The presenting position of a pup at the time of birth is important for an easy and safe delivery. There are two normal birthing positions for a dog. A puppy can be born head first -- around 60 percent of puppies are born this way -- or with his tail and hind feet first.
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It's normal for a puppy to come down the birthing canal in the diving position, with his head first -- nose forward -- and forelegs extended. This is called the anterior presentation. It's equally normal for a puppy to be born with his tail and hind legs and feet emerging first. This is called the posterior presentation and rarely causes a problem, though the pup's elbows can get caught on his mother's pelvic rim.
There are several abnormal birthing positions that cause delivery problems for a dog. They include the breech presentation, where a pup's hind legs are extended forward and his tail and bottom are the first parts to enter the birth canal. Problems can also result from a pup coming head first but with his head turned to the side or bent forward, head first but with his front feet flexed backwards or back first. If a pup is suspected of being in a wrong position or if the mother is having difficulties giving birth, always contact a veterinarian immediately. Veterinarians can sometimes manually correct these abnormal positions; if they can't , a caesarean section is needed.
By Norma Roche
Caring For Your Dog; Dr. Bruce Fogle
Waikini Vet Services Ltd: Breeding - Whelping
Dog Owner's Veterinary Handbook; Debra M. Eldredge D.V.M., et al.
About the Author
Norma Roche has worked as a complementary therapist with people and animals for more than 10 years. A teacher, she creates courses in therapies and related subjects for beginners to professional therapists. Roche received a B.A. in historical studies from Portsmouth University and holds various qualifications in therapies.