After your litter of puppies is born, be prepared for a lot of work and very little sleep! Before you ever think of breeding a large dog, make sure you know this is not the same as breeding most dogs. With giant breeds, THINK before you breed. They are just as much work, if not more, than a newborn human baby.
You CANNOT leave a dog of that size alone with the puppies, especially that size litter. There would never be an empty spot on the floor for her to find a safe empty spot to lie down, and she would kill (squish) some of the puppies trying. This does happen VERY often with very large-breed litters that are left unsupervised. I was warned by several breeders that when they had popped out of the room to pee, or answer the phone, they came back to a dead puppy.
Puppies at this age need to be fed every two hours. In most cases with very large litters (in this case 12 puppies), you need to supplement their diets to ensure they are all getting enough nutrients to thrive. So, by the time I get them all fed on boobs, then supplemented, over an hour has gone by, and I have less than an hour before I have to start all over.
AFTER all puppies nurse from the dam, for the first few days especially, and then again as they get a couple weeks old, and there is not enough milk to go around, you have to top off a large litter with a bottle.
Use a baby bottle, newborn size, with NOT too big of a hole in the nipple, as you do not want to aspirate the puppies. If milk comes out of the nose, you are feeding too fast and they will get pneumonia.
Let the pups feed, feed, feed, nurse, nurse, nurse, as you want the milk to come in, THEN, you can use the bottle, and not before. You want the dam’s body to know she has 12 puppies, not to think she has less.
Weigh the pups, and top them back up to their birth weight for the first couple days.
AGAIN, I stress and remind, do NOT bottle feed and then nurse, do NOT bottle feed half the litter and let the other half nurse, as then the dam’s body will think her litter is half the size it really is, and will not make enough milk.
For example, in a litter of 12, if you let six nurse and bottle feed six, then the dam’s body is going to think she only has six puppies. It is considered “old school” to supplement half a litter. The entire litter must nurse, then you top off their little bellies with a bottle. Do NOT over supplement, as too much of a good thing is not good. You must only supplement to a minimal amount—to keep the pups from dropping below their birth weights, and by weighing the pups daily, to pick up pups that havent gained as much.
Start giving calcium. For my 170 lb. Mastiff, I am giving 3three calcium tablets. This calms her and also helps with the milk supply.
Notice there is no milk coming from this puppy’s nose. This is very important; you do not want to aspirate the puppies. If you see milk coming from the pup’s nose, the hole in the nipple of the bottle is too big. Replace it with a nipple with a smaller opening. Aspirating, or getting milk in the lungs, will cause pneumonia.
Hold the pup’s head high so milk goes directly down the throat and doesnt pool in the mouth.
It is important to make sure your new puppies are going potty (pee and poo). The dam normally licks them to stimulate them to go. This keeps the box/den nice and clean. This can cause diarrhea in the dam after the second day. Treating with Pepto Bismol is best.
If your dam doesnt potty the pups, or if you have an orphan litter, you must potty them yourself. I like a soft rubber glove, as your finger, or paper towel, is too abrasive. You must gently massage the penis or vagina, and the pee will come. Then, massage the anus, and the poop will come.
Look at the box. YUCK. I cleaned all of the pee and poop and pottied all of the puppies at 2 a.m., and put them in the warm box and then at 5 a.m. (tried to catch an hour longer nap…NOT a good idea), WHAT a mess! Poop all over them all! All the puppies had to be cleaned one by one. Not only do you have to clean them as they soil each other, but you have to stimulate them to pee and poo. EACH puppy needs to be manually pottied and poop drained, if the dam doesnt do it. They cannot go potty on their own. Also the puppy box was too small, as they climb over each other too much and lose their bowels and bladder. Now I have two boxes and it is MUCH, MUCH better.
Many breeds are not as maternal as others, and would not even think of cleaning/pottying, licking a puppy, while some dams do clean their pups on their own. When a dam does not clean her puppies, you have to clean them yourself every few hours.
Sassy the English Mastiff, and apparently many Mastiffs, would not think of licking a puppy. This means you have to clean the puppies yourself. Its a messy job, but someone has got to do it! There are many breeds that do not make good moms. Mastiffs are 50/50. Some breeds you just know they are not going to do it.
They soiled all their collars between night feedings and had to be changed. I found this was the worst in the first couple days, as they can poo from climbing over each other. I havent had to change the collars again since I gave them a bigger box.
Someone ALWAYS has to be with dam and pups for feedings, as with this giant breed, rolling over or standing up can break puppies’ backs and necks very quickly.
We have adjusted to the puppy mess and dam not cleaning and worked out a system to keep them clean. I must pee and poop them after EVERY feeding, not every second one. The dam usually cleans after every feeding, so I must too. I put in two bins, so they are not climbing over each other as much, causing them to lose their stool and pee…much, much better. I also must clean them and their area every two hours, not three. If I wait three hours, the mess will be back.
Sassy the English Mastiff with her three-day-old puppies. She will still not lick the puppies. I tried even really good dog food on a pup, she only took one lick. Pups are all are gaining weight; see the ROLLS on the necks. Sassys milk is in, so it is cutting feeding time down by half; pups are gulping her milk down now. Pups can drink more from Sassy and less from the bottle.
This litter of puppies will be extremely socialized with humans, because they have been mainly hand-reared, using the dam’s milk. The hands-on attention that these puppies are getting will make them exceptional pets. While this litter has been an extreme amount of work, they will be well worth the effort put into them.
When will my English Mastiff stop growing?
This giant breed grows at a fast pace; many of them double in size within three months! However, they will reach full maturity slowly– somewhere around two years old. Despite this, they will continue growing even after they are four years old!
Your dog’s growth rate will stabilize at the two-year mark, so they will not be growing up anywhere near as quickly as they did in puppyhood. However, you can still expect them to gain pounds and inches, albeit not as noticeably as before. Growth stops around 5 years of age, at which point they will be perfectly massive.
How long do English Mastiffs live?
The life expectancy of an English Mastiff ranges between six and 12 years. Unfortunately, like all purebred dogs, Mastiffs are at increased risk for a number of genetic health issues, such as:
According to the Mastiff Club of America4, cancer is the leading cause of death in English Mastiffs. The most common types include lymphoma, osteosarcoma, and mast cell tumors.
While you can’t alter your dog’s susceptibility to certain conditions like cancer, you can provide them with top-notch veterinary care, which can prevent certain diseases and help to change the outcome of diagnosed health problems.
How fast can my Mastiff grow?
English Mastiffs grow at an astonishing rate. However, there’s no real way to peg this rate for your dog, as they are susceptible to random growth spurts and plateaus.
Like when we discussed genetics, you can look at your dog’s parents and relatives to have a rough indication of how large they might grow. However, your results will likely vary. Some dogs may start out small but suddenly shoot up in weight and height later in life. Some other dogs will start larger than their littermates but then slow in growth after hitting a plateau.
There can be a lot of size discrepancy among giant size breeds, English Mastiffs included.