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Updated: Jul 25, 2023

C-Section or Natural birth, this is the question....

“French bulldog cannot self-whelp because of wide shoulders and huge heads that will not fit into the birth canal” – this is what you find when googling this issue.

For many years my mom bred show French Bulldogs and trying to natural whelp them wasn’t very successful. 80% of the females eventually had to be c-sectioned, some delivered naturally but it was soooo difficult, sooo nerve racking, a lot of puppies died and whelping females was suffering too long and too much, so it got stuck into our head.

With colored program we made a decision to C-section all our females due to high risk of natural birth. And so we did for many years…

For this you need a VERY GOOD VET with golden hands which is hard to find.. But when you do find one- your females are in safe hands! (Knock on the wood, never lost a female in C- section…) The operations were always done careful, fast, and fast healing. We were very happy with all of it…

We have one rule for birth- NEVER but NEVER we c-section on schedule, we wait till female in already in labor…

So last year, one of our females, who had c-section before started going into labor, that was a sign, we have to go…

I called my vet, got dressed, took my “labor doggy bag” and went to get the female… What did I see!? A PUPPY! Healthy, clean and in a good shape!

WOW! At the moment we decided to free whelp her… and guess what… She delivered 7 puppies, 1 unfortunately dead born. But 6 healthy puppies naturally delivered.

Next female, same situation. Labor signs, I call my vet and getting organized to exit and again PUPPY! Big healthy, puppy! This female is a young female, never been c-section. First time. At the end one of her last puppies was stuck for hours so we did decide to go to the vet. My vet told us to wait!.. And guess what- in the clinic already she delivered herself another puppy, with help of pulling but she did it! Healthy 4 puppies without cutting the female…

Now, it got us thinking …. Why do we c-section them and don’t let them Free whelp!? Why we are going a bit against the nature… It is not JUST A NATURAL PROCESS. It is much more than that: by selecting freewhelping females and free breeders’ males, we, automatically doing step back from artificial human mind selection, to a selection of cooperation with Mother Nature. The female that cannot whelp maybe have hundreds other reasons and defects that humans still don’t know, she maybe not the best producer. The same about the male- a male that can breed naturally is usually predominant strong male, it is the nature law. (we are not saying not to AI, AI is clean method of breeding and faster, but naturally male should be able to breed alone) This fact helps to produce healthy and strong next generation. Nobody can argue this fact. With the female could be absolutely same. We all know that our breed has a lot of health issue, what if we try to follow those rules and see the influence on general health of pups?

And other argument what is safer Natural or C-section? Because in C-section you risk the female and the puppies, in Natural – Only the puppies! In extreme rare cases the female may die in natural birth.

Now, in the few past days we were expecting 3 females to deliver litters (2 females had 1 c-section and 1 female first litter) and we decided to Free Whelp them ALL (of course, vet is on call and ready if something goes wrong)

All 3 females self whelped! 2 females with some help, 1 female with full help! 1st female had 7 puppies (1 died , but it was dead inside because of green discharge), 2nd female 7 puppies (1 died, some kind of breathing problem) , 3rd female 5 puppies- 1 dead.

So, at the end we have 16 puppies live and well and 3 dead (1 puppy was dead inside, C-section wouldn’t save him, 2nd puppy was born easy without any complication but had difficulties in breathing – don’t know if C-section would save him, don’t think so; 3rd puppy died probably during labor because was over 300 gr and the female was very tired to push, so was stuck for a long time and we couldn’t revive him. This puppy could’ve been saved by C-section.)


Our theory of that is the that we brought new lines into the breed with color and went total outcross making the breed a bit healthier in general and in the whelping parameters., where in show dogs mostly too strong inbreed. But it’s only our theory. And I am not saying show dogs cannot free whelp, its just we had not such a good experience with it.


Free whelp:

- long very hard process that can take up to 24 hours maybe even more to whelp.. You need to have huge experience in this breed to help the female or you need to hire a professional whelper. But, the female goes thought all the natural process and accepts the puppies immediately. A lot of oxytocin flown and most of free whelpers are good moms from the start with a lot of milk.

- Possible to lose puppies that are stuck.

Recommendation how to prepare your female if you decide to prepare for natural whelping:

1. Exercise- build muscles for her to push easy

2. Last 3 weeks of pregnancy- cut protein food. . Puppies will be smaller. Easier to pass. Give a lot of veggies, oats, yogurt and etc. Of course, keep up the vitamins and calcium.

3. Herbal labor stimulation like raspberry leaves tea instead of pure water.


- Very fast process to take out the puppies. But they get a dose of the anesthesia and sometimes when the vet overdosed or took a long time to take out you need to work hard to “wake them up” . Female is probably in shock for 24 hours and most likely will not accept the puppies first 24-48 hours. You need a good vet to the c-section if you want to breed the female 2-3 times.

- Risk to loose the female and the puppies during operation. - High costs of C-sections

It is a very hard decision to make for a breeder how to whelp the female, but I think we should give them a try to Free whelp before putting them trough C-section and we should give a male to try to free breed as well. This is the simplest way to improve health to our breed for next generations.

Did you have Free-Whelpers? How was the process? What are your methods, preferences, thoughts?

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