In the canine world, gestation is just a mere fraction of the length of a typical human woman's pregnancy. Dogs and people are very different from each other, after all. Female dogs generally carry their puppies for a little over two months, although all specific situations are different.
How Long Do Female Dogs Carry Their Puppies?
Doggy pregnancies usually fall somewhere between 60 and 64 days in length, according to the University of Missouri. Expect a dog to carry her puppies around inside of her for approximately nine weeks. Not all canine pregnancies are exactly the same, though, and some dogs deliver at earlier than 60 days, while others deliver after 64. This is similar to the length of cat gestation.
Although dogs are extremely diverse in body weight and overall size, average pregnancy length, as calculated from ovulation onward, is very similar across breeds. A female Yorkshire terrier may have the exact same length of pregnancy as that of a much larger Saint Bernard, for example, though the former is usually significantly smaller than the latter.
Signs of Pregnancy
If you have an inkling that your female dog may indeed be in the family way, a few key physical and behavioral changes may help you figure it out. Her nipples may take on a more prominent appearance. She may become much more affectionate. Appetite changes are a possibility. She also may seem more sluggish and reluctant to engage in physical activity than before. Toward the second half of gestation, she may even gain a lot of weight, especially around the lower belly. She may even begin behaving in an unusually antsy and testy manner. As soon as you notice even a single one of these "symptoms," it's definitely time for a trip to the veterinarian.
When a female dog reaches about one month along in pregnancy, a veterinary exam may be able to determine her status via uterine palpation, notes The Merck Manual for Pet Health. Blood tests may also be able to confirm pregnancy around the same time. Other methods for verifying gestation are ultrasounds and X-rays.
By Naomi Millburn
LSU School of Veterinary Medicine: Canine Pregnancy and Pseudopregnancy
The Merck Manual for Pet Health: Management of Reproduction in Dogs
University of Missouri Extension: Pregnancy Determination in the Bitch
Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine: Care and Feeding for Your Pregnant or Nursing Dog
About the Author
Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.