Tips for helping a pug deliver her puppies

Sitting Pug image by LOLA from

Giving birth can be a confusing experience for pugs and their owners. Understanding what to expect will make you more useful if an emergency arises.

Pugs have heads that are much larger in relation to their bodies than many other breeds, and this genetic trait can cause a higher risk of complications and the need for a caesarean section. Your veterinarian will supervise your pug's pregnancy and decide on the safest delivery option. The entire process may only require you to stand by and watch, but be ready to step in and assist or call for professional help as needed.


Take your pug to the veterinarian for confirmation of pregnancy. Your vet will determine the necessity of a caesarean section depending on your dog's conformation. Later on the pregnancy you can have X-rays done to determine the size of the litter. Keep your pug up-to-date on its vaccinations. Ensure that it has been dewormed and is checked for the Brucella bacteria, which is infectious to humans and can cause abortion in canines. Proper nutrition and prenatal care is important. Gradually change your pug's diet to a high-quality food that promotes growth and is targeted toward pregnant and lactating dogs.

Prepare for Delivery

Create a whelping box for the mother composed of wood, plastic or even thick cardboard. The whelping box should ideally be easy to clean and provide easy access for the mother but securely contain the newborn pups. Place the whelping box in an out of the way area that is warm and quiet. Get the mother used to the whelping box by placing it in the box regularly and giving it a treat there, so it develops a positive association with the box and knows to go there during labour. Pugs have a strong natural instinct to nest before giving birth, and their temperament and love of treats makes training them to use the whelping box easier than other breeds.

Pre-labour and Beginning Labor

When the day of birth draws near, begin taking the mother's temperature twice a day. Body temperature will alert you to imminent labour. Normal canine body temperature is 38.3 to 39.1 degrees Celsius. A mother about to go into labour almost always experiences a drop in body temperature to 36.6 to 37.2 degrees C. As labour draws even nearer, your pug will begin to become restless and possibly vomit. At this point, place the mother in the whelping box. Labor should begin shortly after this. The puppies' large heads prolong labour, which typically lasts six to 12 hours. If your veterinarian recommended a caesarean for your pug, it will probably be scheduled in advance. Make sure it is a side and not a central cut, to expedite nursing. If you have planned a home birth, stay close to your pug to make sure all is well. If labour seems not to have made any progress in two hours, or your pug has not begun whelping within 24 hours, contact your veterinarian for assistance.

Labor, Delivery, Afterbirth

Visible contractions signal the start of normal labour. The first puppy should be born within two hours of the beginning of labour. If not, contact your veterinarian. Usually, the mother will begin a period of rest up to four hours after the first puppy is born, but sometimes will have immediate subsequent births. After the delivery of each puppy, the mother will also deliver a placenta. Count the placentas and puppies and make certain there are an equal number of both. Undelivered placentas can make the mother dog dangerously ill.


Immediately after the birth of each puppy, the mother should vigorously lick and clean it. She should chew through the umbilical cord as well. The mother should lick and chew the puppies out of the amniotic sac as soon as they are born if they are still surrounded by it. Due to their short snouts, pugs can have problems tearing the sac or chewing through the cord. If the pups or mother are unable to break the sac, step in and tear it yourself by rubbing the puppy gently with a clean, dry towel. If it does not start breathing, suction mucous from its nose with an infant-sized suction bulb and keep rubbing it. If the mother is unable or unwilling to chew through the umbilical cord, you need to tie off the cord with silk thread and cut it with a pair of clean scissors.


Line the whelping box with fresh bedding and give your pug a light meal and plenty of water in the immediate postpartum period. Check the status of mother and puppies every hour or so. Pugs are notoriously bad mothers, so make sure that the mother has accepted all the puppies and that each is nursing well. Help your pug to find a comfortable nursing position. especially with a caesarean section, so she can nurse with a minimal discomfort. Depending on her maternal skills and postpartum condition, you may have to do everything for her, from feeding to cleaning the babies. Do not leave the mother alone with her babies until you're confident she's recuperating well and able to take good care of the puppies on her own.