photo by highlandergermanshepherds

How to Take Care of Newborn German Shepherd Puppies

Normally, the mother GSD takes care of her litter. Humans generally avoid meddling because mother GSDs are very protective of their litter. However, you have to take charge if the mother GSD couldn’t produce enough milk and doesn’t want to take care of her litter.

But the question is, how can you take care of newborn German shepherd puppies?

To answer your question, we made this guide to help you care for your adorable German shepherd puppies.

Things to Prepare for the Arrival of Your German Shepherd Puppies

If you found out your GSD is pregnant, prepare the necessary items to assist her in caring for her litter. Consider buying the following things in advance:

  • Whelping box, washable vet bed, cardboard box,  heat pad, lamp, blankets, pillows, towels

The mother GSD and her litter need a quiet place to stay. It should be spacious, clean, and comfortable. If money is not an issue, you may purchase a commercial whelping box and a washable vet bed. But if you want to be thrifty, you can just make use of a clean cardboard box. Make sure they stay warm by providing a heating pad and lamp. You may add blanket, pillows, towels or even old newspapers and a warm water bottle wrapped in a towel. Be careful though because puppies might get entangled and suffocated if the blanket, pillows, and towels are not taut.

  • Puppy milk replacer, baby bottle or feeding syringe

If the litter is abandoned or orphaned, ask your vet to prescribed milk formulated for German shepherd puppies. Purchase a baby bottle or syringe for feeding. In some cases, these things are also necessary for a mother GSD who couldn’t produce enough milk or newborns who have poor suckle reflex.

  • Weighing scale
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To make sure if the German shepherd puppies are gaining enough weight, monitor their weight by using a weighing scale at least 4 times a week. If the puppies are not gaining enough weight, they may not be getting enough milk or nourishment so consult your vet right away.

  • Cotton balls or washcloth, suction bulb syringe

The mother GSD encourages her litter to urinate or defecate by licking them but if the litter is abandoned, you have to stimulate them because newborns can’t do this on their own during their first 2 weeks of life.  Use a wet cotton ball or washcloth to massage or rub gently the anal region. Use the suction bulb syringe if something is blocking the puppies’ nasal passages.

Step by Step Caring for German Shepherd Puppies

Because caring for German shepherd puppies is a daunting task, a mother GSD might need your help. A mother GSD can give birth to 4 to 9 puppies in one litter, 6 as the average. That’s a lot so it’s advisable if you help her so she can focus on recovering from labor.

Newborn German Shepherd Puppies

Newborns especially 1 to 3-day old German shepherd puppies are vulnerable so before you do anything, consult with your vet especially if you are inexperienced. Right after the mother GSD gives birth, check the 1-day old German shepherd puppies if they are breathing. If you notice a puppy having breathing difficulties, use a suction bulb syringe to suck out the blockage and clear its airways. Their ears and eyes are closed but they have the ability to crawl on their stomach and find their mother’s nipples and suck milk. Most of the time, they just sleep or eat. If a mother GSD is absent or she couldn’t produce enough milk, feed the puppies using a baby bottle or feeding syringe. They usually eat every two hours during their first week of life. 

Check if the temperature is warm enough because puppies can’t regulate their temperature during this stage. You don’t have to bathe them this time because the mother GSD will clean her litter by constantly licking them. If the puppies are orphaned, you may wash them gently using a warm and moist cloth. Don’t forget to change the beddings daily to keep the area clean and dry to avoid discomfort.

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1 Week Old to 2 Week Old German Shepherd Puppies

There are few changes during their first week because the puppies’ eyes are still closed and they just frequently eat and sleep so you should be noticing the puppies gaining enough weight. You will notice some of them wagging their tails as well which is adorable to look at.

The puppies will gradually open their eyes for the first time at 2 weeks. They will be curious so expect them to move around to inspect their surroundings. Instead of crawling, they attempt to use their legs even though their legs may shake. Check their weight to see if they are gaining well and continue keeping them warm and clean.

3 Week Old to 4 Week Old German Shepherd Puppies

German shepherd puppies will hit another big milestone this week. Their ears will open so they can hear the sounds around them. Though their legs still shake when they attempt to walk, they can finally stand on their own. They will begin to socialize and explore their surroundings more so you should not separate the puppies from each other.

They will start teething so they tend to bite everything. They will also be interested in eating solid food. This time, they can urinate and defecate on their own so you don’t need to stimulate them anymore but you still have to clean their wastes.

The puppies can walk well at 4 weeks so they will continue socializing with their siblings, their mother, and their handler through playing. The handler should be careful in dealing with the puppies so they don’t perceive him as a threat. They can start also eating solid food this time because their teeth are fully formed. 

5 Week Old to 6 Week Old German Shepherd Puppies

The German Shepherd puppies will continue to grow physically. Their emotions will be more complex which could make them bite your hands so it’s a good idea to start training your puppies. 

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It’s important to provide a high-quality solid diet because the mother GSD’s milk production starts to slow down.

The puppies can be fully weaned when they reach 6 weeks because they become independent of their mother. They also improve their socials skills by playing not only with each other but also with people.

7 Week Old to 8 Week Old German Shepherd Puppies

They become fearful of new things and newcomers at 7 weeks. Don’t be surprised if they’re not friendly with newcomers anymore. Not to worry because this is just a normal phase. This is a good time to expose the puppies to various sounds, places, and people.

German Shepherd puppies are fully weaned and fully independent from their mother when they reach 8 weeks so it’s good to train them to prevent behavioral problems. Teach them basic commands but focus on socialization and bite inhibition. If the puppies are not fully potty trained, train them now.

9 Week Old to 10 Week Old German Shepherd Puppies

Continue training your puppies while giving them the best nourishment they can have. At 9 weeks, the weight of male German shepherd puppies normally ranges from 9 to 10 kg while the females would be from 7 to 9 kg. Their height ranges from 12 to 15 inches.

When the German shepherd puppies reach 10 weeks, their ears will become pointy but sometimes the ears are floppy. That’s fine as long as the ears are not always floppy.  Their height and weight will continue to grow as long as they are adequately fed. However, some puppies won’t eat much or refuse to eat so you have to make sure they eat enough food.

By this time, your puppies should already know how to gently use their mouth in dealing with humans so you can enhance their training by teaching other basic commands. Be patient if your puppies commit a mistake.


German shepherd puppies are truly a sight to behold from birth to adulthood. Take care of them well and they’ll certainly take care of you.