What Characteristics Are True To The Mother Dog Father Dog And Their Puppies?

Physical Characteristics of Mother Dogs

Mother dogs, or dams, come in all shapes, sizes, and breeds. However, there are certain physical characteristics that can indicate whether a female dog has had puppies before. Some key things to look for include:

Size – Mother dogs may be slightly larger around the rib cage and belly area due to carrying and nursing puppies. According to this source, their bellies may hang lower as well.

Weight – Female dogs usually gain up to 50% of their pre-pregnancy weight during gestation. This extra weight tends to come off gradually while nursing puppies (Source).

Coat color/length – No changes to coat color occur due to pregnancy or nursing. However, some mother dogs shed more after weaning puppies. Their coats may appear dull while nursing due to nutritional demands.

Overall, mother dogs may appear slightly larger or heavier around the middle, with possible coat changes post-weaning. But their size, weight, and coat can vary greatly across breeds.

Temperament of Mother Dogs

Mother dogs are known for being very nurturing and protective of their puppies. They exhibit strong maternal instincts to care for their young through nursing, grooming, playing, and teaching them (source). When the puppies are first born, the mother is especially protective. She will likely not let anyone she doesn’t fully trust near the puppies during the first couple days (source).

As the puppies grow older over the next several weeks, the mother dog remains doting and attentive. She allows the puppies to nurse and snuggle up to her for warmth and comfort. The mother dog also begins the important process of teaching the puppies manners and boundaries through discipline. She is patient and playful with them as they learn (source). Her protective demeanor remains, though she will let trusted humans approach the puppies more as they mature.

Role of the Mother Dog

The mother dog plays a vital role in her puppies’ lives immediately after birth. She carries the puppies during pregnancy for around 63 days, going through the gestation period. When it’s time for delivery, the mother dog experiences strong contractions to give birth, which can take several hours. Once the puppies are born, the mother dog cleans and stimulates each puppy to breathe by licking them. She also bites and removes the sac and placenta from each puppy after birth.

One of the most critical roles for a mother dog is nursing her puppies. According to the American Kennel Club, mother dogs produce milk for their puppies called colostrum immediately after giving birth, which is rich in antibodies to build the puppies’ immune systems 1. She will continue producing milk to nurse the puppies every 2-3 hours for the first few weeks of life. Nursing helps stimulate the puppies’ digestion and provides necessary nutrients for growth and development. A mother dog’s milk contains the ideal nutrition profile for puppies, with higher fat and protein than milk from other species.

Mother dogs typically nurse their puppies for 6-8 weeks until they are ready for solid food. By allowing puppies to nurse on demand in the first few weeks, the mother dog fosters a strong maternal bond with her litter in addition to supplying vital nourishment. Separating puppies from their mother too early can jeopardize the puppies’ health and wellbeing.

Physical Characteristics of Father Dogs

Male dogs, also known as stud dogs or sires, come in all shapes and sizes. However, there are some typical physical characteristics of father dogs:

Size: Male dogs tend to be larger and taller than females of the same breed. For example, male Labrador Retrievers generally range from 22.5 to 24.5 inches tall, while females are 21.5 to 23.5 inches tall. However, size can vary considerably between individual dogs.

Weight: On average, male dogs weigh 20-30% more than females. A male German Shepherd may weigh 65-90 pounds, while a female weighs 50-70 pounds. Again, weight depends on the individual dog.

Coat color/length: Coat color and length are inherited genetic traits passed down from the parents. Male dogs can have short or long coats, straight or wavy fur, and come in many colors. Examples include solid black, tan, white, bi-color, or tri-color coats. Coat types are specific to the breed.

According to research, coat color is determined by both the mother and father dog’s genes (Wisdom Panel). For example, if the father dog has a recessive gene for a long coat, he may pass this on to his offspring even if it is not expressed physically in him. Both parents influence the puppies’ eventual coat type and color.

Temperament of Father Dogs

The father dog is often less involved with puppies than the mother dog. While the mother is intensely focused on caring for her young, the father dog does not have strong paternal instincts and may show little interest in the puppies (source). The father’s proximity during the early weeks may be a distraction and stressor for the nursing mother. However, some father dogs exhibit protective and nurturing behaviors towards their offspring, even if they are not as attentive as the mother (source).

In most cases, father dogs do not participate in raising, feeding, or caring for the puppies. Their involvement is primarily limited to mating with the mother dog and guarding/protecting the litter. The paternal bond strengthens as the puppies mature and begin interacting more with their surroundings.

Role of the Father Dog

The father dog plays an important role in breeding and protecting the litter. Male dogs are driven by instincts to find and mate with females in heat in order to pass on their genes. According to the American Kennel Club (https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/dog-breeding/dogs-make-good-fathers/), male dogs are focused on reproducing and do not stick around to help raise puppies. However, some male dogs do exhibit protective behaviors over their mate and offspring.

