The average length of dog’s pregnancy is 58-67 days, depending on the breed. 2 months may seem a long time, but other mammals are known for longer gestation periods. The elephant, for example, is pregnant for almost 2 years – 660 days!
The gestation’s length varies depending on several factors:
- Breed size. Smaller dogs bear their litter a bit longer than larger dogs. So, a German Shepherd may give birth on 58th day while a Chi will give birth later – probably right on 67th day.
- Litter size. If the mother dog is expecting 2-3 pups only, they have more space inside the parent for development. If the dog mother has 5 and more pups, she is likely to deliver them earlier as there is no more space inside her.
- Family history. This factor is dealing more with math. Have you got any records on the quantity of puppies born by your dog’s ancestors? Breeders usually keep such data in order to clarify for you, how many pups to expect when you are expecting (see also Vetwest.com.au/pet-library).
Dog pregnancy takes several weeks and undergoes several stages. Let’s take a closer look at them:
- Week 1 – the beginning.
The day when the dog goes into heat is the day it begins ovulating. So, you may note this date as the Day 0.
- Week 2 – the cell drift.
The second week of gestation is marked by the departure of fertilized cells from the uterus. Cells grow, separate and form little embryos that slowly begin to drift down to the uterine horns.
- Week 3 – the attachment.
Embryos cease to float freely in uterus fluid and attach themselves to the uterine walls. They are covered with membrane that protects them and supplies with necessary nutrients. At this stage embryos are less than 1 cm long.
- Week 4 – faces seen inside.
At the 4th week, you may ask the vet to perform ultrasonic scan in order to confirm pregnancy, the number of puppies and their development. Embryos already have faces, eyes, and ears, even though they are just 1.5-2 cm long.
- Week 5 – boy or girl.
Embryos are now officially fetuses and grow toes, claws, whiskers and now they develop into females and males.
- Week 6 – suddenly…pregnant!
Sixth week shows the dog in all its pregnant, round splendor. Dog’s pregnancy is undeniable. It may start eating more than even before. This is the perfect time to set a whelping cradle for her to get used to it. The cradle consists of 3 walls made of ply and a warm, soft bottom. The cradle hides the mom dog and babies from curious eyes.
- Week 7 – the transition.
The dog begins shedding hair on stomach, thus preparing for the birth. While mom is losing hair, puppies inside grow theirs.
- Week 8 – it’s nesting time.
Nesting time means that the dog is preparing to whelp. It will be searching for a calm, secluded corner. This is when the dog should already explore her cradle. This week is also marked with lactation – the birth is about to happen in several days.
- Week 9 – this is it!
Puppies may show up at any time. Let the dog be on its own – to prepare mentally but do not leave her unwatched. Take the dog’s temperature every 2 hours and should you notice a drop of one degree below norm, it means the puppies will be born within next 24-48 hours (read also Barnavetclinic.ie).
A pregnant dog was meant to give birth no matter what, according to the evolution law. It means that, if you apply some efforts to make the pregnancy comfortable, the dog will feel far more relieved during the pregnancy and after that. Before breeding your dog, make sure it underwent all vaccinations and deworming due.
A pregnant dog despite being less active may ingest more calories than any active non-pregnant canine. During the first six weeks of pregnancy, the dog eats its usual pre-natal norms, but after that, its appetite increases dramatically: it may eat 25% more food than ever before. Usually, do experts and vets suggest to transit to a diet for puppies and growing dogs. The number of meals a day is also vital. Puppies inside the mother occupy more space, leaving the stomach with less space. It means the dog can eat small amount of food and thus should be given food more often. Remember that,
only a vet can tell you exactly how much food should be giving to the dog and what type it should be.
Also consider taking your dog to vet for medical check-up, thirty days after the confirmation of the pregnancy.