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Do dogs kill puppies?

Puppies are beloved all over the world. They probably have the highest universal approval rating amongst all domesticated animals.

Upon first catching sight of their new puppies, pet owners tend to become very protective. The mothers themselves also tend to be extra protective so exercise some caution when approaching the puppies.

However, there are times when the mother may act unexpectedly. To your surprise, you may see that the mother has not cared for all of her new puppies. Instead, you may be greeted by an especially unpleasant sight as you go to check on the newborns.

A dog killing puppies is a tragic occurrence, but what causes it? That’s one of the many important questions we’ll be answering throughout this article. Please feel free to read on if you wish to learn more about the causes of this behavior and the things you can do to prevent it.

Do Dogs Kill Puppies?

Let’s cut to the heart of the matter right away. Do dogs kill their puppies?

Sadly, there are times when mother dogs will indeed kill their offspring. This is not a common occurrence, but at the same time, it’s not super rare either.

Many pet owners cannot help but get overwhelmed by the sight of the dead puppies. Still, you should avoid overreacting. The last thing you want is to harm the mother and the other puppies after the tragedy that has already taken place.

Why Do Mother Dogs Kill Their Own Puppies?

Mother dogs killing their puppies is upsetting. Still, it is not a random occurrence.

We must seek to understand why a mother dog might kill her puppy to prevent it from ever happening again. Let’s do that by checking out the known reasons why mother dogs kill their puppies.

The Mother Dog Is Killing Unhealthy Puppies

Although they have been domesticated for a long time, the dogs we keep as pets still retain their animal instincts. They are always keenly aware of what they must do to survive. Sometimes, that means they must kill one of their own to give the other puppies a better shot at growing up healthy.

If a mother dog senses that one of her puppies is sickly, they will react accordingly.

At first, the mother may decide to ignore the puppy. She may push the sickly puppy away so that the others have more nourishment to share amongst themselves. Mothers may even take the time to carry the weak puppy away so they are no longer in the nursing area.

From there, the weak puppy may soon die from a lack of nutrition.

In some cases, the mother will not even bother with neglecting or pushing the sick puppy away. They may just kill the newborn immediately.

The Mother Is Suffering from an Infection

The mother dog may not be in the best shape physically after they give birth. During that time, they become very susceptible to certain infections.

The first worrisome infection of note affects the uterus. This kind of infection can occur if a puppy died in utero or if the placenta is not delivered.

A mother dog affected by a uterine infection may become more irritable and defensive. They may snap at anything that tries to approach them. The mother dog may even harm her puppies who are trying to nurse because of the pain she is currently dealing with.

Mastitis is the other infection that can cause a mother dog to harm her puppies. The aforementioned condition specifically affects the mother’s milk glands.

When a puppy goes to nurse at an infected gland, the mother is likely to experience a significant amount of pain. The mother may react by biting the puppy who tried to nurse from the infected gland. As a result, the puppy may die from the injuries they sustained.

The Mother Dog Is Feeling Stressed

Stress can also be a contributing factor in cases of canine infanticide. There are different potential explanations for why a mother dog might feel stressed out. The tragic thing is that some of those causes of stress are born out of the mother’s desire to protect her litter.

For instance, a mother dog may feel stressed out because she cannot properly care for all of her puppies. To give her puppies a better chance at survival, the mother may kill one or more of her offspring.

A dog may also become overprotective due to the stress she is experiencing as a new mother. She may react adversely to her stressful situation by harming one of her puppies.

Mother dogs also want to raise their puppies in a relatively peaceful environment. If her nursing area is too noisy or active, she may respond by killing some of her puppies.

Be mindful of the stress that the new mother may be experiencing currently. Helping her cope with her current situation can also help the puppies survive.

The Mother Dog Is Too Young

There is such a thing as dogs becoming mothers too early. You do not want a dog to get pregnant during her first heat cycle. At that point, she may lack the maturity needed to be a mother.

The young mother’s immaturity can manifest itself in one of two ways.

It may first manifest itself in the form of the young mother neglecting her puppies. She may not spend time with the puppies at all. If you fail to notice this in time, the puppies may die from a lack of nutrition.

Young mothers may also have a more combative reaction to their offspring. As the puppies approach, the young mother may attack them because she perceives them as threats.

Usually, the mother dog will give off signs that they are threatened by the presence of the puppies. They may growl at the puppies in an attempt to scare them. Take action right away when you hear that growling by keeping the puppies away from their mother.

