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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Does low birth weight affect a dog's health over their lifetime? Would love advice from anyone with knowledge of this.

A breeder we are talking to has a girl SPOO available out of a litter of 9. The girl was born at 5oz (their puppies are usually 7 to 8oz) but is gaining weight quickly now.

One of the 9 puppies didn't make it :( and was also born small.

The breeder said that the girl would be smaller than her mother when fully grown.

We are considering a girl SPOO because we've been looking for small standards / moyens .... but are not sure about this one?
 

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I'm sure it will be ok, there is very often the runt of the litter.
 
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Does low birth weight affect a dog's health over their lifetime? Would love advice from anyone with knowledge of this.

A breeder we are talking to has a girl SPOO available out of a litter of 9. The girl was born at 5oz (their puppies are usually 7 to 8oz) but is gaining weight quickly now.

One of the 9 puppies didn't make it :( and was also born small.

The breeder said would be that the girl would be smaller than her mother when fully grown.

We are considering a girl SPOO because we've been looking for small standards / moyens .... but are not sure about this one?
My boy was from a litter of nine and the runt. Really, he was about half the size of the biggest puppy. BUT, he’s working on fulfilling his genetic potential: at nine months old, he’s 25” at his shoulder and 64 lbs! I chose him because i was hoping to get the “Moyen” poodle in the litter—Ha!—the joke’s on me! I’m not sure there’s any way to know for sure how big a puppy will be except by their parents?
 

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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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My concern would be the overall health of the pup. Is this an experienced, reputable breeder? This article is from a husky site, but it goes into some of the possible issues associated with runts:


That another puppy was also undersized and didn’t make it does make me wonder about the age and health of the dam. However, I have no breeding experience. Hoping others chime in.
 

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I would be terribly concerned, many times in a litter there will be one of two really small pups, especially if the bitch has a large litter for her size.
 

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I can only speak to my limited experienced with runts I had in my two cocker spaniel litters and Himalayan kitten litters several decades ago. They needed milk supplements and turned out to be healthy and robust. All were tough little guys and had to be, to compete for a teat. They remained slightly on the small side.

Bonus: the extra handling from me feeding them made them extremely affectionate - and smarter - compared to their litter mates. I've also personally known people who only wanted a runt when choosing a dog.
 

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It really depends. Sometimes the runt is small because it has a congenital problem. Sometimes it just had a bad situation in the womb. One of my coworkers got a pup with a liver shunt. It was small and had problem after problem. My boys Snarky and Galen were both runts as well.

Snarky matured to about an inch shorter and 5-10 pounds lighter than his littermate Pogo. That's within the normal variation of a motley litter like theirs.

Galen is also maturing to a normal size. His breeder had predicted he would end up around 44-45 pounds. Based on his size at 13 months I suspect he's probably going to end up a whisker over 50.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
My concern would be the overall health of the pup. Is this an experienced, reputable breeder? This article is from a husky site, but it goes into some of the possible issues associated with runts:


That another puppy was also undersized and didn’t make it does make me wonder about the age and health of the dam. However, I have no breeding experience. Hoping others chime in.
Thanks Peggy, this article was super helpful! It says that runts do have health risks but these risks can be reduced if they are well taken care of by the breeder and subsequent pet parent. Also, that they may not be smaller than their parents but are likely to be underweight compared to them.

It's great to hear everyone's experience, and to hear of runts that grow up healthy.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I would be terribly concerned, many times in a litter there will be one of two really small pups, especially if the bitch has a large litter for her size.
In this case, 5 out of 9 the puppies in the litter were underweight.......
 

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Does anybody know what the typical variation of weights is in a litter that size? How is "underweight" determined?
 

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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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Does anybody know what the typical variation of weights is in a litter that size? How is "underweight" determined?
I don’t know how the threshold is determined, but from what I’ve read on the topic, “underweight” is a medical diagnosis based on overall condition and not just relative to the rest of the litter.

@BlueOdyssey, how old is the dam? A recurring factor with underweight puppies seems to be dams in poor health and/or over the age of six.

 

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I'm still researching but find no studies about birth weight in re long term health. I do see suggestions of immediate potential impact and also that regardless of birth weight the most important factor seems to be if they continue to grow and gain weight. There will be normal variations in birth weight in litters for various reasons.

Was there something that you read or were told that's causing this concern?
 
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@BlueOdyssey, how old is the dam? A recurring factor with underweight puppies seems to be dams in poor health and/or over the age of six.

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hmm, the mom is only three years old, and the health tests were all good. The breeder did say that the usual weight was a few ounces more than these girls.
 

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Ahhh, ok.

It may be then that the reason I'm not finding any studies indicating a long term issue for dogs is because there isn't a long term issue based on being smaller at birth. A range of smaller to larger pups in a litter are quite normal. For dogs, the key factor is continuing to add weight pretty steadily after birth. If she grew normally and is fine now, I can't think of why it should be an issue later.

Humans and dogs do share many medical concerns so I'd really expect to see studies if this particular issue translates.
I'm not sure they're comparable tho. Humans are almost always a single birth per pregnancy.

Dogs vary depending on breed and variety. With standards usually running from 6-9 per litter, a range of sizes would seem more the norm, I was actually sort of surprised that their litter weights would be so consistent thru various sires and dams, ages, litter sizes, all those variables.

ETA: Thinking more, it's not surprising after all that the breeder would be able to give an average weight of pups from their years of record keeping and figuring averages. Human normal ranges from 5.5lb up to 10lb. I think nature would allow a similar range for puppies :).

I personally wouldn't be concerned about the pup being born smaller. She could even outgrow her sire and dam. My mpoo boys both did :).
 
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