Hip Dysplasia: Can a Shape and Surface of Whelping Box Prevent It?

Hip Dysplasia – Nature/Nurture Side of Things

Hip dysplasia is one of those conditions that all dog breeders are very well aware of and have been making considerable efforts to eliminate. Almost every breed’s parent club recommends screening breeding stock for hip dysplasia. HD is the reason why Orthopedic Foundation For Animals (OFA) was founded.

However, with all the effort that went into monitoring the inheritance of the disease, with incredible accumulation of data spanning over 50 years, the consensus is now emerging that the causes of  hip dysplasia are only about 20% genetic and 80% environmental. You can mate two parents with excellent hips and get dysplastic offspring, or mate two dysplastic parents and get pups with normal hips. Some scientists go as far as to say that hip dysplasia is predominantly a bio-mechanical process, with genes playing a very limited part.

Theories that describe HD as mostly a bio-mechanical condition point to the fact that HD affects breeds with higher ratio of weight to height, and secondly that research has shown overweight individuals within the same breed to be twice as likely to develop the condition.

OFA data lists Bulldog and Pug as the two most affected breeds and Italian Greyhound and Whippet as least affected. Talk about compact weight juxtaposed to light, lean body!

In a study that compared Lab puppies on restricted diet to those on control diet, the results were striking  (Vanden Berg-Foels et al 2006). By the age of 6 years puppies fed a restricted diet had 40% less evidence of HD than the controls, with heaviest dogs affected the most.

Chubby puppies are very cute, however their risk of developing orthopedic problems is almost twice as big (pun intended) as for lean puppies. But before you measure out perfectly controlled portions of food for little gremlins you can do something else to reduce environmental risk for hip dysplasia.

The Whelping Box and HD?

Indeed, there might be another environmental factor we are overlooking- the whelping box! When you have a chance to watch some videos of wild canines, you will notice how the den is shaped like a bowl. Its surface is compact dirt. When the pups are nursing they have great traction under their feet. They do not use knees and bellies to crawl as much as pups in a flat whelping box are forced to do. The concave shape informs blind and deaf newborns where “up” and “down” is, and they all pile at the bottom of the den, forming a thermally efficient little gathering.

What is remarkable about the differences between a natural den and a man-made whelping box is that it just may explain why all puppies are born with normal hips and develop dysplasia afterwards, and why wild canines do not suffer from hip dysplasia. Does the damage happen sometime after birth in a man-made environment?

In multiple studies puppies were shown to have normal hips at birth and show signs of laxity in hip joint by the age of 2 weeks (the head of the femur does not fit tightly into the acetabulum). Joint laxity is a key risk factor for developing hip dysplasia. So what happens in those 2 weeks? Now if you look at newborn puppies nursing in a whelping box you will see feet flaring about looking for traction, or puppies putting their weight on knees and hips. Both over-flexing the legs and putting weight directly on knees and hips put undue stress on the hip joint and can result in luxating that joint.

Can some easy adjustments to a whelping box make a difference? Here is a simple experiment I did. The first photo shows my litter nursing in a flat whelping box lined with a Sherpa blanket. The next photo was taken after I put a rug pad under the blanket. The pad changed the traction on the bottom of the whelping box. Notice how the weight distribution changed from knees and hips to feet.

DSC_7316

DSC_7317

Again, same two images side by side. I could not believe the difference!

To go a step further in creating traction I put a rug pad over the blankets and all of a sudden the puppies no longer looked like cute blobs we are used to seeing but more like their wild cousins, lifting weight up on all their limbs.

Hudson on rug pad

I also videotaped the result in how the puppies moved. Watch this video here.

Are we on to something here? After sharing this experiment with friends on facebook I got some great tips on the surfaces with traction. One can buy Sherpa pads with rubberized backing! Who knew? Or use a bathroom rug that has rubber grips on the bottom.

I am also experimenting with creating a concave den. For now I’m using my whelping box. I have padded the outer rim with towels and once I got the shape curved inwards from all directions I laid a rug pad and then a Sherpa blanket over it.

Here is what my typical whelping box environment looked like prior to this experiment.

 

DSC_7320

And here are the same puppies after I made the concave den for them.DSC_7343

I believe that a den curved inwards, with surface that has good traction might be a very good idea. I am going to design something more permanent than a pile of towels for my next litter, but I think that this trio likes their new makeshift nest.

