pregnant pug

If you have a female dog, you may consider breeding her at some point. And if you don’t get her spayed, she can become pregnant if she’s of age and allowed to be in the company of male dogs.

Dog pregnancies are similar to humans in that they experience many of the same pregnancy symptoms and feed the pups through their milk. But just how long are dogs pregnant? And does it vary by breed? Continue reading to learn more.

So, How Long Are Dogs Pregnant?

Probably to the envy of every woman who has children, you may be surprised to find the average K9 is pregnant for about 9 weeks or approximately 58-65 days. Although all dog breeds are pregnant for that amount of time, the exact number of days that your dog is pregnant can vary by breed and is according to the dog’s age and overall health.

And they can have pup litters of anywhere from 3 up to 15. That’s a lot of feeding to do! During this time, it’s imperative to assure that your dog is given all proper nutrients, gets plenty of rest, and visits the vet if she shows any signs of serious issues such as prolonged irritability, excessive bleeding, or skin conditions.

What Makes Some Female Dogs More Likely to Get Pregnant Than Others?

Most healthy female dogs will have the ability to become pregnant. But infertility can occur in female dogs born with hereditary problems. For a female dog’s heat or reproductive cycle to be successful, she must be in a good state of health overall.

Factors such as poor or inept breeding are actually one of the leading causes of infertility in female dogs. She likely won’t get pregnant if she is not bred within her natural cycle. Overbreeding can also cause problems with fertility or make pregnancies more difficult for some female dogs.

Female dogs can also have issues with vaginal infections that could affect their fertility. Lastly, infection or problems with the dog’s birthing canal, ovaries (such as ovarian cysts), and uterus within it can also lead to fertility problems.

pregnant Dogue de Bordeaux dog
Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Signs That Your Dog May Be Pregnant

If you suspect that your dog may be pregnant, there are signs to look for that can help make this determination. Ultimately, however, you’ll want to take her to the vet for the final confirmation. But here are some of the most common signs:

  1. Your dog starts to gain weight even though her diet is the same. Also, lookout for a noticeable increase in appetite one to two months after mating.
  2. You notice a slight release of fluid about 20-30 days after she’s mated with a male dog.
  3. After mating, her teats (breasts) are visible in their color and size for around 25-30 days. They may also secrete a bit of semi-transparent liquid.
  4. You notice that she is way less active than usual (lethargy is normal in the 2nd and 3rd months) or may lose her appetite.
  5. She suddenly starts to vomit weeks after mating–just like morning sickness in women.
  6. You notice her belly starts swelling. Note that with new mothers and smaller dog breeds this may be less noticeable.

Your vet can confirm your dog’s pregnancy with a simple pregnancy test at about 21 weeks. They can also perform an ultrasound which will tell you how many pups your dog is expected to have. This can usually be done by the 30th day of the pregnancy.

Signs That Your Dog Is In Labor:

You may notice signs that your dog is about to give birth to her puppies. These signs could include:

  • She stops eating for up to 24 hours prior to labor
  • She is very restless
  • She vomits or has a discharge of mucus
  • She begins to lick her vulva
  • She is pawing at her bed as if she were preparing a “doggie nest”

Remember, don’t stress! Your dog will instinctively know exactly what to do for her pup delivery. What you should do is provide her with a safe, quiet, and comfortable environment to deliver her litter. Here are some things to prepare for her:

  • Delivery (aka “Whelping”) box
  • A stack of clean towels
  • A laundry basket with a blanket and heating pad lined inside
  • Typical pet emergency supplies and tools such as sterile shears, gauze, rubber gloves, and materials to clip the umbilical cord.

Wrapping Things Up

The average K9 is pregnant for about 9 weeks or approximately 58-65 days. And if you plan to breed your dog, be sure to note any special conditions needed for your specific breed. This isn’t something you should do on a whim.

Spaying is a good option for pet owners who don’t plan on being puppy parents, as it can make female dogs happy and healthy and prevent them from having litters of puppies that are likely to go to rescue centers.

Featured Image Credit: Ezzolo, Shutterstock