The runt of the litter doesn’t just mean the smallest puppy in the pack. The littlest puppy in most litters is just as healthy as its siblings, and meets the average measures for height and weight for a newborn dog. The runt of a litter is a puppy that is far tinier than the average newborn dog of that breed. Today I’ll look at whether runt puppies need any special care to keep up with their litter mates. And examine what implications being the runt of the litter has on a dog’s development, personality and long term health.
- Runt puppy problems
- Caring for the runt of the litter
- Feeding, warming and protecting the runt of the litter
- Runt puppy growth and development
- Does the runt of the litter stay small?
- Adopting or buying a runt
Runt puppies hold a unique appeal in our hearts. We want them to thrive so that we can share in their triumph. Sometimes a runt is the smallest, but healthy, sibling. But some runts are dangerously underweight, and this can be caused, or accompanied, by very real health problems. The most important resource for giving a runt puppy the best care and quality of a life is a great vet. Not every runt puppy will make it, but those that do will have a special story for the rest of their lives.
Does your puppy seem a lot smaller than his litter mates? Are you worried that the tinest dog might have the biggest problems? Then check out our complete guide to the runt of the litter. We are going to explain what is meant by a puppy being the runt of the litter.
Runt Dogs Are Cute But Be Careful!
Our mental image of the runt puppy in a litter can stir up some mixed emotions. As defenceless newborns, they grab hold of our instinct to protect small and vulnerable things. In books, TV and film, runt animals are often plucky survivors who become popular heroes. But when it comes to actually bringing a runt puppy home… suddenly their small size can become intimidating.
What is the Runt of the Litter?
It’s important to begin by clearing something up. In everyday speech, we often say “the runt” simply when we mean the smallest puppy in a litter. Being the smallest puppy in a litter isn’t necessarily a bad thing, provided they’re still within the healthy weight range for their breed and age, and growing at an appropriate rate. In this context, the word runt is being used in an affectionate and teasing way, and there aren’t many implications for the puppy.
Defining the Runt of the Litter
However sometimes a newborn puppy’s birth weight is abnormally low – falling outside their healthy range for their breed. This is the traditional meaning of being a runt, as a breeder would understand it. And by this definition, a litter can have more than one runt! In fact, all the puppies with an abnormally low birth weight are runts.
These puppies often struggle to gain weight after birth and are slow to reach important developmental milestones. So in this context, being a runt puppy takes on an urgent medical dimension, which we’ll focus in this article.
Why Is There A Runt In Some Litters?
Underweight puppies are not uncommon, so it helps to understand why they haven’t reached the right size before birth. There’s a common misconception that runts are conceived later than their full-sized litter mates, so effectively they’re born prematurely.
Whilst it is possible for puppies within a litter to be sired by more than one father, the eggs fertilized later catch up with the other embryos quickly in the very earliest stages of pregnancy. It’s a remarkable phenomenon.
Runt Puppy Development
In fact, puppies’ birth weight is determined by their inherent capacity for growth. As well as the supply of nutrients they receive from their mum while in the womb. A runt puppy might have failed to develop quickly enough because of a congenital defect which impeded their growth. Or their placenta might have embedded in an unfavorable spot on their mum’s uterus, so they didn’t get quite as many nutrients as they needed from her. Once a puppy is outside the womb, a congenital defect might become apparent, or (more likely) it may never be clear why a puppy was born underweight.
What Happens To Runt Puppies?
If a puppy is small but healthy, then with a little care, the consequences of their size should be minimal. Newborn puppies are completely dependent on their mother for at least the first three weeks of their life. Sometimes – especially in large litters – it can be a battle to get enough attention from mum. The breeder might need to be on hand to make sure no puppy gets left out. She will need to look out for smaller pups getting knocked of the teat, and help them latch back on at teat near the mum’s tail, where her milk supply is richest.
Small puppies might also benefit from a heated pad underneath them, or a heat lamp over the whelping box. We will look in more detail at this later. The breeder will need to watch her female dog with her smallest puppies carefully for any sign that you need to intervene and help her look after them.
Problems With The Runt Of The Litter
Sadly when a puppy is abnormally underweight at birth, they are likely to be confronted with many more problems. It’s estimated that around one in fifty puppies are stillborn or die in the first six weeks of life due to being too small.
Across all breeds of dog, low birth weight consistently increases the chances of a puppy dying. The more underweight they are, the more at risk they become. A 1978 study at Kansas State University found the risk of dying increased significantly in puppies more than 25% below the average birth weight for their breed. Rather than invest in a lost cause, female dogs will often reject an abnormally small puppy from birth, to conserve energy for feeding and caring for her remaining puppies.
Runt of the Litter Health
As we already touched on, a runt puppy might be small because of an underlying congenital problem. On top of this, their small size makes them vulnerable to further health problems outside the womb.
Top of the list in their first few days are dehydration and hypothermia as they compete with their siblings for food and warmth. A female dog’s first milk, called colostrum, is rich in antibodies which protect her puppies from infection until they receive their first vaccinations. On top of everything, a runt puppy who misses out on this milk is more susceptible to life-threatening bacterial infections.
One thing you don’t need to worry about – runt disease
Incidentally, if you turn to the internet for help with your runt puppy, you make come across the term “runt disease”. Runt disease is a genetic problem experienced by some experimental animals in laboratory settings – it is not a problem for runt puppies!
