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My Favorite Things – Muriel Lee’s Whelping Book

My mother was a great “midwife” when it came time to whelp Cairn puppies when I was growing up, and I’ve whelped a couple dozen litters of Toy Poodles myself since then. I was also fortunate to spend a number of years working for my vet at one time, so I know my way around birthing babies… baby puppies, anyway.

I’ve seen a lot of the different things that can go right and not just a few of the things that can go wrong. Still, all those litters have been over several decades. It’s not something I do on a monthly basis, or even on a yearly basis necessarily, so when it gets near time for another litter to come along I’ve always liked to give myself a littler refresher course.

Other than learning first from my mother, and then from other experienced breeders, books have been among my most valuable resources in learning the ins and outs of breeding dogs.

Literally dozens of good books are available that will take you through every step of the process from how to select a foundation bitch for your breeding program all the way through whelping and raising a litter. Some even provide advice for selecting the best homes for the puppies.

One of my all time favorite books about the actual whelping is one that has been on the market for a long time, but I’ve never found a basic whelping book that I value more.

The Whelping and Rearing of Puppies, by breeder Muriel Lee, was first published in 1987 and is the one basic whelping book that I have kept on my shelf and referred back to time and again. I’ve used this book to remind myself of specific information and as reassurance when waiting for a litter to be born.

The book was updated in the late ‘90s, so you can imagine that it isn’t filled with the technical advances in whelping that have since been made. Instead it is a very basic, but very informative, guide to caring for the bitch in whelp, preparing for the litter and bringing a litter into the world. The two chapters entitled “Whelping Problems” and “Possible Problems for a Whelping Bitch” are the two sections I read before every litter I have.

Whelping and Rearing is a great resource for anyone who is brand new to whelping puppies and also for anyone who wants a little refresher course. You can find it on Amazon.com, and the new edition has loads of new color photographs to go along with the old illustrations. Best of all, it still includes the results of Muriel’s survey of 27 very experienced breeders scattered throughout the book.

Anyone who is expecting a litter will certainly benefit from having this book in their collection.

Written by

Christi McDonald is a second-generation dog person, raised with a kennel full of Cairn Terriers. After more than a decade as a professional handler’s apprentice and handling professionally on her own, primarily Poodles and Cairns, she landed a fortuitous position in advertising sales with the monthly all-breed magazine ShowSight. This led to an 11-year run at Dogs in Review, where she wore several hats, including advertising sales rep, ad sales manager and, finally, editor for five years. Christi is proud to be part of the editorial team for the cutting-edge Best In Show Daily. She lives in Apex, N.C., with two homebred black Toy Poodles, the last of her Foxfire line, and a Norwich Terrier.
  • Sylvie McGee May 22, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    Completely gets my vote also – it’s ALWAYS right on the whelping supply table, right next to the hemostats, the warming blankets, the scale, the puppy record book for weights and feeding records, and the camera for taking ID pictures as the puppies get dried off!

  • Rebecca Kestle, DVM May 22, 2012 at 5:17 PM

    I need to order dozens for my clients…….As a vet who does a lot of reproduction, a lot of first timers need to read before they have the first or 20th litter……not everyone has a hand to hold.

  • C. Heiller, DVM May 23, 2012 at 9:05 PM

    I do emergency vet work and have a copy on my desk. Recommend it to many of my clients that are new to breed and some old timers have found the book helpful also.
    Lots of good info for everyone.

  • Barbara Corbett June 6, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    The best book available. Clear, easy to understand, covers what you need to know. Everyone planning on whelping a litter needs to have a copy on hand.

  • Cheryl Steinmetz
    Cheryl Steinmetz August 16, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    I was lucky to start showing/breeding in the Twin Cities and Muriel came to our club meeting to talk about whelping when the book first came out in 1983. I still have that first copy and always look at it before a litter is due.

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