It's easy to forget that we use jargon when discussing our breeding plans and whelping experiences with other breeders, until a new or less experienced breeder joins the conversation. So here’s a starting list of common Breeding and Whelping terms, to help new breeders. Please add to the list or ask questions be using the comments section below. You can put the new word instead of your name so it shows in bold.

The power of collective knowledge and experience for al Dog Breeders !

Absorption (of Whelps)       Although a B*tch may prematurely abort her puppies, "absorption" is more common. In such cases, the B*tch, in early pregnancy, absorbs her puppies back into her system. Alternatively, in failed deliveries "mummified" puppies or "jelly babies" may be passed at the time of whelping.


Anasarca   Commonly called Walrus/ Water Puppies. Anasarca is potentially fatal is a congenital condition. The deformity is caused by extreme water retention. English and French Bulldogs are the only two breeds where anasarca is known to be a hereditary condition. While anasarca affects many dog breeds, it appears to be more frequent in the brachycephalic breeds including the Pug, and Boston Terrier. Researchers are still unclear whether or not it is always inherited. Sadly puppies that are severely affected by anasarca will not survive, they are generally stillborn or die shortly after birth. 


B*tch   Female dog (canine)    (we've replaced the "i" with "*" throughout the page so it doesn't get labelled by google for inappropriate content)


Brachycephalic Breed   A canine breed that has that a large and broad skull with very short muzzle and airway.  Some of these breeds  have an increased occurrence of Caesarean sections delivery.  while some  believe this is still the case Its prudent to consider the relevant advancement that has been made in all areas and experienced breeders are showing this is not necessary reflective of their own experiences whelping these breeds Edited 19/6/21 see Paul's comments, (bottom of the page) which had us reconsidering our original generalized comment. This is exactly our reason for starting these breeders resources - proving that collective knowledge is so much more relevant and beneficial to us all!


Breech Birth   A birth in which the puppy is born hind legs (rear end) first . (Also see Malpresentation for the upside down breach)


Brood B*tch   Female dog keep for the purpose of breeding


Brucellosis   A highly contagious canine venereal disease which can also be transmitted non-sexually. Both male and female should be checked for this incurable disease before breeding.


Caesarean Section   Surgical delivery of a fetus through the abdominal wall and uterus.

Colostrum   B*tches milk produced in the few days before and after birth. Colostrum is rich in immune factors which protect the puppies from infection.

Congenital    Occurring during foetal developmental which is present or apparent at birth.


Dam   The mother of puppies


Dystocia   The failure of labour to progress. This may be caused by one or more puppies blocking the birth canal. The obstructing puppies may be oversized or mal-positioned. There are a number of other reasons for this to occur which require vet intervention.


Dog   Male dog (canine) But the term is commonly used to refer to both males and females in a general context.


Dysplasia   An abnormality of development, especially of the hip. Dysplasia commonly results in lameness and faulty movement.


Eclampsia   A condition of the B*tch which may occur before or after whelping but often several weeks after the puppies are born. It is caused by a shortage of calcium in the bloodstream. Signs are restlessness and anxiety, stiff-legged gait, and other symptoms pertaining to muscle weakness or rigidity. Sometimes called "milk fever" although the body temperature is usually subnormal. This is an emergency situation that can involve high blood pressure, convulsions, coma and even death.


Fading Puppy Syndrome   A condition in which apparently healthy puppies fail to thrive. These puppies stop nursing, lose weight and can quickly die. Fading puppy syndrome occurs from birth to 9 weeks of age. Researchers have found no conclusive cause, but there are many theories on why this may occur.


Flagging   The dam may "flag" when she enters oestrus and is ready to mate. She will position her rump toward the dog and lift her tail up and to the side.


Feathering   To assist the B*tch in delivery, a helper will feather her. This stimulates stronger contractions to encourage labour. Feathering is done by wearing a latex glove with lubricant (e.g. K-Y jelly) on one finger, gently inserting the finger into her vulva and tickling or "feathering" the top of her vagina.


