The Average Length of a Dog's Pregnancy

Updated May 17, 2019
Rhodesian Ridgeback mother on a windowsill

While there are several factors that affect the length of pregnancy, on average a dog carries puppies between 58 to 67 days or about two months. The average time to delivery is 63 days.

Determining Your Dog's Due Date

The best way to learn when your dog will be giving birth is with a veterinary examination which may include a sonogram and hormonal testing. The dog pregnancy test can provide accurate information but only if your dog is at least 22 days in otherwise an ultrasound may be a better choice.

  • If you want to try to estimate it on your own, use a dog pregnancy calendar to figure out the date.
  • If you don't know exactly when your dog was bred, try to remember when she was last in heat, and count the middle of that heat cycle as the most likely time of breeding.
  • Since gestation is best determined from the start of ovulation and not the actual breeding, realize you may be off by a few days.
  • It's good to know the signs your dog is going into labor if she becomes ready sooner than your estimated delivery date.
Dog having ultrasound scan

Factors Affecting the Length of a Dog's Pregnancy

There are several reasons why a dog's pregnancy can be more or less than the average gestation length of 63 days.

Litter Size

On average, a dog that is having a small litter has the potential to remain pregnant a little longer since fewer puppies ultimately means more room in the uterus.

  • On the other hand, a dog that is having a large litter is likely to deliver a little earlier since the pups run out of room quicker and trigger labor sooner.
  • The average litter size will depend on breed but for a general idea, Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas tend to have between two and five puppies while Labrador Retrievers have around seven puppies.
X-ray shows puppies in utero
X-ray showing puppies in utero

Breed Size

The size of the pregnant dog can also be a factor.

  • Small breed females, such as Chihuahuas, usually carry their pups slightly longer than larger breed dogs like German Shepherds, although there are always exceptions to this general rule of thumb.
  • Both the size of the mother and the number of pups in the litter play a pivotal role in how long the pregnancy lasts.
Chihuahua pregnant dog sleeping

Family Line Average

The length of a dog's pregnancy often runs true within family lines.

  • If you wonder how long your own female's pregnancy might last, try to find out how long her mother and grandmother's pregnancies lasted.
  • While this isn't always possible to track down, some professional breeders keep meticulous birth records for each litter they produce.

When Puppies Are Considered Premature

Most veterinarians agree that day 58 is the earliest date that puppies can safely be born because their lungs are just mature enough by that time for the puppies to have a chance at survival. Even so, the pups may still be slightly premature.

  • You can usually spot the preemies because their paws are bright pink with very little fur on them.
  • Puppies delivered before day 58 are typically stillborn or die within a day or two of birth.
Pregnant american bully

Dog Pregnancy Stages and Signs

Of course, unless your dog had a planned breeding, the first step in this process may be noticing that something isn't quite right about your dog and finding out she's pregnant. If you know about the stages of a dog's pregnancy, you can tell where your dog is in the cycle by recognizing the signs and symptoms.

Pregnant dog

Initial Signs of Pregnancy

It's not always easy to tell if a dog is pregnant during the first few weeks of gestation but if you notice these signs, you should get your dog to the veterinarian for a checkup right away:

  • Lack of appetite that may be accompanied by vomiting is normal in the first few weeks.
  • A decrease in activity which usually occurs during the initial two weeks.
  • The dog's breasts will start to become bigger around two weeks in to the pregnancy and will continue to get swell.
  • Her nipples will also get darker and rosier because of increased blood flow at about the same time.
  • Your dog may start acting strange a few days after conception and this can include either an increase in clinginess and affection or grumpy, hiding behavior.
  • Around week six, you will notice an increase in nesting behavior which will lead to more irritable behavior as labor gets closer.

A Week-by-Week Pregnancy Timeline

If you want to be truly organized and track your dog's progress so you can provide her with the best care, you can make a simple chart with a list of what happens during your dog's pregnancy week-by-week. Doing helps you make sure your home is set up for all requirements for the dog pregnancy stages. It's also useful for tracking the intensity and duration of symptoms to make sure the pregnancy is going well and your dog doesn't need further veterinary care.

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The Average Length of a Dog's Pregnancy