Whelping French bulldog Puppies isn’t for the faint of heart!
Before you start breeding really look into what it takes to whelp a French bulldog litter. We’re going to give you a pretty good idea!
If your wondering why the a french bulldog price is so high, this will also give you a good idea of the time and effort that goes into raising frenchies.
It all starts with prep actually.
Table of Contents
You need to have some important things on hand.
These are the things I find the most important:
- Incubator – LPF Made To Order
- Whelping box (ezwhelp) or pool, with pig rails so mom doesn’t crush babies
- Controlled temperature heating pad, K and H hard shell.
- Small or Medium is just fine
- Heat Lamp – Premier 1 – Prima Lamp, plugged into a controllable thermostat (reptile thermostats work great!)
- TOWELS, A LOT OF TOWELS or blankets
- My Pet Peed
- Colostrum for pups
- Calcium for mom (only as needed) – Doc Roys Healthy Bones
- Oxy Momma meat treats – for lactation and recovery
- Fenugreek pills – for lactation support
- Puppy potty pads
- Baby wipes – A LOT of baby wipes
- Vinyl flooring to lay down under whelping area
- Water and food bowl
- Aquaphor, diaper rash cream, or Neosporin
- Inside thermometer to monitor room temp
- Thermometer to take rectal temp and lube
- Mini fridge
- Baby scale that reads in grams, pounds, and ounces
- White board
- Turf cut to desired size (we have 8 pieces cut from 12ft by 2 ft)
- Air purifier
- Charcoal bags
- Bottles and Nipples – Dr. Brown Bottles, Nipples from Karen Cusick on Facebook or Premie nipples
- Bottle Warmer
- Puppy food – for momma
- Goats milk for momma – they cant resist
You can download our whole list here
Getting ready takes a lot of time and nesting.
We set the whelping room up after every litter so we’re ready for the next.
Each litter gets their own room away from everyone else in the house. It limits exposure to disease and keeps mom calm and relaxed.
First we lay down vinyl flooring. Especially since we have carpet. Things get messy. Vinyl is easy to hose off and disinfect. Then we set everything else up.
The metal pen is used to contain the whelping area to the space we want, keeping poop and pee off the carpet – usually implemented once pups are ready to start exploring.
The Whelping Box area
The Ezwhelp 38×38 whelping box system, complete with their heat prima lamp is set up inside the pen.
We place a heating pad under the whelping pad/blankets in the corner opposite the lamp.
This heating pad has a hard shell, and specifically made for dogs. It never passes a temperature of 101. We like this pad because its easy to clean and near impossible to destroy. We’ve had our 2 original pads for 4 years now.
Puppy potty training pads may become your best friend and can cut out a lot of laundry time. Depending on the litter we will put pads ALL over the whelping box on top of the blankets.
Acoustic Egg carton panels are great and important to put under blankets to keep the surface bumpy. This keeps pups from laying on flat surfaces, helps with building muscle strength, and preventing flat chest and swimmers syndrome.
Just make sure they don’t have adhesive on them already. (the link above is the exact product we use)
Often, pups will be fussy in the whelping box itself. When we first come home we use our LPF Incubator or a plastic tote to keep them in halfway under the lamp with the thermostat cord hanging inside (basically, an incubator).
When they’re in the big whelping box they tend to lose each other because theres too much space. Around 2 weeks of age they start to fuss, needing more space and we let them roam free in the big box.
Inside the pen I set turf, cut to 28×18 inches, over top of puppy pads.
Mom likes to use it during whelping since they often don’t like to leave pups for up to 3 days.
This is helpful anyway so the puppies can smell where to go. Even though youre cleaning the turf, pheromones are still there that we may not smell.
Using a turf mat also prevents disease mom may pick up in the yard.
Mom has access to food and filtered water at all times in between feedings located outside of the pen.
Make sure to have a thermostat in the room so you can monitor temps.
Mom’s crate is set up next to the pen with vinyl, whelping pads, or tarp underneath it as well.
Moms tend to have explosive diarrhea a few days after puppies are born. The tarp makes for easy clean up of the space.
In our rooms we have a microwave, mini fridge, air purifier, and white board to keep track of last feeding times/next feedings and medication times.
Of course, I have my closet full of extras.
Maybe you’re just starting out.
You might not want to get the best of the best like the ezwhelp whelping box. That’s ok, use whatever is functional until you know this is what you want to do. I used a kiddie pool for my first two litters. It looked really stupid, but it worked!
Ok so now your room is set up! What’s next?!
