a pregnant jack russell in bed

If you have a pregnant dog or are just curious about what pregnancy and birth are like for canines, this guide is for you.

Humans can be in labor for days in some cases, but if your dog is pregnant, the labor process will likely be quite a bit shorter. Like people, each dog is different, and the labor and delivery process can vary. However, the average abor period for canines lasts 3–12 hours.

Most dogs will be finished with contractions by 12 hours into the labor process.Usually, the puppies will arrive between 30-60 minutes apart. But, in some cases, the mother can take up to two hours to release each puppy.

How Long Are Dogs Pregnant?

Dogs are pregnant for much shorter periods than humans or larger mammals like elephants and whales. The average length of gestation is around 63 days. If you suspect your dog is pregnant, the vet can usually determine a due date for the mother to some degree of accuracy.

Do Dogs In Labor Have Many Complications?

Dogs usually have relatively straightforward labors and deliveries, but this isn’t always the case. Some breeds struggle to deliver naturally. If you have one of these breeds, you should be extra careful to work with your vet to ensure the mother and puppies are safe and healthy.

Also, all pregnant dogs should be taken to the vet for exams during and after pregnancy. Your vet is your best resource for helping your dog through pregnancy and giving birth.

chihuahua giving birth
Image courtesy of Shutterstock

How Can You Help A Pregnant Dog?

If your beloved dog is pregnant, you want to keep it safe and comfortable during the gestation period and the labor process. Make sure to talk to your vet for help, but overall, you can follow these steps when your pet is in labor:

  • Create a birthing nest: The mother will want somewhere private and calm to give birth. Make sure to create an area out of the way that’s lined with puppy pads and several soft blankets or towels. You need the space to be big enough for the mom and her puppies.
  • Have a few supplies ready: Make sure you can contact your vet after-hours just in case an emergency occurs. Also, you may want to keep extra towels and even an extra person close by to help.
  • Watch for signs of a problem: Stay close by to keep an eye on the mom and her pups. Some concerning signs include not being able to birth any pups, labor taking longer than it should, or a puppy stuck in the birth canal.

Final Thoughts

Dogs are usually in labor for 3-12 hours. They can deliver their puppies at your home with little problems, but it’s best to keep in touch with your vet and be prepared. If you have a pregnant dog in your household, take extra care of it and maintain regular appointments at the vet clinic. Although having a pregnant canine can be stressful, you can look forward to seeing the adorable puppies!

Featured Image Credit: Gladskikh Tatiana, Shutterstock