updated 1/12/07

Thinking of getting a Lab? Please read this information to see if one is right for your lifestyle.

Here is a recap from our 2/05 litter that we have left up so others can see the work and loving care that goes into raising a litter of puppies. We are also adding information/photos from our recently arrived litter (12/20 and 12/21/06).

We hope that sharing some of our experiences with raising puppies will be informative to those thinking of purchasing a Lab puppy in the future or possibly breeding their Labrador Retriever.

WEEK #1 The Puppies Arrive!

2/4/05 Ali has been panting all night, at about 11:15 a.m. her water broke and at 12:10 the first puppy arrived. All went smoothly until puppy #6. Unfortunately he was breech and his sac was ruptured and it took a long, long time for Ali to get him to where I could help by grabbing his feet and pulling. By then he had been gone for a while and sadly I could not resuscitate him.. Fortunately puppy #7 was still alive and well when he arrived.

Breakdown is 1 yellow male, 1 yellow female, 1 black female, 3 black males. All weighed between 12 and 14 ounces.

12/20/06This litter didn't go as smoothly as the above litter -- Cori began panting a bit during the night on 12/20, water broke about noon, first pup didn't come until 5:15 p.m. after lots of walking. We finally took a towel and flashlight outside and let her push while out there. She had a lot of difficulty passing the first pup which was breech and it kept going back into the birth canal. Finally Deb got a hold of the pup's rear legs and with steady pulling got the puppy out. There were 2 hours between the next 2 pups and then Cori stopped contracting. Because we had x-rayed we knew there were 4 puppies in her uterus so as soon as our vet opened the a.m. of 12/21 we were there. An x-ray confirmed a puppy headfirst in the birth canal but no we opted to do a c-section. My vet was not optimistic that this pup was alive but I asked her to treat Cori as if the pup was alive so anesthesia was done in a manner to stress the pup as little as possible. He was alive although took quite a while to revive. Cori was put on antibiotics after her c-section and has fortunately done great.

Ali and pups.

Deb will be off work now for 7 to 10 days – raising puppies is a lot of work although week 1 is in some ways the easiest (except for lack of sleep for the owners). Once the puppies are born “all” that needs to be done daily is cleaning the whelping box, changing the padding, weighing and checking the pups out, and making sure Ali is fed, usually about 4 times per day. It is also important to take her temperature daily the first few days to watch for signs of uterine infection or mastitis and check her over thoroughly. Deb doesn’t get much sleep as she checks on Ali and the pups every time she hears a squeak or about every hour otherwise.

  • The puppies spend about 80% of their time sleeping and 20% of their time eating.
  • They need to be kept warm as their body temperature drops quickly when away from their mom or litter mates. Puppies who are not kept warm can become ill rapidly.
  • They cannot see or hear (eyes and ears are sealed shut) but their sense of smell is excellent and what helps them to find their mom for nourishment.
  • They should be gaining at least an ounce per day.


Here is what a puppy ear looks like before the canal is opened.

Meet the Puppies from Ali's litter! Photos of each newborn.

2/6/05 Puppies are gaining weight. Ali has an abundant milk supply, TOO abundant as she starts to develop signs of a plugged milk duct/mastitis. Her temperature is okay but she is starting to not eat well, a sign of her not feeling well. Fortunately for Ali, Deb is a certified “Lactation Counselor” who works with nursing moms/babies as part of her job as a nurse. Hot compresses are applied and the milk must be manually stripped from her breast. Since the milk does not look infected the puppies are then encouraged to nurse on that breast throughout the night. By a.m., Ali is running around with toys in her mouth again and eating well.

2/7/05 Dew claw removal day – the little claws on the side of each front leg are removed by our vet who kindly comes to our house so we don’t have to take the puppies out during this cold, rainy weather or risk exposing them to illness. The puppies are a bit whiny for a while afterwards but comforted by their mom.

2/8/05 The "Super Puppy Exercises" have been started. It is believed that this Early Neurological Stimulation enhances a puppy's development. Originally called the "Bio Sensor" program, these exercises were developed by the U.S. military for their canine training programs to give the dogs a superior advantage.. Their studies confirmed that there are specific time periods early in life when neurological stimulation has optimum results. Days 3 to 16 are one of those time periods. The exercises (done for 3 to 5 seconds each) involve handling the puppies one at a time while performing a series of five exercises. Listed in order of preference the handler starts with one pup and stimulates it using each of the five exercises. The handler completes the series from beginning to end before starting with the next pup. (Note we handle our puppies more than once per day but these exercises are only done once per day or they may stress the puppies out.)

  • Tactical stimulation (tickled between toes on one foot with a q-tip)
  • Head held erect
  • Head pointed down
  • Supine position (on back)
  • Thermal stimulation -- puppy is placed on a towel that has been cooled in the refrigerator for at least 5 min.

More "Labrador Nursery Diary" Pages

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