Caring for the Runt of the Litter
Now let’s look at what it takes for a runt puppy survive and thrive. The MOST IMPORTANT thing for a breeder to do is work closely with their vet, and listen carefully to their advice.
All of the puppies should be checked over by a veterinarian in their first couple of days, to identify any problems early. At this check up, the vet will be able to help you distinguish those puppies who are perilously underweight from those who are small but healthy. They will also give detailed instructions for any puppies who need special care.
Feeding Tiny Puppies
First things first, newborn puppies quickly become dehydrated and hypoglycemic if they don’t get enough milk. If a runt puppy is too small to latch on to their mum, your vet might advise you to express her milk by hand into sterilized cup and feed the puppy with sterilized bottle or syringe. Alternatively they might recommend a suitable brand of puppy formula.
If you’re reading this as a breeder and it is before your litter is born, now is the right time to find out which equipment and formula is best for your breed, and collect a small stockpile. Human baby formula and cows milk are not rich enough enough in calories or protein for puppies. Only ever give puppies milk approved by their vet.
Keeping Runt Puppies Warm
Puppies have no mechanism for keeping themselves warm when they are born. After giving birth, a female dog’s mammary glands are only one degree cooler than her core temperature, so that when are puppies are close enough to feed, they gain warmth as well. Away from their mum, small puppies lose heat faster because they have a large surface area relative to their size.
Make sure the room your puppies are staying in is kept warm (86-89ºF), and that the runt puppy doesn’t get pushed away from their mum by bigger siblings. Your vet might also recommend using a heat pad or heat lamp to help a runt puppy stay warm.
Protection From Infection
If your runt puppy doesn’t manage to get any colostrum from their mother, your vet might recommend extra precautions to protect them from infection. These might include starting vaccinations earlier than usual.
What To Do If Your Runt Puppy Isn’t Growing
Newborn puppies should be weighed every day so that a puppy who is gaining weight too slowly, or who suddenly stops gaining weight, can be examined by a vet and given extra help as promptly as possible. Critical milestones in a young pup’s life include the first three days after birth, weaning onto solid food at twelve weeks, and leaving their mum and litter mates to go to a new home. It’s vital to monitor their growth through all of these landmarks, in case a congenital problem comes to light.
Making Difficult Decisions
Even though it’s heartbreaking to think about, bear in mind that it is normal for some puppies in every litter not to survive. For some runt puppies, developmental problems which began in the womb simply can’t be overcome. Talk candidly with your vet about an undersized puppy’s long term health prospects and life expectancy. Nobody wants to feel like they’ve let down a baby animal they brought into the world, but your vet can help you make make tough decisions about what’s kindest for a very sick puppy.
Do Runt Puppies Stay Small?
Let’s go back to runt puppies who are small but healthy (hooray!) and find out more about the qualities of the smallest pup in the whelping box. Are you tempted to bring home the smallest puppy from a litter in the hope they stay petite into adulthood? For example, a Labrador might be a bit big for your home, but a little Labrador might just fit?
Well a puppy who’s small but healthy before weaning usually catches up with their litter mates once they start eating solid food. Indeed, online dog forums are awash with anecdotes from owners who brought home the smallest puppy in the litter, then watched in disbelief as they reached the highest weight ranges for their breed. So a small but healthy puppy is by no means guaranteed to become a smaller than average dog. You have been warned. (Sorry!)
Runt of the Litter Personality
If this list of runts in popular culture tells us anything, it’s that we love to project lots of special qualities onto a runt dog. However, there’s no evidence to suggest that being the runt of the litter has any real-life bearing on a dog’s temperament or disposition as they grow up.
In conversation, it’s true that owners are unanimous about how their runt dog is truly one of a kind. But let’s face it, aren’t all dog owners? It’s just love speaking (as it should!) So a runt dog can inherit any of the personality traits of their breed, and researching those is still the best way to get a feel for the nature of the dog you’re bringing home.
Buying the Runt of the Litter
Our special fondness for runts means that many of us will one day search specifically for a runt puppy to bring home. If that just means the smallest but healthy puppy, then no problem. But think very carefully before bringing home a puppy who was significantly underweight at birth.
Is a Runt Puppy Bad?
Many dog breeders believe that a responsibly-reared litter of puppies shouldn’t have any runts. Abnormally small puppies who are likely to suffer health complications in future, or could pass on congenital problems if they survive and breed are often euthanized at birth.
At the other end of the spectrum, some VERY irresponsible breeders and puppy farms are all too keen to sell malnourished and underweight runt puppies. In fact, they try to sell them for more money than a healthy puppy from the same litter, by passing them off as special teacup varieties.
Before bringing home an undersized runt puppy, ask to talk directly with their vet about their health. A caring breeder will not have any objection to this. Ask yourself if you can afford any additional vet care a runt might need over the course of their life. Check with you pet insurer if it will be covered.
I recently got a shih tzu female from a breeder. All medical records included she is aca registered. But, she was 1.71 pounds when we got her a week ago. She’s very tiny, she is on solid puppy food, goes potty with little to no accidents either on pads or outside. She’s extremely smart and athletic. I’m just fearful she won’t get big enough to breed with my male. I’m hoping she gains and his a growth spurt. I am doing the free feeding method and she is quite the pig. I am willing to take any suggestions or tips.
Richelle Grijalva says
I have a ❓ do runt puppies seem slow I mean we have a baby pitbull thats been very hard to potty train and he’s extremely hyper does anyone have any suggestions?
