You may be dealing with a situation at home right now, or you simply want to know how long are dogs pregnant out of curiosity. Regardless of the reason, it's one of those small little “facts” that is uncommon, and when you inquire others, most people will quickly get confused by the question. We don't know how long dogs are pregnant, and what process exactly our loyal companions go through, so let's talk about this.
Whether your dog was bred on purpose or you’re worried that breeding may have occurred unintentionally, every dog owner that suspects their dog may be pregnant has one major question: how long are dogs pregnant, and how do you properly take care of the mother during this period, and the newborn puppies after that?
Majority of us already know that a dog’s gestation period is much less than a human’s, but just like us, the precise time frame depends on many factors. The gestation period in dogs shouldn't be your only concern, though. Your pregnant dog will need a lot of extra care while she's pregnant and for a few months after she gives birth.
NextGen Dog, evidence-based source on dog health, has some great answers on dog pregnancy and advice for dog owners with pregnant dogs. The quick answer to how long are dogs pregnant is:
“A dog’s gestation period lasts about 58 to 65 days from the date the breeding occurred.”
So from 58 to 65 days is how long dogs are pregnant. However, remember that there are other things that you need to learn about this process, so keep reading and check out the below links and resources to have a better grasp on the situation when you need to be
How Long Are Dogs Pregnant?
What should you know about dog pregnancy?
Pet parents who bred their dogs intentionally have probably done a lot of research so they understand the canine gestation process and what to expect. However, if you haven't and this happen on accident, and the breeding of your dog was unexpected, then start reading as soon as you can!
Internet is full of information on how long are dogs pregnant and other type of information for pregnant canines. I'm sure your local library may have some great dog books about general canine pregnancies, too. Don't forget to research breed specific pregnancy information as well.
The best place to start is by talking with your veterinarian. They'll be able to get you on the right track and will probably recommend some perfect dog books and other applicable resources on dog pregnancy questions. Caring for a pregnant dog isn't as easy as it seems, and if not done properly can have long term health effects on the mother and the pups.
How long are dogs pregnant then and why?
Like quoted above, a dog’s pregnancy lasts between 58 to 65 days, with 63 days, or 9 weeks, being the average due date. You may be wondering why there is such a wide range, and that’s an excellent question. Many factors affect the length of a dog’s gestation period and the biggest factor is the size of the litter.
Mothers with smaller litters tend to carry the pups a little bit longer because they have more room in the uterus. Larger litters of puppies run out of room faster and that triggers labor more quickly.
Likewise, breed size plays a big part in how long a canine pregnancy will last. Smaller breeds tend to carry longer than larger breed dogs; however there are always exceptions to the rule. The pregnancy history of your dog’s family can also be a great help in determining how long their gestation period will be.
Usually, female dogs from the same family will carry for roughly the same amount of time. If possible, find out how long your dog’s mother and grandmother carried and you will have a very accurate due date. Dog DNA tests can provide you with some partial information, so take a look at the article below.
If you're a breeder and you've cared for the dog's mother while she was pregnant, this will be easy. If not, you can try using those DNA tests for dogs to trace your pet's genealogy and find out, but this information may prove difficult to come by. Accuracy of those things are also far from top notch, but I'd say it's worth a try if you don't mind spending the $70-90, which is how much DNA tests costs. Here's the best rated and cheapest one on Amazon right now.
How to deal with a pregnant dog
Once you find out more about your dog's ancestry, you'll know better how to care for her. However, even without that information your vet should be able to give you a somewhat accurate expected due date. They will usually perform a dog X-ray or a sonogram, and provide you with a ballpark due date based on the current size of the pups.
When you know when your dog was bred it is simple to figure out an expected due date, but what if the breeding was not planned? If you’re not exactly sure what day your dog was conceived, a good estimate would be to use the middle of her last heat and count ahead 63 days from there.
Dogs that do not carry their pups for at least 58 days usually have stillborn litters or pups that die shortly after birth. Puppy litters that are born very shortly after the 58 day mark are often considered premature.
Premature puppies are easy to spot because their paws are bright pink and they have very little fur. After 58 days the lungs are mature enough for the pups to breathe on their own, and although they may need a little extra care, the puppies should be fine.
How to know if a dog is pregnant?
When you suspect your dog is pregnant, but you don’t know for sure, you need to observe her closely for the early warning signs of pregnancy. If you have any concern at all that she may be pregnant you should treat her as if she is until it is confirmed that she is not.
The first thing that you should do is schedule a visit to your veterinarian. They will be able to tell you for sure whether your girl is pregnant, and they will help you get her on a healthy prenatal diet, including supplements, if she is.
You probably won’t notice many changes in the first few weeks, but after that you should notice your pregnant dog's body beginning to change. You will also notice her eating and sleeping more than normal. Pet pregnancies should always be confirmed and monitored by your veterinarian.