This entry was posted in Hip Dysplasia, Puppy rearing, whelping box. Bookmark the permalink.

113 Responses to Hip Dysplasia: Can a Shape and Surface of Whelping Box Prevent It?

  1. I love how you are always looking to improve the lives of your puppies.

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  2. BEA says:

    Unbelievable Magda to see puppies as little as this on their feet.

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  3. PRM says:

    Thanks, Magda, for sending me to this blog! Cannot believe the traction difference. The video really shows the puppies standing on their feet. Wow!

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  4. DefyingGravity says:

    I’d love to know how you’ve found to make it more concave. What do you use usually for a whopping box? I have 2 breedings planned for this summer and want to see if I can get this done for them both.

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    • dignpop says:

      I have a home-made wooden whelping box 36″ x 36″, which I padded with towels by the external walls to create a concave bottom. My husband promised to make a new bowl-shaped wood insert (he thinks he can bend plywood after wetting it and then shaping with weights). What I have described here are just some thoughts and experiments but they seemed to have significant results, so I will try it again in the future. I will tell you what did not work, and that was a plastic sledding saucer. It was too slippery.

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      • Carol Domingo says:

        Probably easier to mold the shape of wet mdf. That’s what’s under my sink right now, and after a leak, it is positively bowl shaped.

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      • Barbara Dempsey says:

        Could the saucer be coated with a grippy substance?

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      • dignpop says:

        There is a spray sold to make handles of metal tools have a grip. However, I’m not sure about its safety for puppies.

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      • L. R. Wall says:

        Tried to send video of whelping den my female dug. (Yes, she had a really nice indoor area arranged & yes she had been using it & was comfortable). Do not know if it will help you or not, but am sending measurements of above mentioned den. Entry was 1 1/2 ft high & 1 1/2 ft across. Inside depth was approx. 2 12 ft. Front to rear was approx 4 1/2 ft. Side to side was approx 3 1/2 ft.

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  5. Makes you wonder about the plastic pools that really made it big as whelping boxes a generation ago. Maybe padding them
    Up in a special way could help.

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  6. Carole Kennedy says:

    Interesting theory. Just curious about the research to support the statement that wild canines do not suffer from HD — is there a citation that you can provide? Thanks ….

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    • dignpop says:

      “Hip dysplasia has not been reported in the wild undomesticated carnivorous animals, such as wolves and foxes.”http://cal.vet.upenn.edu/projects/saortho/chapter_83/83mast.htm

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      • hideo says:

        you probably wont find any living specimen of hip dysplasia dog in wild. since HD affected dog surely die from starvation if affected (can’t get food from hunting). can not find doesn’t mean doesn’t existed

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      • dignpop says:

        I am less concerned with any comparisons to wild canines and more with reducing environmental factors we can control (excess weight, stress on joints during growth from improper exercise or lack of it, and here I was sharing my fascination with observing any environmental factors that can conceivably affect the hip development in the first 2 weeks). I’m not saying I know the answers. I don’t. I’m observing stuff and posing questions.

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      • marcos says:

        I believe it is common knowledge the muscularity of the wild animals would help stabilize the joints for a considerable amount of time before having a functional effect on survival. This of course would have allowed researchers to detect hip dysplasia.

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  7. Theresa says:

    I don’t understand how putting the rug pad UNDER the sherpa changes the pup’s traction. They are still on the sherpa, and isn’t it just as slippery under their feet as before?

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    • dignpop says:

      Not sure if using the word “traction” was correct here but I didn’t know how else to describe the difference. What I should have said that even traction between a blanket and the box helps. It anchors the blanket in place. So now there is the unchanged traction on the surface of the sherpa, as you pointed out, but the sherpa is firmly stuck to the rug pad affecting its stability.

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  8. Pam says:

    Interesting

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  9. Kelly Winkie says:

    May I ask for your source on the 80/20 statistic, please? I’d like to see the data.

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    • dignpop says:

      I am lumping together environmental and non-genetic factors with “non-hip”genes that influence the phenotypic expression of a quantative trait like hip dysplasia. In other words, many inheritable traits (lean or stocky body) constitute environment that contributes to development of hip dysplasia (Lust at al 2001, Todhunter et al 2003). My main interest here is to explore the question of what factors within non-genetic environment contributing to the expression of the trait can be controlled/ influenced.

