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How Long Are Dogs Pregnant?

The question of how long a dog’s pregnancy lasts is an unavoidable one for any new or prospective dog owner. I was certainly in these shoes once, and while I did find a great, definitive answer, I also learnt that the subject goes a bit deeper than just duration. There are questions such as how to tell when a dog is pregnant, what time they go into labor, complications to be on the lookout for, and so on.

But first, how long are dogs pregnant? Dogs are generally pregnant for 63 days, which equates to exactly 9 weeks. This is the generally constant across all breeds of dog, and starts counting from the day of ovulation till the day of birth.

You can estimate the delivery date of your dog with our dog gestation calculator.

Like humans, the duration of a dog’s pregnancy is divided into trimesters. For dogs there are three of these trimesters, all of which lasts for 21 days. Below I’ll be taking a look at the various nuances that come with a dog’s pregnancy, things to do to ensure nothing goes wrong, and how to take care of your dog both during and after pregnancy.

How Many Months Is A Dog Pregnant?

A gestation period of 63 days amounts to a two-month and a week duration for dogs to carry their babies before they are born. While this is quite common for all dogs, some veterinary hospitals have observed gestation periods as low as 58 days, while some have found it to be as high as 68 days.

As mentioned earlier above, a dog’s gestation period is divided into three trimesters, all of which last for 21 days each.

First Trimester

The first trimester is when the embryos travel to the uterine horns before being embedded in the uterine lining. It is also at this stage that the foetus begins to take shape, a process that is usually completed right at the end of the 21-day period. Most dogs don’t show pregnancy signs in the first trimester, but for those who do, here are the signs to watch out for:

  • Slightly Increased appetite
  • Enlarged nipples
  • Mild lethargy

Second Trimester

The second trimester occurs right after the foetus has successfully developed. Here, a heartbeat would be present and detectable on an ultrasound. Physical development begins here too, and a quite rapid one at that. Body parts begin to form, including eyelids, claws, and right around the end of the trimester, the body coat.

Below are a few signs to lookout for in the second trimester.

  • Significantly increased appetite
  • Constant urination and vaginal discharge

Third Trimester

Finally, in the third trimester there is the final formation of the full puppy. Skeletons are easily discernible with the use of an X-ray and the size of the litter is known. Stage 1 labor begins after this and can last from 6 – 12 hours. Here are a few third trimester signs for a pregnant dog:

  • Puppy movement is easily discernible in abdomen
  • Appetite increase is quenched, and can be lost completely
  • Lethargy becomes restlessness

[Good To Know]: Deep dive into the intricacies of the full dog pregnancy cycle via our week-by-week comparison. Tips on whelping and postnatal care included!
Learn more >

What Are The First Signs Of Pregnancy In A Dog?

An almost similar question to “how long are dogs pregnant” is “how can I tell if my dogs are pregnant.” Generally you can tell if a dog is pregnant at home without necessarily taking a trip to the vet every other day. Below are a few tips on how you do it.

Early Symptoms

First thing to have in mind during the early days of a dog’s pregnancy is that there will barely be any visible outward sign. Most people wonder if you can tell a dog is pregnant after 2 weeks.

Well, all the possible signs of pregnancy around this first 2 weeks are subtle and basically just hunches and educated inferences. For instance there may be some weight gain or slight appetite loss, all of which can be as a result of other causes.

Later, however, after about three or four weeks have passed, you start to see palpable symptoms such as morning sickness, loss of appetite and lethargy. And of course these aren’t completely definitive either, but are a lot more reliable, especially under the right conditions.

There may be some vomiting during this period. 

Lastly, It is not advisable to perform a physical examination of your dog’s belly on your own. Only a trained vet should do this, as it could cause unintended harm to the foetus.

Later Symptoms

Around the very end of the third trimester, at the 40th day, more definitive symptoms start to show. Among these darker, enlarged nipples, fluid discharge from nipples and/or vagina, and sometimes you notice visible wobbling of the belly.

It is also not uncommon to feel puppies moving inside a pregnant dog’s belly at about 50 days in.

Another common question is whether or not you can buy a pregnancy test for your dog. While the answer to this question is yes, it is also quite costly and should not be administered until 3 weeks into the pregnancy to get an accurate result.

Things That Can Go Wrong During A Dog Pregnancy

Complications can arise during the process of a dog’s pregnancy, as it does in humans. One of the first and most important ways to guard against this is proper nutrition. 

As mentioned earlier, a pregnant dog is very likely to experience a significant bump in appetite. For dogs who have always been on a healthy diet, no major bump in food intake is needed at the early stages. As time goes on, though, and they get bigger, you might have to increase their foods by about 50%. 

This ensures they are in the best possible shape for whelping. 

Once labor begins, your dog may start to shake visibly. This is sometimes a sign of incoming complications. A veterinarian should be called at this time.

