Whelping your first litter

Corgi sat in a whelping box

Things to decide upon before whelping

There are a number of considerations you must have settled on before whelping your first litter.

  • Decide what whelping facilities, including bedding, are the most appropriate for your dog
  • Ensure that you have the necessary equipment to deal with the whelping
  • Inform your vet when your bitch is due to whelp and keep their phone number to hand
How should I prepare a whelping box?

Your whelping box should be comfortable and secure for your bitch. It's important that your dog feels comfortable when she starts to give birth, so make sure the whelping box is warm and quiet.

Is there anything I need to purchase before she gives birth?

Be sure to have these items on hand, so you're ready for when the birth begins:

  • scales to weigh each puppy
  • towels 
  • cleaning equipment, to make sure the whelping box is kept clean
  • a heat source, like a pad or lamp 
  • water
  • food
  • thermometer

Signs your bitch is due to whelp

These first signs indicate that your bitch is due to whelp:

  • She will start to nest, tearing up newspaper and bedding
  • She will produce milk 24 hours before - although sometimes this can happen up to a week prior to whelping
  • Panting will start to happen 
  • You will see contractions 

If you are ever in doubt, please speak to your vet straight away.

What can I expect during whelping?

All breeds and individual dogs can act differently. If your bitch has contractions that go on longer than an hour, seek professional advice from your vet.

How do I know if I should contact the vet?

Every dog is different, so if you are ever in any doubt, we recommend that you contact your vet for advice.

Complications during pregnancy

The majority of pregnancies go smoothly and you should have nothing to worry about. However if for any reason you are concerned, you should speak to your vet straight away.

What if my dog needs an emergency c-section?

In the case of your bitch needing an emergency c-section, always listen to veterinary advice. Learn more about caesarean sections.

How do I take care of mum after whelping?

Once your bitch has given birth, you need to make sure she has access to water and food. She will also need access to go outside. Make sure you stay with them and keep an eye on them at all times. Any concerns, contact your vet right away.

Where can I find out more?

You can find out more about breeding, pregnancy and raising puppies in a number of films available on The Kennel Club Academy.

Next step - rearing and raising your puppies

Now that your puppies are born, you will need to make sure you are doing everything correctly before they go off to their new homes. Learn more about rearing and raising your puppies.