Your girl has been bred. You now have 63 days from ovulation to mentally prepare and get all the sleep you can. You won’t even have 63 days because the last week you’ll be monitoring mom heavily.
The first few weeks you won’t notice a difference.
Around 28 days
Mom’s behavior might change. She may become picky with eating, grumpy, extra needy, morning sickness or just sick. That’s ok. When our girls don’t like to eat, we cook them Chicken breast, salmon sides skinless, and ground beef. We rotate a different protein every day, so she doesn’t get bored.
Between 28 and 35 days
You can, if you like, have an ultrasound done on mom to confirm the litter. The vet may give you a guestimation. Take this lightly. Ultrasounds are fun and exciting but more often than not, counts are wrong.
This past litter we were told 3, possibly 5. Elsa had 6 puppies!
Vets can also see absorptions as well. These are no problem for mom and pups as they’re usually gone by the time the pups are even born, leaving no evidence they even existed. If there is something, usually its a sac of green goo and a tiny “mummified” body.
Around 55 – 58 days an Xray can be performed.
We don’t even bother to do x-rays. They’re an added unnecessary cost for our breed when the dog is having a c-section 1 week later.
The week she’s due – Day 57-63:
If you have done progesterone testing for the breeding, your c section is probably scheduled with your vet (but always pay attention to behavior as your female can still go early)
You’ll start taking her temperature 3x daily at this point. Some girls go early, some go late. Keep in mind due date is a calculated but educated guess that is extremely accurate.
Check for colostrum production. If you have any concerns about lack of colostrum, consult with your vet to see if there’s anything you can do to help with production.
Get your car ready, throw some towels and puppy pads where mom will ride. Get your LPF Incubator or a bin ready for your pups with a blanket or towel in it. You can use a heating pad that connects to your car if you like, or the vet will give you some hot water bottles for travel.
You’ll probably notice some snotty clear discharge, this is normal. If it hasn’t been present throughout the entire pregnancy, most likely her mucous plug is starting to come out.
Colostrum | What is it?
Be Sure to check in the days leading up to labor and the day they’re born for colostrum and milk.
Milk drop takes a few days to come in. So initially pups will only be eating colostrum.
The first few days of milk is called colostrum. It’s FULL of vital nutrients, white blood cells, and antibodies that boost immunity, gut function, and digestive health. This protects newborns from diseases and infection. This first milk is usually golden yellow in color but can range from clearish and light/pale yellow, also known as liquid gold.
Colostrum also has a laxative effect that helps your puppy clear meconium (puppy’s first poop)
Meconium is thick, sticky like tar, dark, and it stretches like that weird stretchy glue found on labels back in the day(like the glue on the creamer bottle below). This substance is made of fats, proteins, mucus, bile and cells the puppy ingested inside his mother.
Normal Poop like the one to the right should be light brown or dark yellow and formed.
Puppy time | Signs to look for when nearing whelping
She’ll start showing labor signs like nesting, possibly vomiting or diarrhea about 24-48 hours before. Once her temp drops below 98 degrees, have her go to the bathroom, retake temp in 30 min to 1 hour. If it stays low, most likely it’s go time!
When it’s go-time you may notice restlessness and heavy panting.
When you take her to the vet they’ll do what’s called a reverse progesterone test.
The reverse progesterone test is the same test as the normal test only if the numbers are dropping that means she’s getting close.
If the progesterone number is 2 or lower, she’s ready.
If she’s ready they’ll keep her to deliver pups.
This usually takes about an hour sometimes 2 depending on how many clients are ahead of you but the process itself is usually pretty fast.
For Portias litter on 9/10/23 we arrived at 630 but there was a whole party of clients so we didn’t leave until around 8 or 830pm. The C-section itself plus waking mom and puppy exam took maybe 45 minutes start to finish.
Things your vet should send you home with:
The vet SHOULD give you:
2 doses of oxytocin (the love drug shot) – aids in uterine contractions to push out any residual gunk, colostrum and milk productions, and bonding
Dyne – Dyne is a high calorie goo. It stimulates appetite and helps pups to gain weight. This can be given every 2 hours at .2lm per pup.
Betadine – Betadine is an antiseptic that protects the umbilical cords from infection, which can cause serious problems if it happens. Instructions were every 8 hours for 3 days. Easy enough!
Domperidone as needed for milk production
During your drive keep pups warm and covered. Make sure mom is in a stable spot. Elsa likes to ride in the very back of my suv, its flat and she feels safe.
When you get home:
Carry mom inside or up any stairs. Support her belly with both arms to avoid ripping stitches. I usually carry mom with each arm behind the front and back legs like a fork lift.