The Mother Dog Does Not Recognize Her Puppies

Lastly, a mother dog may harm her puppies if she does not recognize them as her own. This phenomenon is quite rare, but it is likely to affect dogs who underwent Caesarean sections more.

If the mother fails to recognize the puppies as her own, she will react with hostility towards them. Don’t be surprised if you see the mother attacking her puppies due to this lack of recognition.

An Accident Occurred

If a puppy dies while their mother is nearby, that doesn’t always mean that the mother killed them intentionally. Accidents happen and they can lead to the death of a puppy.

Accidental deaths occur most often because the mother unintentionally smothered or crushed their puppy. The mother may not have noticed the puppy that was still nursing at her belly when she rolled over. By the time she wakes up, the puppy may already be dead.

Do Dogs Kill Other Dog’s Puppies?

Throughout this article so far, we’ve established that canine infanticide is a real thing. We’ve also learned the different reasons why mother dogs may engage in that kind of activity.

Now, it’s fair to wonder just how prevalent that kind of behavior is. If mothers are capable of killing their puppies, is it possible for a dog to kill another dog’s offspring?

Unfortunately, instances of adult dogs killing puppies are not limited to mothers and their offspring. You may also see unrelated dogs kill the offspring of another.

The reasons why an unrelated dog may kill puppies are mostly similar to the motivations that mother dogs harbor.

The dog responsible for killing the puppies may have been sick or in pain when the incident occurred. The puppy may have approached at an inopportune time and the older dog reacted violently. Perhaps the puppy accidentally hit the other dog’s injured leg and that triggered the violent reaction.

Stress, once again, is a potential reason why a dog might kill a fellow canine’s puppy. In a household shared by multiple dogs, one of the adult dogs may be caught off guard by the introduction of the puppies.

After they have become familiar with their home ecosystem, the older dog may not like the fact that the puppies have changed it. They may respond to the change by killing the young pups.

Notably, there is another reason why an unrelated dog may kill the puppies of another.

Stray dogs and even some pet dogs don’t always get enough food. If they come across a defenseless puppy, they may perceive it as food above everything else.

When put in a desperate situation, a dog will resort to eating anything to survive. Puppies are not an exception to that.

Will Male Dogs Kill Their Puppies?

Mother dogs killing their puppies is a real possibility. Is the same thing true for the fathers? Yes, father dogs killing their puppies is not unheard of.

The thing about canine fathers we must understand is that they don’t even know they have become fathers. It is believed that male dogs do not recognize their offspring. Even if they understand that the puppies are members of their household, the father dogs often don’t have any kind of connection to them.

The bond between a mother dog and her puppies can be quite strong, but the flipside is not necessarily true. There’s a good chance that the father dog will be completely indifferent to their puppies.

Indifference is not a bad reaction from the father dog. If this is the reaction your dog has, they do not pose much of a threat to the safety of your puppies. Still, you should keep an eye on the puppies to ensure that they are safe around their father.

Some father dogs may react with more hostility to their puppies. This can happen if the puppies bother them too much. The male dogs may also become aggressive if the puppies are interfering with their meals.

Male dogs who do not like their puppies will make their displeasure known through growling or barking. It won’t take long for things to escalate from there and that could lead to the puppies being killed.

So, how do you keep puppies safe from their fathers? The tips we’ve included below will offer some guidance.

Keep the Father Dogs Away from Their Puppies for a Few Weeks

Err on the side of caution by keeping the father away from their puppies early on. Wait for at least three weeks before you introduce them to one another.

You want to hold off on the introductions until the puppies are strong enough to be around their father. At three weeks old, the puppies cannot be smothered or crushed easily. Even an indifferent father is unlikely to injure them at that point.

Take Socialization Slowly

Don’t rush through the process of introducing the father to their puppies. Taking it slow will increase the chances of the process going smoothly. Limit their exposure to one another at first until you start to see them get used to the presence of each other.

You should also allow the father to initiate the interaction. If the father notices the puppy but does not show aggression, that is a good thing.

Don’t Let Unsupervised Interactions Occur

Even if the father dog has not shown any aggression towards their puppies, you should still avoid letting them stay around one another with no supervision. You cannot predict how the older dog will react at all times. To keep the puppy safe, you need to be there to stop any attack from occurring.