When a German Shepherd is born, they need to be taken care of especially if their mother isn’t with them.
Some of these cases happen when your German Shepherd puppy is abandoned or orphaned.
They face the cruel aspect of not having their mother to take care of them. However, you can actually care for your newborn German Shepherd puppy when they are all alone.
If you want to take care of your German Shepherd puppy, you got to follow certain steps before they are born, in case the mother is with you, and after they are born.
If the mother is with them, she can actually take care of them with the littermates.
However, if they are orphaned and abandoned, you have to learn how to take care of them, the different stages of their development, and what to do if their health is affected.
Facts about German Shepherd newborns
1.) German Shepherd newborns spend their first 7 days eating and sleeping
During the first seven days, German Shepherd newborns spent their time eating and sleeping; 22 hours sleeping and the other 2 hours eating each day.
2.) Newborn German Shepherds are born without being able to see or hear
German Shepherd newborns can’t see anything when they are born. They start to see when they are 8 to 14 days old and hear when they are 5 to 8 days old.
It takes time for them to develop their eyes and nervous system which continues to grow when they are outside their mother’s womb.
However, they can sense their mother’s warmth and stay beside her always.
3.) They can’t stand up nor bark when they are first born
When they are less than 2 to 4 weeks old, they can’t stand up because their legs aren’t strong enough without needed muscle mass and motor function that will help them to get up and walk so they need time to walk.
They can’t also bark when they are less than 2 to 4 weeks old mainly because they still are developing.
4.) German Shepherds are usually born black with grey and blue eyes
The first color that German Shepherd’s coat is born with is black where it changes with time. Their eyes are either grey or dark blue in color when they are born.
How big are newborn German Shepherd at birth?
A healthy newborn German Shepherd weighs about .08 to 1.3 pounds. By the end of the first week, your German Shepherd puppy will have double their weight and will weigh about 1.6 to 2.1 pounds.
A newborn German Shepherd weighs a very small weight when they are born. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to worry about them.
What kind of foods do newborn German Shepherd puppies need if they are orphaned?
If your newborn puppies are orphaned they will need certain types of food. They will need about 33 g crude protein, 14 g lactose, and 42 fat.
This formula is important because your German Shepherd puppy needs them in order to grow gradually and healthy.
Milk and water
Your German Shepherd puppy will need milk and water. Milk is also a fluid that is needed by your German Shepherd puppies.
Newborn German Shepherd puppies will require about 130 to 220 millimeters of fluid or milk per one kilogram of puppy weight per day.
When you give your German Shepherd puppy commercial milk, you have to mix the milk with water so you can dilute it for your puppies.
The first thing that newborn puppies eat is colostrum which comes from the mother German Shepherd and is rich in protein.
It’s very easy to digest for puppies and helps in their development and protects their immune system.
Never use cow milk as it will cause digestive problems and bloating.
The best protein to give to your puppy comes from commercial milk which is suitable for your puppy.
Supplies you will need for the arrival of a newborn German Shepherd
You will need many supplies to help the mother of the German Shepherd’s newborns and her puppies.
1.) Washable vet bed, heat pad, lamp, blankets, pillow, and towels
Both the mother German Shepherd and her litter need a spacious, clean, and comfortable area to relax and sit in.
Use the washable vet bed to let the mother German Shepherd and her puppies stay and sleep very comfortable. Also, you can use pillows to help let your German Shepherd stay relaxed.
To help them stay warm, use a heat lamp and a heating lamp so they won’t be cold.
2.) Puppy milk replacer, baby bottle, or feeding syringe
If the litter is abandoned or orphaned, ask your vet to prescribe for your puppy formulated milk.
You can purchase either a puppy milk replacer, baby bottle, or feeding syringe for your puppy to drink milk.
In other cases, you could use these supplies when the German Shepherd mother couldn’t produce enough milk or puppies have poor suckle reflex.
3.) Weighing scale
You have to make sure that your German Shepherd puppy is gaining enough weight. You can do so by monitoring their weight at least 4 times a week by putting them on a weighing scale.
