When it comes to canines, pregnancy length is much shorter than a human pregnancy. Even though dogs are often considered part of the family, humans and dogs are very different. Typically, female dogs will carry all their puppies for a little over two months but as in all situations, the time can vary.
How long are dogs pregnant?
The pregnancy of your dog will usually be between 60 and 65 days long. While a human female will carry their kids for about 9 months, a dog will carry her puppies for about nine weeks. Every canine pregnancy is going to be different lengths with some delivering after 65 days and some before 60 days, but this length is the average for how long dogs are pregnant.
Type of Dog Breed
There are many variations between the different breeds including size, weight, and pregnancy length. However, the pregnancy length is calculated from when the dog starts ovulation and is very similar for every breed. A female will have almost the same pregnancy length of a giant even though the beagle is a much smaller breed.
The Dog Pregnancy Time Line
When you have figured out how long dogs are pregnant, you must then understand how the dog pregnancy will play out and how their bodies will change to tell if your doggy is actually pregnant. Before they are even able to get pregnant, they will go through a heat cycle. The general recommendation is that you should not breed your dog in their first heat period unless they one year of age or older. Doing so before this could cause growth problems in the females.
The good news if you are looking to breed is that dogs will go into heat about 2 times every year. Sometimes they will skip one, but in my experience they have been followed this timeline. If in heat, she can breed with multiple males. The heat cycle lasts for about three weeks and the cycle starts over every six to nine months.
So how do you tell if your dog is in heat and ready to get pregnant? The first sign is that they will have a swollen vulva and have signs of bloody discharges. The eggs will not be released during this part of the heat cycle but males will be drawn to them. The females typically will not show interest until this stage is ending.
The next stage of heat is where she is going to be fertile. During this stage, the dog will have a different posture and stance that seems to invite the male dogs to procreate. The bleeding will change to a much lighter color, almost a very very light brown. The vulva will become softer but stay swollen. This stage typically lasts for anywhere between five to nine days but in some breeds, can last up to twenty days long. After this stage comes to an end, male attention will drop.
Dog Pregnancy Signs
Early signs that your dog is pregnant include a decrease in activity, growth of the nipples, decreased appetite, and changes in behavior. A human mothers morning sickness is very similar to the decreased appetite of your dog. If she seems very tired and is giving you a lot of affection than normal, this could be due to the changes in hormones because of pregnancy. The glands and nipples will typically swell to give room for milk and dogs will be pregnant for 60-65 days.
A few weeks later, your dogs appetite should come back and you will notice rapid weight gain. Along with this, you should notice that the abdomen gets thicker and is firm when you touch it. When a smaller dog breed is pregnant, they will often look much bigger than a larger breed just because they have less room to carry puppies. During the first week that the dog is pregnant, you should be able to feel them inside moving. If you see some milk leaking from the nipples, this is typical before labor.
By this point, you should have got a ready. This is a location that should be comfortable and allow her to nest with everything she will need. Make use of all those blankets and towels around the house that you are not using anymore so the baby puppies can be born into a soft environment. If you do not provide your dog with a whelping box, she will likely find her way into your closet or living space which you certainly do not want.
Dog Pregnancy and Giving Birth
During the length of your dogs pregnancy, make sure to take her temperature every so often. The normal range is 101-102 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the temperature drops to about 97-99 and is consistent for readings taken twelve hours a part, you will know that they will give birth in the next 24 or so hours.
During labor, your dog will pass through 3 stages and the third stage is repeated for each puppy.
- During stage 1, your dog will be very restless and seem to be anxious. During this phase, they do not seem to want any attention and will not be interested in food or treats. Make sure to take her out to the bathroom because this could be her last chance to go before having her puppies.
- Stage 2 is where contractions start and you will notice a green sac of fluid coming from her vulva. Puppies will start coming out either rear first or headfirst as both are normal. If your dog is very quiet and not moving much after she gives birth, do not worry or be alarmed as this is also normal. The mother will then lick the puppies to clean them up and will cut the cord to the puppies by herself. You should remove the sac as soon as possible if it did not break during the delivery. If you want to clean the puppies or lend a helping hand, do so by using a fresh soft cloth and do not stop rubbing them. This will help their circulation and will lead them to squirm and crying, which is a good sign of healthy puppies. If the mother is struggling with a puppy that is lodged and needs help, grab the puppy gently with a clean cloth and slowly pull. Make sure to have no sudden movements or jerk. If you do not know what you are doing, please contact a vet as soon as you can.
- The third stage is where the mother is resting for a couple hours as the contractions disappear. If she had two puppies very close together, these contractions can take a longer time to go away.
- A puppy is lodged and is not able to be removed
- Labor goes on for more than 2 hours and no puppies are delivered
- 4 hour window between when puppies are born
- Pregnancy lasts longer than 65 days
- Tremors and vomiting
If any of the above have or are occurring, contact a vet RIGHT away!
Post-Natal Puppy Care
Check the nipples of the mother every once in a while to make sure there is no infection and occasionally clean them with a damp warm washcloth. Also take the time to clip the nails of the puppies so that they do not irritate her skin.
Over the next few days, she will have soft stool due to the eating habits during pregnancy, this is normal.
If the mother looks to be eating the puppies feces, this is also normal and very common. This will not hurt the mother and you will also notice some extra discharge of blood from the vagina for up to a week. If it is longer than a week, this is not normal and should be checked by a vet.
After birth, the puppies will be taken care of by their mother and you will not need to give any assistance. She might even act a bit territorial or a little aggressive. This usually goes away the more time you spend around her and her pups. After two to four hours, the pups will typically start nursing. Make sure to not use a heating pad for the little guys as they like to be comfortable in room temperature.
After 10-14 days, the puppies eyes will start to open and you should bring them in for a health checkup at about 3 weeks. Then at three to four weeks, start to wean them off milk.
When you are weaning the puppies off milk, cut their intake down a little bit by watering down their food. If they start eating solid food right away this is great, but do not take away the milk from their mothers right away. You need this process to go smoothly, so start slow!
While the puppies are growing, keep their area clean every single day. Keep watch over how much they eat and if they are gaining weight. Do not give them any human milk and only use a milk replacer if you have very small puppies that need some extra nutrition. If you have a few runts in a litter, this is typical and you should not worry. If you wish, give these little ones extra feeding time so they can get their full nutritional needs filled.
After the pups are six to eight weeks old, they can be adopted by a new family!
This may have been a bit longer than you were expecting, but now you know how long dogs are pregnant for and know what to expect if your dog is pregnant. Make sure to provide the proper care and environment and you will have a litter full of healthy pups!