How Long Are Dogs Pregnant?

Aimee Labbate
  • Aimee Labbate

  • RCVS: 700039


Female dogs are not pregnant for as long as you may think! A female dog’s gestation period lasts for just over two months, approximately 62-65 days.

Whilst some breeders will know the exact date breeding took place, it can still be tricky to judge the exact due date, as actual conception can occur after the date of breeding. It is not uncommon for the length of pregnancy to also vary slightly due to other factors, such as the breed of the dog, or how many puppies they are carrying. 

If you didn’t have a planned mating with your dog, or if you are wanting to know if the mating was successful, there are some ways in which you can tell if they are pregnant and confirm a rough due date. 

After roughly 30 days of pregnancy, your vet can often feel small fluid filled balls in your dog’s abdomen. This can vary with the size and breed of your dog and is not always 100% accurate, but it is a good indicator! 

A more accurate way of detecting pregnancy is the use of diagnostic tests. Ultrasound can be used for approximately 25 days. By this point, an ultrasound should be able to detect the puppies’ heartbeats, which can be used to estimate the viability of the puppies and the litter size. 

X-rays are another way of confirming pregnancy. The puppies’ skulls can be seen on the x-ray, allowing the vet to count the number of puppies present! It is best to wait until around 50 days of pregnancy for an x-ray, as this allows time for the puppies’ bones to become hard enough to be seen clearly in the film. X-rays are sometimes needed later in pregnancy, to confirm the location of the puppies, particularly if the dog gets into any difficulty during birth. 

Blood tests can also be performed by your vet, to detect certain hormones present during pregnancy. Whilst these are accurate, they will not give you an indication of the size of the litter, so owners often prefer to opt for other diagnostic tests.

As pregnancy progresses, you will notice some changes in your dog. Classic symptoms to look out for include changes to the nipples; increased weight and stomach size; increased appetite and changes to their behaviour - from being more loving to more irritable than normal! Hormones affect dogs just the same as they do ladies! 

Once you have established that your dog is pregnant. You must take note of the extra care that she will now require whilst she grows those puppies! Please speak to a vet for more tailored advice on how to care for your pet during this time, as all dogs are different! 

Some general advice includes:

Food - Ensuring that your dog is on high-quality complete dog food. Towards the end of pregnancy, your dog will require a slight increase in calories- this should always be done gradually and under advice from your vet. 

Exercise - You should continue to exercise your dog, but only to what they feel up to! Towards the end of pregnancy, most dogs will be happy just taking a short stroll on the lead. Be led by your dog and don’t force them to do more than they feel they can. 

Anti-parasite treatment - It is important to appropriately protect your dog and her unborn puppies from parasites. Please speak to your vet for tailored advice, as not all treatments are appropriate or safe during pregnancy. 

Speak to one of our vets today for some expert tailored advice! 

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