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  10. How about finding one of those saucer sleds, the concave round sleds covered with the “traction padding” on it, you could cover the entire apparatus with towels to make it more stable in the whelping box.

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  11. Theresa Baker says:

    I have used foam padding as a whelping den base, with changeable bedding on top. The foam must be replaced and discarded or washed, but it provides great traction for tiny feet – and the mom’s seem to appreciate the padding as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I use ribbed marine carpet which is quite rough. I have seen newborns almost run on due to the grip they can get.

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  13. Cheryl Throneberry says:

    Seems like a good idea. I use exercise mats and then hospital pads topped by fleece. I would be very interested in how your solutions work out. I know lots of people at least start out in a round plastic kiddie pool. My momma dog hated that but she loved the big box. So I think materials really matter. I do worry that you’re generalizing on the instinct capabilities of newborns. In our 4′ by 5′ box we set up different temperature areas with heat lamps and ice pads. Amazing to see the blind/deaf puppies migrate into their favorite areas. Samoyeds are very hot natured. I would be hesitant to make it more difficult to find their happy place in the box. However would still be interested in your solutions. I may try that shepa blanket. Thanks for the ideas.

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    • dignpop says:

      Thanks you so much for this comment! I never want to generalize and I am in awe of breed differences. There is absolutely no one-size-fits-all solution for all breeders. This blog is only intended to show my journey aimed at improving puppy rearing methods.

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  14. Peggy McLain says:

    Where does the mama lie in the bowl shape den. How are the puppies protected from being squished by mom?

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    • dignpop says:

      I have a very small breed and the dams are ultra sensitive about their puppies. I never have to use pig rails for example. I’m sure it will not work for everyone, and again this is just me playing around with ideas, not necessarily right or universal. Experimental.

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    • acdsuperdog says:

      I have whelped in a man-made natural nest! I mad a frame with 12″ timber and filled it with clean, washed sand. Then I placed the top of an igloo shaped dog house on the sandbox. The bitch made her natural bowl-shaped nest and it worked wonderfully. I did this as we had a female that did not like being around the other dogs and stressed at whelping if near sight or sound of the others. Becasue the puppies naturally roll to the middle of the nest basin, the bitch can easily avoid them and never lays on them. Sand nest drains and stays perfectly clean, too. My only concern was socialization. Initially the pups wrere more feral, but by 4.5-5 weeks they were probably even more confident and outgoing than the house rasied litter I whelped at the same time. It was amazing. I got the idea from Dr. Billilnghurst of raw feeding fame.

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      • Megan Smith says:

        OMG This is an amazing idea. I bet the bitch loved it and felt more confident raising her litter. Thank you so much for sharing, this never would have occurred to me, but I may try something like it this spring. I have a big problem with my female Goldens trying to dig under part of my house right before they whelp. Maybe if they had a den like this instead of an open whelping box, they would stop that.

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      • Do you have photos of this? do you think it could be modified to work indoors?

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  15. Bonnie says:

    Very interesting. I have been trying to find a solution for a “natural” whelping box/bed. I’m e perimenting with foam at the moment. One thin layer and around the sides underneath another layer. Topping may be what we call vetbed with antislip backside, not aure yet.

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  16. Loretta Martin says:

    I have Boston terriers, and their weight to height ratio as puppies is pretty close to the heavier Frenchies and Bulldogs, especially in heads. I have found that a large deep cup bed with a layer of egg-carton foam and padded in the bottom edge with towels, then draped with dry-bed works very well. This makes a well in the center for cuddling and feeding off mom. My puppies are up and on their feet very early this way, and no sign of HD. I did have trouble with it in a litter that had been on a flat surface as you described, previously. I am sure you are on the right track.

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  17. Theresa says:

    I use flat ribbed carpet under the pups. Pups have pretty good traction with this. One 4 x 12′ piece makes three 4×4 carpet pieces that I can rotate out to disinfect and pressure wash. I get the carpet without any backing so it does wash well and dry pretty quickly in the sun. I throw them out after the litter is raised and start with fresh carpet for the next litter. I might experiment with the rubberized rug pad next litter and see if I can see any difference.

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  18. Kelly says:

    There are many study’s that find this wrong!!

