How Long Does It Take for a Dog to Deliver After the Water Breaks?

By Jane Meggitt

Once a pregnant dog's water breaks, her puppies' arrival is imminent. That water coming out of your dog is the amniotic fluid that protects the puppy in utero. The water breakage occurs as part of your dog's second stage of labor. Make sure you have a clean, large box -- known as a whelping box -- for her to give birth in. Have your vet's contact information handy should problems arise.

Canine Gestation

Your dog is pregnant for approximately two months. During this time, her puppies grow inside that amniotic sac, receiving nourishment through the placenta. The fluid inside the sac protects the puppy from the constant movements of the outside world. Once she's about five weeks pregnant, the pregnant dog needs a diet higher in calories for her growing babies, continuing until she weans them. Your vet can recommend the best food for your dog.

Whelping Box

Place the whelping box in a quiet, low-traffic area of your home. It should be easy for mama dog to get in and out of it, but hard for the puppies. You can fill the box with newspaper for easy cleanups. Your dog needs to get used to her whelping box prior to the puppies' arrival, or she'll give birth elsewhere.

Signs of Labor

Dogs going into labor often become restless. Your dog might not want to eat, but she could start nesting, going in and out of her whelping box. You might see a white, gloppy discharge from her vulva, but that's not water breaking. Take her temperature daily as her expected delivery date approaches. Normally a dog's temperature is between 101 and 102 degrees. When your pregnant dog's temperature drops below 100 degrees, that's an indication she'll have her puppies within 24 hours. Once labor begins, it can last up to 12 hours.

Giving Birth

Your dog's water breaks in the second phase of labor, when she actually delivers her puppies. She'll start straining with contractions, trying to get those puppies out. If she strains for half an hour and there's no water breaking or an actual puppy appearing, call your vet. Usually the water breaks and the puppy appears after mama pushes a few more times, so it's fast. Sometimes the amniotic sac doesn't break open during the birth process. Usually the mother dog tears the sac open so the puppy can breathe. If she fails to do this, you must open the sac quickly to save the puppy. VCA Animal Hospitals recommend cleaning the newborn's face and nostrils, then gently blowing on his face for breathing stimulation. A puppy should arrive about every 45 minutes to an hour.


If rather than water breaking, your dog produces a dark green or black discharge from the vulva, that's an emergency. It means the placenta has prematurely separated from the puppy. If she's discharging blood either before the first puppy appears or in between deliveries, that's a literal red alert. You need to get your dog and any puppies she has delivered to a veterinary emergency hospital as soon as possible. Other problems in delivery include more than two hours in between puppy deliveries, or extreme pain on the part of the mother dog.