When a mother dog gives birth to pups, most of the time she instantly takes on the maternal role.
She feeds them, cares for them and keeps them safe until they are strong enough to flee the nest, and go to their forever homes.
But, what about father dogs?
Do they care for their pups, or even recognize them as their own?
That’s what this guide is here to investigate!
Does A Father Dog Know His Puppies?
It’s a very complex question and one that is very hard to answer, because we cannot ask a dog, and have to look at their behavior instead.
Father dogs can actually become jealous, and feel rejected because of the attention the puppies receive from the mother dog, and from us humans.
However, there is no proof that a father dog will recognize that a litter of puppies is his, but we have no way of knowing!
Do Male Dogs Have Paternal Instincts?
No, unfortunately, most male dogs do not have paternal instincts towards their puppies.
Despite being descended from wolves, who are very protective and caring of their offspring, domestic male dogs do not really care for their puppies or try to raise them.
Due to being domesticated, our dogs no longer have certain instincts. Paternal instincts are one of these instances.
Wolves in the wild would have to raise their young, teaching them to hunt, play, and behave.
As dogs are completely reliant on their human counterparts, and we care for puppies, they no longer feel the instinct to look after them.
When dogs breed, humans are completely involved, and the male dog is no longer needed for the birth to protect the mother or teach the pups how to hunt.
So their paternal instincts have been all but eliminated.
That being said, they can interact with the puppies and teach them social skills, but they should also be kept away from the puppies when they are first born.
They should only be introduced if the male dog has a gentle nature.
How Do Male Dogs React To Their Puppies?
Every single dog is different, and will react differently towards its puppies.
Whilst some breeds are known to be gentler than others, you really cannot predict how a male dog will react to a litter of puppies, even when they are his own.
This is why you have to exercise caution when introducing a male dog, or a father dog with the new litter of puppies.
Some will be very loving and gentle, whereas others can become jealous, threatened or aggressive.
For instance, some stud dogs or father dogs can grow jealous of all of the care and attention the puppies are getting from the mother, or from others in the household, including you!
This can manifest itself through aggression, or destructive behavior as they try to regain your full attention.
In other cases, a jealous father dog may sulk a lot, and hide away somewhere, avoiding you and the new litter entirely.
If this is the case, then he may need a little bit of attention and head scratches.
Other stud dogs may try to get in between you and the puppies, and may clamber on top of them to get your attention.
This is not only dangerous for the puppies as they can be trampled, but the mother may also try to attack the father to protect her puppies.
You do not want a dog fight or any risk to come to you or the puppies, so keep the father dog away if this happens.
On the other hand, the father dog can feel completely indifferent to the puppies, will ignore them, and have no paternal bond to them whatsoever.
Many male dogs have no interest in rearing puppies, and will simply avoid them.
In very rare circumstances, a stud dog will care for the litter like the mother would.
They may sleep with the puppies, clean them, play with them and be very gentle towards them.
However, this does not mean that they know they are their father.
Dogs that react this way simply understand that puppies are small, vulnerable and in need of care.
They are very empathetic towards them, and will try to protect and keep them safe.
Do Male Dogs Know Their Puppies?
There is no evidence to show that a male dog knows which puppies he sires or helps to create.
It is unclear as to whether a father dog knows or understands that a litter of puppies is his.
Some breeders and dog owners suggest that the male dog does know, as he shows compassion and is very gentle around the puppies.
Although this could just be because of his kind temperament and empathy towards the puppies’ vulnerable nature.
No studies show that a male dog really knows or cares about his puppies.
You will find that some male dogs will be very caring and gentle towards their puppies, whereas others may see them as a threat and may become aggressive or defensive towards them.
Should I Keep The Father Away From The Puppies?
Yes, it is actually beneficial to keep the father dog away from the puppies initially.
For at least the first 20 days after the puppies are born, they should be separated from the father to prevent any aggressive behavior.
However, after this time has passed, it is good for the puppies to meet the father dog, as it can help them socialize and learn behaviors and social cues from other dogs.
They should meet gradually, have time to play and engage with each other to ensure that the puppies grow up to be well rounded, social animals.
That being said, it is important that you only allow the father dog to meet and interact with the puppies as long as the male is not showing any aggression, reluctance or disapproval of the puppies to ensure that everyone is safe.