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  19. Rosemary Teel says:

    Something else to consider: in birds, the chick must push its way out of the egg to “set the hips”. If a chick does not have to push against the shell to force its way out, it will likely be crippled. The question then is: Does this new arrangement of the whelping box in essence help to “set the pup’s hips?”

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    • dignpop says:

      I don’t believe there is any correlation. The point here was not to contribute to joint luxation with slippery surface the puppies are crawling on and to void undue stress of overflexing when nursing when there is no traction to “anchor” the feet.

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  20. This is very interesting. My concern is that my dogs will tear up anything that is put in the whelping box with them. Also putting blankets in there, it is hard to keep clean. Those of us that raise puppies know that it is hard work keeping the environment clean for the puppies. I would be taking out the blankets or whatever and washing them everyday. I am always looking for better solutions. Very interesting read.

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    • acdsuperdog says:

      There is a solution for this! Get a piece of thin plywood or pegboard that fits in your whelping box, less about 1/2 inch. Make covers for this that the pegboard or thin ply slips into. Thick toweling works well. You can sew any material onto the “backside” of your new whelping “pillowslip”. You can also allow a bit extra space and put foam padding in under the material, too. Best is using drybed or vet bed or other medical grade plush material as it allows urine to drain and doesn’t have to be changed as frequently. BUT, you will need someone with a machine that can handle sewing this material. Most anyone can handle cotton terry toweling 🙂 By doing this there is nothing loose for your mothers to pull up and chew.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I found if you leave some old towels or blankets in a heap next to the whelping box, the dam will dig in that rather than in the box. It’s a natural reaction to the pain of the uterus contracting after birth,

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  21. Sunny says:

    We change the bedding several times a day to launder it ~ I use thin rubber backed rugs, great traction and easy to wash. Perhaps with a small breed and only one or two puppies you could get away with less frequent laundering but my Bouviers need a very clean nest.

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    • Joanne says:

      I have bouviers too and the mom likes to scratch around. Anything light weight would just get torn up. What else can we use with large dogs that is eas6 to clean and wash

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  22. Carl J Bodenstein says:

    Appreciate your thought process, but without controlled studies, we will never get anywhere with this or other efforts to < HD. Meanwhile any thoughts that we should be breeding bad hips to bad hips is not a good idea ! There should be enough good to excellent hips to breed. I breed Leonbergers and every effort is made to work on the genetics end of the process that we can. Meanwhile REAR LEG dig in and grip appears important just to hold into the teat, especially it is high or moves occasionally. I find that leaving the REAR nails a little long and sharp helps that more than anything else. Fronts are kept short to help mom out. Rears do not tear her up, so why not leave them a little longer and see if that helps. I do look at the outdoor nest that my female Leo digs and it is a big oval (really big !). Is that by "natures design" or just because they can't dig flat bottom, square edged structures? I also agree regarding wild canines. Bad hips and they are dead meat to some other predator. Doesn't mean it does not occur. BUT it does keep the genetic lines cleaner by natural selection than the breeding programs that we design !

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Pat says:

    Could you use a thick foam pad and hollow out the center?

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  24. This is definitely worth reading. It is just like in the medical field for humans that through the years many things that were thought bad for us are now good for us. We as breeders should always be open to new ideas for the good of our breeding practices. Thank you for the information. I am going to try the rug pad.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Linda Johnstone says:

    I use a soft beanbag, and towelling to cover. Works great for my Tibetan mastiffs. good hipscore’s all round.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Lori says:

    I have found this a very interesting article to think about. I also think there are more outside factors that play in than the genetic idea that the vets push on. I raise German shepherds which they say are very prone to HD. The weight issue is very strong. However, there are some breeds of dogs that get BIG at a very young age and I am convinced that if the dam AND the puppies do not have enough of the right nutrients while going through this FAST growth time that they are more likely to get HD. Mom needs LOTS of calcium etc to be able to GIVE enough mineral content for a LARGE litter to develope correct bone and joints . Also, pups need LOTS of mineral content to continue growing at such a high rate after weaning. I am going to really experiment with this idea tho of the best traction for them as well.

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  27. Cackie Vroom says:

    I have always made sure that my bedding offered excellent traction, but never the concave idea. Really like that idea and will figure a way to do that. I raise Whippets, which as you noted do not have a HD issue but it couldn’t hurt! Thanks for the idea.

