Embarking on the journey of breeding and whelping American Cocker Spaniels can be both exciting and overwhelming. While bringing new life into the world is a joyous occasion, it also comes with potential complications that require careful management. As a responsible breeder, it is important to be prepared for any scenario that may arise during the breeding, pregnancy, and whelping process, including the management of potential complications. In this article, we’ll guide you through the steps of preparing for breeding, monitoring health, assisting with the birth, and caring for both mother and puppies postpartum. We’ll also cover the management of potential complications, as well as tips for caring for newborn puppies and ensuring healthy development through weaning and socialization. Let’s dive in and explore the world of managing potential complications during breeding and whelping of American Cocker Spaniels.

Preparing for Breeding

Preparing For Breeding
As a responsible American Cocker Spaniel breeder, it is important to prepare properly before beginning the breeding process. Proper preparation can help minimize the risk of complications during pregnancy and whelping. The following are some crucial steps to take before breeding your American Cocker Spaniel: health checks and genetic testing to ensure your dog is healthy and fit for reproduction, and selecting an appropriate stud for mating. Taking these initial steps can prevent potential complications and ensure the health of your breeding pair and their puppies. For more information on these topics, please see our articles on health checks and genetic testing, breeding pair selection, and Cocker Spaniel breeding cycles. Don’t forget that proper nutrition and exercise are also vital to a healthy pregnancy, which we will cover in the following sections.

Health Checks

Before breeding your American Cocker Spaniel, it’s important to schedule a thorough health check with a trusted veterinarian. Here are some areas that a vet should examine before breeding:

  • The dog’s overall health and weight
  • The eyes, ears, and teeth
  • The reproductive system
  • Heartworm and other parasite testing
  • Vaccination status and any necessary booster shots

During this visit, the vet may recommend additional tests or procedures to ensure that your dog is healthy enough to breed. This may include blood tests to check for certain diseases or conditions, or X-rays to check for any underlying health issues that may affect pregnancy and delivery.

Additionally, it’s important to make sure that your dog is up-to-date on all required vaccinations and that they have been treated for heartworm and other parasites. If any health issues are identified during the health check, it’s best to address them before breeding.

In addition to the initial health check, it’s recommended that breeders continue to monitor their dog’s health throughout the breeding process, including during pregnancy and after whelping. Regular check-ups and monitoring can help detect any issues early on, allowing for prompt treatment and management.

For more information on preparing for whelping, including creating a whelping area for your American Cocker Spaniel puppies, check out our article on cockers puppies whelping area. And don’t forget to pay attention to your dog’s nutrition needs during pregnancy and after whelping; our article on cockerspaniel nutrition can help guide you in providing the best possible diet for your furry friend.

Genetic Testing

One of the most important steps in preparing for breeding a American Cocker Spaniel is genetic testing. This testing is critical to ensure the health and viability of both the parent dogs and their potential offspring. Here are some types of genetic testing to consider:

  • Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) Certification: The OFA provides certification for a variety of conditions, such as hip and elbow dysplasia. It is important to receive certification in order to ensure that the parent dogs do not pass on these conditions to their offspring.
  • DNA Testing: DNA testing can help identify genetic disorders that may be present in the parent dogs. There are a variety of tests available depending on what the breeder is looking for. For example, tests can identify if a dog is a carrier for conditions such as progressive retinal atrophy or von Willebrand’s disease, allowing breeders to avoid breeding two carriers together and risking producing affected puppies.
  • Complete Blood Count (CBC): This test measures the different components of blood such as red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. This can help identify if the parent dogs have any underlying conditions that may affect their ability to reproduce or the health of their offspring.
  • Thyroid Testing: Thyroid disorders can affect fertility in both male and female dogs. Testing for thyroid function prior to breeding can ensure that the parent dogs do not have any underlying conditions that may affect their ability to reproduce.

Genetic testing can provide valuable information to breeders and potential puppy owners alike. By understanding the genetic health of the parent dogs, breeders can take steps to ensure the health of their offspring as well. It is important to work with a veterinarian who is familiar with genetic testing and can help guide breeders through the process.

Stud Selection

When it comes to breeding your American Cocker Spaniel, selecting the right stud is one of the most important decisions you will make. You want to ensure that the stud is healthy and genetically sound, as well as compatible with your female. Here are some factors to consider when selecting a stud:

Health: The stud should have a clean bill of health from a veterinarian, including up-to-date vaccinations and screenings for common conditions such as hip dysplasia and eye problems. It is important to ask for the stud’s health records and to confirm that he has been tested and cleared of any hereditary diseases that can be passed on to the puppies.

Genetics: Your American Cocker Spaniel’s genetics play a large role in the health and temperament of her puppies, so it is important to carefully choose a stud with favorable genetics. Consider factors such as coat color, eye color, and any previous health issues in the stud’s family tree.

Temperament: The stud’s temperament should be friendly, confident, and trainable, with no history of aggression. It is important to observe the stud’s behavior around other dogs and people to ensure that he is well-socialized and comfortable.

Proven Track Record: Ask for references from previous breedings to ensure that the stud is capable of producing healthy, high-quality puppies. It is also helpful to research the stud’s bloodline and offspring to assess the quality of his genetics.

Once you have selected a stud that meets your criteria, it is important to schedule a meeting with the stud’s owner to discuss the breeding process and confirm that both parties agree on the terms. You should also have a written contract in place that outlines the responsibilities and expectations for both parties, including any potential issues such as a missed or unsuccessful breeding.

