Why do dogs eat their puppies?

Even though it might be hard to believe, mother dogs sometimes are known to devour their own puppies. This is undoubtedly an unfortunate and tragic incident. In this blog, we will explore why dogs indulge in this type of behavior. We will also mention how to prevent the canines from doing so.

Here, we like to mention that unlike humans animals do not possess identical moral compasses. In this case, they are not making an attempt to become a monster; they are simply sticking to their natural instincts. Therefore, it will be a bad idea to punish your pet for eating her young one. On the contrary, you must try every means to stop her from doing that in the future. She is not evil by any means, and she is nevertheless your adorable dog as she had been always in the past.

In case you are talking about inherited traits, we like to mention that a certain breed of pooches named the Staffordshire Bull Terriers are known to eat their little ones. This does not imply that every one of them will do that, but in case you have one as your pet, you better keep a watch on her.

Let us look at some of the most typical reasons why doggies exhibit this behavior of cannibalism on some occasions.

1.    Inexperienced mother

There are lots of issues associated with giving birth at a very young age or for the first time. It is normal for such inexperienced canines to develop certain weird and irritating behaviors over time. It has been revealed by studies that dogs might eat their newborns after giving birth for the first time. On rare occasions, they might do this accidentally, and the dog owners need to be alert. Research has shown that some owners tend to breed their furry friends for increasing the number of offspring and they don’t consider their age in that case.

2. Inability to recognize

Sometimes, it is not possible for the doggies to recognize their own babies. In that case, they might act like predators with tragic outcomes. This can happen in dogs giving birth by means of Cesarean section. In this case, their bodies will not be able to release natural hormones that will aid them in recognizing their babies.

However, at times, the hormones can play a role although in a delayed manner. In such cases, you must take steps to prevent your pet from devouring her puppies since they will be resuming their normal duties as a mother once the hormones start taking effect.

3. Unhealthy puppies

There is every possibility for a newborn puppy to become sick and pass away. They might be suffering from respiratory issues and infections that can impede their growth. These problems can be spotted immediately after birth. Once a puppy is not able to eat, it might imply that it will not survive long.

Just like humans, the mother dogs will be able to spot these symptoms very easily. In that case, she might not have any other alternative but to devour her pup in the long run. She will have a couple of choices – she can nurse her puppy back to proper shape or she can put an end to all its miseries. On most occasions, she does the latter. This will help to allow the other pups to develop in a healthy way. It is a sort of mercy killing for ending the suffering of the newborn and ensuring the survival of others.

3. Mastitis

This happens to be a sort of breast infection in canines that can prove to be quite painful and severe. In this case, the nipple of the pooch will become infected, red, and swollen, as well as sensitive and painful. However, newborn infants will want to consume the milk of their mothers without being aware of their present condition.

For preventing the puppies from doing so, some mother dogs will take preventative measures, and some might even slay the puppies in order to get relief. If the mother dog is exhibiting this kind of behavior and is suffering from mastitis, then make sure the help of your vet at the earliest for treating the condition.

4. Stress

Just like any other animal, giving birth can be a stressful situation for the mothers out there. They can become scared, and exhausted, and they have to deal with lots of wailing puppies as well. On some occasions, the mother dogs might take some bad decisions because of unwanted stress.

It is possible for the mothers to bark and even bite the innocent puppies. In such cases, they might even act as predators which can result in cannibalism on some rare occasions.

If you like to prevent your canine from becoming stressed, then make sure to provide him with lots of love, affection, and food. Moreover, not allow any male pooches to come near the female dog and her puppies since this can make her more stressed over time.

5. Lack of response from the puppies

As already mentioned, it is possible for some puppies to become sick or injured while they are born, and they might even pass away. Once a female dog observes that her puppy is not responding, she might try to lick her and bite her for regaining consciousness. Otherwise, she might even start devouring her young one in case she thinks that it is dead.

6. Bred too young

One more reason why a female canine might end up eating her puppy is that it is not yet time for her to give birth. As a matter of fact, any professional dog breeder will inform you that it will not be a good idea for female dogs to conceive at the time of their first heat cycle.

The reason for this is that they are nevertheless comparatively young at that stage. It is quite early for them to become a mother, and they are not able to cope with those maternal instincts and responsibilities.

On most occasions, doggies that become pregnant at an early stage are not fit to become mothers. In case they become pregnant, they might be lashing out at their puppies and exhibiting some abnormal behaviors not appropriate for any mother. Typically, these types of young mother dogs will simply abandon their puppies completely. Nevertheless, one cannot rule out the possibility of cannibalism on rare occasions.

7. Might have made a mistake

Once a dog gives birth, she would be cleaning her puppies, biting off the umbilical cord, and eat her placenta. However, on some occasions, she might be eating something more than that. On most occasions, the mother dogs will only be eating those puppies which are lifeless. The majority of the stillborn puppies will release certain hormones that will make the mother alert, and she will typically drag off those puppies for burying them. However, if it is impossible for the mother dog to identify those hormones, she might end up devouring the body together with the placenta. However, the good thing is that in spite of eating her stillborn puppies, she will remain faithful to the other newborns.

How is it possible to prevent a doggie from eating her puppies?

Now that we are aware of all the typical reasons that might result in the mother dog eating her puppy, it is time for us to take some preventative measures. However, don’t make the mistake of trying to separate the mother from her newborns since it will create more stress in the long run. Instead, take some sensible steps for solving the matter once and for all.

  • First, make sure to provide the dog with a nutritious diet as well as lots of water and proper care so that she would be able to give birth without any problem whatsoever.
  • Provide the doggie with a peaceful and restful environment while giving birth.
  • Never make any attempt to breed sick or under-aged canines.
  • Make it a point to take your dog to the vet on a regular basis so as to stay away from a cesarean section delivery.
  • Make all arrangements to reduce noise, and do not allow any animals or humans to come close to the female while she is giving birth.
  • In case your furry friend is struggling with mastitis, make arrangements for proper treatment and separate the puppies from her after they are born.
  • If you find that your beloved pet has been stressed for some reason, then make sure to separate the puppies from her.
  • If you find that the mother dog is not accepting one of her puppies, do not hesitate to take the puppy to the vet for diagnosing any illness and prescribing the proper treatment.


There is no reason for you to worry about your pooch as long as she is healthy and well-behaved. Devouring her own puppies happens to be a rare behavior that has got many underlying reasons behind it. Even though cannibalism might happen, it is an unfortunate thing. Let us hope that you do not fall into this situation as a dog owner, and if it happens then take the precautions mentioned earlier.