I had a litter of 4 male eurasiers this past Friday morning. The last pup to come into the world came out very skeletal and small. He was 8.7oz…2 oz smaller than his siblings. I quickly found out he had no nursing reflex. I worked with him for 70 hours, trying to get him to feed, rushing him at two separate times to emergency vets, even tube feeding him. He seemed so perfect and a little fighter. Then he just became weaker and weaker till he passed. His name was “Shadow”.
Santana Larney says
My Rottweiler runt has puppy’s will her puppy’s come out normal? The dad is Rottweiler also
I had first pick of the males of an AKC White (Yellow) Lab breeder 3 weeks ago. I visited once and noticed some odd behaviour from “green” ( the breeder didn’t give them names) and notice his rear legs weren’t fully functioning and he seemed to enjoy football-like contact with the other dogs, the cage, humans snd the ground. I liked “white” right off thr bat..a perfect specimen and sweet as he could be. I went back a week later and picked up green, the wacky runt that liked mosh pits . His legs hsd developed but to this day he still is a slammer. What IS that??
I have 9 week old puppy that came from my bf dogs litter. She had 11 puppies! Thankfully my bf stayed up every night and stayed home with them everyday till they was ready to leave. But we still ended up with runt, she is very weak and can barely walk on backnlegs they seem weak and paws are even smaller than normal I have been trying to feed her replacement milk since mom doesn’t feed her anymore and soft food when I can but she still can’t stand for long by her self and she can take more than a couple steps before falling over I have been looking the internet for tips on how to get her walking. I am willing to try anything I Do Not want to put her down
Did you figure anything out? You basically just described my rund and I’m so afraid but I also don’t have the money to get her to the vet anymore. She’s 2 weeks old.
We had a runt that we thought had hydrocephalus,it was less than quarter of the size of littermates and was less than 3 oz at birth.I had her in a bedroom dresser drawer and woke up every two to three hours to feed hers she’ll her poop and keep her dry snd check the temp etc.she almost faded. She has since that time grown out of any hydrocephalus she had(I had used omperAzole with her)./ she is now about four months old. She is more than a pound. She is cute snd smart and funny and very tiny. She’s expected to be maybe five pounds full grown. A friend of mine adopted her and she and everyone in her family loves her. She has to be careful no one crushes her accidentally and keeping her clothes/ warm/ with a blanket is essential. She had colustrum and Breast milk. Seized sugar water and formula mostly cause she could barely be attached without the other littermates crushing her so that had to be supervised and she needed constant assistance. We put s little oil oil in her formula ahe she got constipated snd I gently stimulated her with s moistened warm make up brush snd I always warmed her during snd after feedings and assured she was dry comfortable snd well nourished 24 hours a day for two months. She had a great check up and the vet found nothing wrong with her. She is a frenchton.
Theo S says
I have a 1 (almost 2) year old English setter who seemed small on average when we got her, my family used to breed setters so we were very concerned if we somehow got scammed by what seemed like a very responsible breeder, we checked her pedigree several times and found nothing wrong though. She’s a great bird dog and so smart, behaves just like our other setters but about 10 pounds lighter and although almost two, hasn’t gone into heat yet. Our vet says this is normal for a very athletic dog like her, but I think this might just be part of her being a bit behind developmentally since it’s likely she’s a runt. I was wondering if anyone else’s runt dog had a similar issue.
We have a Boston that is pure bred.8 think he’s an inch taller than average and weighs 40 lbs. he was fixed after he studded a bit. And he has had a few large pups too. We thought maybe we were lied to about the pedigree,and he was tested and he’s full pure breed. He may be an inch taller and ten pound heavie than breed standard but he’s athletic and fast and smarter than we like! Ans he is also the sweetest temper men at of a boy. Being outside the breed standard just means they can be shown as a dog of that pedigree. Interesting that there are colors that are not expected etc when they occur naturally. If the dog breed can be taller smaller a different color would it not make sense to expand the breeds standards for those variations. It’s like telling a shirt person they aren’t a certain ethnicity like ah-697 can’t be Swedish cause you don’t have pale skin and pale eyes. Sorry, both parents were Swedish. I’m Swedish. It sure is dumb if you ask me.
I have a female coonhound/black mouth cur who, when I took her home, I could hold in one hand. She was much smaller than her sisters and riddled with worms. Now she is going to be 5 years old and is 80lbs!
I currently have two 12wk old Pom pups…one of which was the smallest of the litter. He is SO much smaller and growing at a much slower rate than his brother! (He is otherwise healthy so far.)
Hi I have a female runt I believe bubbles is almost 4-5 months and she is twice the size of a liter milk carton and weighs almost 9kg…. Should I return her to the breeder or keep and hope for best?
Morgan Walker says
My basset hound just had puppies 3 days ago and the runt isn’t doing well at all. He stays cold even with a heating pad. He now has liquid in his lungs making it hard for him to breath. I was looking for help. I’m trying everything but he possibly might not make it ):
My Saint Bernard was the runt of his litter. I was initially unsure about getting him since the breeder responsibly disclosed that information from the start; however, his temperament was ideal so thankfully I brought him home anyways.
