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How Long Are Dogs Pregnant?

↯ Key takeaway points

  • The gestation period in dogs is around 58 to 67 days from the breeding date, but the exact time depends on factors such as size, litter size, and family line's average.
  • Hormone testing provides a more accurate measurement of pregnancy length than the time of mating.
  • Labor in dogs usually lasts 12 to 24 hours for early labor, 1 to 24 hours for active labor, and the last stage is the longest, with extreme pain and discomfort.
  • Breeders and owners should assist in the birthing process when necessary, especially in smaller or larger breeds at risk of delivery complications.
  • The three stages of canine pregnancy include initial gestation, visible growth, and fetal development, with various symptoms to look out for during each stage.
Breeding Business is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Zoo and wildlife doctor in veterinary medicine passionate about animal welfare and preventive medicine.
Published on
Tuesday 21 August 2018
Last updated on
Thursday 8 June 2023
how long are dogs pregnant?
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In dogs, the length of pregnancy, also known as the gestation period, can vary and be challenging to determine. This is because the male’s sperm can live for a few days, and fertilized eggs can remain fertile for up to 48 hours. Consequently, the timing of mating doesn’t always determine gestation; it’s influenced by the natural sequence of events occurring in both animals.
To obtain a more precise measurement, hormone testing is used, which provides a more consistent result. These tests can determine the specific days when progesterone levels are highest, when the female dog expressed interest in mating, and the number of days since the start of the diestrus cycle

How Long Is a Dog Pregnant?

According to the American Kennel Club, the average length of a dog’s pregnancy is 63 days. That’s about 9 weeks from the day the female dog gets pregnant. However, the actual duration can vary depending on factors like the size of the dog, the number of puppies in the litter, and the family’s history of pregnancies.
Sometimes, a dog’s pregnancy can last longer, especially if she is carrying a larger litter. When there are many puppies, the mother’s body might trigger labor earlier because there isn’t enough space in the womb for all of them to grow comfortably. On the other hand, smaller breeds tend to have longer pregnancies compared to larger breeds. These two factors are usually connected and influence the length of the pregnancy.
If you’re interested in predicting how long a dog’s pregnancy will be, it can be helpful to look at the history of the family’s pregnancies. Usually, this trait is passed down through generations. However, it’s important to note that puppies born before day 58 are considered premature and have a higher risk of being stillborn or not surviving more than a few days after birth


How Long Are Dogs in Labor?

Female dogs tend to be in early labor for 12 to 24 hours and from 1 to 24 hours during the active second stage of labor in which the delivery takes place.

During the last stage of labor, a dam’s cervix will begin to dilate and her uterine contractions will begin and get stronger and more painful through the hours. A dog that is in full labor at this stage will exhibit extreme signs of pain and discomfort such as panting, whining, shivering, and some may even vomit. This stage of labor is also the longest. By the end of this phase right before the pups are delivered, her cervix will have expanded to its maximum size.

Often times, breeders can be aware of the first signs of labor before dilation and contractions begin to occur. In the pre-labor stage, a dam will often refuse to eat and become extremely restless until she goes into active labor in which during this time the dam will display a black bulb in her vulva which holds the offspring. During this time, when the dam is in her pushing phase, this sac should not be broken until the puppies are out. Dams naturally and instinctively know how to break open the sac on her own, but in the case she doesn’t, breeders and owners will have to intervene. Likewise, dams can sever the cord by themselves but may need help by making a knot and cutting between the placenta and the knot. At this time, breeders are advised to rub vigorously on the dam to assist in eliminating any remaining fluids that happen to be inside of her.

Breeders should leave the dam with her puppies and encourage intimacy as her vigorous licking causes the puppies to breathe and eventually evolve. Breeders need to be extra vigilant during the birthing process. Common risks such as dystocia, uterine ruptures, fetal absorption, puppies not breathing well, or any problem that may require an emergency C-section might occur and will need to be dealt with in good timing. Furthermore, some factors that affect the timing is due to the breed of the dam. Smaller breeds, such as toy breeds, may deliver a week early, whereas a larger breed may show some delay in delivery times.

The 3 Stages of Canine Pregnancy

The gestation period for dogs is relatively short in comparison to human pregnancies in which the puppies are quickly developing during a two-month-long process.

Stage 1 — Initial Gestation

Implantation of Embryos Dogs
The implantation of the embryos generally occurs around the 5th day in the pregnancy.

During the first stage of canine pregnancy, embryos make it through the uterine horns on roughly the 7th day of gestation. Then, around day 16 is when the fertilized embryos are nestled inside the uterine lining of the dam as the fetus begins to take shape and then later, around day 28 to 30, heartbeats can then be detected. At this time, a breeder should watch for common symptoms such as increased appetite, morning sickness, clear vaginal discharge, and a more attentive, needy attitude portrayed in the dam.

Stage 2 — Visible Growth

The second stage means visible growth in the developing fetus. In the initial day of the second stage, eyelids and toes are formed and by the 40th day, claws become visible. Several days after that, the coat and the skeleton of the fetus begin to form and by day 50, vets are able to determine how many pups are in the litter. During this stage, look for signs such as nesting, weight gain, increased urination, increased then later decreased appetite, and visible fetal movement in the abdomen.

Stage 3 — Fetal Development

In the third and last stage of a canine pregnancy, fetal development should be complete by around day 58. During this stage, the puppies will instinctively prepare for delivery by getting into position in the birth canal. Symptoms to watch for during this phase are a sudden drop in body temperature, restless behavior, decrease in waist size as puppies travel through the canal, and panting or shivering, and even digging.

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