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Nala, Winston and Fawn’s soft grey brindle.

Beautiful aren’t they? The one thing you miss when you adopt a puppy into your home, is their first 8 weeks. You don’t get to see the birth, the newborn phase, see when their eyes first open, or when they first learn to walk. One of the sweetest things we watched, was when the pups first start playing with each other and trying to growl! It’s adorable, these soft little bundles trying to wrestle with each other!

As mentioned in another post, when we welcomed whippets into our home, we did so planning to breed them, in addition to having them as members of the family. We have bred sheep, chickens, ducks and guinea fowl and were keen to also learn about and experience breeding whippets. NOTE: we did this knowing that whippets are a more unusual breed to find in our state, and therefore were likely to be able to find loving homes for them. We also went into breeding whippets knowing that we can provide an ideal start to life for them…we have the space, can feed them quality food, there’s always plenty of family members home to help care for and train them etc. It’s not a great idea to breed dogs if you don’t have the time, patience and resources to do so.

Elma

Fawn has turned out to be a very maternal young lady. She had no trouble falling pregnant, an easy pregnancy and a straight forward birth, which I am thankful we were able to witness. She’s an incredibly affectionate girl, and welcomed our presence for the whelping. Her first litter consisted of four pups, in a variety of colours. Three females and one male. She hardly left their side, and wouldn’t let Winston near them!

I had found an excellent article about whelping whippets, which suggested that for these comfort hounds, an ideal whelping ‘box’ set-up, was to use a children’s frame pool, and line it with a blanket or towels. Whippets love their soft furnishings 🙂 What a fabulous idea! The size is right, the price is great, the height is excellent for containing pups until they are a few weeks old, and it’s plastic, so can be easily cleaned. I bought the pool, cut a massive king size blanket we had been handed down into two, and erected the set-up in the boys room.

As it turned out, Fawn loved the whelping box. She didn’t actually whelp in it…she normally sleeps in my daughter’s bed with her, and so that bedroom is her safe place I guess…she birthed in there, right on the girl’s jute rug. And there ended the use of that rug in our home!

But once the pups were on the ground and cleaned up, Fawn was very happy to move into the whelping box with them. There she stayed for the next three weeks. Around this time, the little monkeys learned how to jump the walls. So from there we moved to a gated pen. Around the three week mark, is when it’s best to start toilet training the pups. This was important for us, because whippets are a very indoor-sy breed of dog, so to make life that much easier on the families who would adopt our pups, we started toilet training at three weeks, using the Misty Method. Of course it made life easier on us too, because those puppies first 8 weeks were spent mostly inside our home! And yes, this worked. The families our puppies went to mentioned that toilet training the pups in their new homes was simple, because the groundwork had been laid.

The first litter at 9 days old, safely contained in a children’s frame-pool.

As there were only four pups, and all uniquely marked/coloured, we didn’t need to worry about ID bands or anything like that. But I have since found a brilliant business, WhelpingSupplies.com.au, which supplies ID bands and so many other useful whelping supplies, located on the Gold Coast. They also share free whelping charts for tracking puppies milestones, weight etc. This is very handy, especially if you have a larger litter and need to make sure all the pups are gaining enough weight.

Doggie Pile

With so many mouths to feed, a bitch who has whelped is at risk of calcium deficiency. For this reason, many people feed the new mum’s puppy food (which is higher in calcium) rather than adult dog food. We also find that organic eggs from our flock, raw beef bones, raw chicken necks and BARF from Pet Mince Direct, have been great. Our local Pet Mince Direct is managed by a very knowledgable woman (a dog breeder herself) who has given me a wealth of information on canine nutrition.

Summing it up, the first three weeks after the arrival of the pups, the dam does just about all the work. She cleans up her pups messes, feeds them, snuggles with them and it feels like all we’re doing is keeping the nutrition up to her, patting her and admiring her little bundles of joy. Their eyes open sometime around day 10-14. They start to crawl around their enclosure more. Then the dam steps back a little, starts to wean them, and we start toilet training, introducing solid food (at which point the dam isn’t so interested in cleaning up her pups messes!) and we start being able to play with them. We have six children, who all love animals, so our pups were spoiled for choice when it came to human companionship and playmates. It has been such a rewarding experience, and wonderful to be able to give our pups a great start to life that rewards both our family for being able to experience this, and the pup’s new families, who are blessed to take home a puppy who is well socialised, house-trained, healthy and emotionally balanced.

Puppies are ready to be adopted at 8 weeks of age. Any earlier than this and they miss valuable social skills that their mother teaches them.

There is a wealth of information online about whippets, if you are keen to investigate whether this breed would be compatible with your family/lifestyle. We are so grateful to have our pair, they’re delightful.

There will be future litters, and if you are interested in keeping posted regarding Birdsong Whippets, drop me a line at racheal@birdsongmarketgarden.com.au

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