He is getting ready to turn 3 this February, and well I am happy to report that he weighs in at about 153lbs and has no known health issues to date. In fact, he even proved to be relatively immune to Lyme Disease after contracting it this fall – showing no symptoms and only discovered during routine bloodwork. Likewise he has sired 32 puppies to date – many of which were selected for use as service animals.
Jan Z says
I have a French Bulldog who had six puppies 2are small one of them extremely small there now at 4 1/2 weeks old everybody except these two have been properly weaned and are eating I can get these guys to eat little bit but there still on the tooo skinny side and I’m wondering if I should still let them nurse because they’re having such a hard time and they are so small they are half the size of the others
I have a runt Kelpie, not planned, I went to look at a beautiful male, then she came running out of the shed, she was so tiny at 10 weeks I had to ask what she was so tiny with huge ears, pure bred kelpie who kept jumping and running around me, my head was trying to say no, but my heart won out, vet put her on a very good diet, she is two years old now, best dog ever, perfect health, true kelpie attitude.
Chris O'riley says
After 15 years of rescues and health problems in dogs I decided to get a puppy.
A year ago I wanted a female black Labrador. The breeder asked if I would take her special boy…the runt of the litter with the most wonderful nature. He was a lot smaller than the others and had colic. Friends and fmily said I was mad.
The breeder spent a lot of time with him as the litter pushed him away. From day one he has been glued to me and the most loving natured Lab I have had.He is smart, learns quickly and happy dog who loves life.
He still has a delicate gut, but the right food he is fine. I fed him 3 meals a day for a year and today an average sized Labrador.
Jane Drew says
Hi – I chose the runt of a yellow Labrador litter. Like your special boy she is lovable and very smart. She is 5 months old now and hardly a day goes by when she isn’t sick after eating. I wonder if you have this trouble and whether you can offer any advice.
We’ve had a Rottweiler from 6 weeks old, now 7, and she is sick all the time. We tried using feed dishes high off the ground (still do that for water) and a whole range of foods. We tried to avoid any change in diet to keep her stable, but once at a farmers market our brother in law let a trader give her his last big pork pie – she was so sick she has internal bleeding and cost nearly £1k at the vets to get it under control. They put her on a special vet diet from Royal Canin. We tried raw food after that and was successful for 6 months until we got a bad batch and more bills from the vet. Now we just give her Royal Canin Rottweiler food which is low in fats. Can’t resist her begging sometimes, but it always results in cleaning sick up. So advice would be a high quality breed specific food – if tolerated, never feed anything else. Don’t feel sorry about it seeming boring – they’re not fussy humans! Hope this helps
I would feed her a homemade recipe for dogs with sensitive stomachs
What do u feed him I have a runt Yorkie he is a very picky eater
I purchased a runt yorkie many years back and the breeder was feeding the litter boiled chicken hearts and gizzards. The litter was in amazing condition so for the next 17 yrs of his life thats what he ate. He was always healthy and lived to a ripe old age. He never turned his nose up at his food bowl. A few times a week i would give him a little treat with a splash of goats milk on top to change things up. Give it a try hopefully it works for you.
We’ve just got a English Springer she’s the runt !!!!
She’s so tiny doesn’t look eight weeks old and she’s very under weight
We’ve took her to vets on Tuesday and they’ve gave her antibiotics because she had high temperature 🤒
Since Tuesday our lady hasn’t stopped shaking and breathing heavily
She’s little lively through day but nothing major
she staggers and not so steady on her feet so we have be careful she’s been eating and drinking fine but tonight she’s been sick so I’m going make appointment get her back in vets
Any advice will be much help
Thank you 😊
Helen Rooney says
We just looked at a 4week old Springer Spaniel litter.
The runt is half the size of his litter mates. Not skinny just small and very snuggly.
How did it go with your puppy?
I have 2 cavachons (cross between King Charles Spaniels and Bichons) and one was the runt. She has stayed smaller than her older “brother” (not from the same breeder) but is very healthy. The only thing I wonder about is her complete concentration on food. No matter how much she weighs (she can get tubby), she acts like she is starving to death all the time. It is rather hilarious but she snuffles around to get every available crumb and licks your clothes if anything fell on your shirt. She stares intently at any food that goes by her like concentrating will cause the food to pop into her mouth. Does that come from not getting as much as she wanted when she was with mom or is it just her personality? Anyone else see that trait? Her brother isn’t like that at all. I have had other dogs who like their food, but nothing like this one!
Mine is the same way! I have a 7 year old pitbull and our guests feed her because she acts like shes starving, and she’ll eat until she looks like a fat sausage dog. My dad thinks its because shes the runt but i think its just her.
I just got a pitbull runt . I think he was taken away from his mom too soon . He won’t drink from a baby pet bottle , he laps up fluid from a bowl , already eating food. He’s very small and playful, gets under me or my son and goes to sleep. He eats like he is starving. He drinks water , almond milk , and pet milk for baby puppies. He act as though he’s older than I was told . He just acts as though he’s always cold and always hungry . He just doesn’t seem to be getting any bigger. I’m taking him to get a well baby check up because of his size and he plays like he’s at least 12 weeks old . I don’t know what else to say. Try to answer. Thank you. Be blessed and stay safe.
I found myself reading this article on runts and was wondering the same thing. My lil Doxie is such a foodie. He’s fourteen now. But has always manipulated us for food. To the point where i had to settle him down 🤦♀️ but that is definitely a question of mine. Are runts especially hungry because of the little nutrient they received in the womb?. 🤔
So my mini labradoodle was the runt of the litter. He actually is 4 pounds below the low average of his breed! He is perfectly healthy and super energetic. He (so far) haven’t had any serious health problems and is super sweet.
