How to Take Care of Newborn German Shepherd Puppies

photo by highlandergermanshepherds

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 New 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, and 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. Just make sure that the box is big enough for your GSD to stretch out comfortably.  

You may also buy a heat pad. It will provide warmth to the litter. But don’t put it on top of the whelping box because pups may accidentally get burned. Instead, put the heat pad under the whelping box, with one end on top of the box. Cover it with a towel to avoid overheating.

The whelping box should be close enough to an electrical outlet so you can easily plug in the heat pad once you need more warmth for your Litter. Also, put two lamps on each side of the cozy whelping box so you can monitor the pups’ temperature and position.

Make sure they stay warm by providing a heating pad and lamp. You may add blankets, pillows, towels, or even old newspapers and a warm water bottle wrapped in a towel. Be careful though because puppies might get entangled and suffocate 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 prescribe 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.

If you leave newborn German shepherd puppies with their mother, give her the first two days to bond with her litter and feed them. The process of attaining acceptance takes time, so don’t interfere.

Once you see that your GSD has accepted her litter and is feeding them, you can put the puppies in a box beside their mother. She will take care of cleaning and nurturing her pups while continuing to feed them with her milk. But if she still refuses to take care of her pups, you must take matters into your own hands.

What to Do if You Must Take Care of Newborn German Shepherd Puppies yourself

If the mother GSD refused to accept her pups or can’t provide enough milk for them, you have no choice but to raise the litter on your own. To do this, place a clean towel or a washable vet bed inside a cardboard box. Keep the box beside your GSD but make sure that she cannot get in touch with her pups.

After placing the towel/vet bed, put a heating pad on one end of it and cover it with another towel to avoid overheating the bed. Plug the pad into an electrical outlet and adjust the heat to maintain its temperature at 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The pups can get hypothermia if their body heat drops below 94 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Now, put your German shepherd puppies under the warmth of the heating pad (at 95 degrees F) and wait for them to feed. But make sure that you don’t overcrowd them in the box. Only put three puppies per towel or one puppy per section of the vet bed for ease in feeding and monitoring.

If you don’t have a baby bottle, buy an eyedropper at any drug store. A mother GSD can produce about 4 to 5 cc of milk every hour. This means that she will need someone to feed her pups every 2 or 3 hours.

To correctly use the eyedropper, put your puppy on its stomach and tickle its throat to induce swallowing. Then drip milk at the corner of its mouth until it starts to swallow—don’t let it choke! Repeat this process until you see that the pup has emptied the eyedropper.

Pups will probably fall asleep after feeding. To avoid suffocation, place rolled-up newspapers in their box (the pups can use them as pillows when they sleep). These are only temporary until the mother GSD starts to take care of them by licking them clean and keeping them warm with her presence.

Weighing scale

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. Remember to always be gentle and careful so you don’t break their eardrums or injure them during the process.

Step by Step Caring for Newborn 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 your 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 can crawl on their stomach to 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. Avoid over-bathing the pups because it can cause dehydration.

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Don’t forget to change the beddings daily to keep the area clean and dry to avoid discomfort.

How To Take Care Of 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 in 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.

How To Take Care Of 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/her as a threat. They can begin eating solid foods for the first time now that their teeth are fully developed.

How To Take Care Of 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 to stop biting.

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 social skills by playing not only with each other but also with people.

How To Take Care Of 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.

How To Take Care Of 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.

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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.

What To Do If Your Newborn GSD Puppy Is Not Urinating

The best way to stimulate urination is by using a wet cotton ball or washcloth and gently rubbing the genital area. When they are done, let them play so that they learn how to do this on their own. Be patient because it takes time before they get the hang of it.

How to Stimulate Defecation of Newborn Puppies

If you notice that your GSD puppy is not defecating, gently massage the anal area using a wet cotton ball or washcloth so don’t worry if some poop comes out. If it doesn’t, use the suction bulb syringe to remove any blockage and clear your pup’s airway.

What To Do If Your Newborn Puppy Is Not Eating

If a GSD puppy hasn’t eaten during its first 24 hours of life, place a few drops of colostrum (the first milk that mother GSD produces) on its tongue. If it doesn’t eat the colostrum, don’t force it to do so because you might injure its stomach. It will be fine if it doesn’t eat during the first 24 hours of life.

If after 24 hours it still refuses to eat, use a baby bottle or feeding syringe to feed the puppy. Prepare a milk replacement formula using evaporated milk mixed with egg yolk, using two egg yolks for every half cup of milk. Don’t use whole milk because it has more fat content which can cause diarrhea. To avoid bacteria growth, boil the water first before mixing everything and store any leftover formula in the fridge.

You can also feed the pups using puppy feeders but it’s more advisable if you introduce solid food on their 3rd to 4th week.

What To Do If Your Newborn GSD Puppy Has Diarrhea

Diarrhea is a common problem among newborn puppies and adult dogs alike and it may have some causes. It’s important to consult your vet if diarrhea persists or worsens because it might be a sign of a more serious problem.

The most common cause is that they are sensitive to new food so it’s best to mix the milk replacement formula with their regular puppy chow food. Gradually increase the proportion of milk replacement formula and decrease the proportion of puppy chow until you wean them off milk replacement completely.

Your GSD puppy may have parasites because stools may look like pebbles or tan-colored, small balls which can be a sign that they have swallowed something in their litter box. This is particularly common when they are still with their mother because they tend to eat the feces of the other pups.

Diarrhea can also be caused by stress, which is common for a newborn GSD puppy that has been removed from its mom. If this happens, make sure you give them enough attention and place your hand gently on their body to calm them down.


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.  

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