How Long Are Dogs Pregnant? Week By Week Update

The normal gestation period for dogs is approximately 63 days from conception to birth, though this can vary by several days depending on the breed. Pregnancy is divided into trimesters, with the final stage being labor and delivery of the puppies, usually ranging from 1 to 10 or more pups. Learn how long are dogs pregnant, whelping ideas and much more!

From discerning early signs of pregnancy to preparing for labor and delivery, we’ve got you covered in this comprehensive guide on dog maternity timelines. Let us know how long are dogs pregnant!

dog gestation period
dog gestation period/ Credits: ebbasmatte

Understanding the Dog’s Reproductive Cycle

Comprehending a dog’s reproductive cycle involves learning about ovulation, fertilization, implantation, and the development of puppies.

Ovulation and fertilization

Dog ovaries let go of eggs about two to three days after a spike in luteinizing hormone levels. This happens even if they don’t mate, an event known as spontaneous ovulation. Once the egg leaves the ovary, it can’t make a puppy right away.

It needs time to get rid of its polar body and be ready for fertilization. The stage leading up to this is called proestrus, marked by higher progesterone levels. After that comes estrus – when your dog is fertile and able to have puppies.


Implantation is a key part of a dog’s pregnancy. It happens roughly 17 days after the egg gets fertilized. This step makes sure that the growing pups get the food they need to grow from their mom.

The eggs stay able to be fertilized for about two days after dogs mate.

Even if mating happened before ovulation, there can still be a pregnancy! Dog sperm stays fertile in the female tract for as long as eight days. So an egg could still meet up with fertile sperm and start growing into a puppy.

Development of puppies

Puppies grow fast inside their mom. In about 58 days, they are fully formed. They start as tiny dots just after the mom dog’s egg gets a hit from the dad dog’s seed. Slowly, they get bigger and take on the shape of little dogs.

We can see this using a tool called ultrasonography after 25 to 35 days since mating. This tool also tells us if the puppies are growing well inside their mom. Just before birth, they move into place for coming out into the world.

How Long Are Dogs Pregnant?

The average gestation period for dogs spans about 63 days, but various factors such as the size and breed of the dog can influence the duration of pregnancy.

Average gestation period

Dogs are usually pregnant for about 63 to 65 days. This is called the average gestation period. But, the time can change for each dog. It may be as short as 56 days or as long as up to 70 days.

A test called vaginal cytology shows that most dogs (80%) have puppies between day 51 and day 60 of being pregnant.

Factors that can affect pregnancy length

Many things can change how long a dog is pregnant. The breed of the dog matters a lot. Some breeds have longer pregnancies than others. 

Every dog is different too, so each one could be pregnant for a different amount of time. Stress can make pregnancy last longer as well. Too much heat or cold also changes how long the pregnancy lasts. These factors all play important roles in the length of a dog’s pregnancy.

dog gestation
dog gestation/ Credits: ebbasmatte

How to Tell if Your Dog is Pregnant?

This segment discusses various physical and behavioral indicators of dog pregnancy, along with the importance of confirming it through veterinary assistance.

Physical Changes

Physical changes can tell you if your dog is pregnant.

Behavioral Changes

Behavioral changes in a dog can show she is pregnant.

  • She sleeps more. This shows she feels tired.
  • She eats different amounts of food. She may eat more or less than before.
  • She throws up often. This is another sign.
  • She likes to rest a lot. Dogs do this when they feel weak.
  • Her teats get big. You will notice this change on her body.
  • She makes a cozy spot for her puppies. This is called nesting.

Confirming with a veterinarian

A vet can tell if your dog is pregnant. This may start four weeks after dogs mate. He or she does tests to know this. A test the vet might do is an abdominal palpation. It starts around 28-30 days after mating.

Vets use another way too, called an ultrasound scan. They do it 25 days after a dog mates to check for baby dogs or embryos developing in the mother’s belly. Of all ways, an ultrasound is best at showing and watching over a dog pregnancy.

But, doing it too early might miss things like small pups just starting growth.

The Three Trimesters of Dog Pregnancy

Just like humans, a dog’s pregnancy is divided into three trimesters, each with its unique developments and changes. Curious about what happens in each phase? Read on to discover more!

First Trimester

The first trimester in dogs lasts for 21 days. In this time, the fertilized eggs find a place in the uterus to grow. 

The puppies start to form inside these eggs. This period is very important for the unborn puppies’ growth and development.