Bring in newborn puppies.
Get mom settled in her pen and administer the 1st oxytocin shot. 2 hours later the 2nd oxytocin shot will be administered.
Mom will be woozy and funny; she may need to be held down to feed her puppies. This is ok.
You don’t want her to be too stressed. Work with one at a time in the beginning. Take it nice and slow. Be prepared to spend an hour or so just getting her acquainted.
If needed (if mom doesn’t have any), one at a time feed some colostrum, put it on your finger, it comes out fast.
Never leave mom alone with the pups. It will take her 24-72 hours for her to become comfortable. Separation is important any time you’re not with her, even to go to the bathroom or take a shower.
Be cautious about allowing mom to clean the puppies, especially within those first 72 hours. If she’s receptive – put the puppy’s behind in her face. Let her sniff and lick.
Mom may need to be given calcium but not always.
Oxy momma is a great postnatal with all vital nutrients for recovering and nursing moms.
Fenugreek can be given as lactation support. We do 3 pills a day until her breath smells like maple syrup and milk comes in. This could take a few days.
If mom’s milk does not come in with normal support, domperidone may be given.
You can only get domperidone from your vet. It takes at least 24 hours for the dom to kick in. If you notice a few days before her due date that the colostrum has not yet started to drop- consult with your veterinarian for options.
Feed mom anything she’ll eat.
Elsa’s first litter I had to cook for her, which also included her usual, every-once-in-a-while, favorite treat – McDonald’s fries and chicken nuggets. This time she ate puppy food by choice. She LOVES goats’ milk and cottage cheese, which we like to add to her food anyway. Cottage cheese also boosts milk production. You can even make her Leerburg formula (recipe below)
So now you’re home and settled.
Don’t stress! Enjoy it! You will need to feed the puppies every 2 hours for the first week or 2. Set alarms. Multiple alarms per feeding during the night so you don’t miss anything.
Weigh your pups when you get home and 1-2x daily thereafter. You will probably notice a drop in weight during the first couple of days before moms milk comes in while they’re eating colostrum. This is normal.
Keep everything clean! Change bedding and potty pads often throughout the day.
Keep things disinfected. Never use chemicals around puppies and dogs. You may move them to a different room as needed to clean.
Read the directions, contact time is important to kill bacteria and viruses. Make sure there’s good ventilation while cleaning and allow the fumes to dissipate before bringing pups back in.
During each feeding
Make sure to rotate nipples, put strong suckers on the overfilled ones and put smaller puppies on the nipples first and give them a little extra time. Be sure to burp the pups as they come off the nipple.
Pups will need to be cleaned and stimulated. Stimulate using a baby wipe. Between the butt hole and “the area”. This will allow pups to do their business. Mom is usually good at cleaning but may need help.
Elsa will NOT clean poop, so I definitely had to help her with that. Keep butts especially clean. French Bulldogs tend to glue themselves shut with their tails. If this happens use a squirt bottle or warm water and a baby wipe to loosen and clean.
If puppy butts become raw, use aquaphor or Neosporin to soothe tender bums.
If mom goes outside to potty, make sure to wipe her paws off.
Never use nipple towers on new born pups! There’s too much of a risk for aspiration. Wait until AT LEAST 7 days. We currently do not have a nipple tower.
Should you need to bottle feed or tube feed use goats’ milk products or Leerburg formula (recipe below)
Bottle feeding can be tricky. Don’t hold the bottle up in the air. Hold it so its at a slight angle but doesn’t gush out too fast. Never enlarge holes unless needed.
A nipple on a bottle should never be dripping milk, even if it is slow. If you want to bottle feed with Leerburg because it is so thick, widen a hole but keep that nipple separated from the rest of your bottle feeding things. Label the bag you put it in – FOR LEERBURG ONLY.
You’ll need to watch for:
Swollen eyes, poop consistency, color, and smell, aspiration (breathing in milk), shooting milk out of their noses- which can lead to aspiration, any abnormal breathing, inability to latch (may need bottle, syringe, or tube fed).
Noisy pups are unhappy pups. Between feedings they should be quiet. They’ll squeak if it’s too hot, if it’s too cold, if they get lost wondering around, if they’re hungry, if they haven’t been stimulated to urinate or dedicate, or if something is VERY WRONG.
If you have a pup that shoots milk out his nose, sucker it out and listen to his breathing to make sure you got it all so nothing gets in the lungs.
Pat the pup on the back to make sure its out.
