How Will the Male Dog React to the Newborn Puppies?

A mother dog is going to be there for her litter of puppies right away. She is going to lick them when they come out of her womb, make sure they are doing well, and provide them with the breast milk they need to survive. As they get older, she will be very protective over them and ensure they will survive. She became a mother throughout her dog gestation period, and she's willing to keep up with that role until the puppies are grown up.

dad & son
A male dog doesn't necessarily have the same protective instincts for puppies as a female dog.
credit: framsook/iStock/GettyImages

Keeping the male away

The male dog is going to be well aware that there is a new litter of puppies in the house, but that doesn't mean he will have some instinct to take care of them like the mother does. Instead, there are a number of ways he could react, according to Animal Wised.

He may sniff the litter of puppies, want to play with them, hang out with them, or even bark at them. Since adult male dogs can be very playful, this could be harmful to the puppies, which can barely move in the first few weeks of their lives. For this reason, it's best to avoid the dog meeting in the first place and keep the male dog at a distance.

The protective doggy mother

Another reason why it's wise to keep the male dog and puppies separated is because the mother's instincts are going to take over during this time. Normally, your female dog — even during the dog gestation period — is well behaved. But when she is with her pups, she is going to do whatever she can to protect them.

Your female dog may growl at the male or try to fight him. If the puppies get caught in the middle, this could end up being a very bad situation. Even female dogs that were never aggressive prior to having puppies could become aggressive in this situation. Instead, it's best to keep the male dog away from the mother and the litter of puppies, especially at first.

Male dog meeting the puppies

The first 15 days or so after your female dog gives birth are when it's most important to keep the male dog away. This is when the puppies are considered newborns, and when the mother is going to be closest with them. After 20 days or so, the mother will begin to calm down as the puppies explore their surroundings.

Once this period is over, it should be safe to show the male dog his litter of puppies. However, make sure that you're there to supervise should any aggressive behavior arise. Also, make sure both the male and female dog are up to date on their shots so they can't accidentally make the puppies sick.

It's beneficial to introduce the male dog to his puppies because of socializing purposes. The puppies are learning how to interact with other dogs as well as the natural order of their species. While they're too young to go to a dog park and meet other pups, they can have that necessary social interaction with the male dog instead.

Male dogs and fatherhood

Dogs are descended from wolves, which would live and work in packs, according to Fatherly. During this time, both the mother and the father would raise the litter of puppies and show them the lay of the land. They'd teach the pups critical survival skills, the social order, and how to work on a team.

However, over time, as dogs became domesticated, they lost the pack mentality and became more individual-oriented creatures. Today, raising the pups is left up to the mother, while the father usually doesn't want anything to do with them. At most, his reaction may just be curiosity about the new creatures that have arrived in the home. He may even be annoyed or jealous of them, depending on his personality.

The male dog may play well and establish a relationship with his litter of puppies, but usually only if a human forces them to live together. Research shows that dogs may be more adept at interacting with humans than with other dogs because of how domesticated they have become. That's why a male dog is likely to be better with a human baby or child than with its own puppies.

Additional precautions for newborn puppies

Now that you know you have to keep the male dog away at first — and slowly introduce him to his litter of puppies after that — you should also read up about newborn puppy tips to keep the litter of puppies safe and sound.

According to Hill's, you will need to keep the mother and her litter of puppies in a place where they cannot escape, but they still have enough room to move around. She is going to initially clean up after them, but after a few weeks, you're going to need to step in and take care of their waste.

You'll need to ensure the mother is well fed during this time, and that all dogs are getting a chance to breastfeed. If you notice that one or some of the dogs are not latching on properly or getting access to the mother, you'll need to assist them. Smaller dogs that just can't make it to their mother's nipples may need to be bottle-fed.

Since puppies are susceptible to sickness before they are given their shots at six to eight weeks, you and any visitors you have around will need to thoroughly wash your hands prior to handling the puppies. Around the fourth week, the puppies will require socializing, so make sure you're interacting with them, exposing them to new situations and perhaps even introducing the male dog during this time.

Wherever you send the puppies, make sure they are going to good, loving homes. You'll want to make sure the other dogs in the home are not going to be aggressive towards the puppies, since they will still be vulnerable when they are several weeks or even a few months old.