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Why Does My Dog Only Have One Puppy? (Answered)

Since canines are polytocous, usually you must have seen many other female dogs give birth to several puppies. Therefore, when it came down to your female dog, seeing her giving birth to just one puppy might have made you super confused and surprised.

As a result, it’s quite logical for you to want to know why does my dog has only one puppy. Thence, let’s go through the rationales to learn the answer regarding this query of yours.

Why Does My Dog Only Have One Puppy?

Female dogs give birth to one puppy due to Single Puppy Syndrome. Single litter pregnancy occurs mainly in miniature-sized breeds. Besides, the age of the female dog, the health of the female dog, the degree of inbreeding, and genetics are the other main reason that causes Single Puppy Syndrome.

What Causes Single Puppy Syndrome?

To let you have a detailed insight into the reasons stated behind Single Puppy Syndromes, here are the concepts behind each believed rationales have been deciphered.


The breed of the dogs is the leading reason that influences a female dog to have just one pup. This means if the dog comes from a bigger-sized dog breed such as the German Shepherd, Labrador, Huskies, etc. it will give birth to 8-10 pups at one time.

On the contrary, small-sized toy breed dogs such as Scottish Terrier, Chihuahua, Pomeranian, etc. tend to give birth to a single pup sometimes. Because of their small breeds, these dogs especially the Scottish Terrier are scapegoats of the Single Puppy Syndrome.

Age Of The Mother Dog:

Dogs tend to stay fertile until he/she passes away but the fertility of a female dog drops down after the age of 5-7. This means if the mother dog has passed the 5 years to 7 years old mark, gradually her capability of carrying more offspring will begin to decrease.

Thereby, she can give birth to just one puppy at one birth time.

Health Of The Mother Dog:

The health of the mother dog is directly proportionate to the size of its litter as well.

Healthier mother dogs are capable of carrying healthier and more offspring at one time. However, a weak and unhealthy mother dog might not be able to carry and give birth to 3-4 puppies at one birth time as her body will not support nurturing more than one puppy.


Genes are the next factor that heavily influences the quantity of offspring in a litter. But unfortunately, it’s difficult to anticipate whether a mother dog’s genes will affect the birth of one pup in a litter or not.

However, if you notice that a mother dog has given birth to a single puppy twice or thrice in a row, just know that she is developed as a mom of singletons.


The degree of inbreeding has also an equal impact on the size of the litter. The more breeders going to inbred a litter, the smaller the number of puppies going to be in the future.

Because inbreeding is a path for departing deleterious alleles as well as it entrenches a high span of health problems in dogs that don’t allow to carry more puppies.

Is It Possible Or Rare For A Dog To Only Have One Puppy?

It’s considered a quite rare incident for a mother dog to give birth to only one puppy at one time.

It’s because dogs fall in the category of polytocous species of animals which means dogs are capable of carrying and giving birth to more than two puppies in one birth time. And their standard litter size ranges from 3 to 7 puppies depending on dogs’ breeds.

Therefore, when only a single pup is born of a dog, it’s deemed unusual. Also, know that the chance of a single puppy pregnancy is just about 6.4% which confirms Single Puppy Syndrome a rare case among dogs.

Are Singleton Puppies Bad?

Singleton puppies require unique care as they don’t get to interact with their littermates after their birth, as a result, these puppies develop quite a lot of behavioral issues. And among these behavioral issues, scarcity of bite inhibition is the most typical one.

Then the inability of getting out of a problem, incapability of diffusing social anxiety, lacking social agilities and whim control, and being unable to deal with frustration are the other main issues a singleton puppy faces.

And all of these causes clear that singleton puppies are kind of accepted as bad.

Do Singleton Puppies Survive?

If the size and position of singleton puppies inside the dog mom’s uterus are in favor of being born naturally, the chances of the puppy’s surviving are higher and it’s about 85%.

However, if a C-section has taken place to give birth to the singleton puppies due to the pup being bigger sized and the mother dog having difficulties with normal delivery, the puppy may or may not survive. Statistics say, only 42% of puppies have survived after a C-section.

What Happens If My Dog Only Has One Puppy?

If your dog has only one puppy, your dog, the puppy, and you will encounter many challenges.

First, your dog will face difficulties in giving birth to the pup as her released hormones might not be adequate to facilitate the birth-giving procedure. Then if she goes through a C-section to give birth to her pup, she might not recognize the pup as offspring.

Then when the puppy is born, he definitely will face behavioral issues, he will need extra care, will lack bite inhibition, and he might be overweight. 

And lastly, you as a dog master will face problems in training the singleton puppy as the pup may quit training and walk away if you don’t favorably train him. 

How To Raise A Well-Adjusted Singleton?

The following few tips on raising a well-adjusted singleton puppy have been explained for you.

Find Foster Litter:

First, you should find foster litter for your pup so that he can get a conducive environment with the help of other pups of the same age. The breed of the foster mother and litter don’t matter at all as long as both the foster mother, her litter, and your pup get along naturally.

Use Stuffed Toys:

If you can’t find a foster mother and litter, provide him with lots of stuffed animal toys to mimic as littermates around your singleton puppy.

Enroll To A Puppy Kindergarten:

When your pup will reach a decent age, enroll him in a puppy kindergarten where he can learn basic socialization skills, essential obedience training, and basic dog body language.

Provide Him Motherly Love And Care:

If your singleton puppy is unable to accept any of these above methods, consider being his parent and provide him with all motherly love, care, and affection like his dog mom would have provided.

You must keep him neat and clean, cuddle with him, provide him warmth, and teach him basic techniques to be social.

Can Singleton Puppies be Born Naturally?

Singleton puppies can be born naturally as long as the mother dog is not facing any birth problems and the puppy’s size and positioning are in favorable condition.

Even though the birth of singleton puppies is known to be risky and difficult, the statistics are still in favor of natural birth as 62% of singleton puppies are born naturally, and among them, 85% survived.

Are Singleton Puppis Bigger?

While growing up inside the uterus of a mother dog, a singleton puppy grows bigger in size because it receives all of the nourishment and gets more room to grow big. Therefore, during the birth time, you will see a bigger-sized puppy than others in a litter.

However, this absolutely doesn’t mean that the singleton pup will grow as a bigger-sized adult dog in the future. He will just grow in the same average size as the other dogs of its breed.

What Can I Do With A Singleton Puppy?

After getting a singleton puppy, you must make sure to provide him with all the convenience and an environment that the pup didn’t get in the first two to three months of its life.

You can enroll the puppy in a puppy kindergarten where the pup will get to receive a similar fostering experience from the other puppies. Therefore, his behavioral problems will lessen to quite a good degree.

But it would be better if you could borrow foster litter regardless of its breed to foster your singleton puppy. But if you can’t do any of this, be his parent and take care of the pup as its mother would do.

Final Thoughts

Single Puppy Syndrome causes a dog to give birth to only one offspring. This syndrome is mainly caused by the breed of the mother dog. Then the age and health of the mother dog, the genetics of the mother dog, and inbreeding are also equally responsible for a dog having only one puppy.