The mom-to-be dog will need extra care during this time frame too. Good meal planning and rest are key parts of keeping her and her future puppies healthy in early pregnancy stages.

Second Trimester

The second trimester is a key time in your dog’s pregnancy. This part lasts until the start of the third month. Puppies grow fast now inside their mom’s belly. This fast growth makes it an important time for the unborn pups.

The mother dog also shows big changes during this stage. She may eat more and gain weight, showing she is pregnant. Some dogs might also let out water or other fluids from their private parts and pee more often than before.

Third Trimester

In the third trimester, puppies grow a lot. Their bones get hard and they get ready to come out. Make sure your dog is ready too! At the end of month two, start getting ready for birth.

The third month is very busy. Your dog’s belly will get big and her nipples may leak milk. If she digs in strange places or pants a lot, that means birth time is near. Talk with your vet if you see these signs.

dog pregnancy length
dog pregnancy length/ Credits: ebbasmatte

Stages of Dog Pregnancy

Understanding the stages of dog pregnancy is crucial for ensuring the health and well-being of both the mother and her puppies. 

Each week marks significant developments, from fertilization in week one to noticeable weight gain by week six, leading up to labor and delivery between weeks eight or nine.

By tracking these stages, owners can better prepare for a successful whelping process and provide appropriate care throughout their dog’s pregnancy.

Week One

Week one of a dog’s pregnancy is full of changes. Her body starts to get ready for babies, but these signs are often hard to spot. Most times, she may just act a bit different or eat more than usual.

Even so, it’s possible to know if your dog could be pregnant within weeks after mating. Always keep an eye on her and watch for any unusual behavior or changes in appetite.

Week Two

Eggs and sperm meet in the second week of a dog’s pregnancy. This starts puppy growth. It is called embryonic development. Dogs might act different this week. They might also eat more food.

Good care for mom during this time helps puppies grow well. Watch your dog closely for any problems at this time.

Week three

In week three of dog pregnancy, the embryos grow a lot. The nervous system starts to form at this time. This is a big step in the growth of the puppies inside your dog.

Your dog’s body may also start to show signs of being pregnant. You might see that her nipples are getting bigger and more sensitive to touch. Your vet can check on her health during this key time.

It can help make sure both mom and puppies are doing well.

Week Four

In week four, your dog’s pregnancy grows. This is a key part of the canine gestation period. The pups become much larger now. During this time, you may see some physical changes in your dog.

She may not want to eat as much and she may be sick sometimes. These are signs of her pregnancy. At the end of week four, a vet can check for puppies with an ultrasound scan.

Week Five

In week five, big changes happen. The small pups grow to the size of a grape. You might spot your dog acting sweeter towards you. This shows her maternal instinct is kicking in due to hormonal changes.

Relaxin, a hormone, gets very high in her body now. It’s also time for the first vet visit if you haven’t done that yet. Your vet can use an ultrasound to see the pups and ensure good prenatal care is being taken.

Week Six

In week six of dog pregnancy, a lot changes. The puppies are now big and strong. They start to look like real dogs! You can even see their fur if you have an x-ray taken. Moms-to-be need more food now.

Their belly grows very fast to make room for the babies. This is an exciting time in our canine friend’s life!

Week Seven

By week seven, big changes happen inside your dog. The small balls of cells in her belly grow into the shape of puppies. This stage marks key parts of fetal development.

The organs and bones start to form in each puppy. Your pregnant dog needs good food and enough exercise during this time. This helps the puppies grow strong and healthy. Always talk with your vet on how best to care for her in week seven, as well as throughout pregnancy stages.

Week Eight

In week eight, a lot of change is happening. The puppies are almost ready to be born. They now have fur and look like tiny dogs. This stage in the dog pregnancy timeline is when the mom dog’s belly may drop lower.

She will start to find a cozy place for her pups’ birth. It’s also a busy time for owners preparing for whelping, or giving birth. Dogs usually give birth around 63 days after becoming pregnant, which can fall within this week! So, make sure everything is ready at home.

Week Nine

In week nine, your dog is now ready to have her puppies. An x-ray can show the babies and even their teeth at this time. This comes after about 63 days from when she first got pregnant.

But this can change between 56 and 70 days so keep an eye on your dog’s signs of labor.

