How long are dogs pregnant? This question has more than one answer because several factors affect when labor actually begins. Learn the reasons why.
This is a question that is often asked after a breeding has occurred rather than before a mating has taken place. An owner either suspects his female might have been bred or actually witnesses his pet tie with another dog. Suddenly, the prospect of a canine pregnancy moves closer to reality, and the owner needs information right away.
Why can there be such a wide time range? Size is definitely a factor.
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 size of the pregnant dog can also be a factor. Small breed females usually carry their pups slightly longer than larger breed dogs, 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.
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.
Figuring Out Your Dog’s Probable Due Date
The companion question to how long are dogs pregnant is typically, “When is my dog due to have her puppies?” This is easiest to determine when you know the actual date she was bred. If you have that information recorded, you can simply count forward 63 days on a calendar to arrive at the most likely due date, give or take a day or two. You can also consult a canine pregnancy calendar to easily find the due date. Just look up the day of your dog’s first breeding, and then look at the corresponding due date next to it.
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.
Lacking that information, your vet may be able to help you determine your dogs most likely delivery date based on the gestational size of the pups, but this usually requires a sonogram or x-ray in order to see how large the pups truly are.