Accidents and illnesses are why mother dogs kill their puppies; inexperience and lack of recognition can also cause a dog to kill her litter. Also, a mother will kill her puppy if the puppy is defective.

Infanticide in dogs is a situation no pet owner ever wants to experience. It can be upsetting and perplexing why the mother dog would kill its litter. However, not every infanticide is intentional.

Nonetheless, seeing a dead puppy due to infanticide is enough to put you in a state of shock. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon among canines. At the same time, there are reasons why a mother dog may kill its litter, and some are not condemned in some places.

Table of Contents

Six Reasons Why Dogs Kill Their Puppies


Because they are either lazy or irresponsible, some mother dogs will inadvertently hurt their puppies. Large breed dogs lie on puppies and smother or crush them.

Suppose your female does not naturally tend to place her babies into the whelping box’s center before settling down. You will need to keep a close eye on them while she moves around the whelping box.


A dog will become stressed if it does not have a calm, secluded location, which may cause the dog to kill the puppies. It is also possible that too many people are coming to visit the litter, or it may be that the litter size is too large for the dog to handle.

Some female dogs prefer to whelp and nurture their puppies in a calm, secluded location. Suppose your female is stressed or threatened by too much noise or activity around her puppies. In that case, she may start injuring them to protect them from any perceived external threat.

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Infections can make a dog unwell and unable to cater to its new litter. The most common diseases that can make a mother dog kill its newborns are uterine infections and mastitis.

Mastitis affects one or more milk glands in the body. This painful ailment causes the female dog to refuse to feed its puppies and snap or bite puppies that try to suckle on the damaged teat.

If the puppies suckle on a teat infected with mastitis, they may become unwell.

In other cases, the mother dog may develop a uterine infection due to a retained placenta or the death of a puppy. When your female dog has a uterine infection, it may cause harm to her puppies just because she is not feeling well.

Dogs Kill Their Puppies Because They Are Unstable Or Inexperienced

Some female dogs were not built for motherhood. If the puppies go too close to it, these dogs will avoid them, pace, and even snap at them. Furthermore, inexperienced mothers often cannot bond with their puppies and are uninterested in them.

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You should avoid breeding your dog during its first heat cycle. This is because it is too immature to cope with the stress of carrying a litter or even nurturing the puppies for six to eight weeks.

Lack Of Recognition

Some dogs, particularly new mothers, may be unable to identify their young as their own. This is more common with dogs that deliver their litter through surgery, and they are especially vulnerable to losing track of their puppies.

They will not have formed a link with the puppies and may attempt to hurt rather than nurture them. Furthermore, the new puppies may sound like prey to their mothers, which is prevalent in breeds that predominantly hunt.

Defective Puppies

When puppies act sickly or have a defect, their dog mothers may purposefully kill them so that they may focus on healthy puppies. Mother Dogs may begin by pushing the youngster away from her and sometimes consuming the puppy.

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This is not in any way cruel. Natural selection is at work here, and it’s all part of the dog’s evolutionary process. If one of the puppies becomes ill, it may attract unwanted predators.

What Else Can Cause Newborn Puppies To Die?

Fading Puppy Syndrome describes puppies who appear normal at birth but fade and die during the first two weeks of their lives. Pre-weaning dog losses, including stillborn puppies, with about half of these deaths happening within the first week of life.

It can be caused by a lack of care from the mother, lack of milk production or poor-quality milk, and inadequate nursing or milk consumption.

Other symptoms include congenital disabilities in the puppy, which may not be immediately apparent, low birth weight, and infectious causes.

How Do I Prevent My Dog From Killing Its Puppies?

Female dogs generally have the instinct to care for their puppies adequately. However, there will be occasions when that instinct is absent or has not evolved.

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Never breed a female during her first heat cycle because she is physically and emotionally unfit to carry and raise a litter of puppies.

Make sure your dog’s whelping box is in a secure location, perhaps a spare bedroom with a door that can be closed or blocked. This creates a den-like environment for your female dog where it may concentrate on its puppies without feeling threatened.

What To Do When Dogs Kill Their Puppies?

Most individuals do not relate their dog’s maltreatment of her puppies with a medical problem. If you feel your dog is ill, take her to your veterinarian immediately. Also, if a dog with mastitis or a uterine infection does not receive quick medical attention, it may die.

Suppose your female refuses to accept the puppies as hers or is overly aggressive toward them. In that case, you may have to raise the litter yourself.

You should strongly consider spaying your dog and not breeding her again if it is indifferent or violent towards her puppies.

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Keeping both parties under constant surveillance to prevent dog infanticide is essential. Something adverse can happen at a moment’s notice; therefore, you must remain watchful to avoid such occurrences.

Because pups are susceptible to cold, you should keep the temperature comfortable. Warm blankets, lights, heating pads, and other comfort items should be available to them.

The mother and the puppies must relax in a serene environment and not disturb or make too much noise around them. If the mother dog is acting strangely and hostile, take her to the vet immediately and follow the complete instructions.


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