If the puppies aren’t gaining any weight, go to the vet immediately because they may not be getting enough milk.
4.) Cotton balls or washcloth
You need cotton balls or a washcloth if your German Shepherd newborn was abandoned and now you are taking care of them.
Naturally, a German Shepherd mother will encourage her newborns to eliminate by licking them out.
However, if they were abandoned and are in your care, you have to stimulate them using a cotton ball or a washcloth during the first 2 weeks of their life.
Anytime after this period, they know how to eliminate on their own.
Steps on how to take care of newborns German Shepherds
Before birth: provide a home for the female German Shepherd
Before your German Shepherd puppies are born, the female German Shepherd searches and looks for spaces that will be safe and private for her puppies.
She needs to make sure that they will be safe without feeling any threat or else she will search for another place.
As she gets more comfortable, she will spend more time in this new home to get it ready.
After birth: adjust the temperature and humidity
Newborns puppies have the problem of not knowing how to adjust their bodies to cold temperatures. Even though their mother is a heat source, you have to watch out for the temperature and humidity of the room.
If they feel cold, they may either not grow properly or die from the cold. During the puppies the first week, the temperature of the room must be between 30 to 32 C.
In the second week, the temperature must be between 26 to 28 C. In the third week, the ideal temperature is 22 C so they don’t feel too hot or too cold.
As for humidity, you have to keep it between 55% to 65% to avoid your puppy from being dehydrated.
Don’t go anywhere above 65% of humidity so there wouldn’t be any diseases.
Check on the newborn puppies
After birth, you have to check on every single puppy to see if they are okay. You got to check on the puppies to see that they are breathing properly.
A mother German Shepherd, usually after birth, cuts the umbilical cord and cleans her puppies by gently licking their bodies.
However, sometimes this isn’t the case because the mother may not have experience or may be exhausted after the delivery. If this happens, it is up to you to take care of the newborn puppies.
You got to use a disinfectant to clean the chord. Then use a clean towel to gently rub the puppies’ bodies until they are dry.
Let your newborn puppies feed
In this step, let your newborn German Shepherd naturally feed. When they are born, they will naturally find their mother’s nibbles.
After giving birth, the mother doesn’t have milk right away rather she secretes a yellowish substance called “colostrum”.
This substance is very important for your puppies to ingest as it provides them with the needed antibodies that will nourish them.
Puppies who don’t get these antibodies will face death. In fact, about 80 to 90% of puppies who don’t get will die.
If it happens that your puppy has an intolerance to their mother milk or is abandoned, you have to find another mother to feed them or feed them artificially using a specific formula.
Your vet may prescribe you a homemade formula so you can feed your German Shepherd puppy. It mainly consists of:
- 6 gram of powdered bones
- 1 egg
- 6 oz of cream
- 27 oz of whole cow milk
- Vitamin supplements include vitamin A, D, C, E
This formula is the last resort when you don’t have another mother to feed the puppies.
It is best to feed them at temperatures at 37 C every 3 hours until they are 3 weeks of age.
Take care of your puppies hygiene
To keep the German Shepherd puppies in good health, it is best to keep up their hygiene and their nest.
When the puppies are born, they don’t produce a lot of waste; however, they still do produce waste.
You will still need to clean the box every day so that your German Shepherd puppy stays clean and replace the towels and blankets.
The puppies can be bathed every 45 days to ensure their hygiene and them staying clean.
The German Shepherd newborn development
When German Shepherd puppies are newly born, their umbilical cord falls down. Their mom licks their bottoms to eliminate.
Even though the German Shepherd needs to spend time with their mother, they need to also spend time with you so they can get comfortable being around people.
This exposure will let them become comfortable around you and other people.
In the first week, their birth weight will become double and they will do nothing except nursing and sleeping.
The puppies will spend time with their other littermates; however, they can’t see them or hear them because, at this stage, they are blind and deaf.
During the second week, your German Shepherd puppy will begin to open their eyes which will appear blue at first which changes over time.