F. McAndrew says
There were 2 male Yorkie puppies for sale at 10 weeks old born on November 5, 2018 . We put a deposit on the larger of the two who weighed 2.3 lbs at that time on January 17. We were told he has to be 2.65 lbs before we could take him home. Yesterday on February 2, we went to visit him (now 13 weeks) he still only weighs 2.5 lbs and we learned his smaller brother has since died. Is it normal for a Yorkshire puppy to gain weight so slowly ? He seems to be energetic, affectionate and ate voraciously from the palm of my hand. Should I be worried about the slow weight gain ?
I hope you chose a different breeder. These dogs don’t sound healthy.
We took on a rehoused basset. Not having a female dog before, we thought she was just smaller because she was female. Now months later, we realised after some research she was probably the runt of the litter. She has separation anxiety issues (follows me everywhere), food guards treats and sucks her blanket, eyes closed, while holding it between her paws and moving her head gently from side to side whilst doing it. Luckily she relates to our first older dog so she feels safe being left with him if we need to go out. I feel for her greatly and we are trying to build her confidence up with training. All in all, she is lovely, we could imagine the house without her 🙂
Desiree Ramos says
Wow my yorkie does the same thing moves his head a lot very picky eater follows me everywhere also definitely sucks on his toy like he’s teething and humps it while he makes these moaning sounds sounds weird lol he is a very picky eater trying to figure out what to feed him
Hello, so my GS had a litter of 7 on the 8th and my “runt” is to small and weak to stay attached to the teat, so we have been bottle feeding since he was 1 1/2 days old. He is only half the size of the rest of the litter which have all gain 5oz-16+ oz already and he has stayed between 11-12oz he hasn’t lost weight but he hasn’t gained ither. We just ordered PetAg Esbilac premixed formula since we think us mixing the powder form might be the problem. The premixed wont show up until tomorrow but were still very concerned he hasnt gained any weight yet at 3 days old.
How many days of switching to the premixed and if no gain should we try before considering the worst.
I hope that didn’t sound horrible, that is not my intention, i apologize my husband and i have been on 2 hour schedules with him since the 9th.
Any advise is welcome, besides the basic “Go to the vet” we have consulted our reputable vet and he just said switch to the premixed but didn’t specify a tine period. And we were also wanting possibly advice from anyone who has delt with our particular situation. Thank you for your time Tami
Heavy whipping cream can help pack on the pounds. And they love the taste. It’s not a total replacement…. but good for a day or so until you get your stuff. You can also mix it with the formula.
Many Experiences says
Goat’s milk will do wonders. Kept a megaesophagus puppy alive with it after she went through heart surgery at 3 months old. She is now a very active 13!
Andrea S says
I got a runt Australian Shepherd that was only 13 oz at 2 weeks. At a year old, she ws 48 lbs and the doctor told me to put her on a diet! They do catch up.
So what u do tell me more…plz
I’m broken hearted.
My Australian Shepherd x Border Collie, the most beautiful natured dog I have ever had or seen died four days ago. I bought her three years ago. She was the last of the litter, the ‘runt’ no one wanted, but I could not resist her.
I have had high energy dogs most of my life. I had a pedigree border collie, a Kelpie x border collie and German Shepherd, all needed long walks and plenty of exercise. All lived long lives.
I expected Charlie to need a lot of exercise too. However, I noticed she tired easily and I restricted the ball throwing and the lengths of walks. I never thought to have her checked out. i feel terrible about that.
She came back from a run with my daughter and looked particularly exhausted, but again I thought nothing of it.
I took her with me to see my mother and she died in the car.
Only now, after lots of investigation and a breeder telling me, have I discovered that Australian Shepherds can suffer congenital heart disease and this is exasperated by being the runt.
Please take your dog for a heart check up. it hurts to lose any dog, but there is something very special about the Australian Shepherds.
Picked the runt of a litter golden retriever in 2004. About to turn 15 and still going relatively strong with the help of OTC joint medication.
Kim Phillips says
I rescued a 13 month old “tea cup Sheltie” as I was told from previous owner who couldn’t care for him. He was cryptorchid. Did DNA test: he’s Sheltie, Yorkie, dachshund and Feist. He’s so small (5lbs) and has chronic UTI bladder infections. He’s vicious. Head so small I wonder if his brain is fully developed? Any thoughts?
The UTI’s and bladder infections are most likely behind the viciousness. Happens in humans as well. If the antibiotics the vet is prescribing for the uti’s aren’t working (and it’s sounds like they aren’t, long term) I suggest sourcing a product called Hiprex. It’s an otc urinary antibacterial and antimicrobial. You’ll have to adjust the dose (my 70lb dog takes one tab) but it should wipe out the uti issue with one or two doses.
Please do not give life and death medical advice. If the vet’s antibiotics aren’t working, call the vet. The drug has many side effects and cautions, including the ability to cause antiobotic resistance!
I have a runt. His name is Eddie and he is a black/brindlish and white pitbull. He was the smallest of the litter and at 4 months, he was significantly smaller than the other pups. He is 4 years old now. He is a sweetheart. He is still relatively small compared to his mother and the siblings.
