How Long Are Dogs Pregnant?

Dogs are usually pregnant for between 58-72 days from the time the bitch consented to breeding. That’s approximately two months. 

Puppies are some of the most adorable creatures on the planet. It’s no wonder we see countless pictures from our friends posted on social media of cute puppies playing and rolling around. For people who are desperately searching for their ideal pet, or who are waiting on a new batch of puppies to be born, the wait can seem interminable!  

While the actual length of a canine pregnancy is about 63 days, it can be difficult to accurately pinpoint the time of conception, hence the wider range. If you are enjoying this article, check out our article on the best dog food for cocker spaniels.

What Are The Stages Of Reproduction In Dogs?

Many bitches are spayed when they become pets, but that’s not so for breeders. They know that female dogs go into heat about every six months, although that can vary based on the individual dog and her breed.

During proestrus, the first step of the cycle, a bitch begins to attract male dogs, but will not consent to breeding. This phase usually lasts about nine days before transitioning into estrus, the second step. In estrus, she consents to the male dog’s advances, so this is when the bitch is impregnated. This phase can be as short as three days or as long as eleven. This can make it difficult to pinpoint the exact day of conception, but breeders keep a close eye on their dogs.

Diestrus begins around day fourteen and she no longer has any desire to mate. This is the last stage of the heat cycle. Afterwards, the bitch enters anestrus, during which time she cannot become pregnant. Breeders note their dog’s cycles which help veterinarians more accurately predict pregnancy length and due dates. 

How To Tell If A Dog Is Pregnant?

There are a few reliable methods that veterinarians can use. Unfortunately, there are currently no at-home tests, the way there are for humans. Your vet will likely use one of the following methods: hormone tests, ultrasound, x-ray, or palpitation. 

Your vet will choose the method based on your prediction of how long your dog has been pregnant for. This is obviously much easier for breeders, whose job it is to keep track of such things, and harder for people who have taken in a stray. 

Palpitation can be performed at home by someone who knows what they are feeling for, but it’s usually a better idea to leave it to the veterinarian. It’s by far the cheapest method and simply involves feeling around on your dog’s lower stomach. The soonest something can be felt is 21 days into the pregnancy, but what you’re feeling are the membranous sacs that develop around the puppies in utero. After about a month, those sacs lose their shape and are difficult to differentiate from other organs or fat. 

Ultrasounds are the best method for a definitive answer in the early weeks of gestation. It is recommended to have an ultrasound between weeks three and five for the best results. They can also examine the health of the fetal puppies and rule out other possible health issues in your dog that may appear to be pregnancy. Additionally, the ultrasound is often accurate enough to better determine the age of the puppies. 

Hormone tests only work if your dog is at least 30 days, or one month, into her pregnancy. The hormone called relaxin is released in a pregnant bitch which your vet can easily test for, assuming she’s been pregnant long enough for the levels in her body to be detectable. 

X-rays are performed later in the pregnancy than the other tests. They are not effective until at least six weeks in because they look for the puppies’ skulls which don’t develop until six or seven weeks. An x-ray will show the number of fetal skulls so the owner knows how many adorable puppies to expect! 

What Are The Stages Of Canine Pregnancy?

Symptoms are unusual in the initial three weeks of pregnancy. During the fourth week, however, dogs may begin to show increased appetite, decreased activity, enlarged nipples, vaginal discharge, and what we call morning sickness in humans. 

In the second month, things begin to move much more quickly. If you hadn’t noticed any change in your pooch’s behavior before, you will not. They will eat noticeably more food, gain weight, show a distended abdomen, and have to pee much more frequently. Starting at day 45, you may see your dog’s appetite actually decrease, but don’t worry! That’s completely normal. Only a few days later, you should be able to see the puppies moving inside the bitch.

She’ll be ready to whelp or give birth, a week or two later. Your dog may show restless behavior like pacing, shivering, or digging at that point. Within 24 hours of whelping, your dog’s temperature will drop and she will likely go find a safe, warm area to wait out the end of the pregnancy. If you are enjoying this article, check out our article on the best dog food for Yorkie puppies.

How Long Are Dogs In Labor?

Although canine labor can vary, just like human labor, your dog should not be in labor for more than a total of 24 hours. If that is the case, or there are more than two hours in between the birth of each puppy, contact your veterinarian immediately. There’s a risk of a problem that could endanger the lives of both the mother and unborn puppies. 

Puppies are born one at a time. Each puppy should take between one and two hours to be fully expelled from the bitch’s body and the placenta should quickly follow. The mother will then wait about 30 to 60 minutes before the contractions begin pushing out the next puppy. That’s why it is important to know how many puppies to expect and if you need to call the vet. 

Once all of the puppies and their corresponding placentas have been delivered, your dog’s labor is finally done and a new litter of puppies has come into the world! If you are enjoying this article, check out our article on the best dog food for coonhounds.


Hello, I'm Shelly! I write about all things dogs. I'm a proud mother of 3. So I guess my official title is fulltime mother, part-time dog blogger. Look around and if you have any questions reach out to me