TL/DR:- 1) backyard breeding is not something to undertake lightly and is not an easy money making scheme if anyone thinks it is. Even without c-section costs are in the thousands.
2) No amount of research is enough and every birth is different.
3)If you think your bitch will make a perfect momma, or has a great temperament etc, be prepared for surprises
4) Puppies are noisy, stressful and the more there are the more noisy and stressful
5) even a quick labour is exhausting for the human as well as the bitch
First off, I'll be totally honest - I'm a backyard breeder. Not by any plan or decision, but because I screwed up. My great pyr Kiyoko went into heat in about november last year, and I had read on the great pyr sites that they can go 12-18 months between cycles. So I had no idea when she slipped into a second heat in January. I saw no symptoms at all. We had been so careful to keep her away from dog parks and males during her obvious heat, but we never even thought it was a risk to leave her in our fenced in back yard.
Then the neighbour's husky jumped our fence. They had been courting for a year - such a beautiful friendship they had through that fence, running outside, bowing to each other, leaping up to lick faces and then playing chae in circles, always coming back to the fence to see who won. They adored each other, and we knew he was not neutered, but we thought that since he had never jumped the fence and she was not in heat, we were good.
Then suddenly he found a way to get up his back wall, through a hole in fencing behind him and then through a back way down into our yard. Suddenly I would hear barking and come as soon as I heard it, to find them playing together in our garden. I would leash him and take him home, but he kept coming back. I stopped letting her out any time he might be out there for a while, and his owner said he thought my dog must be in heat as his was whining to get out anytime he saw her.
They didn't see each other for a month. Their owner kept him in almost entirely during this time - his attempts to break into my garden had become crazy - he ended up hanging himself by the collar over my fence one day and after that they stopped letting him out at all except to pee.
Fast forward to 7 weeks later. Kiyoko, my girl, had been affectionate and calmer for a few weeks, and we put it down to her missing Leo. She stopped even wanting to go outside. Then suddenly I noticed she had huge nipples. I spent a few days researching and thinking it must be a phantom pregnancy as she had never been with Leo long enough or ever been seen to even try to mate...
I took her to the vet and was told in 2 weeks time to expect 8 puppies. We were in shock. We had not intended to breed her, but I had deliberately delayed spaying and had dithered over whether I wanted it at all, because of the cancer concerns, assuming so long as we kept her confined during heat that she would be safe.
I had two weeks to research everything I could. I spent $1,000 in supplies for her and her puppies - heating pads, pile of towels, collars, replacement puppy milk, hemostats, calsorb, hot water bottles, giant play yards to make a safe area for them when older... I wanted to do right by the puppies and make the best of a bad situation. I thought I was so well prepared. I had previously hand reared 9 kittens found dumped on a freeway exit, and a baby chinchilla for a friend, so I thought how hard can puppies be?
Well, I knew nothing. For anyone who thinks they might want to just mate their pet dog once, I highly recommend not doing it. It has been the most exhausting emotional rollercoaster so far, and I am only on night two. I thought I would share the birth story to maybe put others off who are considering doing this and think maybe there might be profit or something in breeding.
So day probably-61 comes round and I start staying up all night near my girl, who is not allowed upstairs in our house because she used to have her puppy pads there when training and will still go on the floor up there if she gains access. She would maybe let me doze a couple of hours in a recliner before waking me with heavy panting or for 3am walks and toilet breaks - and I would end up too awake to go back to sleep. By the time real labour came I was already tired from this.
Finally Day 63 came and her temp dropped - not much, but I had been taking it for two weeks so when she went from her normal 99.6 to 98.3 I figured this was it. She didn't stay there long - 3 hours later she was 98.9 and then back to normal temp so if I had only checked twice that day I would have missed it. She doesn't mind temp. checks so since day 61 I had taken it 3-4 times a day.
