How old do dogs have to be to get pregnant?

Puppies are super adorable! The tiny paws, puppy breath, and cute yips make them so lovable. If you have a dog, you might wonder when they can have puppies. Well, it depends on their size and breed. Smaller dogs can get pregnant as early as four months old, while larger breeds might take 12 to 18 months. It’s not a good idea for dogs to have puppies during their first heat because they’re still growing.

Female dogs can have puppies throughout their lives, but it becomes riskier after they’re 7 years old. The time between cycles may increase, and health problems can make pregnancy more dangerous. It’s important to learn about the history and science of dog pregnancy and get tips for responsible breeding.

Signs that Your Dog Can Get Pregnant

how to tell if your dog is pregnant at home

You’ll know when Princess can have puppies when she’s in heat for the first time. Heat, also called estrus, happens about every 6 months and lasts 2 to 4 weeks. Female dogs can only get pregnant during this time.

Similar to how human females have changed during their menstrual cycle, your dog may act differently in all four stages of heat. The most noticeable changes usually occur just before the dog is most fertile, in a stage called Proestrus. When your dog starts moving her tail to the side to show male dogs she’s ready to mate, it means she’s ready! Vaginal bleeding and watery discharge are also signs of heat.

You may like to read: Can Dogs Get Pregnant When Not In Heat?

Body Language

Below are some signs your pooch will show if she’s able to get pregnant:

  • Alert
  • Tail tucking
  • Tail up
  • Stiff tail

Other Signs

Below are a few more signs that your female dog is in heat:

  1. Vaginal bleeding or discharge
  2. Urinating frequently
  3. Aggression toward female dogs
  4. Restlessness
  5. Extra cuddly with the owner

The History of Dog Pregnancy

What is the timeline of dog pregnancy?

Dogs and wolves are related, and about 20,000 to 40,000 years ago, humans started making friends with wolves. Over time, these wolves turned into dogs. Initially, they were all pretty similar, but around 9,000 years ago, people in southern Asia began breeding dogs for specific skills like hunting. In London during the 1800s, rich people started breeding different dog types, and that’s how we got breeds like the Golden Retriever and English Setter. So, humans played a big part in creating the many dog breeds we have today!

The Science of Dog Pregnancy

Dogs are most likely to get pregnant during their second stage of heat. Here’s a simple summary:

  • This stage usually lasts 5 to 10 days but can be up to 24 days.
  • The bleeding reduces or stops, and the discharge changes from brown to clear.
  • The dog’s body undergoes hormonal changes, and she ovulates.
  • Male dogs can sense a female dog in heat from a distance due to her scent.
  • A female dog in heat will show she’s ready to mate by holding her tail to the side.
  • Dogs in heat might act aggressively towards other female dogs, and non-heated females might be hostile in return.
  • A vet can do tests like a vaginal smear and blood test to find the best time for breeding your dog.

What Are the Stages of Dog Pregnancy?

  1. Weeks 1 – 3: In the first couple of weeks, the baby dogs attach to the mum’s tummy. Your dog might not seem different at this time.
  2. Week 4: A special test called ultrasound can find the babies’ heartbeat and how they look. Around day 30, you can see the eyes. Your dog might have clear liquid, and other things like eating more, being tired, nipples getting big, throwing up, and being very loving.
  3. Week 5: On the ultrasound, you can see tiny toes around day 35. Signs become clearer, like getting heavier, going to the bathroom more, and not wanting to eat much.
  4. Week 6: Watch closely, and you might see the puppies moving!
  5. Week 7: Mum is getting ready to have the babies, so she won’t eat a lot. She might seem uneasy, walking around or digging. The puppies are getting ready to be born.
  6. Week 8: Get ready to welcome the cute puppies around day 63!

You may like to read: How Long Are Dogs Pregnant? [Expert Guide]

What Are the Stages of Labor in Dogs?

Dogs usually give birth within 3 to 12 hours. Contractions start 12 to 24 hours before birth. Each puppy is born every 30 minutes to an hour. The delivery of each puppy should take no more than 2 hours. After delivering the puppies, the placenta comes out. If your dog’s labor lasts more than 24 hours, contact your vet right away.

