16 Surprising Facts About Dog Pregnancy That You Need to Know

By Sarah Jeanne Terry

Here are a few truly fascinating facts about dog pregnancies that you may not have known.

1. The average dog pregnancy lasts 63 days.

Pregnant chihuahua dog
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Obviously, like anything, dog pregnancy varies. But a female dog's pregnancy usually lasts between 58 to 65 days or 63 on average.

2. Dogs usually reach sexual maturity between six and twelve months old.

Happy Dog Portrait
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But if a dog is going to be bred, experts typically recommend waiting beyond their first heat cycle before breeding.

3. Dogs can get STDs.

breeding
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That's right, we still need to take care of our doggies and make sure they have safe sex. There's a disease called canine brucellosis that can cause late-term abortions, infection, and possible sterility. So she should always be checked by a vet before pregnancy if she's being bred.

4. Dogs can only get pregnant when they're in heat.

Yorkshire Terriers dressed up sitting
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Female dogs go into heat once to twice per year, and that's the only time they are fertile.

5. Domestic dogs are randier than their wild ancestors.

Two dogs sniffing each other.
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Turns out, domestication has naturally selected dogs that have a higher libido earlier in life than their wild ancestors. Who knew we were encouraging such randiness in our canines.

6. Dogs should eat as much as they want during pregnancy to support their babies.

Hungry dog
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They're not just eating for two. They're eating for a whole litter. Make sure to invest in high-quality dog food, so the future mama gets all the nutrition she needs.

7. Pregnant dogs still need exercise to keep them fit.

Dog walk
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As with humans, gentle exercise during pregnancy can help prepare the pup for delivery. So it's best to keep a dog on a regular walking schedule, so their body is prepared for birth.

8. If a female dog roamed around when she was in heat, she could end up with puppies from multiple fathers.

Basket of Puppies
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That's right, if she ends up mating with multiple dogs, she could have puppies from multiple dogs.

9. A dog's temperature can tell you she's about to give birth.

Vet with his dog American Staffordshire
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Dogs are usually between 100-101 degrees in temperature, but when they're about to have babies, their temperature drops to about 97 degrees. So a dropping temperature can be one sign that they're about to give birth.

10. Dogs usually cut their pups' umbilical cord by chewing it.

Mama dogs know instinctually what to do for their pups. And since they don't have scissors in the doggie world, that means doing things the old-fashioned way. Dogs usually cut their pups' umbilical cords with their teeth. But if they don't humans can always help out with a little snip.

11. Dogs can experience morning sickness.

Cute pomeranian dog sleeping on pillow on bed
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At around three weeks into the pregnancy, dogs may stop wanting to eat in the morning. And that's kind of a dog version of morning sickness. To help with their digestion, sometimes it's even better to feed them several small meals throughout the day.

12. Dogs usually have half the number of puppies as they have nipples.

Obviously, the number of puppies in a litter varies. But for a good rule of thumb, look to the nipples, because a mama dog will usually have about half that many puppies.

13. Some dogs have been bred such that they can't really give birth naturally.

american bulldog
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For example, English Bulldogs have been bred with wide shoulders and narrow hips such that it's really tough to give birth naturally. So typically, they're artificially inseminated and the mamas give birth via C-section.

14. Puppies are born in a fluid-filled sac.

On the way out, the sac is the first thing you see when a puppy is born. The mother dog usually helps get the puppy out of the sac. But if they don't, they need humans to help them out.

15. The mom dog starts feeding her first pup before the others have even been born.

puppy nursing
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Doggie mamas work hard. Because shortly after the first pup is born, it will start feeding. While she feeds her first puppy, the dog will start giving birth to the next. Being a mother dog is no easy task!

16. Dog labor can take between two and 20 hours.

Mother Australian Shepherd with its 7 day old puppies suckling
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Depending on the number of puppies and the time between each birth, the whole process can be pretty long. After that, the puppy mom deserves some much needed rest.