How long are dogs pregnant?

So you’re wondering how long dogs are pregnant for?! Well lucky for you we’ve got the answer…for your average canine pregnancy anyways!

A typical canine pregnancy lasts for approximately 9 weeks, or around 63days if we’re going to be specific.  However, anywhere within the 58-65day range is considered normal by most.

Heat Stages

The reproductive cycle of a female dog can be broken down into four stages and the dog typically remains in heat for 18-21days with a heat cycle occurring approximately every six months.  As in people, a female dog must be in heat (the right stage of her cycle) to get pregnant.

1) Proestrus – ~9 days long, females start to attract males but are not receptive to breeding

2) Estrus – the time period in which females are receptive to breeding

3) Diestrus – the final stage, generally ~day 14, females will no longer permit mating

4) Anestrus – the time between one heat cycle and the next, approximately 6 months

Pregnancy Stages

Due to the significantly shorter gestation period in dogs compared to humans the pups must develop quickly over only 2-3 months in the womb.  Similar to in people the gestation period is split into 3 trimesters (approximately 21 days each), however, they are often thought of as grouping stages by month as well.

Month One: around day 7 of pregnancy embryos travel to the uterine horns

around day 16 embryos are embedded in the uterine lining

around day 22 the fetus starts to take shape

by day 30 a veterinarian can already find heartbeats via ultrasound!

Month Two: by day 32- 40 hold the formation of many vital but small body parts

around day 45 the coat and skeleton have begun forming

by day 50 a veterinarian can confidently count the number of puppies

around day 58 the mother will start looking for a place to have her pups

by this time the puppies have nearly finished their pre-birth development

weight gain from 20-50% is seen among other physical changes

Month Three: not a full month

puppies will move into the birth canal with may show as waist trimming

appetite loss and restless behaviour are common prior to labour

Delivery Stages

The canine Labour or Delivery can also be grouped into 3 stages.

Stage One: lasts 12-24hrs, behaviour may change but visible contractions are not yet present

Stage Two: puppies are delivered during this stage!  the entire delivery can range from 1-24hours as puppies are delivered one at a time.  Deliveries are typically 30-60 minutes apart and should each be completed in under 2 hours.

Stage Three: intermixes with stage two as placentas are typically delivered with each puppy, however stage 3 is complete once all placentas have been delivered.

It is important to note that no more than two hours should pass between the delivery of puppies in a litter, and the entire birthing process should not exceed 24 hours.  If this time frame is exceeded then a veterinarian needs to be involved no matter how experienced you may be.

*fun fact: dogs remain fertile well into seniority – unlike humans which experience menopause*

Want to learn more? Check out these sites that specialize in this topic!


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