However, I started searching about runts, after having so many (minor) medical problems. He seems to be sensitive to everything since he was very young. Every year, there is something new to deal with. Mostly skin issues and sometimes throwing up. All minor when I consider how it could be. I wondered though if this has to deal with the fact that he was the runt of a litter of 10 pups.
Georgette Kaszubinski says
I just recently bought an American Bully who was the runt. I have a pit also who is 6 months old,and I have both of them on Ultra 24 which contains colostrum. The runt is doing wonderful and no health problems. I also have them on a raw food diet. So far so good!
Diane Robinson says
Thanks for the tip. I will get some ultra 24 for my runt who is 9 weeks. Eats fine. Sold the other pups. All had healthy check ups. Runt has skin problems and very little hair. Gorgeous color. Been wormed regularly. Growing. Thin but gawky.
My Billy was runt of litter and he turned put to be the prettiest and biggest! He is a silver lab at 1 year old 95 lbs . He us sweet. The only runt qualityi notice is he is protective of his food.
I have a runt bully that is twice the size of his litter mates. They are short and stocky. He is tall and muscular. They look nothing alike
My daughter rescued a runt Boston Terrier who was supposed to be put down because she wasn’t show quality. Her mouth was slightly deformed which meant her tongue sticks out. These puppies sold for $500 each, my daughter reimbursed the breeders the vet “put-to-sleep” fee of $150 which had already been paid and she took the puppy home from the vet who said, aside from her tongue always sticking out a bit, she would be fine. Six puppies in that litter, all show dogs, all A.K.C. registered (except Briddle, my daughter’s runt). All five of Briddle’s siblings died of health issues withing two years. Briddle is still with us 6 years later. Her tongue still sticks out but that just makes her really cute and endearing.
Shantelle Pitts says
We also bought the smallest BT in the littler along with one of her brothers. Her vet checks were all good even though she’s very small. She was also born with a cleft lip. We got her at 10 weeks old and she only weighed 1.5 lbs. She’s now 8 months old and weighs about 6 lbs. She seems to have stopped growing while her brother is still growing a bit. She’s healthy, fun, very energetic… seems just fine other than she’s small. Should we be worried/concerned? She’s up to date on all shots and seems to be just fine. Reading some of this is concerning. Any opinion would be appreciated, thanks!
Vicki Miller says
My Puppy was a runt the others were Jack Russel cross, tan and white and normal size. The runt was B&W and half the size with huge ears. I took him early because didn’t like the conditions they were living in and made sure he was on good Quality food plus what I ate. He is now 11 and he has been have fits since he was 5. Other than that he is well and the funniest little man we have a very special bond and he knows I am his back stop.
I also chose a JRT runt as I felt bad for the little guy. His dad was a B&W Shortie his mom was Brown and white with longer legs. He is mostly white with brown markings on his face and ears with a few tiny black marks and long legs. He will be 13 on Thanksgiving. He is the calmest most well behaved JRT I have ever been around. Anyone who has been around ” Einstein” cannot believe how well behaved he is. I do not think I would ever take a chance on a JRT again. I believe I got lucky with him. He has had a fatty tumor for the last 4 yrs that gets a little bigger each year but I believe the cbd I have been giving to him and my Border Border Collie mix who is 12 1/2 old helps to shrink the fatty tumor. I’m just very careful with his diet . He gets some premium kibble and Fresh Pet refrigerated food and the occasional people food when I give in to those pleading eyes and only give him bottled water. Their vet claims they both look and act half their age. So happy to read that your ” runt” of the litter is doing great. 😊
Debra Hughes says
I was staying with my son for a couple months and his little Terrier Type Wirey short hair cute as can be had a litter of only 3 pups. All lived, two were very healthy and really hogging mamas milk, ousting out the little, weak one. I removed the others, so she could feed alone throughout the day. But mama didn’t want to cooperate with that. She was very small and skinny, weak at 3 weeks. I ended up bottle feeding her, I only had baby formula I mixed it with oat or rice baby cereal. I gave it, in addition to what she was able to get from her mama. To supplement, she started getting stronger and after a week was able to lift her head and walk a little. I brought her home with me, I started giving her wet puppy food adding a little water to make it easier for her. She ate it like a champ!! Now she eats solid moist food, drinks water on her own. She’s very tiny, but she runs around, plays, potties on the potty mats by herself. Once in a while, she misses. She looks like a very small Yorkie, but she’s a terrier mix of a wired hair terrier and a Yorkie daddy. She is maybe 1 lb, but strong. I clipped her little nails, they hanging in the carpet. Once I cut her nails she was off and running for short sprints. She is 7weeks old, adorable, strong, plays. I can’t stand to see an animal suffer. Hense why I have 7 cats, 5 dogs all rescue. All are sweet loving as if they know. I believe they do know!! My joys!!
Awww your story made me smile! It warms my heart to read everyone’s wonderful comments about their little runt puppies. I just got a $50 blue/ gray pitbull runt puppy. She is SOO TINY! She is almost 2 lbs and will be 7 weeks old in a couple of days. Her siblings were just soo huge compared to her. But she sure is strong and smart. We love our little Fat Katie.
