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The canine gestation period is roughly the same for all types of dogs. That said, it’s perfectly natural for the length of time a dog is pregnant to vary by up to ten days, depending on the individual.
So, let’s talk a bit more about dog gestation periods and canine pregnancy in general.
How Long Are Dogs Pregnant For?
According to WebMD, dogs are pregnant for roughly 63 days, which is exactly 9 weeks. This is counted from the day the dog ovulates until the day she gives birth, and is split into three trimesters of roughly 21 days each.
However, Cleary Lake Veterinary Hospital goes on to explain that it’s quite normal for dogs to have a gestation period of anywhere between 58 and 68 days.
Why Are Some Dogs Pregnant Longer Than Others?
There’s no clear reason why some dogs will give birth to healthy, full term puppies at 58 days and others will need a longer gestation period of 65 to 68 days.
There is some anecdotal evidence that smaller breeds tend to have a slightly longer gestation period than larger breeds. However, this hasn’t been backed up by any studies or scientific evidence (that we can find.)
It’s more likely to simply come down to individual variations, much in the same way that some human women carry their babies for longer than others.
How Can You Tell That A Dog Is Pregnant?
In can be a little difficult for a layman to tell whether a dog is pregnant, especially in the early stages of her pregnancy.
Of course, in order for a dog to fall pregnant, she will have had to mate with an un-neutered male dog during the estrus stage of her heat cycle.
If you know for sure that your dog hasn’t mated, then clearly she’s not pregnant.
That said, it’s not uncommon for dogs to try to run off and find a mate during their heat cycle. So, if you don’t want a litter of puppies on your hands, it’s important to keep a close eye on a female dog during her heat cycle. Or, better yet, get her spayed.
If you’re trying to breed a litter of puppies and have mated your dog, or you otherwise have reason to believe she might be pregnant, you’ll need a vet to check her out.
There is no blood or urine test commonly used to diagnose pregnancy in dogs, but from 3 to 4 weeks into the gestation period, a vet should be able to tell if your dog is pregnant by feeling her abdomen.
A more accurate yet more costly way of checking whether a dog is pregnant is by ordering an ultrasound. This should be possible from around 21 days into the pregnancy, but not all vets offer this service.
From around 6 weeks into the pregnancy, it may become obvious that your dog is carrying a litter. She’ll become visibly larger in the abdomen and her teats will look enlarged.
You might also be interested in:
A Vet Discusses How To Recognize Signs Of Dog Pregnancy
In the educational video below, a vet discusses the pregnancy cycle, including the signs to look out for during early pregnancy, what tests a vet may perform and some tips for pregnancy care.
It’s info packed and a fantastic summary of pregnancy in dogs that’s recommended watching.
What About False Pregnancy In Dogs?
Sometimes dogs will show some of the earlier signs of pregnancy, without actually being pregnant. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, these can include fluid retention, enlargement of the mammary glands, nesting behaviors, irritability, lethargy, vomiting, and even milk production.
These symptoms generally occur about 4 to 9 weeks after the end of a dog’s heat cycle and some experts say most female dogs who haven’t been spayed will experience some signs of false pregnancy after each heat cycle.
These kinds of symptoms can occur in both dogs who have mated, but haven’t fallen pregnant, and dogs who haven’t mated at all.
So, if your dog is showing signs of pregnancy and you’re 100 percent sure she hasn’t mated, then it’s most probably just a false pregnancy.
In most cases, these symptoms will go away within 14 to 21 days, so there’s no need to seek treatment. However, if these symptoms continue or are becoming problematic, then contact your vet for advice.
Most dogs are pregnant for around 63 days, or 9 weeks, but this can vary by about 5 days either way.
Unless you’re an expert and have had all the relevant health checks done on both parents, we wouldn’t recommend breeding your dog. It’s certainly not something to do on a whim.
Female dogs are perfectly happy and healthy without having a litter of pups and there are health benefits to spaying, so that is probably the best option for most pet owners.