Why Do Dogs Kill Their Puppies? [6 Weird Reasons]

Both mother and father dogs can end up killing their babies influenced by multifarious urges. Sick puppies, puppy fading syndrome, hormonal imbalances, accidental smothering, respiratory issues, temperature imbalance, jealousy, untimely breeding – these are only a few of the reasons behind such killings.

Puppy infanticide is a horrible thing to happen but definitely not uncommon. Especially as an animal lover, there’s hardly anything more shocking than to see the puppies lay dead under the mother. But why do dogs kill their puppies?

In today’s article, let’s go over why dogs may kill their own puppies. We’ll also provide a series of guidelines that will help you to prevent such dreadful outcomes.

husky dog mom with puppies

Related Reading: Why Do Some Dogs Run Away to Die?

Why Do Dogs Kill Their Puppies?

Here’s a brief overview of the most common reasons with possible explanations as to why dogs kill their puppies –

Smothering

After having newborns, the mother dogs will feel very tired and often fall asleep. While doing so, they might accidentally smother the newborn puppies unknowingly. Since the babies are very weak and fragile at this time, a little smothering is all it takes to kill them.

In fact, it’s not unheard of that simply putting the tail over the puppies has resulted in their suffocation. When this happens, it’s not even that subtle of an act. You likely wouldn’t even realize the smothering until it’s too late. 

Excessive Stress

The dams and the whelps – both need total silence while they’re recuperating from the stressful and painful birthing procedure. If the dam were to stay in a very noisy place during this timeframe, it could easily rattle her out.

The stress could drive them somewhat mad and to cope with it, the dam might eat the babies. Stressfulness is the primary reason that results in mother dogs directly eating the babies.

Hormonal Imbalances

After whelping, i.e. birthing, the dams will go through a series of biochemical and hormonal changes. These hormonal imbalances can make them feel irritated and cause them to attack the newborn fragile puppies out of frustration. 

Defective Puppies

If the puppies are inherently sick, the mother dogs often treat them as defective. In nature, such an event is known to attract predators too. To prevent that, the dams will kill the babies. 

Jealousy

This happens mostly with the sires, i.e. the father dogs. If they’re not getting enough attention from the caregivers or the dams, they can harbor jealousy for the kids. 

Untimely Breeding

It’s not ideal to let dams have babies until they’ve properly matured. If they have puppies during the first heat cycle, they’ll feel extremely stressed due to inexperience. They will actively lash out and even hurt/kill the puppies. 

4 Ways To Prevent Death In The Litter

Puppy infanticide is never an ideal outcome. Let’s go over a few ways how you can prevent such obnoxious outcomes in advance:

1. 24/7 Monitoring

If you’re an experienced trainer, then you should know to keep both parties under observation 24/7. Anything can go wrong at any given moment, so you should stay vigilant to prevent any such untoward events. 

2. Secluded Arrangement

It’s very important that both the mother and puppies can stay in peace in a secluded arrangement. Don’t bother them unless you have to or make too much noise around them. 

3. Maintaining Proper Temperature

Since puppies are very prone to cold, you should maintain the optimum temperature. They should also have access to warm blankets, lamps, heating pads, etc. for proper comfort. 

4. Vet Consultation

If the mother dog is behaving weirdly, contact the vet immediately. Follow their instructions to the T if the dam seems incredibly hostile. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do dogs reject their puppies if you get too close or touch them?

It’s mostly a myth that dogs will reject their puppies if anyone else touches them. But yes, sometimes hormonal imbalances can lead them to think of you as a potential threat. They can then abandon the puppies and become very hostile towards the caregiver, i.e. you, as well. 

Q: How to naturally stimulate a mother’s tongue on newborn puppies?

Soft cotton balls or clothing items are the best way to naturally stimulate a mother’s tongue on the newborn puppies. Gently soften the cloth or cotton ball with lukewarm water and wipe the puppy’s bottom with it. Make sure to not rub very harshly as they have extremely soft skin. 

Q: Should I restrain the mother if she’s acting aggressively?

Ideally, absolutely not. It’s important to notice the differences between aggressive behavior and aggressive care. Mother dogs will show signs of aggressive behavior to warn the predators away from the newborn puppies.

In such cases, it’s completely alright. If you try to restrain her, you’ll end up doing more harm than good. Subsequently, if you see her actively harming or killing the puppies, only then you can consider restraining her. But even then, it’s better to lock her away in a different room instead of restraining her. Lack of movement will only make her more hostile and unpleasant.

Q: What temperature is ideal for newborn puppies in the birthing room?

Puppies are incredibly prone to cold for the first few weeks even with a mother’s nursing. The ideal temperature of the room during this period is around 80°-85°F. If the temperature goes below that, use heating pads or heating lamps to provide more warmth to the puppies.  

Q: Does keeping away the father help to prevent accidental death in the litter?

If the father dog has a history of being violent, it’s a good idea to keep them away during birth. You can later introduce the father to the newborn puppies in a controlled environment. 

Continue Reading: Euthanize A Dog At Home? [PAINLESS METHODS]

Final Verdict

So, why do dogs kill their puppies? Turns out, from accidental smothering to jealousy, so many things can lead them to take such an awful step. That’s why, you should always remain vigilant with a new litter, especially if you’re their trainer or caregiver. 

Monitor both the dogs & the litter 24/7 and get the puppies away at the slightest possibility of hostility.

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