'give birth = whelp' for animals ?

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I am French and about to take a very difficult exam in English (PhD level).
I just want to know if the verb "whelp" is the right word to use when one speaks about animals. For instance: "This mare has whelped two foals last night". I know I can use "give birth", but as I said it is a very difficult exam and only the best students will pass.

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Thanks in advance!
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  • sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    As the dictionary here shows, "whelp" applies only to canines.

    WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2015
    whelp /hwɛlp, wɛlp/n. [countable]
    1. Zoologythe young of such mammals as the dog or the wolf.
    2. a young person who is considered too bold, impudent, or rude.

    v. [no object]
    • Zoology(of a female dog or wolf) to give birth to a young pup.
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    Senior Member
    English (Estuary)
    I cannot say that I have ever in my life used the word "whelp" either as a noun or a verb. But I see from the OED that both are very well attested in the long history of our language, and that in the quotations cited there for the verb it has been used of dogs, wolves, lions and other animals.


    Senior Member
    English (American)
    I agree that it's generally limited to canines. I could accept it of lions, maybe other felines in some cases (pumas, etc.), and possibly a few other animals (foxes?). Absolutely not for: horses, cattle, birds, hippopotamuses, bears, and almost any other creature.
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