Choosing the right stud for your American Cocker Spaniel is a crucial step in the breeding process. By carefully considering your options and selecting a healthy, genetically sound, and proven stud, you can help ensure the health and success of your breeding program.

Factors to Consider when Selecting a Stud
Proven Track Record

Mating and Pregnancy

Mating And Pregnancy
Bringing two American Cocker Spaniels together for successful breeding requires thoughtful planning and preparation. To ensure a healthy pregnancy, it’s important to understand the breeding process and the signs of pregnancy that will follow. This stage of the breeding journey can be both exciting and nerve-wracking, but by taking the right steps and monitoring the health of both dogs, breeders can increase their chances of a smooth pregnancy and successful delivery. Here’s everything you need to know about preparing for mating and pregnancy.

Signs of Pregnancy

During the gestational period, it is essential to monitor your American Cocker Spaniel for any signs of pregnancy. Below is a table outlining the common signs to look for during this period.

Increase in AppetiteDuring pregnancy, your dog’s metabolism will increase, leading to an increase in hunger. They may eat more frequently or larger portions.
Changes in NipplesAs pregnancy progresses, your dog’s nipples will become larger and darker in color.
LethargyDuring the first few weeks of pregnancy, your dog may experience fatigue and sleep more than usual.
Behavioral ChangesYour dog’s behavior may change during pregnancy. They may become more affectionate or irritable due to hormonal changes.
Abdominal EnlargementAs pregnancy progresses, your dog’s abdomen will expand to accommodate the growing puppies.
Nesting BehaviorAs the due date approaches, your dog may begin to search for a comfortable spot to give birth, such as a quiet room or a box filled with blankets.

It is important to note that some of these symptoms may also indicate other medical conditions, so it is important to consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis. Additionally, not all dogs will display all of these symptoms, so it is important to be aware of your dog’s typical behavior and note any changes that occur during pregnancy.

Monitoring Health

It is crucial to closely monitor the health of a pregnant American Cocker Spaniel throughout her gestation period. Here are some important steps to follow:

  • Regular vet check-ups: Schedule regular check-ups with a trusted veterinarian to ensure your dog’s health is in good standing. Consult your veterinarian on how often you should come in for check-ups and follow their advice.
  • Weight management: The weight gain of a pregnant American Cocker Spaniel should be monitored regularly. Consulting your veterinarian will help measure the progress of the pregnancy, and they can suggest a safe exercise routine and diet plan to help manage weight gain.
  • Behavioral changes: Your dog may exhibit changes in behavior due to the hormonal changes caused by pregnancy. Report any unusual behavior to your veterinarian to ensure your pet’s health is in good standing.
  • Frequent observation: Keep a close eye on your dog’s behavior during pregnancy. Look out for signs of discomfort, discomfort or distress, and call your vet immediately if there are any abnormalities.
  • Antenatal care: Seek antenatal care for your pregnant American Cocker Spaniel. This includes prenatal care and nutrition, and your veterinarian will be able to advise on the best schedule for diet, exercise and vaccinations.

By taking these measures to monitor the health of your American Cocker Spaniel during pregnancy, you can help ensure a healthy outcome. Don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns.

Diet and Exercise

When it comes to preparing for mating and pregnancy, it’s essential to ensure that your American Cocker Spaniel is in good health. This includes a proper diet and exercise routine.


During pregnancy, your American Cocker Spaniel’s diet will need to be adjusted to meet the demands of her growing litter. It’s important to provide her with high-quality puppy food to ensure she’s receiving the necessary nutrients.

Aim to feed her smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. Providing smaller meals will help prevent her from overeating, which can lead to a dangerous condition called bloat. Additionally, you may want to use a feeding schedule to monitor her intake and ensure that she’s receiving enough food.

Here’s a breakdown of what your American Cocker Spaniel’s diet should consist of during pregnancy:

  1. Protein: At least 22% protein or more, ideally sourced from animal protein sources.
  2. Fat: A minimum of 8% fat.
  3. Calcium and phosphorus: Essential for development and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth.
  4. Vitamins and minerals: Necessary for overall health.


Exercise is critical for maintaining a healthy pregnancy and a successful delivery. A sedentary lifestyle can negatively impact your American Cocker Spaniel’s health, leading to obesity and increased risk of complications.

However, it’s important not to overdo it, as excessive exercise during pregnancy can lead to complications. You should aim for moderate exercise that is low-impact, such as short walks around the neighborhood.

If your American Cocker Spaniel is not used to regular exercise, you must introduce it gradually, starting with short walks and building up slowly as she gets stronger. Additionally, consider consulting with a veterinarian who can help create an exercise plan that is tailored to your dog’s needs.

Diet and exercise are two critical aspects of preparing for breeding and pregnancy in American Cocker Spaniels. Be sure to provide your dog with high-quality puppy food, feed smaller and frequent meals, and maintain a moderate exercise routine to ensure a healthy pregnancy and a successful delivery.


Welcoming a new litter of American Cocker Spaniel puppies into the world can be both exciting and nerve-wracking for breeders. The whelping stage is a critical and delicate period for both mother and puppies, and it requires careful attention and preparation. Proper management during whelping can help prevent potential complications and ensure the safety and well-being of the mother and her pups. In this section, we’ll explore the key steps and considerations that breeders should take to navigate the whelping process successfully.

