It’s no surprise that many boxer owners want to breed their dogs: The good-natured, jovial disposition of the breed makes boxers wonderful companions for any dog lover. However, the breed’s angular pelvis and lean build mean you must take extra care during whelping to ensure a happy, healthy litter.
Develop a timeline for whelping. Count forward 60 days from your dog’s first successful breeding and mark that day on a calendar. Dogs typically gestate for 63 days, but larger breeds such as boxers may whelp a day or two early.
Schedule your female for a pre-whelping exam at least 10 days prior to the whelping date. Your vet will examine your dog to make sure she is healthy and will tell you how many puppies to expect.
Prepare the whelping area the week before your dog is due. Select a quiet room, such as an extra bedroom or guest bathroom. Place a plastic children’s pool in the room and line it with old blankets. The pool makes an excellent whelping box, since it allows the female to climb in and out but keeps the puppies inside. Erect a heat lamp over one side of the pool to keep the newborn litter warm when the mother gets up to eat or take a potty break. Place a few of your dog’s favorite toys inside the pool and allow her to rest in the whelping room to acclimate her before she gives birth.
Observe your boxer carefully for the first stage of labor. Your dog may pace, dig and circle around in the whelping box to prepare a safe nest for the impending puppies. Boxers tend to be a little nervous during labor, so clear the room of any other pets and people.
Watch your dog for signs that labor is advancing. The dog may lay down and get up repeatedly, pant, pace or lick her vulva as she starts having contractions. You may be able to see her abdomen tighten and relax in increasingly frequent waves as the contractions increase.
Stand clear of the whelping box as your boxer starts to deliver. The first puppy will appear with the thin placental membrane still covering its body. The female should break the sac and lick the puppy clean to stimulate breathing. If this is your boxer’s first litter, she may be a little confused and won’t break the sac. Tear it gently with clean hands and rub the puppy with a dry towel.
Wait for your boxer to bite the umbilical cord before moving the puppy under the heat lamp. If the mother doesn’t sever the cord, tie a piece of kitchen twine tightly around the cord, approximately 2 inches from the puppy’s belly. Snip the cord with a pair of sharp scissors and dab a little iodine over the cord to prevent infection.
Monitor the remainder of the birthing process. The female may rest slightly between puppies but should not take more than 60 minutes to deliver the next puppy. Boxers have very angular pelvises, and puppies may get stuck in the birth canal. If your dog appears to be straining with no evidence of another puppy coming, or in any distress, call your veterinarian immediately.
- If your dog doesn’t want anything to do with her new litter, call your veterinarian. The mother and the puppies may both be in danger. Some inexperienced mothers don’t have much maternal instinct; you may have to hand-feed the puppies.
- Never give your dog any drugs unless directed by your veterinarian. Unprescribed medications can make both the mother and puppies very ill.
Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.