How Long Are Dogs Pregnant
How Long Are Dogs Pregnant/ Credits: Ebbasmatte

Preparing for Labor and Delivery

As a dog owner, it’s critical to be aware of the signs of impending labor, like nesting behaviors or decreased appetite. You should also design a birthing plan and prep a comfortable whelping area for your pet.

Always know when to seek veterinary assistance and ensure you’re prepared for any potential complications during delivery.

Signs of impending labor

Your dog will show certain signs when she’s about to deliver puppies. Here are some things to watch for:

  1. Her temperature will drop from 38.5°C to 37°C.
  2. Soon after the body temperature goes down, labor starts.
  3. She may start licking her genitals and nipples more than usual.
  4. There might be small bits of clear fluid or blood coming from her.

Creating a birthing plan

It’s smart to make a birthing plan for your dog. This is not a must-do thing, but it helps you get ready. You can write down what you want when your dog gives birth. You may like to have some people with you or maybe not.

It will also be good to talk about the plan with a vet who knows about birth (obstetrician-gynecologist). A birthing plan lets them understand what you want for your pet’s big day.

Preparing the whelping area

Start by choosing a calm and quiet space for your dog’s birthing area. This helps to keep the mom-to-be relaxed during labor. 

Next, get ready with the whelping box setup. It should be safe and comfy for your dog and her future puppies.

Keep an eye out for early signs of delivery like heavy panting or a drop in temperature. If you see clear discharge from her vagina, that’s a good sign as well! Make sure the whole area stays clean before, during, and after birth too.

A clean place is key to keep mom and pups healthy!

Knowing when to seek veterinary assistance

Often, dogs give birth without trouble. They can have puppies at home with no problems. But sometimes, things go wrong. 

Your dog might show signs like hurting a lot, taking too long between puppies or not nursing her pups well after birth.

These are times to call the vet right away. A sick mom dog puts her puppies in danger too. Vets know how to help if your dog has complications during labor and delivery.

Caring for a Pregnant Dog

Caring for a pregnant dog requires providing proper nutrition and exercise, monitoring for any complications, ensuring she is in a stress-free environment, and maintaining regular veterinary check-ups.

Proper nutrition and exercise

Taking care of a pregnant dog means giving her proper food and exercise. Here are some tips:

  1. Feed your dog high levels of protein. Dogs need this more when they are pregnant.
  2. Keep an eye on her weight. Too thin or too fat can both harm your dog and her pups.
  3. Do not let her do hard exercises. Light walks can keep her fit without harm.

Monitoring for complications

Keeping an eye on your dog during her pregnancy is vital. It can help you catch problems early. Here’s how to monitor for complications:

  1. Check her often: Look for signs of discomfort or pain.
  2. Seek a vet’s help: Schedule regular visits with the vet. They know what to watch out for.
  3. Watch her eat: Eating less food than usual may indicate trouble.
  4. Look at her body: If she gains too much weight, it could be bad for the puppies.
  5. Learn about dystocia: This means trouble during labor. A dog with dystocia needs a vet’s help right away.
  6. Understand pre-eclampsia: Some pregnant dogs lose too much calcium to their babies and get sick.
  7. Use a relaxin assay test: This tells you if your pet is pregnant in the first place.

Ensuring a stress-free environment

A calm home is key for a pregnant dog. Loud noises or big fights can scare her. Make sure she has a comfy, quiet spot to rest in. Her bed should be soft and kept clean all the time.

Limit visits from strangers as well, so she does not get too anxious or upset. You are her biggest helper during this special time!

Regular veterinary check-ups

Taking your dog to the vet is very important when she is pregnant. The vet may use an ultrasound between 25 and 35 days of her pregnancy to see if everything is all right. A wellness check-up at day 30 also confirms that your dog is pregnant and in good health.

Regular trips to the vet help keep both mom and puppies safe and healthy. Veterinary care during pregnancy makes sure they are doing well. It helps catch any issues early on so they can be fixed in time.

Dog gestation period
Dog gestation period/ Credits: Ebbasmatte

Common Health Conditions During Dog Pregnancy

Not all pregnancies are free of hitches; some encompass health issues like eclampsia, pyometra, false pregnancy, and pregnancy toxemia. 


Eclampsia is a health risk for pregnant dogs. This problem, also known as milk fever or hypocalcemia, makes the dog’s blood calcium levels drop too low. It often shows up when puppies are one to four weeks old.

The mother dog may have pre-eclampsia if her blood calcium falls too far down. So, keeping track of her calcium helps prevent eclampsia and keeps both mom and pups healthy.