It’s common for pups to do this. Mom’s flow can be too heavy, or they get a little excited to eat. Never remove pup while its latched. Milk may be coming out of the nose, but if you disturb the latch, the pup will breath in the milk. You can sucker or wipe while pup is latched or wait until the pup is done feeding.
We have used a nebulizer on a pup before with albuterol.
At 2 weeks
You can start to do feedings every 2.5-3 hours or so. At 2 weeks you’ll start deworming every 2 weeks until they go home. Nail cutting is easy at this point. Use human nail clippers to snip the talons. Eyes will start to open. However, uncommon, I had a litter start to open eyes at 3 days old.
By 3 -3.5 weeks
Teeth will start coming in. At 3.5 weeks we introduce mush. Mom will still nurse, but get them used to the taste. Our first batch we soak the puppy kibble in goats’ milk until its soft and then blend it in the blender until its mousse like. We use boiled or purified water to adjust consistency. For feeding we use muffin tins. The muffin tin keeps them cleaner and separated. Once they’re used to licking mush you can start them on a water bowl.
What’s cool about mush is that it contains enough water to keep them hydrated while they make the switch and learn. We don’t care to use the gravity water bowl at this time because they step in stuff and the water needs changed frequently. We still give them filtered water. By 4-4.5 weeks they should be weaned or mostly weaned.
At 5 weeks
You can start soaked food! Yay! Make sure it’s extremely soft. They need to learn how to chew.
At 6 weeks you can start to reduce liquid in the soaked food, drier and drier until around 7 weeks. Around 7 weeks we start to play around with hard food. You may need to put the kibble in a blender at first, so they don’t get too excited and choke. We like to do this and just put a huge bowl of it out to eat as they want. Once they get used to it, we switch to unblended kibble and let them eat as they want.
Set up your vet appointment as soon as they’re born for their check up before they go home. This checkup is usually between 6-7 weeks of age, one week before they go home.
They’ll receive their first 5 way shot at this time. You can do it, or the vet can do it for you.
Make sure to bring fecals to test for worms and other things. Fecal testing throughout whelping can be useful. We use pill bottles bought of Amazon for fecal samples. keeps it from getting squished and stinky in a bag. Which we also put the bottles in a bag and label each bottle.
French bulldog training starts early and slowly. We start with crate training and basic things like name recognition. This includes placing a crate in the whelping area with a nice fluffy bed. The door is left open so the pups can move freely in and out to get used to the space.
You will notice your french bulldog puppy is like a sponge and will love to learn new things.
Some complications we’ve experienced:
Our very first litter of 4, we tried for 5 weeks to save one puppy.
On day 5 he had to have his eye opened due to an infection. Always keep terramycin on hand.
Then on day 12 we had to take him to the er. I thought he had aspirated, his stomach was hard and huge, I couldn’t make him poop no matter how hard I tried.
We tried enemas, soaking his butt in warm water, cotton ball stimulation, karo syrup, baby gas drops.
He also kept vomiting. His skin was pink and translucent, thin. It looked more delicate than a tissue.
The er told us he had an ileus.
Ileus is an obstruction of the intestine and causes poor to no gut motility. Sometimes they can be born with a thickening or older pups can ingest something they’re not supposed to.
They wanted us to euthanize him, but we treated him with antibiotics and took him home to make him comfortable and continue to try. They told us he wouldn’t last the night.
We used nebulizer treatments on him.
After 5 days we took him back to our reproductive specialist vet. He asked me what seemed like a million questions, told me he didn’t see any ileus on the imaging.
They plumped him back up because he was severely dehydrated, told me to switch to goats’ milk or leerburg formula (recipe at the bottom), and he expected the pup to make a full recovery but asked me to bring him back in 2 weeks just to make sure because he was still too small and young to really tell if there was anything seriously wrong.
At 5 weeks old, while the other pups were on mush and soaked food, he could barely walk, was gasping for air, ears were set extremely low and far back, eyes bulging.
He was ALWAYS screaming, spitting up (he wasn’t digesting food properly), and exhausted.
I could barely get him to poop once every few days. I had to bottle feed him every 30 minutes it seemed because he still couldn’t latch and suckered his nose constantly.
When we took him for his follow up, the doctor diagnosed him with hydrocephalus, an underdeveloped respiratory system, and was in severe pain to say the least, among other things that were surly and unknowingly wrong.
That was the last time we saw that little pup. It was devastating to say the least.
At one point this same litter had gotten a little too chilly and started vomiting but resolved quickly.
Another puppy developed a urinary tract infection.
- frequent urination
This puppy needed 3 days of sub q liquids 20ml every 8 hours and antibiotics.
