Bernese Mountain Dogs - Breed Information & Education for Puppy Buyers, Owners and Breeders

Litter Life

The First Eight Weeks The Life and Times of Bouncing, Biting, Baby Berners
By Mary-Ann Bowman, Ph.D.

Second Week

Fig. 3: Nursing

Puppies enter their second week of life still blind and deaf, but with some powerful jaws! There is a reason that puppies have big heads the most important thing they do is eat, so the part of the puppy that is most developed is their jaws/head. berner pups nursing

Puppies in the second week continue to gain weight at an amazing rate and spend most of their time sleeping and eating (see Fig. 3: Nursing). When the puppies nurse and the milk lets down, they begin to make the sweet little noise that all puppies seem to make -- it sounds like, "uh, uh, uh, uh...." Their bodies get still as they focus on what I imagine is a torrent of milk, and then they drop off like satisfied ticks. They usually just fall asleep on the spot, head next to their mom or on a sibling, in a stupor of fullness.

Fig. 4: Neonatal Play
berner babies 2 weeks old

Puppies in the second week start awkward attempts at mouthing each other in some beginning efforts to play (see Fig. 4: Neonatal Play). They are interactive when held by people, licking and nibbling and trying to suck on chins and fingers. Not realizing the power of those jaws, I once let a puppy suck on my chin that was a big mistake as I then sported a bright red "hickey" on my chin for a few days after that!

I used to think that the eyes just suddenly popped open, but in fact this happens over a period of days, beginning toward the end of the second week. At first the eyes seem less firmly sealed, then a tiny crack appears in one corner of an eye. It takes quite a few days for the eyes to open completely, and vision also develops over some time, even after the eyes are open. Can you imagine what it must be like suddenly to see?

berner puppy first steps

In addition to eyes opening, second week puppies begin to hold themselves in sitting positions and are starting to stand (see Fig. 5: Attempts to Stand). I call this stage, "The Age of the Drunken Dinosaurs." Their big heads and small bodies resemble a dinosaur, and they lurch and stagger so it appears like a whelping box of intoxicated T-Rexes!

Fig. 5: Attempts to Stand