Training Dogs to Get Pregnant

How can I increase my dogs chances of getting pregnant?

You don’t need to train your dog to have puppies because it’s a natural thing! However, if you want to breed your dog, it’s a big responsibility. Taking care of a pregnant dog and newborn puppies can be challenging, but it’s worth it.

First, make sure your female dog is ready to breed. She can have puppies during her first heat, but it’s better to wait until she has gone through 3 or 4 cycles. This way, she’ll be fully prepared for pregnancy.

Here are some tips for responsible dog breeding:

  • Decide what traits you want in the puppies. Are you aiming for purebred dogs or specific qualities like sledding, hunting, or herding skills? Figure this out before moving forward.
  • Do your research on your dog’s breed and health. Learn as much as you can to be well-prepared.
  • Find a suitable mate for your dog. Choose a male dog with the right temperament and traits. Check for potential health issues in the mate’s breed. Consider creating a breeding agreement with the mate’s owner.
  • Take both dogs to the vet to ensure they are healthy. Let them spend time together during the second stage of the female’s heat, which is when she’s most fertile (around 5 to 10 days).
  • The breeding process doesn’t have to be too formal. Let your dogs enjoy regular activities like playing, cuddling, and walking. Keep them on a healthy diet during this time for the best results.

Remember, a happy and healthy dog makes for happy and healthy puppies!

Safety Tips for Dogs Able to Get Pregnant

Make sure your female dog is healthy and the right age. If you don’t want her to have puppies, either get her spayed or make sure she doesn’t come into contact with boy dogs. Keep her away from other girl dogs that might be aggressive when she’s in heat. Pay close attention to any changes in her health, and if you see a discharge from her private area, contact the vet right away.

You may like to read: Why do female Dogs Cry When Mating?

FAQs: How old do dogs have to be to get pregnant?

how old does a male dog have to be to get a female pregnant

Still not satisfied? Here are some frequently asked questions:

At what age can female dogs get pregnant?

Your dog won’t start having babies until she grows up a bit, usually around six months old. But it’s different for each dog. Smaller dogs might be ready to have babies at four months, while bigger dogs might have to wait until they’re two years old.

Do dogs get pregnant on the first try?

Even though a dog can become pregnant after just one mating, many dog owners who have male dogs (stud dogs) suggest that they mate two or three times. These matings are usually spaced 24 to 48 hours apart. The number of mating may vary based on whether the dogs successfully tie or mate without a tie.

How to tell if your dog is pregnant?

Besides the clear signs like your dog gaining weight, having swollen nipples, and acting differently, the best way to find out if your dog is pregnant is by visiting the vet. Your reliable vet can use hormone tests, x-rays, ultrasounds, and touching to see if Peanut is expecting a cute bunch of puppies!

How long do dogs stay pregnant?

Pregnancy usually takes around 8 to 10 weeks after getting pregnant, but it commonly lasts for about 9 weeks.

Do dogs get pregnant every time they mate?

Did you know that 40% of female dogs can become pregnant after just one-time mating? This high chance means there’s a risk of having puppies you might not want. Luckily, there are safe ways to avoid pregnancy after mating.

At what age is a male dog fertile?

Male dogs can start having puppies at six months and reach full fertility by 12 to 15 months. Healthy males can remain fertile throughout their lives and mate anytime.

What happens if a dog gets pregnant too young?

If a dog has babies when it’s too young, it can cause problems for both the mum and the puppies. A dog needs to be all grown up to handle being pregnant and looking after the little ones.

Is it ok for a 1-year-old dog to get pregnant?

But, like with older dogs, even if a dog can have puppies at this age, it’s not the best idea. It’s better to wait until the female dog is fully grown and healthy for pregnancy. For smaller breeds, this is usually around one to two years, and for larger breeds, it’s two to three years.

By Syed Habib Ahmed

Syed Habib Ahmed is a pet lover and writer having experience with all kinds of animals. Over the years he has cared dogs, cats, horses and other pets. Before writing became his full-time career, he has worked with different vets and organization who rescue animals.

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