Urinary tract infections are common in puppies.
After that litter from Poppy, I wasn’t sure that I would ever breed again. Thanks to Dr. Dove, and his son who works with him at his clinic, they supported me and told me not to give up.
They told me to be thankful that my first litter was a doozy, to take what I’ve experienced, use the problems as tools and knowledge for the next time around, and to do it again. If I didn’t like it the second time, then ok. Im proud to say I made it! haha.
Elsa’s first litter, which was 2 litters ago, was a breeze and for the most part, so was this past one!
Keep an eye on mom to make sure she isn’t too crazy about cleaning.
Elsa snagged 2 umbilical cords on her first litter. One needed stitches, the other just some Neosporin.
Coccidia is a single celled protozoa, living in the lining of the intestines.
Most of the time adults are carriers and unaffected, showing no signs, and you’d never know if someone has it. Their immune system is strong enough to take care of it.
In young puppies, their bodies aren’t equipped just yet to keep the parasite under control. The outbreaks usually occur during weaning or major changes such as going home to their new family when the puppy is stressed and immune system a little compromised.
Dogs and puppies contract coccidia by eating another dogs infected feces, which can come in with your shoes, even microscopic amounts, licking paws, eating a piece of grass, the list goes on.
The protozoa then spreads everywhere and can live on surfaces for up to 2 years and it never leaves the dirt. If you treat your yard, as soon as the dogs kick up dirt or mud, Coccidia will be exposed.
Our only symptoms were some nasty mucousy and extremely awfully smelly poop – if you get it you’ll never forget the smell and had a hard time gaining weight.
However other, more serious symptoms can occur.
It can be a pain to get rid of.
We tested and treated all dogs in the house even though not everyone tested positive.
Only one of the 5 older dogs tested positive.
Oddly enough not every pup In the litter tested positive either! Luckily for us the treatment was only a 3 day treatment and it wiped it out completely!
If your house and breeding stock become affected, treat all dogs.
Clean with ammonia, pick up poop asap, change and sanitize water and food bowls frequently – puppies step in everything reinfection can happen when a pup steps in the water bowl and then drinks from it.
Wipe paws when dogs come inside, change your clothes after you work with puppies, change bedding multiple times a day, bathe dogs and puppies every 3 days, AMMONIA EVERYTHING – including your soul.
Haha just kidding but if you want to get rid of it, ammonia is the only thing that will kill coccidia. It happens to the best of us, the only thing you can do is clean, clean, clean, and be proactive.
We now preventative treat for coccidia with toltrazuril.
Leerburg Formula Bottle Feeding Recipe
I have in fact used this recipe before. As stated above we lost as puppy at 5 weeks of age. This is the formula that kept him alive.
I know other breeders that swear by it too!
Be sure to burp your pup after feeding.
- 10 oz. of canned evaporated milk OR whole raw goat’s milk (not pasteurized cow’s milk – this will cause scowers – dogs cannot drink normal cow’s milk. Dogs cannot drink 1%, 2%, Skim, or Whole milk.) Whole raw goat’s milk is by far the best to use. Walmart sells both evaporated milk, whole goat’s milk and evaporated goats milk. Make sure you are using EITHER evaporated milk OR whole goat’s milk. Do NOT use sweetened condensed milk!
- 3 oz. sterilized water (baby water OR boiled water that is then cooled). This is NOT needed if using whole goat’s milk.
- 1 raw egg YOLK. YOLK ONLY puppies cannot digest whites
- 1 cup of plain yogurt (avoid skim or fat free if at all possible).
- 1/2 tsp Karo Syrup or Corn Syrup (NOT HONEY!)
**If you cannot find Karo or Corn syrup where you live, you can do a Google search for “substitute for Karo syrup” and get some options. When I Googled “substitute for Karo syrup,” here is what I came up with – 1 c Karo can be subbed with 1 c white sugar and 1/4 c hot water (Cook it to dissolve in the water best you can get it to. Depending on the recipe, if you need the sugar to be completely dissolved you might need to add a bit more water).
Place ingredients in a blender and blend or use a wire whisk. Be careful to not over blend and create a milk shake full of bubbles and then tube bubbles into the puppy.
Keep cool and discard leftovers after 7 days.
Warm formula to body temperature (dogs are around 101 degrees). Discard any unused formula. This is a thick mixture – use a stomach tube to tube feed or enlarge the hole in the nipple for easy access for the pup.
Raising french bulldogs for sale and frenchie puppies for sale is no easy feat. Best wishes and happy breeding everyone!
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