If your German Shepherd just gave birth to some beautiful litters, and somehow she is acting aggressive with them, you might be wondering, can she even kill her puppies too?
Well, let’s find out!
Do German Shepherds Kill Their Puppies?
Yes, GSDs and other breeds like Dobermans, Pitbulls, Rottweilers also kill their puppies. Because of some reasons such as Sickness, Stressful Environment, Stillborn, Mastitis (intense stress & pain of nursing litters in certain situations could cause the mother to kill her puppies). But killing puppies in domesticated dogs is pretty rare than stray dogs.
But there are other things to consider as well.
Hang with us for a moment as we go over what you need to know about German Shepherd that behaves aggressively with their puppies.
Is It Normal For A Mother GSD To Bite Her Puppies?
Absolutely Yes, only if the mother biting them occasionally, as it is a big part of their job involves teaching the puppies about bite inhibition. Because if puppies get too mouthy during nursing, their mother might show them that she doesn’t allow it by simply biting them.
Sometimes GSD’s mother also bit them towards the end of a weaning litter. If the puppies are still trying to nurse or are even going near her belly as play, she could easily bite & snap at them, especially if this is her first litter.
And when we talk about the “first litter,” there is actually more to say, obviously!
If the mother dog was too young when she gave birth to her first litter, she can’t handle the stress of carrying puppies at that age.
As well as in that situation, she will reject their puppies if she gets too stressed.
If she did that, it would be most helpful to bottle feed those puppies until they can consume regular solid food.
Nevertheless, make sure dogs should never be bred at a young age, or you can say “during their first heat cycle,” as they are not well matured.
If the puppies are about 7 to 9 weeks old or got big enough to play and still their mother is trying to bite them, which makes the puppies yelp, it could be a territorial issue.
Because, as a veterinarian’s son, I saw so many German shepherd mothers act territorial where she bites them and even kills them many times.
Because some dogs surely don’t be good mothers, they will avoid their puppies and even snap at the puppies if they get too close to them.
If that is the case you’re seeing, keep the puppies separated from their mother, as she might surely kill them.
Why Do German Shepherds Eat Their Puppies?
The most common reason for GSDs and other breeds to eat their puppies is “Stillborn,” a death or loss of puppies before or during delivery. The mother will eat just one if a pup is dying or dies to keep the area clean and the remaining puppies safe from any infection. And this instinct of eating puppies is common in both domesticated and stray dogs.
Unfortunately, nature at work is often neither cute nor cuddly, and a mother eating her puppies is a prime example. It’s something that frequently occurs in the wild.
Well, there are some other reasons as well that makes the mother dog eat their own puppies, which includes:
Well, Congenital Anomaly is another big reason for the mother dog to eat their puppies.
The mother’s instinct kicks in to rid the litter of the critical defects puppy to give the remaining young the best chance for nursing.
So basically, the mothers will take over and put the puppy out of its misery, saving it from dying a horrible death over a long time of suffering.
It is often seen in a stray dog, while a domestic dog only kills their puppy in this situation and doesn’t eat them unless they are hungry enough.
Weak Or Sick Puppies
The weak or sick puppies are killed because they wouldn’t survive anyway.
Mother dogs know very quickly which one of her pups is too weak to survive; she will eat the weak one or ignore it.
It is a hang-over from times when dogs lived in the wild, where only the fittest survived. That’s how nature works!
Lack of Recognition
The lack of Recognition is often seen in domestic dogs, where the mother dog may not recognize her puppies as her own offspring.
It most likely happens when litters were delivered by cesarean sections (C-section) rather than vaginally.
These dogs may instinctively be compelled to eat their puppies if they fail to recognize them as their own.
These are not all reasons but listed are the most common reasons for this unfortunate behavior.
Is It Okay If The Mother GSD Eats Her Dead Puppy?
Well, it’s totally safe and natural for mother GSD and other dog breeds to eat their dead puppies. And as per the experts, it is actually okay to have the mother eat a dead puppy because it’s a way for a mother to recover some of those nutrients they lost and regain their strength.
Mother has had several puppies grow inside her, each consuming an extensive amount of energy to develop, and she may have given birth, but her body still needs to feed them through milk.
Pregnancy is tough on mammals, especially on those who produce litter!
In the wild, after giving birth to several puppies, mother dogs don’t have enough energy to go hunt or scavenge for food; it is not so uncanny for her to eat his dead pup.
On the other hand, a dead pup would also attract predators that would probably be harmful to the remaining puppies.
Hence in the wild dogs, eating dead pups is also a great way to save the other remaining puppy from predators rather than burying the dead.
However, in domestic dogs, eating the dead puppy is just an instinct, nothing else.
And keep a close eye on the dog to make sure she only eats a dead one, as sometimes mothers want to eat all pups right from birth, which is not okay at all.
How To Stop A Mother GSD From Eating Her Puppies
There are several ways to prevent the mother German Shepherd and other dog breeds from eating their own puppies.
The best way to stop the mother from eating her pups is to change the mother’s diet during whelping, add something that gives her calcium and electrolytes. And goat’s milk is the veterinarian’s recommended source to provide those minerals to a mother dog. Plus, give her vitamin C because it helps reduce the levels of stress hormones.
Stress hormones are also the reason that makes dogs eat their puppies.
So make sure you keep giving her that mineral diet until the pups are 3-weeks, then you can begin to taper off.
And another way to prevent the puppies from mothers is a “Baby Monitor,” just put a baby monitor in the whelping box so you can watch and hear everything that is going on.
This way, you can effortlessly act fast to save the puppies if the mother GSD attempts to eat them.
Contrarily, sometimes because of aggressive behavior and young age, some dogs can’t be good mothers, as mentioned above!
So, in that case, you need to take over as a surrogate mother to raise the puppies.
Or you can separate them as soon as she gives them birth, and then under your supervision, only put them back when it’s time to feed and take pups out quickly when mother growls at them.
Do Father German Shepherds Kill Their Puppies Too?
Generally, the answer is NO, male GSD’s and other dog breeds wouldn’t kill their own puppies, but they can easily harm them accidentally by crushing them or with their sharp nails in order to touch and play with them because male dogs aren’t so gentle with their pups as mothers are.
So it’s always better to keep the male dog away from the puppies until pups are 2-weeks old!
However, when the adult teeth come in, it is normal for the male dog to smack the pups to show who the boss is, which the mother also does.
Sometimes, male dogs do kill their puppies because of the unstable temperament, which is also pretty rare in domesticated dogs than stray ones.
On the other hand, some dog owners think that male dogs can kill off the puppies to breed again, which is totally untrue!
Well, this reproductive strategy is typically called Infanticide,” which is often seen in many species throughout the animal kingdom, including insects, fish, amphibians, birds, and some mammals as well.
Where the male partner kills his youngs for the sole purpose of being able to breed again and not waste time waiting for the young to grow.
But in the canine world, it hasn’t been proved yet, and almost every Animal Behaviorists will tell you the same.