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  28. Gerry says:

    How do we explain the differences among puppies in the same litter in the same flat whelping box? Or the differences in results from two separate litters raised in the same flat whelping box? I can understand the whole idea of better traction giving an advantage to the pups, but all pups in the box have the same advantage (or disadvantage). So, yes, there would be other heritable traits that come into play.

    In several breeds, including my own, there are significant differences in build and weight between the conformation and field lines. Yet, there are still lightweight field-bred dogs who have CHD, and some larger, heftier conformation-bred dogs who amaze me that they don’t have more significant problem with hips than those lighter-weight versions of the breed.

    It could be that relatively minor environmental differences may not be critical. Raising on sherpa only v. sherpa with pad may not be as critical as raising on just slippery vinyl rather than the other two surfaces.

    I presently use some formerly hospital blankets that have to be folded to fit the box. This gives extra padding, and the flannel-like material does not move much because it clings to itself when folded; doesn’t slide around like sherpa just laid over a non-porous surface.

    That said, I might try using some foam under my present bedding … and discard after each litter. I notice some inexpensive foam bed covers in Dollar General (also egg-crate foam type).

    Then I wonder, too how soon the pups should actually be up on their feet. As grown dogs, muscle and orthopedic structure work together to keep the joint stable. Puppies this young still lack the muscle to assist the orthopedic structure.

    A very interesting discussion.

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    • Megan Smith says:

      Yes, Gerry, these are some good questions. I have seen “swimmers” grow up to have good hip scores. I also just had two full-sibling, littermates who got dramatically different PennHip scores (one was 90th percentile, one was 20th). Since they were raised on the same surface (whelping box with sherpa lining) it seems like the surface didn’t help much for one of them, or didn’t hurt the other.

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  29. Deb Hughes says:

    Thanks for the information & video. Very interesting & always wanting to learn how to improve. I will be trying this next time.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Holly Strychalski says:

    A friend just sent me this article. My gyp is giving birth as I write this and I’m very excited to try this. This makes so much sense to me. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

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  31. beaudiddley says:

    Always interested to hear new theories. We should never stop trying to find new/better ways to care for our puppies. Interestingly with hip problems in new born humans, girls are more susceptible than boys and first born girls (regardless of maternal age) are more vulnerable than their later born sisters. Might this correlate in dogs?

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Megan Smith says:

    This is fascinating and helpful. Thank you so much for doing this work, and sharing your results. I will be changing the way I operate — and the 4 litters I have due this summer will benefit.

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  33. Ak says:

    Do your experiment
    Had 2 litters born day apart.
    One with 4 puppies had bathmat with rubber backing in a small but deep bed with towels around edges so I concaved & at 2wks these puppies r up on there feet!!!
    Other litter flat bed. 2 puppies & they r not yet moving still on there tummies.
    Still now at 3wks these 2 r hardly moving so I have now changed them into a bed like the other. In 2 days they r standing & moving !!!
    From now on its rubber for traction ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Pingback: Hip Dysplasia: Can a Shape and Surface of Whelping Box Prevent It? | Gordon Setter Expert

  35. I like everything I am hearing about the traction of the pups with the stable rubber based materials, and do believe it would make for stronger, and earlier mobile pups. I have used these same types of bedding ideas with our working line German Shepherd moms and babies with good results, also large quilts lining the 5’plastic pools, draped over the sides and tucked behind, with another large quilt underneath the pool to make it softer and pliable under their bodies. Mos like these bedding types too…but there are still some bitches that are prone to “pica” .. which is that the bitch wants to tear up and eat their bedding. Any and all types of bedding.. from blankets to newspapers.
    I would be very concerned about a bitch tearing up and eating rubber backed materials of any kind, as these would not move well through the dog’s intestinal tract to facilitate removing it from their gut. This is very similar to what humans experience with cravings during pregnancy… but on a much more aggressive and constant level.

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  36. Selina says:

    Interesting article another idea for forming a natural hollow is what a freind used for first 2 weeks of babies ( rottwielers) queen size doona cover X 2. stuff 1 with straw/ hay that is clean and mildew free fold doona end over and place the second doona over it from the opposite end
    place in Whelping box and shape basically with a hollow in middle The puppies naturally role into centre Bitch lays around them no squishing of babies and all have good access to milk bar. and have plenty of traction to push around and over each other

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  37. JC says:

    I bet a papasan chair propped upright on the floor would make a good one.