Pyometra is a scary health issue for dogs. It happens when the body has too many hormones. This causes an infection in the uterus, or womb. 

The uterus then fills up with pus. Pyometra can happen two to eight weeks after a dog’s heat cycle if she does not get pregnant.

If pyometra is not treated fast, it can kill the dog. So, keep an eye out for this nasty infection during your dog’s pregnancy journey!

False Pregnancy

False pregnancy is a state that can take place in dogs. This condition, also known as pseudopregnancy or phantom pregnancy, is tied to hormonal changes. Dogs might seem pregnant but are not.

Most times, it comes after a heat cycle. The signs of false pregnancy may be hard to miss. Dogs may show mammary gland growth and even make milk

They may feel tired often and throw up from time to time. Some dogs hold onto extra water in their bodies during this period too.

Changes in how your dog behaves can be another clue about false pregnancies. Your dog might act sad or lose interest in food items they liked before. Some dogs get into nesting behavior – setting up spots where they would have kept puppies if they were truly expecting.

This issue usually gets solved on its own within some weeks as the hormones go through their cycle again.

Pregnancy Toxemia

Pregnancy toxemia is a serious health risk for dogs. This sickness affects pregnant dogs in poor shape with low blood sugar, high ketone levels and low food intake. It can hurt both mom and her puppies.

Dogs that are too thin or not eating enough are at the highest risk. Serious problems can follow if it’s not treated right away like preterm birth or death of the mother and pups. 

It needs quick care from a vet to keep mother and puppies safe.

How Long Are Dogs Pregnant
How Long Are Dogs Pregnant/ Credits: Ebbasmatte


1. How long is a dog pregnant before giving birth? 

The normal gestation period for dogs is approximately 63 days from conception to birth, though this can vary by several days depending on the breed. 

2. What are the stages of dog pregnancy? 

Pregnancy is divided into trimesters, with the first signs like swelling nipples appearing around 3 weeks. The fetus develops rapidly in the second trimester and the final stage is labor and delivery.

3. How can you tell if your dog is pregnant? 

Signs of pregnancy include weight gain, enlarged nipples, nesting behavior, lethargy, and sometimes morning sickness in the first few weeks. An ultrasound or x-ray can confirm pregnancy later on.

4. Do dogs show at the same time in pregnancy as humans? 

Dogs begin to visibly show signs of pregnancy around 4-5 weeks in, which is sooner than humans who show at 8-12 weeks typically.

5. When do you take a pregnant dog to the vet? 

Take your dog to the vet as soon as you suspect pregnancy to start prenatal care. Regular vet visits monitor mom’s and puppies’ health during pregnancy.

6. What should you feed a pregnant dog? 

Pregnant and nursing dogs require extra calories, protein, calcium and other nutrients. Consult your vet on an optimal diet for the stage of pregnancy.

7. How many puppies do dogs have on average? 

Litter size averages between 4-6 puppies but can range from 1 to over 10+ puppies, depending on the breed. 

8. At what week in pregnancy can you feel puppies moving? 

You may be able to feel fetal movement by palpating the abdomen starting around 35 days into pregnancy, though it varies.

9. When does a pregnant dog start producing milk? 

Lactation usually begins 1-2 weeks prior to labor. Elevated calcium levels are required for milk production.

10. How long does a dog stay pregnant overdue? 

Dogs rarely go more than 2 weeks over their due date, at which point labor will need to be induced by a vet if it does not start naturally.


The time a dog stays pregnant is not very long. It takes about 63 to 65 days for puppies to grow in a dog’s belly. All dogs, big or small, have the same length of pregnancy. Now you know how long your furry friend will be pregnant!


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Sarah Sheikh
Sarah SheikhProduct Reviews Specialist and Cofounder
Labradors have an extraordinary capacity for love and companionship, and my mission is to help you unlock their full potential. Hi there! I'm Sarah, a proud contributor to Labradorandyou, the go-to online resource for all Labrador Retriever enthusiasts. As a lifelong owner and avid admirer of these remarkable dogs, I bring a wealth of knowledge and hands-on experience to our readers.

One of my strongest beliefs is in the power of positive reinforcement training. I'm truly passionate about helping our readers build strong, positive relationships with their Labradors. Whether you're a first-time owner or a seasoned Labrador enthusiast, I aim to provide you with the resources and guidance to cultivate a bond that will endure a lifetime.