Breeding and Whelping--a Little Light Reading for While You Wait
© Karen Lee, Surreyhill Whippets
Posted to Whippet World 31 Oct 06
Author’s note: This is a reworking of a message board post I wrote back in 2003. After several requests to reprint it, I have shaped into a more cohesive article.
*Thoughts on Breeding and Whelping Whippets*
So, the big day is nearly here, and you’re looking at your rapidly expanding Whippet girl and starting to get a little worried. So many things could go wrong! A million “what ifs” run through your mind, if you are anything like I was when I had my first litter of my own without my mother there to help me. Since that time, I’ve attended quite a few whelping dams, mostly mine but also those owned by others. The first litters I assisted into this world were out of herding breed dogs, and it didn’t take very many Whippet litters for me to notice that Whippets go about things sometimes rather….differently…than the books on the subject and breeder lore aimed at breeders of most breeds would suggest.
It is not my intention to go over the same ground as the many good reference materials on dog breeding, whelping, and puppy rearing that are currently in print. Suffice it say that any newbie should have at least one, two preferably, to hand, and make sure they have read them cover to cover before embarking on the adventure of becoming a Whippet breeder. My personal favorite is *Canine Reproduction*, by Phyllis A Holst DVM, which contains a great deal of material useful to both the novice and experienced breeder. Furthermore, a discussion of whether or not it is advisable to breed a given bitch, and if so, to whom, is outside the scope of this article. There are, however, things which seem to be common enough in Whippets, but which are not specifically addressed by most of these books on the subject, and these are the 'tricks of the trade' that I want to use this forum to share.
What are my qualifications for writing this article, anyway? Well, I am not a veterinarian, but I am the daughter of a hobby breeder of over 35 years experience in breeding dogs from every group but the Terrier and Sporting Groups. God bless my mother for honoring her promises to haul me out of bed in the wee small hours to see the puppies come out when I was still just a school kid. My own experience in breeding and whelping out my own Whippets goes back to 1986, and comprises a total of 14 Whippet dams, 34 litters, and 240 live puppies delivered, (an average of 7.1 puppies per litter). I have only delivered a single puppy dead from one of my bitches which might conceivably have been saved with increased intervention, nor has any Whippet bitch who’s whelping was managed by either my mother or myself ever required a c-section or any veterinary intervention whatsoever in order to deliver her puppies naturally, at home. While a c-section or a dead puppy can simply be due to illness, bad luck, or a bitch who develops a complication during whelping that only a c-section can resolve, I do feel that the natural whelping in the home is the ideal we all should strive for with our Whippets. They SHOULD be a free-whelping breed. So, while I may have had a lot of good luck, I must be doing something right.
I give a lot of credit for my enviable record as a canine midwife to those who mentored me, and allowed me to assist with whelpings when I was new to breeding, and I write this in the hope that some of this information may prove similarly helpful to others. Nothing I say is intended to supplant qualified Veterinary opinion in individual cases, but I do think that there are many excellent Veterinarians who lack practical breeding experience. This is becoming ever more common, in fact, I have heard people say that some of the newer vets have told them they have never seen or been present through a normal whelping. Breeders must always seek to balance gut instincts and experience with their own bitches and dogs with what their Veterinarian can provide by way of professional expertise.
No one can predict today the litters from which the best and most useful individuals for the future will come. The way I see it, I want everyone who breeds with quality in mind to have every chance of a good-sized litter of live puppies, because it may be that one of your litters may contain the dog of my dreams, hopefully with both of his balls!