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  38. Marylee says:

    Thank you for posting this article.😊

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  39. Donna says:

    Idea also from Dr Billinghurst – my last litter (around 15 yrs ago) was whelped in a cardboard pumpkin crate (huge hexagonal crate that pumpkins go to market in, my breed is big, average 40kg) that we’d cut down to just the right height for the bitch to get in/out comfortably – when the pups were older, we cut one side down so they could get in/out. We lined the floor of the crate with thick layers of newspaper, then filled the crate with animal-bedding grade wood shavings. Our girl loved it, she completely “nested” and reshaped it over and over again preceding whelping, and could make herself comfortable by rearranging any time she chose. She would dig a bit, roll pups away, then lie down beside them without being on top of them – the pups were never spread all over the place, she could find them all easily. Any wet stuff drained through, no changing bedding and no, it didn’t stink. Drawbacks were that she also buried her unwanted food in it, which became an issue when the pups wandered near it (she didn’t share food, even with her own pups), and in the first couple of weeks one of the pups ingested a bit of the bedding and became constipated (had to have paraffin oil). I’d be careful about overheating in summer in that “pile of pups”, maybe remove some of the bedding to make it less concave so they could sleep apart in the heat. Yes the pups were up on their feet quickly, which worried me at the time as I thought it was too soon, but there was none of that “swimming” action seen when on flat surfaces – I would never use newspaper on flat surface again.

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  40. Liz Zucker says:

    we use a hammock which is inserted on a frame that sits inside the whelping box. the frame is covered with a shade cloth fabric which is easily washed ans also allows debris to fall through. With enough slack that causes the hammock to sag in the middle when the mum is in it, this in turn makes the puppies keep together in the middle. Mum has never laid on a puppy and even if she did the puppy wouldn’t suffocate due to the air flow through the shade cloth. Once the puppies get on their feet when the eyes open the hammock is removed. Never had a problem with HD or swimmers. This is not a new method

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  41. Bobbie Daniel says:

    I use a whelping nest which is circular, lightly heated, and instslled about half an inch below the floor of the whelping box. My concern is that using something like bath mats means a pup could become trapped underneath and die. This happened to a pup in my first litter, so all coverings in my Subsequent whelping boxes have been breathable. I have never lost a puppy due to the dam lyng on a puppy since I started using the whelping nest. I will find a firmer fabric for them so they can use their feet as you showed in your pictures. I love this theory and feel it has real value. Thanks!

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  42. R. K. Hollis says:

    After reading the multiple ideas I am curious about the wild verses domestic canine approach here. Is there any decisive scientific proof of the 80/20 environmental effects and if yes who did the study. Overweight control of puppies at a few days or a couple weeks(?) lacks statistical proof here. Provide the study and results. Hereditary traits have been proven over time as evidenced by OFA tests, with certain breeds being more prone to hip dysplasia. This blog appears to be focused on whelping boxes/nests. It appears the whelping nest in a bowl shape with traction provides pups better footing and increased mobility. Some limited evidence or proof of this is evident in the pictures and AK’s entry here.

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  43. Meg Lockwood says:

    Expecting a litter of Norfolk pup (may be just one). Went to craft store and trying to make a curved bottom of stuff that you fill indoor /out door furniture , add heating pad and then cover with fleece that has rubber bottom. Checking temps with different set ups.

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  44. marcos says:

    Dear Dingpop, I think your genius is not fully recognized. I’m embarrassed for others reading some of the posts.

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  45. pat hachon says:

    concave den ? actually, in the wild, underground den caved by the mother is always “concave” at his center. So naturally the pups are always “falling” or sliding to the center by gravity, until they can walk and climb, and such centering of her pack , below her if she is flat, slightly up on the side of the den, helps the mother to avoid crushing his pups

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  46. Very interesting. Even though i dont think the environmental factors is as big as 80% i have seen 50% it surely has a lot to do with how the hips and elbows turn out on a dog. It is very important that a pup don´t get fat and that the feeding is right. Raw feeding is what the dog must have. And not to fat the first year, we keep the fat at maximum 10% for our breed Boerboel.

