Newborn German Shepherd puppies are vulnerable, weak, deaf, blind, and toothless. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that you properly care for them from the moment they are born to the moment when they become independent and aware of the world around them. The first ten weeks are crucial for the development of puppies, so make sure you do everything right to have healthy, properly socialized, trained puppies that will one day become well-rounded dogs.
Preparing For The Arrival Of The Puppies
If your German Shepherd is pregnant, you need to buy and prepare several things to ensure the safety of her and her litter.
These are some of the essential things you need to have:
- Heat pad
- Cardboard box
- Whelping box
- Washable vet bed
- Blankets, pillows, towels
- Baby bottle or feeding syringe
- Weighing scale
- Suction bulb syringe
- Puppy milk replacer
- Washcloth or cotton balls
One of the first things you need to do is find the place where she and her litter will stay. This place needs to be warm, clean, dry, comfortable, and quiet.
Provide a bed
You can buy and use a whelping box and a washable vet bed for this purpose, or a combination of cardboard boy, pillows, blankets, etc.
Provide a heat source
Add a lamp and a heating pad to make sure puppies stay warm.
Monitor the labor
German Shepherd labor can last between 6 and 18 hours on average depending on the size of the litter and her experience. An average litter will number 5 to 1o newborn German Shepherd puppies. When the birth process begins remove the puppy to a small box with a heating pad set on low, you will later return all puppies to their mother for nursing.
Check newborn puppies
Check each pup as soon as it’s born to see if they are breathing properly. If there is breathing difficulty, use a baby ears syringe to clear nasal passages and throat.
Caring For Newborn German Shepherd Puppies
During the first week of their life puppies will not do much except sleep and eat. They are still unable to open their eyes, but you may notice some of them wagging their little tails. The most important thing during the first few days is to check if the puppies are breathing properly, and use the suction bulb syringe to clear airways in puppies that experience breathing difficulties. Also, during this period, puppies are the most vulnerable. They still can’t regulate their temperature, so you need to constantly monitor if the room temperature is right.
Generally, room temperature should be 85-90°F (29.5-32°C). By the end of the first week, or few days into the second week you can gradually decrease the temperature to 80°F (26.7°C). By the end of the fourth week, the temperature should resemble normal room temperature at 72°F (22.2°C).
You will notice that puppies are capable of crawling to their mother and suck milk. However, if the German Shepherd mother has no milk or if she is absent, you will need to feed newborn puppies using a feeding syringe or a baby bottle.
Also, change the beddings every day to keep their living area dry and clean. You don’t need to bathe puppies as their mother is cleaning them by constant licking.
The second week is when the puppies will start to open their eyes and move around more in an effort to inspect their surroundings. You will also notice puppies starting to use their legs instead of crawling. During this time, you should weigh them to see if they are gaining well. Also, continue to watch on the room temperature and keep their area dry, clean, and comfortable.
During the third week, puppies’ ears will open and they will be able to hear sounds. They will also be able to stand on their own, though their legs will still shake during the walk. This is the week when socialization starts. Puppies will start to explore and socialize with each other, so it’s important not to separate them.
Also, the teething process will start during this week, so the puppies will also be interested in solid food and they will bite everything they come across.
By the fourth week of their life, puppies are able to walk well, play, and socialize with siblings and their mother. You can also play with them, but be careful not to hurt or scare them. They can also start to eat solid food as their teeth are fully formed.
The fifth week is a good time to start training as the puppies are developed enough both mentally and physically. Also, this is the time where mother’s milk production starts to decrease, so it’s crucial that you provide a high-quality solid diet.
The German Shepherd puppies can be fully weaned by the sixth week, as they have come a long way from being newborn and weak to totally independent of their mother. This is also a time when puppies start to play more actively with people and improve their social skills.
In the seventh week, puppies will in a phase where they are fearful of strangers and various different things. It’s just a normal phase in their development, but a crucial one. Make sure not to scare the puppies during this period. Also, you should carefully introduce them to different people, sounds, and places.
The eighth week is the perfect time to start training the German shepherd puppies some basic commands. Also, teach them bite inhibition and focus on further socialization to prevent behavioral issues. This is also a good time to start potty training.
The ninth week is a good time to check the development and growth of puppies. You should weigh and measure them to see if they grow and develop properly. Generally, male German Shepherd puppies should weigh between 19.8 lbs (9 kg) and 22 lbs (10 kg), while the females weigh between 15.4 lbs (7 kg) and 19.8 lbs (9kg). The height of the puppies should be between 12 in (30.48 cm) and 15 in (38.1 cm).
By the tenth-week puppies’ ears should be pointy and sometimes floppy. They should also already learn bite inhibition and know how to gently bite when playing with humans. The puppies will continue to grow and develop, so it is crucial that you provide high-quality food. However, some puppies may refuse to eat during this period, so you need to make sure they eat enough.