How do you define "Runt?"

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How do you define "Runt?"

Postby JONOV » Thu Oct 12, 2017 10:28 am

A friend and I went to look at a litter from a breeder he's interested in. Lab puppies, if it matters, from a breeding and line my friend wants and has hunted with before. Either another buyer backed out, or the litter was bigger than expected (11 puppies I think,) or there were too many females or not enough males, and my friend got bumped up on the waiting list.

There was one female available. She was physically the smallest of the litter, maybe half the size of the biggest pup and 3/4 of most of the rest of the litter. She seemed to be a well adjusted dog. While she wasn't the boldest of the litter that Hicntry advocates for a breeding program, she wasn't timid or shy. At dinner time when the bigger pups crowded her out, she crawled over/under them into the food bowl to eat. Funny, actually. She seemed to look people in the eye and wasn't fearful of anything.

He calls his Dad while he's looking at them, all excited, and his dad gets on his case about buying the "runt" of the litter, "they always have health problems, the breeder should have drowned it, wait til you're at the front of the line, etc..." Now, his Dad has raised a litter, maybe two, of puppies in his life, and aside from keeping a lab as a pet and duck dog isn't exactly an expert.

Now, I've heard from more than one person (including two veterinarians before) that in many cases, there is one or two pups, where you need to let nature take its course. They are referring to ones that require constant attention to bring them through their infancy alive, that the mother rejects. They are often physically malformed or otherwise notably different. That's what this particular Vet referred to as the "Runt."

I've also heard people that refer to the smallest pup as the runt, with no connotation to the term other than size.

I guess we'll never know if this was one where the breeder worked to bring it to viability, or was simply just small. He did mention one pup that "didn't make it" but that could be still born or the mother rolled on it during birth or an outright rejection. The breeder said he "liked her spunk." He didn't say that the Dam wanted to reject the puppy. We didn't think to ask. I tend to think not, given the dogs general attitude, but I'm on my first dog, so what do I know?

So, how do those of you that breed define "runt?"
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Re: How do you define "Runt?"

Postby hicntry » Sat Oct 14, 2017 10:25 am

I never made a distinction based on size. The only contact I ever had with the pups was when putting fresh shavings in the whelping box and I handled them as little as possible then. When they started coming out of the whelping box is when I started watching them(about 4 weeks). Nature pretty much eliminated the week before then. The noticeably smaller pups when they started coming out of the box, many times, were fantastic problem solvers and smart as could be....that is how they survived.
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Re: How do you define "Runt?"

Postby Misskiwi67 » Sat Oct 14, 2017 8:11 pm

A "runt" is a poor do-er, not just physically behind but also mentally. They DO have something wrong with them internally, and may or may not have been born smaller.

In large litters or unlucky puppies it's common for them to get squished in the uterus and get less nutrition prior to birth. They are born small but are otherwise genetically the same health as the rest of the litter. These puppies catch up quickly after weaning and can be every bit as good as the rest of the litter.

Time will tell which one the puppy is. If she seemed normal, she very likely is.
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Re: How do you define "Runt?"

Postby ryanr » Sun Oct 15, 2017 12:00 pm

Jonov, you do realize if the pup has made it past weaning (you said they're eating dog food now) then the mom didn't reject it and won't. From my experience that happens within the first week and the pup doesn't make it (unless some do gooder intervenes.) In one of my dad's Labrador litters we had a small but healthy pup that I supplemented in between the litter's nursing. Only did it to give her a boost and it worked. Anyway, she was always the smallest pup but she was one of the bolder pups and went on to become a terrific dog for my stepbrother. I happened to get one of the two largest pups in that litter and he and that little female grew up together for 4 years when we took them to college with us in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. She more than held her own with him and spent those years rambling all over the National Forest there. She was very smart and quite intuitive and also very sweet but also very confident. She never had any real health problems and ended up being the longest lived from that litter that we know of. She was 17 when she passed away.
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Re: How do you define "Runt?"

Postby hicntry » Sun Oct 15, 2017 9:24 pm

Runt infers that a pup is small....no more no less. Experienced breeders normally refer to small sickly pups as being "puny".
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Re: How do you define "Runt?"

Postby JONOV » Sun Oct 15, 2017 11:27 pm

ryanr wrote:Jonov, you do realize if the pup has made it past weaning (you said they're eating dog food now) then the mom didn't reject it and won't. From my experience that happens within the first week and the pup doesn't make it (unless some do gooder intervenes.).

Yes, and I guess that was the only concern, that there was some intervention. And seeing that the pup had figured out how to get on (and get fed) at 6 weeks I thought it would probably turn out to be a smart enough dog to challenge its human quite a bit. I hope he takes that pup, it's a good one IMO. Sometimes we get caught listening to what people close to us say without asking the all important question, "how do you know?"
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