10.30pm came round and all she had done so far was a bit of medium panting and the very first tiny nesting attempts. This was where the first problems began. We had been trying to persuade her to like her whelping area - made from a 12" deep 5ft kids pool, lined with thick grippable whelping pads and a blanket... she hated the pig rail my husband had made her. She stumbled the first time she climbed in when it was there, and I think it made her scared it would happen again. So she would only jump in there for treats, and refused to sleep in it. We tried all sorts - made a pillow fort tent over it to darken the area, hid fresh chicken and morsels of ham under puppy pads in there so she might nest... nothing... instead she wanted to use the tiny cubby hole under my computer desk, an area with a nest already made out of all the wires and adapters. Totally dangerous and unsuitable as she can barely fit her own butt, let alone puppies, and I would be unable to see her.
We blockaded the desk area. She broke in a few times, but we blockaded it better. By now labour was starting properly and she was exploring the two rooms for any potential place to whelp - she managed to squeeze behint the tv stand, which was also horrible dangerous for her, luckily she didn't have room to lie down there so came out. We blocked it off. She tried halfway up the cat tree stand! She didn't fit. She even forced her way into the fireplace!! We blocked that off. Finally she went to the whelping pool and I sat in there with her strokng her sides with her contractions and calming her.
She had a hard but short labour - from 10.30-4.30 contractions came thick and fast, it seemed like her poor muscles would go rigid for up to 5 minutes at a time, with only a tiny break between them. She was scared, really scared. She wanted to escape from the pain that she didn't understand. 4.30 arrived and she leapt out of the whelping pool and over to the rug and started pushing.
Now, I did a lot of research about dog labour. I would say at least 80 hours of the last two weeks has been spent watching videos on you tube, reading every page I could find, scouring forums for stories of other people's experiences. I had read enough to be scared of all the bad things that could happen. I was ready to rush her to the emergency vet hospital if needed. I was ready to try reviving a dead puppy. I was even ready to assist with the lube if needed and I had an online midwoof available to talk to if needed.
Within a minute of pushing something bulged out from her vulva. It wasn't the purple tinged water bubble I had expected from my research - this bubble had a tiny white tail and back feet in it. Before I could even have time to think 'ouch - first baby breach' or call my daughter to wake up and assist, she had pushed it right out onto the floor and had eaten the whole placenta and sac in a couple of violent seconds... but then another baby was already out of her without even pushing! The first tow came out almost at once and she was terrified at the speed of it. She leapt up and ran away to the sofa andI was left holding two soaking wet puppies, one still in the sac.
My daughter (age 14, but very sensible and into science, who had watched a lot of the videos with me to prepare to assist in the birth) came down. She took baby one and was drying him on a towel and then onto a heat mat wrapped in a towel. I had broken the second sac and was clamping the cord and reviving a very lethargic no. 2...
My husband came down just in time for Kiyoko to run past, firing two more puppies out of her WHILE SHE RAN. He caught one, missed the other. She ran back, gobbling the sacs quite aggressively, I only just got a finger in between her mouth and the second cord before she chewed too far. We were trying to calm her down or persaude her to go tot he box, but she would have none of it.
The whole delivery part of labour was over in 2.5 hours - maybe less. Our plans for recording each birth, time, weight, colour, presentation etc went right out the window. Babies came two at a time and mostly from a full standing position. My girl was terrifed and had no trouble at all passing the puppies - they slipped out so easily she didn't even seem to feel it. The 8th one she grabbed so roughly from under her that she tore the placenta right off and broke the umbilical quite close to baby's belly - I grabbed it and clamped it, thank goodness there was just enough left for that. With the speed that she could get rid of placentas it was not possible to be sure she had passed them all - most babies came out in sacs and some were double bagged. One was particularly hard to revive and suction. In the end there were 11 of them.
At this point we had been totally unable to get her to lie down, so she hadn't been able to feed any puppies and spend time with any of the earlier ones. If we held them to her she would wash them, but no more. My husband also had to go to work, since the actual labour was over except watching for a few hours to check for more arrivals, he really couldn't call in sick and his boss would never accept family pets as an excuse.
We made a mistake. We moved the barrier between the living room and front room, because Kiyoko looked ready to jump it, and we didn't want her to get hurt. As soon as she got in there she forced her way behind the tv stand and refused to come out. I don't know what we would have done if she had given birth again while there... we could see her through it as it is glass shelving, so I left my 12 year old watching her.
We kept hoping she would calm down and come see her babies. She did briefly come out and lick them, but refused to get in the whelping pool and refused to stay. We didn't want to force her in case it totally put her off bonding altogether, so I figured she needed time to get over her big shock.