Nancy Collins says
I bought a tiny 2.5 pound maltipoo five years ago. Around a year old she was only 4 pounds. We were getting her fixed and the vet found the cause after running tests. She had a liver shunt. We took her to Dr Karen Forbes in Tennessee who created the surgery to correct this. She did the surgery and my little girl is 5 pounds at 5 years old. She is a delight and we thank God for her everyday. She really flourished when we got a little boy maltipoo when she was three. He has taught her so much. It’s amazing
Susanne Yang says
We chose what we considered the runt of the litter from a litter of Siberian Huskies. The other puppies would bite at her ears. She is 3 years old now and is at the higher end of the weight range for her breed. We work to keep her weight in check. Just thought I’d share that.
Oh I just put a deposit down on the smallest of the litter of huskies. Well two actually died. She is smaller but had just the same amount of energy. I was second guessing myself wondering if I made a mistake.
This makes me feel better.
Melissa Perry says
I have had 2 runts. Both ended up being the best decisions of my life. Jimmy boy lived to be 14 years old. Trixie girl is now 6 & in perfect health. Just last week the Vet said she is perfect. Last visit she was actually overweight? She plays great at yhe dog park (almost daily) & is a real leader! She is the boss! She is a Siberian Husky & Australian cattle dog & her vet told us she has Dingo too because of the Australian Cattle dog, which scared me at 1st. I have a 13 yr old daughter, who was approx 7 or 8 when we found that out, but Trixie girl is definitely unique. Beyond smart. Knocks on doors. Never has accidents. Knows when we are sad ot hurting & this may seem hard to believe, but she actually has a sense of humor! Jimmy boy was the same!
So No, having a Runt is not a bad thing. I do agree, that sometimes, in cases where their health is greatly diminished, then it can be a very hard situation. But I myself have never regretted getting Jimmy boy or Trixie Girl. I couldn’t imagine not knowing them.
Casandra Alvarado says
I got a Pomeranian run she is now going to be 5 months at 4 months she was 2.6 pounds she is healthy and happy and.playful she might know weight almost 3 pounds she will.be 5 months on Saturday
Amber Voglewede says
My Caucasian shepherd had puppies 2/26/18. They’re Caucasian shepherd mixes with a great pyrenees/German shepherd. The smallest is a girl we call “Luna” and she’s a full pound to pound and a half smaller than her siblings. There are 9 puppies left from an 11 puppy litter. I’ve become worried that, even though they’re only just over 2 weeks old, she’s not gained any weight while her siblings have gained at least a pound (I didn’t weigh them until they were a week old). This is the first time I’ve done this, and it wasn’t even a planned litter… what can I do to help her gain weight? She acts just like the other pups and can latch, she’s just smaller and more docile when held (she doesn’t squirm as much, she just finds a comfy position and lays there).
Keyonna watts says
Can I breed a runt blue pit
I raise and breed danes. I perdonally would never breed a dog that was born outside anything standard or within normal for that breed.
I just had my kitter 15 days ago and all babys are 4 plus pounds as of todays weighing and the “runt” of this litter is right at 2 pounds (1.12 exactly.). We have to provide an eyeful and very hands on approach to ensure she contunues to gain some weight each day. Even after 2 weeks because her siblings will push her away agressively to get her teat. I am planning on her diet to begin raw feeding at 3 weeks, which is in the next 5 days, in hopes this will finally aid in her weight gain and additional nutrition added. Teeth still have not come in enough to begin now and moms milk is so nutritional, I hate to impede on that as of yet at onky 15 dsys old, as long as she does not become stagnant in gaining or lose any ground in gaining weight. But, as far as her EVER being placed in a breeding home, I know I will have a very strict Spay Contract on her. For HER futurr, Breeding is not recomended by me as her breeder. I will have a contract that I mysrlf will cover her Spay at 24 monts old just to ensure she never breeds and I will make sure her placement is with the most loving and responsible home/family, which is imperative for all babys. I would never recommend breeding any animal that has a birth out of normal for the breed. Chances are always a concern that breeding may duplicate any birth issue a potential mother had herself and breeders are always fighting to NOT have low birthweight babies or anything but normal to above normal deliveries. If there is a chance to produce anything but the healthiest animal and a breeder is aware of this yet takes a chance anyway, Then that to me personally is unethical and never an excuse for anything to happen. So no, from one breeder to another, do not purposely breed any animal unless that animal has proven to produce the very best and healthy offspring which you gain that knowledge from the history of moms birth and the lineage within mom and dads pedigree.
Since you are a breeder, I was hoping you could help me. I’m thinking of buying a Boxer, she is the “runt” at 4 months old she only weighs 13 pounds. The breeder has held onto her until now due to her size. Should I be concerned? The breeder also said she is healthy, but has no clue as to her adult size/weight will be.
Jeannie Stelmack says
How big is your Boxer now? We are thinking of buying a Runt Boxer as well. My son has one and she only grew to 45 pounds and is 15 now! We love her smaller size.
My beautiful German Shepherd had a litter of 8 pups. 4 males and 4 females. The last one she delivered is the runt. However, I am trying EVERYTHING from bottle feed, taking mom out of the box to feel just him before the others… sometimes even for 1 hr. But he’s just not growing from the hips down. He does love his legs in to push himself when latched on to her tit, but he has no padding at all in the hips, his chest is big and rounded, not flat at all, and he’s trying so hard to live. But he’s just not growing and is approx 1/4 the size of his siblings. He just opened his eyes, almost 1 week AFTER his siblings and is still struggling terribly. My husband is suggesting that he is congenitally not normal and should be euthanized. I refuse to just because I see him trying so hard to live. Anyone have any suggestions, on average would a pup like this outgrow this or very unlikely? They were born feb 12th, 2018.