Preparing for Whelping

Prior to the due date of delivery, it is important to prepare for the whelping process to ensure a smooth and successful delivery. Below are some steps to take when preparing for whelping:

  • Designate a whelping area: Choose an area in your home that is quiet, warm, and easily sanitized. A large, well-lined whelping box with high sides is ideal as it allows the puppies to move around freely while keeping them contained.
  • Gather necessary supplies: Have all the necessary supplies on hand for the delivery, such as clean towels, disposable gloves, a heating pad, scales, and iodine solution for cleaning the puppies’ umbilical cords.
  • Ensure the mother is comfortable: The mother should have access to plenty of clean, fresh water prior to whelping. Keep her bed clean and comfortable, and make sure she has easy access to it throughout the day.
  • Keep track of due dates: Keep a record of the breeding dates and due dates for each pregnancy. This will help you to monitor the mother’s progress, recognize any warning signs, and be prepared for the delivery in advance.
  • Prepare for emergencies: Have a plan in place in case of an emergency during the delivery. Research the nearest emergency animal hospital and keep their contact information readily available.

By taking these simple steps before the American Cocker Spaniel’s whelping process, you can help ensure that the mother and her puppies receive the best possible care during delivery. Being prepared can make all the difference in the health and well-being of these beloved pets.

Stages of Labor

As your American Cocker Spaniel’s labor progresses, there will be different stages that signify the birth of each puppy. Understanding these stages can help you monitor your dog’s progress and know when it’s time to take action or seek veterinary assistance.

The stages of labor for American Cocker Spaniels are broken down into three distinct phases:

Stage OneThe first stage of labor is typically the longest and can last up to 36 hours. During this time, your American Cocker Spaniel will start to show signs of restlessness, anxiety, and may become increasingly vocal. She may also have a decreased appetite, and her body temperature may drop.
Stage TwoOnce your American Cocker Spaniel enters the second stage of labor, she will start actively pushing and delivering puppies. You may notice her panting heavily or vocalizing during contractions. It’s important to monitor the birthing process closely and assist as needed, but be careful not to intervene too much as this can cause distress for the mother and puppies.
Stage ThreeThe final stage of labor is the delivery of the placenta. This usually happens soon after the birth of each puppy, and it’s important to ensure that each placenta is passed to safeguard the health of the mother. Any retained placentas can lead to infection and other complications.

As your American Cocker Spaniel moves through these stages of labor, make sure to keep a close eye on her and seek veterinary assistance if needed. Having a plan in place for potential complications, such as dystocia or retained placenta, can also help ensure the safety of your dog and her puppies.

Assisting the Birth

Assisting the birth of American Cocker Spaniel puppies can be a stressful experience for breeders. It is important to remain calm and patient during the process. Here are some helpful tips for assisting in the birth of your puppies:

  1. Monitor the mother: As the labor progresses, keep a close eye on the mother’s behavior. Watch for signs of distress and be aware of any unusual discharges or complications.
  2. Provide a clean and quiet environment: Ensure that the area is clean and free from distractions. Keep noise levels to a minimum to minimize stress on the mother and puppies.
  3. Prepare the supplies: Have all the necessary supplies within reach, including clean towels, scissors, and sterilized thread or dental floss for tying off the umbilical cords.
  4. Assist with the first puppy: Once the mother begins pushing, gently help guide the puppy out of the birth canal. Use a clean towel to dry off the puppy and cut the umbilical cord 1-2 inches away from the puppy’s belly. Tie off the umbilical cord with sterilized thread or dental floss and sterilize the cut with rubbing alcohol.
  5. Allow mother to rest: Once the first puppy is born, allow the mother to rest for at least 30 minutes before assisting with the next puppy. This allows her to regain her strength and prepare for the next delivery.
  6. Provide warmth: Keep the puppies and mother warm with blankets or a heat lamp to maintain their body temperature. Hypothermia is a danger for newborn puppies, so it’s essential to keep them warm.
  7. Monitor the birthing process: Continue to monitor the mother’s behavior and the progress of the puppies. If there are long breaks between the delivery of puppies, contact a veterinarian for assistance.

Remember, if you have any concerns or if you notice any complications during the birthing process, seek help from a veterinarian immediately. With proper preparation and assistance, you can help your American Cocker Spaniel deliver healthy and happy puppies.


Taking care of the mother and puppies after whelping is just as important as preparing for it. Aftercare should involve keeping a close eye on the new mother and her puppies, ensuring that they are healthy and well-fed.

Monitor the Mother
After giving birth, the mother should be monitored closely for signs of infection or complications. Keep an eye out for fever, vaginal bleeding, and discharge, which may indicate an infection. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Check on Puppies
Newborn puppies should be checked frequently to ensure they are healthy and eating properly. Look for signs of distress, such as lack of appetite or crying excessively. Puppies should be feeding regularly, sleeping and gaining weight.
Feeding Puppies
Make sure puppies are nursing regularly and getting enough to eat. If any of the puppies are having trouble nursing, consider supplementing with formula. Cleanliness is essential during feeding time, and there should be no waste in the whelping box.
Vaccinations and Worming
When your puppies reach the appropriate age, they should be vaccinated and dewormed to protect them from diseases and parasitic infections.

It is also essential to provide a safe, warm, and clean environment for the new family. Make sure that the whelping box is kept clean, and all waste is promptly removed. Additionally, ensure that the temperature in the whelping area is not too hot or too cold, and that the puppies are kept comfortable.

