Perinatal Mortality in Puppies


Dr Rob Foster

General considerations

There is little in the peer reviewed literature about perinatal mortality in puppies.

Perinatal mortality is grouped with puppy mortality and stillbirth by Chastant-Maillard et al (2016) who reported the results of a survey of breeders in France. Stillbirths were 7.4% of 204,537 puppies from 37,946 litters, and stillbirth and deaths to 2 months of age were 13.4%. No specific disease statistics were provided.

Chastant-Maillard S, Guillemot C, Feugier A, Mariani C, Grellet A, Mila H. Reproductive performance and pre-weaning mortality: Preliminary analysis of 27,221 purebred female dogs and 204,537 puppies in France. Reprod Dom Anim 2016;

Non infectious


Congenital ichthyosis

Hoffmann et al (2016) reported on several litters of Great Dane puppies who had congenital ichthosis and they died in the neonatal period and up to 60 days.


Metzger J, Wöhlke A, Mischke R, Hoffmann A, Hewicker-Trautwein M, Küch EM, Naim HY, Distl O. A Novel SLC27A4 Splice Acceptor Site Mutation in Great Danes with Ichthyosis. PLoS One. 2015; 10 :e0141514.

Hoffmann A, Metzger J, Wöhlke A, Peters M, Junginger J, Mischke R, Distl O, Hewicker-Trautwein M. Congenital Ichthyosis in 14 Great Dane Puppies With a New Presentation. Vet Pathol. 2016; 53: 614-620.


Hopper BJ, J. L. Richardson JL, N. V. Lester NV (2004) Spontaneous antenatal resolution of canine hydrops fetalis diagnosed by ultrasound. J Sm Anim Pract 2004, 45: 2–8

Low birth weight.

In many species, low birth weight and low growth rate is a risk factor for perinatal and neonatal mortality. In a study by Mila et al (2015) where puppies were weighed at birth and 2 days of age and mortality was recorded to day 21. Most low birth weight puppies died in the first 2 days, but a low birth weight did not influence death from 2 to 21 days. Those with a low early growth rate (less than -4%) from day 2 were more likely to die. Birth weight was related to litter size - more puppies meant lower birth weight.


Mila H, Grellet A, Feugier A, Chastant-Maillard S. Differential impact of birth weight and early growth on neonatal mortality in puppies. J Anim Sci. 2015; 93: 4436-4442.

Maternal trauma


Neonatal isoerythrolysis

Neonatal isoerythrolysis occurs in dogs when there is incompatibility for DEA 1.1, 1.2.  This occurrs when a DEA 1.1 negative bitch is sensitized by transfusion of DEA 1.1 positive blood or by previous pregnancy by a DEA 1.1 positive sire followed by a second
breeding to a DEA 1.1 positive sire. Severe intravascular hemolytic anemia and hemoglobinuric nephrosis results.




Escherichia coli

Brucella canis

Anaplasma playtys

puppies can be infected with Anaplasma playtys, the cause of infectious canine cyclic thrombocytopaenia, from their infected mothers. It is by transplacental or neonataly.

Matei IA, Stuen S, Modrý D, Degan A, D'Amico G, Mihalca AD. Neonatal Anaplasma platys infection in puppies: Further evidence for possible vertical transmission. Vet J. 2017; 219: 40-41.




Canid Herpesvirus 1

Canid herpesvirus 1 is somewhat unique amongst the herpesviruses as its main disease manifestation in dogs is perinatal mortality and death of puppies up t 8 weeks of age.


Larsen et al (2015) examined 57 puppies from 37 litters that were stillborn (21) or neonates (1 to 7 days) (25) or older (11). 13 puppies were infected with CaHV-1 as detected with PCR. 6 of them were in the older age group, 3 were in the neonatal and 4 in the stillborn groups. Only 1 puppy had signs of CaHV disease and it was 13 days old.


Larsen RW, Kiupel M, Balzer HJ, Agerholm JS. Prevalence of canid herpesvirus-1 infection in stillborn and dead neonatal puppies in Denmark. Acta Vet Scand 2015; 57: 1



Canine Minute Virus (Family Parvoviridae, Subfamily Parvovirinae, Genus Parvovirus, Canine Minute Virus)

Canine Minute Virus causes interstitial pneumonia, myocarditis and enteritis.


Decaro N1, Amorisco F, Lenoci D, Lovero A, Colaianni ML, Losurdo M, Desario C, Martella V, Buonavoglia C. (2012) Molecular characterization of Canine minute virus associated with neonatal mortality in a litter of Jack Russell terrier dogs. J Vet Diagn Invest. 2012; 24: 755-758

Järplid B, Johansson H, Carmichael LE: (1996) A fatal case of pup infection with minute virus of canines (MVC). J Vet Diagn Invest 1996; 8: 484-487.

Canine Parvovirus 2 (CPV)




Kelli M. Almes, Kyathanahalli S. Janardhan, Joseph Anderson, Richard A. Hesse and Kristin M. Patton. Fatal Canine Adenoviral Pneumonia in Two Litters of Bulldogs. J VET Diagn Invest 2010 22: 780