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  47. marcos reta says:

    Hello, I’ m still searching for other more effective materials to reduce slipping. I always have the rug non slip material underneath. Attempted towels, cotton bed pads, burlap yoga mat and even the non slip material it self and while the surfaces never slip, the pup’s feet start out fine yet as they push forward the feet slip and the legs open wide. The best results seem to be with the towels. Please what has yielded the best for you? Thanks

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    • dignpop says:

      Please don’t forget the importance of a concave shape. Towels work for your pups because of preventing a totally flat surface.

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    • Theresa Baker says:

      I have a Durawhelp box for my frenchies. Into the box goes 3 layers of egg carton foam padding -bottom is a solid piece, the next layer has a 10″ circle out out of the center, 3rd layer has a 20″ circle out out from the center, and finally I have extra foam pieces I add under the pig rails so I end up with a concave shape when all are assembled and in place. Over the works I have a 30″ circle shaped rug, and to the edges of the circle shaped rug I have a human infant crib bumper. So the ‘insert’- the circular rug with the attached crib bumper goes on top of the layers of foam. I then use clamps from the hardware store to clamp the edges of the crib bumper to all 4 sides of the Durawhelp box. The circle shape over the concave base keeps the pups where they are supposed to be. I have a few of the rug & crib bumper inserts so I can change them out as they are soiled. Not only are babies kept comfy cozy but momma has padding to lay on as well. I surround the Durawhelp with an x-pen, which essentially gives the whelping box taller sides, and over the top I drape a blanket which I can then use to fully enclose the box to trap heat should I need it – but I rarely have problems with keeping the pups warm and typically have to work to keep them cool. I recently added a braided rug as a base for one of my inserts – this is not a flat braid like most braided rugs, but this particular rug is a type of hand crochet; the end result is a very springy rug with a very knobby napp. I find the puppies can really dig their little feet in and work their leg muscles. This is the first time I have used this braided crochet rug and I am impressed with the traction it provides. I can see with the proper traction in the whelping nest that pups will have superior muscle development and will be up on leg sooner.

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      • dignpop says:

        Thank you very much for your detailed description. It sounds like a very good system. Have you used it for a long time? Have you noticed any difference in musculature and hip conformation of the pups raised this way?

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  48. Theresa Baker says:

    I have always used a concave nest; flat whelping boxes seem so uncomfortable for the dam, so I have always had the foam bottom. Over the years as foam padding came and went I came up with the ‘rings’ of foam to make a nice dish shape which is super helpful for C-section breeds as momma is sometimes out of it for quite a long time so having a nest that naturally ‘pooled’ the pups was essential. My girlfriend’s mom makes the hand-crochet/braided rugs as a hobby to keep her hands busy and fingers free from arthritis, so she has all these rugs laying around, and at first I was reluctant to use these rugs -hand made heirlooms! – I had a really hard time finding what I wanted in stores or thrifting, so I turned to the hand made rugs which are the most textured I have ever used. I see a difference right from the get-go in the pups ability to find purchase with their paws. So yes, from one litter to the next the super textured bedding clearly provides footing for the pups, and the pups use it. The only problem with this system is that it the inserts are super bulky and typically require a front loader or visit to the laundry matt to get them clean, so multiple beds are essential. Once the pups are up on leg I remove the inserts and chuck the foam and then install part newspaper for a potty area, and then section of bedding so they have the full space of the whelping box to toddle around, a potty space and a bed/nest.

    Liked by 1 person

  49. Meg Lockwood says:

    I tried to do something like that with foam but it was not stable and my Norfolk mom moved it all over digging in a day. I like your idea to give it more stability.

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    • Theresa Baker says:

      I try to reuse items, and I usually find what I need at the thrift and 2nd hand stores. Rugs are the expensive part at 6+ bucks, then add a crib bumper for 3 bucks and you have essentially a foam wall around your rug base. I found small clamps at the Goodwill but you can also find inexpensive clamps at most hardware stores. Clamp the crib bumper to the wall of your whelping box and it holds very well. Terrier moms can really mess up a nest, but the clamps kept the nest insert in place when I had rat terriers. Not sure how it would be for large breeds.

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  50. lepusreg says:

    Been doing this for years. I also don’t use a whelping box! I use a large crate in which I put thick comforters covered by sherpa blanket. PUPPIES get great traction. No lopping or sliding . I wanted to mimic the wolf/coyote/fox den. Mine takes the concave shape.

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