Proper aftercare is crucial for the health and well-being of the mother and her puppies. Keep a close eye on them, report any unusual signs to the veterinarian promptly, and provide them with a clean environment and adequate nutrition. Taking these steps will give the puppies the best possible start in life.

Postpartum Care

Postpartum Care
Now that the American Cocker Spaniel litter has arrived, it’s time to shift focus from the mother’s pregnancy to the postpartum period. This phase can be just as critical as the previous stages of breeding and whelping. As a breeder, your attention is still needed to ensure that the mother and puppies get off to the right start. From monitoring their health and nutrition to administering vaccinations, there are many things to keep track of. This guide will walk you through the steps of postpartum care to give the puppies the best chance at a healthy and happy start to their lives.

Monitoring Mom and Puppies

It’s essential to carefully monitor the health of both the mother and puppies in the postpartum period. Regular check-ups can ensure that any complications are identified and treated promptly.

One important aspect of monitoring is keeping track of weight gain in the mother and each puppy. A simple way to do this is by creating a table to record weight measurements over time. Here is an example:

MotherPuppy 1Puppy 2Puppy 3
Day 10.5 lbs0.6 lbs0.7 lbs
Day 30.8 lbs1.0 lbs1.1 lbs
Day 71.2 lbs1.6 lbs1.5 lbs

In addition to weight monitoring, it’s important to observe the behavior of the mother and puppies. Signs of concern may include excessive crying, difficulty nursing, restlessness, or lethargy. Any unusual behavior should be reported to a veterinarian promptly.

Temperature checks can also be helpful in monitoring the health of newborn puppies. Puppies are unable to regulate their body temperature in the first few weeks of life, so it’s important to keep them warm and monitor their temperature with a thermometer.

Monitoring the health of the mother and puppies is critical to their well-being. By keeping track of weight gain, observing behavior, and performing temperature checks, breeders can identify and treat any issues promptly, ensuring the best possible outcomes for the new litter.

Feeding Puppies

As soon as whelping is complete, feeding puppies becomes an essential part of their growth and survival. Puppies rely entirely on their mother’s milk to meet all of their nutritional needs for the first weeks of their lives. Here are some important tips for feeding puppies during this crucial stage:

Frequency of Feeding: Newborn puppies should be fed every two to three hours, around-the-clock. As they grow, the frequency of feeding decreases, but the amount of milk they consume increases.

Amount of Milk: Puppies should be fed enough milk to meet their nutritional needs and maintain their body temperature. It is recommended to feed 1-2 tablespoons of milk for each ounce of their body weight at each feeding.

Supplemental Feeding: If the mother is not producing enough milk or abandoning the puppies, supplemental feeding may be necessary. Puppy milk replacers are available that are specifically formulated to provide all of the nutrients needed for healthy puppy growth.

Feeding Supplies: Puppies should be fed using a bottle or syringe with a very soft rubber nipple. It is important to use equipment designed for newborn puppies to prevent choking or other injuries.

Frequency of FeedingNewborn puppies should be fed every two to three hours, around-the-clock.
Amount of MilkPuppies should be fed 1-2 tablespoons of milk for each ounce of their body weight at each feeding.
Supplemental FeedingIf the mother is not producing enough milk, puppy milk replacers are available that are specifically formulated for healthy puppy growth.
Feeding SuppliesNewborn puppies should be fed using a bottle or syringe with a very soft rubber nipple, designed for newborn puppies to prevent choking or other injuries.

It is important to monitor the puppies’ weight gain, as weight loss or lack of weight gain can be indicators of health problems. As puppies grow and develop, they will start to show interest in solid foods. This is the time to introduce soft, moist food gradually in addition to milk feedings. A high-quality puppy food is recommended to support the nutritional needs of growing puppies. Good nutrition is essential to ensure a healthy start for these little ones.

Vaccinations and Worming

Ensuring that puppies receive proper vaccinations and worming is crucial to their long-term health. Vaccinations are typically administered starting at 6-8 weeks of age and continued until they are around 16 weeks old. This schedule may vary depending on the type of vaccine used and the advice of your veterinarian. Here are a few important points to keep in mind regarding vaccinations and worming:

  • Regular vaccination schedule: Vaccinations should be given according to a regular schedule to ensure full protection. Vaccines commonly given to puppies include those for distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis, and rabies. Discuss with your veterinarian which vaccines are appropriate for your puppy based on their age, overall health, and risk of exposure.
  • Worming schedule: Regular worming is necessary to combat a variety of worms that puppies may be exposed to, such as roundworms and hookworms. Wormers are usually administered every two weeks from the age of two weeks to around eight weeks, and then as needed. Discuss with your veterinarian which wormer is best for your puppy based on their age, size, and health status.
  • Side effects: Most puppies will experience little to no side effects from vaccinations and worming. However, some may experience mild side effects such as fever, lethargy, or swelling at the injection site. These side effects typically resolve quickly and do not require treatment. If your puppy experiences any serious reactions, such as difficulty breathing or severe swelling, contact your veterinarian immediately.
  • Importance of follow-up: After the initial round of vaccinations and worming, it is important to follow up with regular booster shots and worming treatments. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on the appropriate schedule for your puppy to maintain optimal protection against disease and parasites.
  • Prevention is key: Vaccinations and worming are just one part of a comprehensive preventative health program for your puppy. Regular check-ups with your veterinarian, proper nutrition, exercise, and hygiene are all important components of keeping your puppy healthy and happy.

