetter mushy food.
Weeks 5 to 6
These pups are some incredible beasts. Seriously, the most ornery, amusing, mushy sweet, clumsy, wobbly-headed, thick-skinned, love muffins around.
When they aren't testing out their burk-to-barking skills, they are amok, flopping from the box at high rates. I am fairly sure they have learned to 'take one for the team' by letting other puppies stand atop them, so they have a better chance at springing at least a few of their box mates. For most Pit pups who have been weaned on this schedule, this week may be their last in your home.
- You should now begin trying to keep them on a food schedule.
- Prepare yourself, your spouse, and your children for their departure. Prepare the pups too.
- Get them outdoors, rain or shine, cold or hot, and let them muck around a bit. Don't let their first experience outside of the box be the same one that takes them to their forever families.
- For the sake of their future homes as well, it would be a good idea to start trying to get them to use puppy pads, or take them outside, en masse, for pee parties.
- Bathe them, worm them, collar them, and if you plan to be the one who does it, vet them and get their first shots.
Pit Bull Breeding Tips
Please take the time to read over the following set of tips before you allow your female pit to be bred.
Never, EVER breed an aggressive animal. Just like people, character traits are passed on from parents, and although you may think it's humorous that your 70 lb Pit bull female viciously attacks the vacuum cleaner each time you run it, it is not a sign of quality temperament. Please, for the sake of this breed, do what you can do help breed out aggressiveness, not in.
- Adopt When at All Possible. I know it can be a difficult choice, and especially with Pit Bulls, there can actually be times when owning a puppy is the best choice, but not always. I do advocate and personally support several rescues, Pit Bull and otherwise, but I do also understand the deep need a human pet owner can feel to get a 'baby' and raise it on their own. The best service I think anyone can do is supply the knowledge and let others make the best decision for them.
- Rescue vs. Puppy. If you do not have and do not anticipate having small children, or other small animals, you could be a great candidate for a rescue. If you have a rural setting, farm, ranch, or otherwise large agricultural area, you may have room in your life for a great rescue animal as well. If you have a greater understanding of Pit Bulls than others, you may feel compelled to apply that to a dog that needs it, please do! However, if you have small children, or other animals (especially aggressive ones), you may be a better candidate for a new pup. If you are in a limited area such as an apartment or condo with little space, it may be more ideal, and less stressful on a new pup to crate train and otherwise adjust to life as an urban dog. If you are looking for an animal to provide protection to your family or home, a pup may also be a better idea.
Crating is not cruel! Personally, I don't crate my dogs. I don't have to. Not yet anyway, time will tell with these two growing pups. It will depend entirely on their destructive tendencies versus their ability to deal well with my grown dogs for extended periods of time. However, crating can be necessary, even a comfort to some grown dogs such as rescues. While other rescues may prefer death to a crate, it is all about the dog.
However, if you are an apartment dweller, or work long periods of time, have small children or animals about, crating may be the perfect option for helping any age dog grow accustomed to your family, from a place safe for all.
Although Pit Bulls may have some natural aggressive tendencies towards other animals, and are NOT naturally aggressive towards human beings, this is still enough reason that a responsible owner will never allow their dog to run at large, ever.
If your lovable Pit kills a neighborhood cat, or even a feral one, they can be dubbed a vicious animal, you can be charged, in some states criminally, and ultimately your dog can lose his or her life because of your irresponsibility.
We Kept Two Pups
I knew it would happen. I am a softy but my husband is far softer when it comes to animals. He lauds himself as somewhat of a pied-piper for dogs. And it is true, they do march around behind him wherever he goes, and they do maul him, and each other for his attention when he has been at work all day, or outside for more than five minutes.
We miss her!
Luna was just crazy. Luna lived to the age of nine months. She died after her alteration surgery, due to the clinic not cleaning well enough after parvo dogs had been seen there. We did win our suit and get our money returned to us for the parvo treatment Apollo needed. He got sick first. He was sick for almost 2 full weeks, just wanting to die, we forced him to live.
Luna didn't show signs of parvo as Apollo had. She basically only showed signs of distress about 12 hours before she died. It was the most heart-wrenching thing I have ever watched.
In the photo above, Apollo was full into his illness, very sick and ears pulled straight back, Luna was comforting him. She was gone not even 14 hours after this picture was taken. Parvo can be horribly slow or painfully fast.
I dedicated this to Luna, Crazy Luna Baby. The sweetest love muffin we ever had!
Apollo certainly resembles his baby self. Obviously, the GSD in him is more apparent than in Abby or Pandora. He is literally a barrel, and a goofy mess.
He hates being messed with when he is sleeping and has taken on an obvious need to be protective towards my husband and I since he recovered from Parvo.
How'd this happen?!
This is what happens when and why you should never breed dogs. When our rescue Pandora had her litter, it was so wrenching to let these puppies go, even though to seemingly good people. You still always wonder if they will end up in the pound, or tethered and unloved.
Rescue, rescue, rescue. This was the last litter of puppies I will ever deal with again. Sadly, altering Luna cost her her life. But her having an unexpected litter would have cost many lives most likely, especially with the Pit Bull mix in them.
One of the puppies we sold, named Abbey, by her owner, popped up on my Facebook wall one day with her owner asking if anyone could take her. I was astounded, but I immediately replied that I would. Not that I wanted to replace Luna, or even that I wanted another dog. But my mind could not fathom that this pup, who did mirror our Luna Baby so closely, would end up euthanized.
So about three months after Luna died. We got Abbey, dropped the extra E from her name, and made her our own. She had been outside until she got here, smelling like a skunk. Regardless, she is a part of our pack now, and we wouldn't have it any other way.
Pandora, Abby, and Apollo in 2012
Are You Against Pit Bull Ownership?
All sides of this coin are important. Though humans may be responsible for the horrible acts committed by some Pit Bulls, and some of the overhyped dog attacks are also possibly committed by Pit Bulls, the victims are still the ones who suffer. If you have laws in your state post it here for others to reference so they will NOT purchase one if they reside in those states.
© 2011 Joy Lynskey