They won’t be able to see very well but they can at least see. The typical age that their eyes will open in is 10 to 14 days of age.
They will start crawling around taking their first step but their ears will also open up. Also, their first tooth will start to come out.
An increase in their bodyweight will also happen in which they will gain a 5 to 10 % increase in their body weight.
Your German Shepherd newborn puppy will start to eliminate and the German Shepherd mother will help them out with eliminating.
If the mother German Shepherd doesn’t have enough milk to feed all the puppies, you could give your German Shepherd puppy bottled milk along with the milk that the mother makes.
In the third, week, their ears will begin to open for the first time and they will be able to hear and see anything.
In the third week, your German Shepherd newborns puppies will begin weaning becoming independent from feeding on their mother’s milk.
They will also begin to stand on their own feet but they still won’t have full control over the way they walk.
A German Shepherd puppy will also begin to develop their baby teeth.
At this stage, they will become independent of their mother; they will start to become curious and start to play rough with their littermates.
When your German Shepherd puppies play with each other, they will learn how to interact with their littermates and other dogs in the future.
One of the important things your German Shepherd puppies will learn from being with other puppies is to control how much they bite.
This socialization is necessary for your German Shepherd puppies so they learn to control their bite inhibition.
By the age of three weeks, your German Shepherd puppy can learn to potty in specific areas such as a litter box or a puppy pad.
Don’t rush and make them potty outside as their legs are still developing and they need time to learn how to walk.
By the fourth week, your German Shepherd puppy will be really good at socialization.
They will form bonding relationships with their littermates, mother, and humans.
Even though they are still developing, they are still able to learn concepts such as potty training and crate training. Their minds can absorb new learning techniques very easily.
They will be able to walk easily around because their legs have developed so they will be able to move easily.
Your German Shepherd puppy’s teeth will stop weaning and their baby teeth will have fully developed.
They should eat soft food rather than solid foods at this age.
The German Shepherd puppy will grow in size and be larger. They will be more socialized and will learn techniques such as bite inhibition where they will control how much they bite.
Puppies will be exposed to new people, sights, and sounds where they will get new experiences.
At this stage, they will be gradually weaned off from their mother and can eat solid food. All of this is done gradually.
At this age, your German Shepherd puppies will become more independent from their mother. They will be entirely weaned off from their mother’s milk and move into puppy food.
Their social skills will be enhanced more rapidly. They will also gain weight of about 1.5 to 2.5 pounds a week and continue to get even bigger.
When we move to this period, a new period begins which is the fear period. In this period, the puppy shows fear of new things when they become afraid of the experience.
It is the time that they develop a fear of things from different experiences and interactions.
This is the reason that it’s important to let them get introduced to people and dogs at a young age.
You have to be sure that a German Shepherd puppy has positive experiences during their young age so they don’t develop any problems with further interactions in the future.
At this age, the puppies will be ready to have a home away from their mother German Shepherd.
They will have gained so much weight that they will be between 13 to 15 pounds and will be 6 to 9 inches.
They will be totally independent of their mother and you will need to continue to socialize them.
Common problems that happen to newborn German Shepherd puppies
Through their mother’s milk, the German Shepherd puppies get all the sugar which is turned to glucose that they need in their bodies.
If it happens that they don’t get enough sugar, they will have problems such as seizures, muscle twitching, and depression.
These problems could have been avoided if your German Shepherd puppy got all the sugar that they needed so they don’t have low sugar levels.
Hypothermia is a low body temperature in your puppy’s body. Normally, a newborn puppy gets warm from the heat that they get from staying close to their mother’s body.
If a German Shepherd puppy doesn’t get the warmth that they need, they may be at risk of hypothermia where their body’s temperature is so low.
In the absence of their mother, you have to avoid your puppy getting hypothermia by keeping them warm.
You can keep them warm by putting heat lamps, heat pads, and hot water bottles near them so they get the heat that they need.
A German Shepherd puppy can become dehydrated from not taking enough fluids and liquids. A newborn German Shepherd naturally gets all of their fluids from their mother.