There’s also a chance that a pregnant dog may go over her due date. This isn’t uncommon, and may be down to a number of reasons, the most common of which are:

  • Narrow pelvis – The complication that arises when the mother’s pelvis is too narrow to push out the puppies. This may be due to breed or previous fractures.
  • Uterine inertia – The inability of the uterus to contract and initiate the process that pushes out the puppies.
  • Genetic factors associated with certain breeds such as British Bulldogs and boxers.

Either way, once your dog starts to exceed 63 days of gesticulation, it is always a good idea to contact a veterinarian.

Other causes of pregnancy complications in dogs can be down to having relatively large pups, abnormally positioned puppies, or prior developmental defects.

How Do You Take Care Of A Pregnant (Prenatal) Dog?

General Diet

First of all before any other step is taken, it is important to ensure that, if she hasn’t before, your dog starts to eat well, and healthy, right from the early stages of her pregnancy.

There may or may not be a natural craving for more food at this stage. Regardless of how that goes, it is best to ensure you feed her as much as she can take. 

Special Diet

Do pregnant dogs need special diet? Yes, generally they do.

Among some of the best special nutrients for pregnant dogs is the Revival Animal Health Breeders’ Edge, a prenatal supplement specifically for pregnant female dogs. 

A bottle of this contains the necessary nutrients such as specialized herbs, iron, folic acid, and zinc, all of which are needed all the way from breeding down to the final whelping process.

Revival Animal Health Breeder's Edge Oxy Mate- Prenatal Supplement- for Small Dogs & Cats- 60ct Soft Chews
  • SUPPLEMENT - Most complete prenatal supplement for use in pregnant females; formulated for the nutrient needs of the female from breeding to birthing and developing embryos

Routine Checkup

Apart from right diets and nutrients, another way to ensure proper care of a pregnant dog is undergoing regular routine checkups at the vet’s.

This should not end at the time you visit the vet for pregnancy confirmation. A couple more trips, at the very least, should be taken before whelping begins.

You not only get to keep your dog in optimal shape this way, you also get to learn more about the puppies and receive expert advice on proper steps to be taken to ensure smooth delivery.


Yes, a pregnant dog can still exercise. It shouldn’t be anything too strenuous, though, just something mild to shake off the lethargy that comes with gestation. Regular, gentle walks should do the trick.

How Do You Take Care Of A Nursing (Postnatal) Dog?

Proper Diet

There are few similarities between the prenatal care steps for a pregnant dog, and the postnatal ones that kick in after the puppies have been delivered. The first of these is the need for proper nutrients and diet.

An example of a great food for this role is the Royal Canine Starter Dog Food, a nutrient-dense food for both baby dogs and their mothers to build up the much-needed energy and vitality that goes a long way after whelping.

Along with aiding lactation in the mother and growth for the puppies, it is also a great way to ensure smooth transitioning between breastfeeding and solid food consumption for the puppies when the time comes.

Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Small Starter Mother And Babydog Dry Dog Food, 2 Lb
  • Royal Canin's BIRTH PROGRAM is a unique nutritional solution which meets the needs of the bitch and her puppies during gestation, lactation and growth.


Another step to ensure proper postnatal care for a dog is to carry out essential grooming practices such as sanitary trimming of long furs and hair around the mammary gland, tail, and hind legs.

Personal Checkups

A good deal of the medical checks will be carried out by the vet, but there are also basic steps that you as an owner should try as much as possible to carry out during the first three weeks after birth.

An example of these is checking the teats for signs of swelling, discoloration, inflammation or discomfort. You should also check to make sure that the milk she produces is white and consistent.

Other signs to look out for are increase in temperature, restlessness, muscle tremors, dilated pupils, and whining.

Visits To The Vet

Another prenatal care step that remains the same in the postnatal stage is the continuation of routine visits to the vet. The purpose of this is to ensure that the mother continues to heal properly and the puppies develop as they should.

There are certain signs and traits that you may miss during your checkups that an expert veterinarian would not.

Related Questions

Is Childbirth Painful For Dogs? The process of giving birth is generally less painful for dogs than it is for humans. And in cases where they actually do feel pain, dogs are very adept at masking it. Once a pregnant dog starts to show visible signs of struggle and pain during childbirth, it is usually a sign of a significant complication. 

How Many Times Do Dogs Mate To Get Pregnant? It is almost impossible to tell just how many mating sessions it will take for a dog to get pregnant. That said, most dogs are bred around 10 – 14 days after proestrus onset in the female, which means that on average, mating every other day for a maximum of three sessions is usually enough. 

Do Dogs Usually Go Into Labor At Night? Yes, it is not unusual for dogs to give birth in the nighttime. Just as it is in humans, labor can begin at any time for a dog. There isn’t a set time or weather condition for it. The best you can do on your part is to be as prepared as possible, so that you don’t get caught off guard no matter what time it happens.

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