Forceps   Surgical tool used for grasping and holding. Often used in whelping to clamp an umbilical cord that persists in bleeding and remove retained afterbirth.


Gavage   The feeding through a tube passed into the stomach


Genetic Mode of Inheritance   Inheritance is a way a genetic trait or condition can be passed down from parent to child

Autosomal, Dominant & Recessive

·         "Autosomal" means that the gene in question is located on one of the numbered or not sex-linked chromosomes.

·         "Dominant" means that a single copy of the disease-associated mutation is enough to cause the disease or trait. And males and females will also be equally affected.

·         Recessive” in contrast is where two copies of the mutation are needed to cause the disease or trait.


Gestation Period   The period of time in foetal development from conception until birth 0- 63 days for canine pregnancy, almost 9weeks


Heat Lamp   A lamp, often infrared, used to maintain proper temperature for new-born puppies.


Haemorrhage, Postpartum   Bleeding in the B*tch after whelping. This may be caused by lacerations during delivery, uterine rupture, or surgical problems. The B*tch may pass a heavy, persistent flow of blood from the vulvar area.


Hypocalcaemia    Unusually low level of calcium in the blood (also see Eclampsia)


Inbreeding   The mating of two closely related dogs (e.g. mother/son, father/daughter, sibling/sibling). Compare to linebreeding.


Inherited   A trait or condition resulting from genes present in the sire and/or dam and passed to the offspring


Linebreeding   The mating of two dogs of the same bloodline which are not closely related. Similar to inbreeding but different in degree.


Mal-presentation   A breach birth where the puppy is not only hind legs or bottom first but stomach facing upwards, and, as the dam pushes, the head or feet are being pressed further up against the pelvic wall. (I call an upside down breach)


Mastitis   An inflammation of the mammary glands usually due to infection. Canine mastitis which usually occurs a few weeks after whelping can be very painful for the brood B*tch. Symptoms are red, dark breast, hot or painful when touched.

Mummified Puppy        A whelp whose development stopped during pregnancy. The dead puppy is passed as a brownish lump and may sometimes block the birth canal during delivery (requiring C-section).


Normal Presentation       Head first birth. Compare to breech birth.


Neuter   Castration of the male dog so they are unable to reproduce.  


Oedema (Edema)   An excess of fluid between tissue cells or any organ. 


Outcrossing   The breeding of same-breed mates that are not related. Compare to inbreeding.


Oxytocin   A hormone produced in the B*tch naturally that induces uterine contractions. As a drug it may be administered to the B*tch as a treatment to help with whelping. Its use may be ineffective or harmful in some complicated cases.


Placenta   The sac that envelopes the foetus and attaches it to the uterus during pregnancy.


Polygenetic   Conditions or Traits require inclusion of more than one interacting gene. Some polygenetic conditions are also influenced by environmental conditions e,g hd


Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)   A hereditary blinding disorder which affects nearly every breed. PRA is difficult to control through breeding because clinical signs of PRA don't usually emerge until later in life.  DNA testing is available in most breeds to identify carriers and affected dogs.


Sire   The father of the litter.


Sour / Toxic Milk   A condition in which puppies do not take to the B*tch's milk.


Spay   Surgical removal of the ovaries of the female so they are unable to reproduce.


Stud Dog   A male dog used for breeding.


Teratogens   Agents or factors that cause physical defects in the embryo or foetus.


Tie   The phenomenon in dog breeding when the male's pen*s swells inside the B*tch's vagina. This "lock" may last from a few minutes to 30 minutes.


Tube Feeding   The process of gavage - feeding puppies through a tube. The tube is inserted into the stomach through the mouth and formula is inserted into the tube with a syringe


Uterine Inertia   A condition in which contractions become less frequent and or stop completely, but there are more puppies to be delivered.


Vulva   External parts of the female genitalia.