A litter of puppies. What fun! The arrival of tiny Saints is an exciting time, but like other giant breeds, they need some special attention for the first few weeks. At birth, Saint Bernard pups are relatively small, weighing about 1½ pounds. Their coloring, which looks black and white at birth, will change almost before your eyes, the dark fur getting lighter every day. Plan for a couple of months of puppy breath, angel-soft kisses, tiny razor-sharp claws and the most adorable puppies you've ever seen.
Camp out by momma. Saint puppies are very small in comparison to their mother, who can accidentally lie on a puppy without knowing it.
Make a soft bed for the new litter on an open section of the floor, if possible. Avoid putting the bed in a box, which increases the risk of a puppy being trapped behind its mother and the side of the box.
Schedule a vet appointment when the puppies are 3 days old if you want dewclaws removed. Dewclaws are extra claws inside the forepaws and back paws. Not all Saints have dewclaws, and it’s not essential that you remove them.
Let momma do most of the work, but caress and pet each little wiggler frequently to get them used to human touch. Tiny Saint Bernard puppies have shrill voices and they will cry pitifully if separated from momma. Before their eyes open, you are in charge of carrying wandering puppies back to their mother.
Prepare the play yard. Between 10 days and 2 weeks, the puppies’ eyes will open. At 3 weeks, they will start to walk clumsily on their tiny legs. From that point on – your rapidly growing puppies need plenty of room to roam safely.
Soak large-breed puppy food in warm water to soften it and offer it to your wee Saints around 4 weeks of age. Weaning is a gradual process that takes place over the next couple of weeks, as the mother nurses her litter less and the puppies start eating solid food.
Feed Saint puppies four times a day until they’re 8 weeks old, and then feed three times a day. Offer softened food until 6 weeks of age when they can start chewing dry dog food.
Visit the vet with your bundle of boisterous babies at 6 weeks of age for their first round of immunizations, deworming and well-puppy checks. Each puppy will receive a health record that should accompany the puppy to its new home.
Schedule one more vet visit at 8 weeks of age, just before the puppies go to their new homes, for the second set of booster shots. Saint puppies need to remain with their mothers until 8 weeks of age to develop the beneficial litter-bonding skills that will help them adapt to life in their new families.
- Feed a Saint Bernard puppy a high-quality large-breed puppy food until 4 months of age, then switch to a large-breed adult dog food. Puppy food is high in protein, which encourages rapid growth. Switching at 4 months reduces the risk of joint disorders that can appear in this breed as adults.
- Socialize your puppies ceaselessly. Pets, cuddles, romps and tickles are all a part of training these giants-to-be in positive social interaction.
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