Remember, vaccinations and worming are key to ensuring that your puppies have a healthy start in life. Work closely with your veterinarian to ensure that your puppies receive the appropriate care and follow up to keep them happy and healthy throughout their lives.

Management of Complications

Management Of Complications
Breeding and whelping American Cocker Spaniels can come with potential complications. As responsible breeders, it is important to be prepared for any unexpected issues that may arise during the process. While most breeding and whelping experiences go smoothly, it’s essential to be aware of the potential complications to ensure that you can manage and treat them if necessary. In this section, we will discuss some of the most common complications that can arise during the breeding and whelping of American Cocker Spaniels and how to manage them. Let’s explore the potential hurdles and learn how to overcome them with expert preparation and management.


Dystocia refers to difficult or prolonged labor, which can occur due to a number of factors, such as the size of the litter, the size of the puppies, or abnormalities in the reproductive tract. It is important to be prepared for possible dystocia during breeding and whelping of American Cocker Spaniels, as it can lead to serious complications for both the dam and the puppies if left untreated.

Signs of Dystocia

The signs of dystocia include prolonged contractions without the delivery of puppies, restlessness, panting, and visible distress in the dam. If you suspect that your American Cocker Spaniel is experiencing dystocia, it is important to seek veterinary care immediately.

Treatment of Dystocia

The treatment for dystocia will depend on the cause and severity of the condition. In some cases, manual assistance or the use of oxytocin may be required to help deliver the puppies. In more severe cases, a Cesarean section may be necessary.

Preventing Dystocia

While some causes of dystocia cannot be prevented, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk. Maintaining good nutrition and exercise throughout the pregnancy can help ensure that the puppies are a healthy size and that the dam’s reproductive tract is in good condition. Regular veterinary check-ups can also help identify potential problems early on.

If you suspect that your American Cocker Spaniel is experiencing dystocia, it is crucial to seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Delay in treatment can lead to serious complications for both the dam and the puppies. By taking preventative measures and being prepared for possible complications during breeding and whelping, you can help ensure a safe and successful delivery for your American Cocker Spaniel.

Difficult or prolonged laborManual assistance, oxytocin, Cesarean sectionGood nutrition and exercise, regular vet check-ups


Infections are a common concern during breeding and whelping of American Cocker Spaniels. They can have a significant impact on the health of both the mother and her puppies, and therefore need to be identified and treated as quickly as possible. Here are some of the most common infections to watch out for:

  • Mastitis: This is a bacterial infection of the mammary glands that can cause inflammation, pain, and fever in the mother. It is important to catch this infection early and treat it with antibiotics to prevent it from becoming a more serious problem.
  • Endometritis: This is an infection of the uterus that can occur after whelping. Symptoms can include discharge, fever, and lack of appetite. If left untreated, it can be fatal to the mother.
  • Canine Herpesvirus: This is a virus that can be passed from mother to puppies during birth. It can cause respiratory problems, neurological issues, and death in puppies. It is important to keep the mother and her puppies isolated during the first few weeks after birth to prevent the spread of this virus.
  • Parvovirus: This is a highly contagious virus that can be fatal to puppies. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. Puppies can be vaccinated against this virus, and it is important to keep the whelping area and equipment clean and disinfected to prevent its spread.

It is crucial to monitor the health of the mother and her puppies closely, especially during the first few weeks after birth when they are most vulnerable to infection. If you notice any symptoms of infection, contact your veterinarian immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment. Remember that prevention is key, and taking steps such as keeping the whelping area clean and disinfected, and vaccinating your puppies, can go a long way in keeping them healthy and free from infections.

Retained Placenta

Retained placenta is a condition that occurs when the placenta is not delivered within 30 minutes after the birth of a puppy. It can lead to serious complications and even death if left untreated. Here are some important things to keep in mind if your American Cocker Spaniel experiences this issue:

  • Immediate veterinary attention: If you suspect that your Cocker Spaniel has retained placenta, it is important to seek veterinary attention right away. Your veterinarian can determine whether the placenta needs to be manually removed, or if medication can be administered to help stimulate contractions to expel the placenta.
  • Monitor your dog: Observe your dog closely for any signs of infection or illness, such as a high fever, lethargy, or a foul odor from the vaginal area. These may be signs that there are still pieces of the placenta left inside the uterus, which can lead to a serious infection called sepsis.
  • Provide proper nutrition: It may be necessary to provide your Cocker Spaniel with additional nutrition and fluids to help support her recovery from retained placenta. Your veterinarian may suggest a special diet or supplements to help boost her immune system and aid in the healing process.
  • Be prepared for future pregnancies: If your Cocker Spaniel experiences retained placenta during one pregnancy, it is possible that she may experience it again in future pregnancies. Make sure to inform your veterinarian of this issue when planning future breedings, so they can provide appropriate care and monitoring during whelping.

Remember, retained placenta is a serious issue that requires prompt veterinary attention. By monitoring your Cocker Spaniel closely and providing proper care, you can help ensure a successful recovery and prevent future complications.

Neonatal Loss

Losing a puppy during the neonatal stage can be devastating for breeders, both emotionally and financially. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for some puppies to not survive through this critical stage of life. As a responsible breeder, you should be prepared for the possibility of neonatal loss and have a plan in place to manage the situation if it happens.