At this point she did the saddest thing I ever saw - she ran frantically to her toy box and dug through it; she hasn't touched a single toy since she was about 12 months. She's two now. She found a cuddly hippo about the size of her puppies, and ran with it to her space behind the tv unit. I cried. I thought she had decided since we were drying/caring for her puppies that they were no longer hers, and that she was whimpering and crying back there and licking that toy as a substitute. It all seemed so bleak and I was too tired to think rationally.
My daughter made some tea and I went to the loo a few times with diarrhoea from the stress of the birth. I think I had subconciously spent her whole labour flashing back to my first baby, which was a no drugs birth pool experience that went badly wrong, and somehow I had let the emotions overwhelm me. I was shaking when I came back down and trying my best not to cry.
At this point my midwoof friend told me I had to start feeding the puppies - because if they didn't get to suckle within a few hours of birth they might be unable to later. Although I had bottle fed baby animals before, and had the milk and some bottles ready, I had only bought the larger walmart bottles, assuming that great pyr puppies would be larger than the 250-375grams these are. I didn't buy the little set from petsmart as I figured I would only be top up feeding for litter size so would have time to research best ways to do that.
Clearly all my research had been flawed, in that I had done very little into what I should do AFTER safely whelping all the puppies. I immediately started bottle feeding all 11... it took an hour and a half. At first it seemed like the teats would be too big to get into their mouths, but they were about the same size as Kiyokos. When the first few latched on to the bottles I was so relieved. I saw that once it was positioned correctly and they had realised it had milk, they would suckle well. After feeding I top and tailed them, and was astounded how much poop came out of such a tiny creature.
Gradually over the course of the next few hours, Kiyoko started to calm a little. If the puppies cried she would sometimes run over and lick them over the side of the whelping pool. She still refused to lie down anywhere though. I decided to try something - I unblocked access to my desk area, lined it with a blanket and let her go there. When she seemed settled I brought over one puppy at a time to introduce them. She was much calmer when she had her puppies. I slowly started trying to place one pup near her teats under the desk. Suck a tiny are I could barely see properly and was so worried it might get smothered, but I watched as best I could. After his I swapped pups as and when the next one started crying. I bottle fed a second time too.
By evening she had been coaxed to lie just outside the desk area on a blanket. In this way she could feed 4 at a time. By the time my husband came home we were able to persuade her to lie in the whelping pool. She was so eager to show him her puppies that he managed to persuade her to lie down there, and since then we have rotated them across the pool to her whenever they cry.
She still isn't topping and tailing them properly, and we will need to supplement the few with the weaker sucking reflex. I plan on having someone watch her nightly for at least a week and someone watching all day too. Hopefully if she can take over most of the feeding then we will get a good rhythm going and can get through this experience.
I have some concerns for two of the smaller puppies - they root hard, but often don't suckle even with the teat held for them. At least momma isn't rejecting anyone at all.
I have one puppy with dried poop on his tail area that is proving super hard to get off... any suggestions? I don't want to rub him raw or anything.
Next stage, once feeding and momma are all settled into a routine and they are doing well, will be to start writing all the info about the breed mix downfalls and type of home best suited etc for potential new homes. I've been shocked how many friends of friends, or work colleagues of neighbours etc seem to think just because this was an 'oops' litter that they are entitled to a free puppy. These puppies will not be free. For one thing, we can't afford to give them away - we spent all our savings so far on the supplies etc and high grade food etc, and will have to break into credit card for the vet care and vaccinations etc. I am keeping a cost list of every supply I buy, and the puppies will need to be sold for about that cost. We aren't a wealthy family who can afford to just give them away - except for to two awesome homes of dog rescuer friends we know who have expressed an interest in taking on a puppy, knowing how difficult this mix could potentially be for stubbornness, escape artistry, roaming and if the husky prey drive overtakes the pyr guardian instinct.
Sorry this was a novel. I'll try to figure how to add pictures. It is interesting the colour variation in the litter given that Dad is purebred and traditional silver siberian husky and mother is pure bred great pyr. Colours range from almost white to almost black. The black ones are all slightly thinner than the others.