The father dog impregnates the mother dog through mating. Once the female is pregnant, the male’s involvement is usually over. He does not participate in pregnancy or whelping. However, according to Wisdom Panel (https://www.wisdompanel.com/en-us/blog/do-male-dogs-have-paternal-instincts), some father dogs do show interest in their puppies and may even be protective. The protective instincts of male dogs likely evolved to guard their territory and resources for their offspring.

Physical Characteristics of Puppies

Newborn puppies are very small in size, weighing just a few ounces at birth. According to PetMD, the average newborn puppy weighs between 5 to 10 ounces at birth. Their coats are soft and short at this stage.

Over the first week, puppies will double their birth weight. By two weeks old, their baby teeth start to emerge. By three weeks old, their eyes open and their sight starts developing. At four weeks old, puppies can stand, walk, and bark. They will also start to develop longer fur.

Between 5-8 weeks old, puppies continue to grow rapidly. They become more coordinated and confident in their movements. By 8 weeks, puppies weigh around 2.5 to 5 pounds. Their coats develop guard hairs, although the adult coat won’t fully come in until they are around 6-12 months old.

According to The Spruce Pets, puppies grow the fastest in their first four months, gaining around 2-4 pounds per week. Most puppies reach their adult size between 9-12 months old.




Temperament of Puppies

Puppies are extremely playful, curious creatures during the early stages of their lives. From 3-12 weeks of age, puppies go through a prime socialization period where they learn how to interact with their mother, littermates, and human handlers (1). During this time, puppies bond closely with their mother and littermates as they play together and begin exploring their surroundings. Puppies rely heavily on their mother for food, warmth, cleaning, and protection.

As puppies grow older and more mobile during the transitional stage from 2-4 weeks, their playful puppy behaviors start emerging (2). Puppies begin playing games like chasing, wrestling, and gentle biting with their littermates. Through this type of play, they learn social skills and boundaries. The mother dog teaches them appropriate behaviors if their play gets too rough. This is an important developmental stage for puppies.

From 4-12 weeks of age, puppies spend most of their time eating, sleeping, and playing (3). They are extremely social and curious at this stage. Interacting with their mother, littermates, and human caretakers helps puppies learn how to form relationships and bonds. Their playful energy makes this a key period for starting training and socialization.

(1) https://www.seattlehumane.org/resources/developmental-stages-of-puppy-behavior/
(2) https://reginahumanesociety.ca/programs-services/municipal-services/alternatives-to-admission/dog-behaviour-tips/puppy-developmental-stages-and-behaviour/
(3) https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/puppy-growth-timeline-transitions-puppyhood/

Growth and Development of Puppies

Puppies go through several distinct stages of growth and development in their first 8 weeks of life. Nursing and weaning are two of the most crucial parts of a puppy’s early development.

Newborn puppies rely entirely on their mother’s milk for nutrition in the first few weeks. Puppies will nurse every 1-2 hours during the first week [1]. Around 3-4 weeks old, puppies will start the weaning process as they begin eating solid food provided by the breeder. However, nursing remains an important source of nutrition and antibodies from the mother’s milk until puppies are 6-8 weeks old [2].

As puppies grow, they also go through major learning and behavioral stages. At 2-4 weeks old, puppies open their eyes, begin walking, and playing with littermates. This is an important socialization period. From 4-8 weeks, puppies start learning bite inhibition and other dog communication from their mother and siblings. By 8 weeks, puppies have formed bonds with their littermates and are ready to be adopted into their new homes.

Providing proper nutrition, socialization, and care during these formative weeks sets puppies up for a healthy, well-adjusted life.

[1] https://www.thesprucepets.com/puppy-development-part-1-2804676

[2] https://www.care.com/c/puppy-care-stages-newborn-to-48-weeks/

Relationship Between Parents and Puppies

Both the father and mother dog play important roles in raising puppies. The mother dog nurses and cares for the puppies in the first weeks after birth. Mother dogs lick and clean newborn puppies to stimulate breathing and bowel movements. They continue to nurse and care for puppies for 6-8 weeks as the puppies grow. According to the AKC, female dogs have strong maternal instincts and bond closely with their puppies (source).

While the mother dog focuses on the puppies, the father dog plays the role of protector and guard of the home territory. Male dogs use their keen sense of hearing and smell to watch for intruders and threats. They may become more alert and territorial when they have a mate and puppies to care for. The father dog will patrol the perimeter, mark the area with urine, and warn off other animals or humans that get too close. This protects the vulnerable puppies and allows them to develop safely. According to the AKC, the father dog’s protective role is important for the survival of the puppies (source).

As the puppies grow more independent over 2-4 months, the mother dog’s role changes to teaching them manners, boundaries and social skills. The father dog continues to protect and supervise. Both parents discipline and correct puppies when needed. This joint parental care from the mother and father gives puppies the best chance to mature into well-adjusted adult dogs.

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