Signs of Neonatal Distress
One way to prevent neonatal loss is by being aware of the signs of neonatal distress. Some of the signs to watch out for include:

  • Inability to nurse
  • Weakness or lethargy
  • Low body temperature
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dehydration

If you notice any of these signs in a newborn puppy, it is important to take action immediately. Consider consulting with a veterinarian or a more experienced breeder for advice on how to manage the situation.

Dealing with Neonatal Loss
In the unfortunate event of neonatal loss, it is important to handle the situation with care and compassion. It is natural to feel a sense of loss and grief, but it is important to properly dispose of the body to prevent the spread of disease. Here are some options for handling neonatal loss:

  • Bury the puppy in a safe location, away from other animals
  • Have the puppy cremated
  • Give the puppy to a veterinarian for disposal

It may also be helpful to seek support from other breeders or a therapist to help process your feelings and to develop strategies to prevent neonatal loss in the future.

Preventing Neonatal Loss
The best way to prevent neonatal loss is through good breeding practices and proper care during the neonatal stage. This includes maintaining a clean and warm environment, ensuring that the puppies are nursing properly and getting adequate nutrition, and monitoring their health closely. It is also essential to work with a reputable veterinarian to ensure that the puppies receive proper vaccinations and medical care.

Neonatal loss is a difficult but unfortunately common occurrence for breeders. By being aware of the signs of neonatal distress, handling the loss with care and compassion, and implementing proper breeding and care practices, you can minimize the risk of neonatal loss and give your puppies the best chance at a healthy life.

Caring for Newborn Puppies

Caring For Newborn Puppies
Welcoming a litter of American Cocker Spaniel puppies into the world can bring immense joy, but it also comes with a great responsibility of providing proper care to ensure their survival. From the moment they are born, it’s essential to create an optimal environment for their growth and health. Newborn puppies are fragile and vulnerable, and attending to their needs can be perplexing. However, with the right tools and knowledge, caring for newborn puppies can be a rewarding experience. Let’s dive into the essential aspects of caring for your American Cocker Spaniel puppies during their early stages of development.

Temperature Control

Newborn puppies are not able to regulate their body temperature on their own, which is why maintaining a comfortable and stable environment is crucial. Temperature control is an integral part of caring for newborn puppies, and it can impact their growth and development.

Ideally, the temperature in the whelping area should be kept between 85-90°F (29-32°C) for the first week of life, gradually decreasing to 75-80°F (24-27°C) by the end of the third week. Using a temperature-controlled heating source, such as a heating lamp, can help maintain a consistent temperature.

It is essential to monitor the temperature regularly and adjust the heat source accordingly. To help with this, you can use a thermometer and record the temperature readings in a table.

TimeTemperature (°F)
6:00 am86.5
9:00 am88.0
12:00 pm85.2
3:00 pm86.8
6:00 pm83.9

In addition to monitoring the temperature, you can also use bedding material to help regulate the heat. A soft, warm blanket can provide insulation and comfort and can be changed regularly to maintain cleanliness.

It is essential to note that if the temperature is too high, it can lead to dehydration and heatstroke, while a temperature that is too low can cause hypothermia and even death. It is crucial to keep a watchful eye on the puppies and adjust the temperature regularly to ensure their health and well-being.

Maintaining a stable and comfortable temperature is crucial in caring for newborn puppies. By using a temperature-controlled heat source and regularly monitoring the temperature, you can provide a safe and nurturing environment for the young puppies to grow and develop.

Stimulation and Cleaning

When it comes to caring for newborn American Cocker Spaniel puppies, stimulation and cleaning are critical for their health and well-being. In the first few weeks of life, puppies are unable to urinate or defecate on their own, so it’s important to stimulate these bodily functions manually.

Newborn puppies need to be stimulated to urinate and defecate. Use warm, damp cotton balls or a soft cloth to gently rub the area under the tail and around the genitals to mimic the licking of the mother. Do this after every meal and regularly throughout the day to prevent any build-up of waste and infection. This will also help puppies learn to eliminate in the designated area as they grow older.

It’s essential to keep the puppies and their living environment clean to prevent any infection or illness. Clean the bedding and the whelping box with warm water and mild soap on a regular basis. Clean up any urine or feces using disposable towels or paper towels. Keep the puppies free from debris and dirt by regularly inspecting their fur and skin. Any signs of dirt or debris should be removed using warm water and mild soap.

Keeping newborn puppies clean and stimulated is a crucial part of their early care. This can help prevent infections and illnesses, and will also help them learn to eliminate correctly. A clean, safe and healthy environment should be maintained for the puppies to thrive.


Once the puppies are born, one of the most crucial aspects of their care is ensuring they receive proper nutrition. Breastfeeding is essential for the growth and development of puppies, as mother’s milk contains all the necessary nutrients and antibodies they need.

Benefits of Breastfeeding:
There are numerous benefits of breastfeeding for both the mother dog and her puppies. Some of the benefits for puppies include improved immune system function, better digestion, and increased warmth and comfort. For the mother, breastfeeding can help uterine contractions, reducing her risk of postpartum hemorrhage.

How to Ensure Successful Breastfeeding:
There are a few things you can do to ensure successful breastfeeding for your litter. Firstly, make sure the puppies are healthy and vigorously suckling within a few hours of birth. Keep the puppies near the mother and allow them to feed freely whenever they want. It’s essential not to disturb the puppies too frequently, as this can cause the mother to become stressed and interfere with milk production.