Dehydration causes lots of problems for your newborn German Shepherd puppies such as problems in digestion and metabolism.
Your newborn puppy will also have dry skin and mouth as a result of dehydration.
Transitioning your puppy from litter to the new home
Begin exposure them to their new home
This is one of the first steps that you have to take gradually. First, visit your puppy in the environment that is familiar to them such as the place that the breeder has them.
Visit them a couple of times before bringing them home so they get used to you.
When you bring them home, introduce them to your home slowly. Don’t rush them and be with them every step of the way.
Expose them to new experiences
This is one of the very important steps that require your full attention and time. You have to introduce your German Shepherd newborn to new things such as people, experiences, and other things.
Don’t force them to do anything overwhelming so that they don’t become fearful.
Puppies that are neglected often become jumpy and fearful of many things or even certain people.
In severe cases, dogs who don’t have new experiences at a young age can have anxiety which will cause them aggression triggering the fight and flight response.
Crate training your puppy
It’s also important to crate train your puppy at a young age so they know how to potty train.
You will need a potty schedule for your German Shepherd puppy so they have times where they are going to potty.
Take them on a leash and make sure that they don’t wander alone at their very young age.
When they aren’t going to potty, you have to put them in the crate for some time. They will always want the crate to be clean so they won’t cause any potty in the crate.
Gradually, they will apply this concept to all other areas in the house and won’t potty in any of them.
It will also teach your German Shepherd puppy to not be afraid while you are away. They will be less likely to have separation anxiety.
You can give your German Shepherd puppy things such as toys and puzzles.
Taking care of your German Shepherd puppy is a really important step especially when they are puppies.
How often should a puppy eat?
Puppies generally nurse every two hours in their first week. As they grow, the intervals between each feeding is longer.
At around four weeks, puppies can transition from nursing to eating solid foods.
When transitioning to solid food, you can give your German Shepherd puppy kibble soaked in milk or water.
Gradually, you can decrease the amount of milk and water that is in the kibble in weeks 7 and 8. You can give your dry kibble at this stage.
You have to consult your vet about the amount of kibble and schedule that your dog should take.
How to help an orphaned puppy go potty?
During the first few weeks in their lives, puppies are unable to urinate and eliminate on their own. They need their mother so they can help them with elimination through licking.
If; however, your puppy doesn’t have a mother, you will have to use a soft washcloth and dip it in water.
You will need to gently massage the anal and urinary area of your puppy so they can eliminate easily. This acts exactly like their mother’s tongues stimulating them to eliminate.
You will have to keep doing so until your puppy is of a suitable age so know how to relieve themselves alone.
Puppies begin to eliminate on their own at the age of three to four weeks old.
When should you let your vet have their first check-up?
All puppies should receive the first round of vaccination at the age of 6th week because they need to become vaccinated.
Deworming and a physical examination should begin at an early age. Always consult with your vet to know about the exact times.
It’s best to always monitor your dog to know if they have any of the below symptoms:
- Lack of appetite
- Poor weight gain
- Difficult breathing
- Coughing/ wheezing
- Pale gums
- Constant crying
- Inability to pass urine or stool
If it happens that they have any of the above symptoms, you have to take them to the vet immediately so they don’t face any further complications.
It’s important to take care of your German Shepherd puppy and see if they have any of these signs.
Registering your puppies
You can easily register your puppy with the AKC. Registration benefits your dog and you as a dog’s parent.
When you register your puppy, your dog’s bloodline and information are recorded so if you need any information you can get it.
Also, your dog can participate in AKC events and services. You can also track the development of your dog through the AKC.
A newborn German Shepherd needs all the attention and care that they can get especially if they are orphaned and abandoned.
They are born to be taken care of at a certain time so they can grow healthy. You need to be with them every step of the way helping them with their feeding, health, potty training, and socialization.
To know more about the German Shepherd puppy diet, check the German Shepherd Puppy Diet Guide.
Share your experience. How did you first take care of your newborn German Shepherd puppy?