What ever happened to this pup?did he live?
Hi Martha, I would feel the same way that you do. I couldn’t see euthanizing him either when, like you said, he’s trying so hard to survive. I would think there was a congenital abnormality too, but you never know until you take him to a vet. I know it’s been a while since your post, but I’d really like to know how things turned out. I sure hope everything is good ??
Hello! I hope you saved your puppy.. But I have a very tiny runt PUG he’s just over 4 weeks and looks like in the body just like how u described your GSD What did you end up doing ?
He may have a congenital heart abnormality. Just love him and feed him as much as you can. Time will tell.
I just saw a television show where some puppies they found had something that sounded like what you describe. I think they called it “swimmers legs” or something like that. The front legs developed but the back legs just stayed small and the puppies would have to drag their legs around if they wanted to go anywhere. They said you had to work with them while very young or they would never be able to walk. So they built a little U-shaped tunnel that forced the puppies to get their back legs working. They did some other exercises with them and finally got them all better and back to normal. But it took some work and some time. The alternative was to put them to sleep. Good luck with anyone who has this problem. They didn’t say whether it was congenital or not.
Have a golden retriever that is 17 months. She is the runt from a large litter. She is 42 lbs and has thrived. Recently she is having bladder control problems. She has always peed submissively. It has become much worse recently. I am concerned she is having issues related to under development.
Susan Valentine says
Often a female dog will have control issues related to going into heat. Especially first heat
I have 2 tints from 2 different litters.The first was one of 3 pups born to a chihuahua who got pregnant by her brother.The one I have has no front legs and when I got her at 3 was of age she weighed 5.4oz.Her canine mom kept pushing her away and the owners tried but did not really know how to take care of her.Started with syringe feeding and now bottle feeding she weighs 14oz.The other up is from a Pomeranian father and chihuahua mother.She is one of 3 and the runt.She has been diagnosed with a PDA that did not close at birth.She has seen a cardiologist and sees the surgeon at the end of Jan 2018 with surgery scheduled for the next day.I should say that I am a registered nurse and also work with a small rescue group.These 2 pups I will be keeping as my own.
I have been offered a French bulldog that is the runt & dosent seem to be growing, I really don’t know weather to take her home or say I think she maybe better off being put to sleep. French bulldogs have problems anyway with there breaking what do I do take her or not help.
Georgette Kaszubinski says
I would take her. Try putting her on Ultra 24 and red cell. I also feed my puppies raw,they love it!
My Doberman pincher had 7 puppies last night but one is smaller than the rest and was cold not warm at all and was not lacking to my Cali (Mom) breast to eat to am trying to bottle feed and keep it warm with my body but am nervous what could the chance of living be. Am trying the best that I can with what I been reading and on line. By the way my dog was missing with my male dobie his name is Odie (father) I received them back but she was pregnant it’s not like I intentionally mate them because I didn’t.
V Simpson says
My puppy is 12 weeks old and has big problems going up one stairs never mind a group of stairs. I have owned him a week and he staggers a lot but is better than when I first got him.
His sister who was not for sale yet was totally opposite. The breeder said that the male is “laid back ” which is an understatement
I’m curious to know if his staggering has ever stopped. Or did you ever find out what was causing that to happen?
I specifically asked for a male runt of the litter and at eight weeks of age I brought home a male runt and the smallest female of a 12 pup litter. They were all malnourished, flea and worm infested. The male is life-long shy and my question is: is this because he was “bullied” by the other pups??
I have a runt who was bullied also and he is anything but shy. That’s a good question to ask your vet. Im wondering if it’s the breed of the dog not the size that determines personality traits as well as the humans they are around. Just my ooinion only.
I had 2 runts. 1 was very sick when we got him but got over it and is now still living at the old age of 16! the other turned out to be a massive dog. Sure you never want a dog that is unhealthy but in my experience its been just fine 2 of the sweetest dogs in the world.
Our puppy is 9 months old and having a lot of neurological issues, it is heartbreaking. I did not educate myself enough before getting him and trusted the breeder who said he was a “teacup” version of the breed. She now denies any knowledge of the puppy having any issues at birth or in the first few months. We now have a special needs dog that can’t do the normal things dogs can do, or be part of our family outside of the house.
I only have myself to blame for not researching, there are some shady people out there that will take advantage of your naivety.
Awww this breaks my heart. Is your puppy still living? Can you be specific as to what types of issues he has? I just purchased a tiny runt, but unlike you unfortunately, I knew she was the runt. But I didn’t realize all of the potential problems she could possibly face. She’s tiny with a big head, but she seems ok right now. She’s 6 weeks.
We too had the runt of the litter. We were also mid-sold a tiny Boston Terrier. And being naive, trusting we fell in love with her instantly! I absolutely would have still had her, but feel robed we were misled and paid full price if not more for her.
She is the most loving, clever little girl and has fit in perfectly with our family, incredible with my young children and loves nothing more than kisses and cuddles. However, at 18 months old she weighs 3.5kg and has been a monthly visitor (sometimes multiple visits per month) at our local vets. She underwent BOAS surgery at 5 months and I’ve been advised today that she may need her nostrils widening and more of her soft palate trimmed.
My heart breaks that she suffers and I would give anything to change this. I have vowed to never buy a pup again.. rescues all the way in future.