Signs of Problems with Breastfeeding:
In some cases, there may be problems with breastfeeding that require intervention. Signs of problems can include refusal to feed, lethargy, irritability or excessive crying, weight loss or dehydration. If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to contact a veterinarian immediately.

Supplemental Feeding:
If the mother is not producing enough milk, or if there are other problems with breastfeeding, supplemental feeding may be necessary. This can involve feeding the puppies with a bottle or syringe, using a formula specifically designed for puppies.

As the puppies grow, they will naturally begin to rely more on solid food and less on milk. This process is known as weaning, and it typically begins between 3-4 weeks of age. During this period, it’s important to introduce solid foods gradually, starting with a soft slurry and progressing to solid kibble. Encourage the puppies to eat by placing the food in front of them and giving them positive reinforcement when they eat.

When it comes to breastfeeding, ensuring proper nutrition is essential for the health and well-being of your puppies. By following these guidelines and monitoring the puppies’ health closely, you can help them get the best start in life possible.

Benefit of BreastfeedingHow to Ensure Successful BreastfeedingSigns of Problems with BreastfeedingSupplemental FeedingWeaning
Improved immune system functionEnsure puppies are healthy and suckling within hours of birthRefusal to feed, lethargy, irritability, weight loss, dehydrationFeeding with bottle or syringe using puppy formulaIntroduce solid foods gradually
Better digestionKeep puppies near mother and allow to feed freelyStart with soft slurry and progress to solid kibble
Increased warmth and comfortMinimize disturbances to mother and puppiesEncourage eating and offer food in front of them

Weaning and Socialization

As your American Cocker Spaniel puppies grow, they’ll reach an important milestone: the weaning stage. This period marks the transition from a purely milk-based diet to including solid foods. Weaning also coincides with an important phase of socialization, where puppies begin to learn and interact with the world around them. In this section, we’ll discuss the best practices for introducing solid foods, monitoring puppy health, and fostering positive socialization habits in your litter. It’s a crucial period for your puppies’ growth, so be prepared to give them the care and attention they need during this time.

Introducing Solid Foods

When puppies reach around 3-4 weeks old, it is time to start thinking about introducing them to solid foods. This is a crucial step in their development as they begin to transition from relying solely on their mother’s milk to being able to eat solid foods. Here are some tips on how to introduce solid food to your American Cocker Spaniel puppies:

1. Choose the Right First Foods: Start with soft, moist food that is easy for puppies to eat and digest. You can mix together some canned puppy food with warm water or puppy formula to create a mushy texture that puppies can lap up. You can also soak some puppy kibble in water or formula until it becomes soft and mushy.

2. Timing: Choose a time to introduce solid food when your puppies are already hungry. Typically, this would be after their mom has finished nursing them for the day.

3. Supervision: Ensure that the puppies are closely supervised when they first start eating solid food. It is important to make sure they are not choking or having any difficulties eating.

4. Gradual Transition: As your puppies get used to eating solid food, you can gradually decrease the amount of formula or milk replacer you are giving them. You can also increase the amount of solid food you are offering.

5. Clean Environment: Make sure the area around their food dish is clean and free from any fecal matter or urine. Sanitizing the area regularly is also recommended to avoid any potential contamination.

6. Water: Offer fresh water alongside the solid food to keep your puppies hydrated.

Remember to be patient with your puppies as they learn to eat solid food. Always monitor them closely and adjust their feeding routine as needed. With proper care and attention, your American Cocker Spaniel puppies will thrive and grow into healthy adults.

Newborn Health Checks

When caring for newborn American Cocker Spaniel puppies, regular health checks are crucial to ensure their well-being. The following table outlines some of the key health checks that should be performed on newborn puppies.

Health CheckImportance
WeightAn indicator of adequate milk intake and overall health. Puppies should gain 1-2 grams per day.
TemperatureNormal body temperature for puppies is 95-99°F. Low body temperature can be a sign of infection or illness.
Respiration RatePuppies should breathe between 15-35 breaths per minute. Fast or labored breathing can be a sign of respiratory distress.
Heart RateNormal heart rate for puppies is 120-200 beats per minute. An abnormal heart rate can indicate heart issues or health problems.
Hearing and VisionNewborn puppies are deaf and blind at birth, but they should begin to develop these senses within the first few weeks of life. Any abnormalities should be noted and discussed with a veterinarian.
Umbilical CordThe umbilical cord stump should dry up and fall off within the first 1-2 weeks of life. Any signs of infection or bleeding should be addressed by a veterinarian.
GenitaliaMale and female puppies should be examined for correct genital development. Any abnormalities should be discussed with a veterinarian.
Overall AppearancePuppies should be active, alert, and show no signs of pain or discomfort. Any abnormalities should be noted and discussed with a veterinarian.

Performing regular health checks on newborn American Cocker Spaniel puppies can help identify and address any health issues early on. It is important to keep notes on each puppy’s development and discuss any concerns with a veterinarian. With proper care and attention, newborn puppies can grow into healthy and happy adult dogs.

Socialization and Training

As your American Cocker Spaniel puppies reach 8 weeks old, it’s time to start thinking about their socialization and training. This is a critical time for their development, and you want to ensure that they are prepared for life with their new families.

