My husband and I raised two pit bull puppies, and it taught me a lot about what it takes to raise these wonderful dogs.
Pit Bulls and Their Pups
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?
In this article, you will find 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.
Whelping (Leave Mom Alone)
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 after birth, expect the pups to eat, sleep, poop, and not much else. What's important at this stage is to be careful with the mother.
Be Very Careful When Handling the Pups
- 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.
- You must absolutely 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.
Whatever You Do, Make Sure Mom Is Relaxed
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.
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 May Want More Alone Time
- 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.
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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 pups 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 of 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.
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.
You may need some tips on how to do this, and it 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 for 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; or 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. She will 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 to 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.
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.
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 and Adoption 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-pound 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 aggressiveness out, 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.
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.
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.
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.
Even when Apollo was full into his illness, very sick and ears pulled straight back, Luna was comforting him. And then suddenly, she was gone. Parvo can be horribly slow or painfully fast.
I dedicate 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.
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.
Please be aware of the pertinent laws in your state before welcoming a pit bull into your family.
© 2011 Joy Lynskey
Have any Pit Bull Facts of Your Own to Share?
Candis on February 26, 2020:
I have 10 one week old Pitbull puppies, about how much should they weigh right now?
yuvraj soni on June 06, 2016:
Short tail am pitbull is very good in nature but he attacks against other animal or pet thnks
Stacet on March 19, 2016:
I wish I would have found your article sooner! I am now the proud mama of 11 pit puppies. This came unexpectedly however. My neighbors dog had 11 pups in my house. The owner of the dog is too old to be caring for these rowdy puppies, so the obligation falls to me. I have no idea what I am doing and the mama dog seems to have no interest in the pups. So I am now the mama, yes all the midnight feedings and all the love comes from me. I have experience only with cats so this is definitely a new experience for me!! any good advice would be much appreciated. They are 4 weeks old and the most rambunctious things I have ever seen.
amanda on December 19, 2014:
I would love to buy one baby white pit bull for 50 dollars female and if you can please email me at this when you can at barberamanda firstname.lastname@example.org
Lionrhod from Orlando, FL on March 27, 2014:
Look up Sgt. Stubby, most decorated dog of all time. And Petey from Lil Rascals/Our Gang.
Joy Lynskey (author) from Vinton, Va on November 22, 2013:
@BlackAthena: I think it is okay to intervene if you are looking out for them and see that they are getting fed around every 2 hours or so. More than that isn't really necessary. I'd discourage intervention as much as possible though if you can get her moving without actual commands. You don't want her to think you don't want them fed. Try luring her out with a treat or a toy when she's given them enough feeding time. Good luck! Pit pups are fairly hearty eaters!
BlackAthena on November 09, 2013:
My boyfriends pit bull just had puppies last weekend and it seems like their CONSTANTLY feeding so much so that I'm a little concerned for the dam as well as the smaller pups( litter of 10 wowzers). Out of the 10, 3 have doubled in size since birth, as they are the greediest and bogart their way during feelings. My question is at what point should he intervene?
Joy Lynskey (author) from Vinton, Va on March 02, 2013:
@takkhisa: Thank you so much for reading!
Takkhis on March 02, 2013:
What a great lens! I am very happy to read this lens. Blessed by takkhis :)
uneasywriter lm on February 22, 2013:
Very good information about Pit Bulls. Thank you
Eric Mayo on February 22, 2013:
Pit bull are the most loyal family dogs in the world. Unfortunately the very same traits that make them great friends are misused. I have owned two.
EbooksFreeWeekl1 on August 19, 2012:
I think that the media may have jaded peoples' feelings prior to owning them. Now I, for example, experience the loyalty and warmth these dogs with good owners display :) Great lens!
glenbrook on January 27, 2012:
Great lens. The smartest, best behaved dog I ever had was a pit bull.
Joy Lynskey (author) from Vinton, Va on January 25, 2012:
@kathysart: Agreed Kathy! Thanks so much for the blessing!
kathysart on January 20, 2012:
No I don't but YOU have it all into perspective.. ya gotta raise them right. Angel blessed lens.
marlene3 on November 14, 2011:
Nice Lens & They are so totally adorable. Thumbs up!
Joy Lynskey (author) from Vinton, Va on November 05, 2011:
@gamecheathub: Actually only one of my dogs eats a lot of food. Most of the others eat less than my cat eats! I actually did just buy a video cam and am in the process of getting videos of them!
gamecheathub on November 05, 2011:
I bet those puppies eat gargantuan amounts of dog food! They are cute! Do you have any videos of them now?