The puppies have gained amazingly. We like to see them double their birth weight at ten days – they’re pushing triple. Everyone’s fat and shiny and quite precocious. They’re showing huge will to get up on their legs and walk, and a few of them are pooping on their own. We’ve now got five generations of Madcap Bull Terriers under our roof – more about that, later.
On the topic of supplementing a litter, as with almost everything else in dogs, there's no one right answer, it depends on a number of variables, and it varies tremendously from breed to breed. I have learned my lesson that just because a bitch CAN feed a large litter, does not mean that she SHOULD. Pippi’s mother, Daphne stayed in the box 24/7 with her second litter and they nursed in shifts just about continually. She was dripping milk and easily fed all 8 puppies - and she also wound up with eclampsia, which I hope none of you ever have to experience because it's scary as all get out.
The bottom line, for me, is that Bull Terriers are not really "big litter" dogs - I think a well cared for Golden Retriever or a Rottweiler might be able to handle a huge litter and be just fine, but I don't think you can trust things will be OK with a Bull Terrier bitch and a large litter, no matter what you feed her. This is what what my breed mentors said and did with their litters and, through hard experience, I've come back to their advice. Even though Pippi is making plenty of milk, we’ve begun supplementing the puppies with goat milk.
I don’t always do all the puppies – even if I can knock down a few of them a little, I can put the other ones on to get started. The ones that already had some milk from the sponge will then wait for the teats without doing their “Night of the Living Dead” routine.
You want to use goats milk, not cow's milk. Goat milk is made up of smaller molecules that are easier to digest. Cow milk can really upset the puppies' tummies. I have tried goat milk "replacer" in the can and found it to be awful - gave my puppies gas and made them colicky. Go figure, puppies don't do well when fed soybean oil. If you were feeding an orphaned puppy, goat milk might not be enough - at least not this summer goat milk which is very light. In the fall the milk has a layer of cream on it so you might get by with that, but if you're feeding orphaned puppies, my suggestion is to get a good home made milk replacer recipe and skip the canned/powdered stuff.
Here's a little film we made so you can see the mongol hordes in action, and how sponge feeding them knocks them back to, if not civilized, at least manageable.
I know that some breeders of other breeds would be horrified to hear that we crate our novice moms between feedings, but if you want to keep an entire litter of Bull Terrier puppies alive, it’s usually necessity. I can’t tell you how many stories I have heard where the bitch was doing so well with her brood that the breeder though she could get up and take a quick shower – and came back to a dead puppy that mom stepped on/lay down on and crushed. So if we want ANY sleep or bio breaks in the first 2 weeks, we need to crate our bitches or risk losing puppies. Always exceptions to the rule, of course, and I’ve heard of (and had) some great Bull Terrier moms, but I don’t think it’s the norm.
This topic points up the importance of having a breed mentor, as opposed to a general mentor when it comes to whelping litters. The variations between breeds is HUGE (and wonderful, and fascinating) and you do need to have someone in your breed brief you on the peculiarities of your breed when it comes to raising a litter.
I love reading well written stories about breeders and the history of their dogs, but I realize not everyone does, so I’m putting what follows as a “bonus” at the end of our ten day blog.
With Pippi’s litter, we have five generations under one roof. Their stories, and the story of how I came to be writing this blog to you about this litter, is as good an example as any of how the butterfly wing can move the mountain.
If you ask me the secret to having such longevity in our dogs, I can’t really say for sure. Yes we feed raw organic and grow much of what our dogs eat. Yes, we do limited vaccinations and we spend an astonishing amount at the vet each year. We’ve got a nice acre fenced in for them, and they all get lots of enrichment and interaction with us. But really a lot comes down to the luck of the draw, and we’ve been very fortunate through the years.
Ruby - Great Great Grandmother (Ch Corsaire Carpe Diem of Madcap VA, RN, NA, NAP, NJP, RL-2)
Ruby’s our grand dame – 14.5 years old and as vital as ever. Victoria Corse called me out of the blue in April of 2001 and just said, “You’re taking this puppy.”
Augie - Great Grandfather (Ch. Madcap Veni Vidi Vici, RL-1)
Zulu - Great Grandmother (Ch TNG N Buoy's Concrete Blonde ROM, VAX, RA, NA, NAJ, AXP, OJP)
Daphne - Grandmother
So then came the wonderful Augie x Zulu litter of 9, one of which is Daphne. She’s following in her mother’s “can do” footsteps in every way, except that she’s added Movie Star to her resume - Daphne and her first litter are the subject of our film Puppy Culture. As of this writing, Daphne’s produced two AKC Grand Champions and two ROM champions, and there’s more where that came from. Right now she’s delighted to be retired from the whelping box and moving on to the agility ring.
Mother - Pippi (GCH Madcap Jump The Broom, ROM)
We bred Daphne to frozen semen from a dog who, in my opinion, never got the recognition or use that he should have because he was tri colored (long story, but Bull Terrier people don’t like tri coloreds). We got a super litter, one of which is Pippi. Pippi is really different from other Bull Terriers that I have known and is incredibly socially motivated – she does agility with me for the pure joy of it – no food or toys required. She’s also the only Bull Terrier I have ever observed to learn by imitation – she learned to sit up on her hind legs by watching the other dogs do it.
She quickly earned her Grand Championship and ROM championship and she’s taking her first turn in the whelping box with this litter.
Daphne and Pippi were line bred, so we chose to go out to an English dog named Ch Emred Devil's Spy when we bred Pippi. We are super fortunate that it it appears to have clicked, and so far the puppies look outstanding.
So that brings us to the fifth generation, which are these little babies – but first a small back track…
What Was That About Augie’s Bite?
Early Neurological Stimulation
Pippi To Spy Litter
Simulated Maternal Stimulation
Socialization And Training
Training For Dog Shows
Weaning Pen Set Up
Jane Messineo Lindquist (Killion) is the director of "Puppy Culture: The Powerful First Twelve Weeks That Can Shape Your Puppies' Future" as well as the author of "When Pigs Fly: Training Success With Impossible Dogs."
Jane has had Bull Terriers since 1982 and she and her husband, Mark Lindquist, breed Bull Terriers under the Madcap kennel name.
Her interests include dog shows, agility trials, gardening, and any cocktail that involves an infused simple syrup.
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