Here are some tips for socializing and training your American Cocker Spaniel puppies:

  • Introduce Them to New People: American Cocker Spaniels are friendly dogs, but they can be wary of strangers. To help your puppies develop confidence and ease around new people, start introducing them to a variety of people early on. Encourage calm interactions and reward positive behavior.
  • Expose Them to Different Environments: From car rides to the park, your puppies should be exposed to as many different environments as possible. This helps them to adapt to new surroundings, making them well-rounded and adaptable adult dogs. Remember to introduce new environments slowly and calmly.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Use positive reinforcement to instill good behavior in your puppies. Reward them for good that they do, such as following commands, walking calmly on a leash, and responding to their name. This is the best way to promote good behavior while still making training a fun and positive experience.
  • Basic Training: Train your puppies in basic commands such as “sit”, “stay”, and “come”. This gives them a sense of structure and ensures that they will listen to their owners. It can also be helpful to enroll them in obedience training classes to further their development.
  • Monitor Playtime: As your puppies play and interact with each other, be sure to monitor their behavior. If you notice rough play or aggressive behavior, intervene and redirect their attention to a more positive outlet. This teaches them to play nicely with other dogs and to be well-behaved when around other dogs and people.

By investing time in socialization and training at a young age, your American Cocker Spaniel puppies will grow up to be well-behaved, friendly, and adaptable adult dogs. Remember to be patient, positive, and consistent in your training, and your puppies will flourish into wonderful family pets.


In conclusion, breeding and whelping American Cocker Spaniels can be a rewarding but challenging experience. It requires careful preparation, monitoring, and management to ensure the health and safety of both the dam and the puppies. Additionally, it is important to be aware of potential complications and know how to handle them if they arise.

Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine for the dam, along with regular health checks and genetic testing, can help prevent potential issues from arising. When selecting a stud, choosing one with a good temperament and health history is crucial.

During pregnancy, monitoring the dam’s health and staying alert for signs of complications is important. Proper preparation for whelping, including having necessary equipment on hand and knowledge of the different stages of labor, can make the whelping process smoother. Additionally, knowing how to assist with the birth and provide adequate aftercare is key.

Postpartum care, including monitoring the dam and puppies, feeding and vaccinations, and managing any complications that may arise, is vital to the health of the litter. Caring for newborn puppies requires specialized knowledge of temperature control, stimulation, and breastfeeding, along with regular health checks and socialization.

Weaning and socialization continue to be important aspects of puppy development, along with proper introduction of solid foods and continued health checks. By following these steps and being vigilant, breeders can ensure the best possible outcomes for both the dam and the puppies.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are common health problems that can occur during breeding and whelping of American Cocker Spaniel?

Some common health problems that can occur during breeding and whelping of American Cocker Spaniel include dystocia, infections, retained placenta, and neonatal loss.

2. How can I prepare my American Cocker Spaniel for breeding?

You can prepare your American Cocker Spaniel for breeding by ensuring they have a thorough health check, genetic testing, and selecting a suitable stud.

3. What signs should I look for to confirm that my American Cocker Spaniel is pregnant?

You can confirm that your American Cocker Spaniel is pregnant by observing changes in their behavior, appetite, and physical appearance. However, the definite way is to consult a veterinarian who can perform an ultrasound or X-ray.

4. How can I assist my American Cocker Spaniel during labor?

You can assist your American Cocker Spaniel during labor by monitoring their health, being aware of the stages of labor, and preparing a comfortable and safe whelping area. However, it is recommended to have a veterinarian on standby in case of emergency.

5. What should I do if my American Cocker Spaniel experiences complications during breeding and whelping?

If your American Cocker Spaniel experiences complications during breeding and whelping, it is important to contact a veterinarian immediately for medical assistance. Do not attempt to address the issue on your own, as it could be potentially harmful to your pet.

6. How often should I monitor my American Cocker Spaniel and her puppies after birth?

You should monitor your American Cocker Spaniel and her puppies frequently during the first few days after birth, then gradually reduce as they get healthier. This helps you stay aware of any potential health concerns that may arise.

7. When should I begin to wean my American Cocker Spaniel’s puppies?

You can begin to wean your American Cocker Spaniel’s puppies at around four to six weeks of age by introducing solid foods. However, this is a gradual process, and you should monitor each puppy to ensure that they are able to properly digest the new food source.

8. What vaccinations and worming treatments are necessary for my American Cocker Spaniel’s puppies?

It is important that the puppies get vaccinated against common canine diseases like canine distemper, parvovirus, and rabies. It is also important to deworm them regularly, as puppies are susceptible to intestinal parasites.

9. How can I ensure that my American Cocker Spaniel’s puppies are properly socialized?

You can ensure that your American Cocker Spaniel’s puppies are properly socialized by exposing them to different settings, people, and animals, as well as gradually introducing them to gentle training and handling exercises. Proper socialization helps them become well-adjusted adult dogs.

10. What should I do if I suspect that one of my American Cocker Spaniel’s puppies is sick?

If you suspect that one of your American Cocker Spaniel’s puppies is sick, it is important to contact a veterinarian immediately for diagnosis and treatment. Early detection and treatment can save the puppy’s life and prevent the spread of illness to the rest of the litter.


Britta Thygesen

Britta Thygesen

A passionate dog owner and a full-time certified dog trainer. Aspires to make DogCareHacks a go-to place for all the doggo info. Shares personal experience and professional knowledge.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

      Leave a reply

      Dog Care Hacks