Among the modifications that occur during the neonatal period, pulmonary development is the most critical. The neonate's lungs must be able to perform adequate gas exchange, which was previously accomplished by the placenta. Neonatal respiratory distress syndrome is defined as insufficient surfactant production or pulmonary structural immaturity and is specifically relevant to preterm newborns. Prenatal maternal betamethasone treatment of bitches at 55 days of gestation leads to structural changes in the neonatal lung parenchyma and consequently an improvement in the preterm neonatal respiratory condition, but not to an increase in pulmonary surfactant production. Parturition represents an important challenge to neonatal adaptation, as the uterine and abdominal contractions during labour provoke intermittent hypoxia. Immediately after birth, puppies present venous mixed acidosis (low blood pH and high dioxide carbon saturation) and low but satisfactory Apgar scores. Thus, the combination of physiological hypoxia during birth and the initial effort of filling the pulmonary alveoli with oxygen results in anaerobiosis. As a neonatal adaptation follow-up, the Apgar analysis indicates a tachypnoea response after 1 h of life, which leads to a shift in the blood acid–base status to metabolic acidosis. One hour is sufficient for canine neonates to achieve an ideal Apgar score; however, a haemogasometric imbalance persists. Dystocia promotes a long-lasting bradycardia effect, slows down Apgar score progression and aggravates metabolic acidosis and stress. The latest data reinforce the need to accurately intervene during canine parturition and offer adequate medical treatment to puppies that underwent a pathological labour.