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How Long Are Dogs Pregnant? Vet-Reviewed Gestation Period

Written by: Ed Malaker

Last Updated on June 12, 2024 by Dogster Team

Very Pregnant Rhodesian Ridgeback dog lying on bed

How Long Are Dogs Pregnant? Vet-Reviewed Gestation Period


Dr. Amanda Charles Photo


Dr. Amanda Charles

BVSc MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you are looking to become a breeder or if your dog has become pregnant by accident, one of the biggest questions that you likely have now is, how long are they pregnant for? The short answer is that dogs are pregnant for about 63 days. Read on as we break down the gestation period so you have a better idea of what’s going on with your dog while you are waiting for the puppies to arrive. We also answer other common questions to help you be better informed.

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The Canine Reproductive Cycle

Unspayed female dogs go into heat on average every 6 months, and their estrous cycle has four stages: proestrus, estrus, diestrus, and anestrus. These are crucial to understand when trying to figure out how long your dog will be pregnant.

Dog Heat Cycle
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The proestrus stage is when the female first goes into heat. It usually lasts around 9 days, and you will notice a swelling of the vulva and a bloody discharge. Although she won’t yet be interested in mating, she will start to attract males that are, so you will likely want to start keeping her separated until she’s ready.


Immediately after the proestrus stage, your dog will enter estrus and this is the stage in their cycle when ovulation occurs. During this stage, which usually lasts around 10-14 days, the vulva will be soft and swollen. The discharge will slow and be lighter in color. Your dog will be receptive to males during this time, and may show behavioral changes such as moving her tail to one side and demonstrating standing behavior for male dogs.


Diestrus is the stage immediately after the estrus stage and is characterized by high levels of the hormone progesterone, whether she is pregnant or not. False (phantom) pregnancies can occur at this time when a dog feels and acts pregnant. Mammary gland enlargement and milk production are common signs of a false pregnancy. During this stage, females will no longer be attractive to males and will not allow mating.


Anestrus is the final stage of the estrous cycle and lasts from the end of the diestrus stage to the beginning of the proestrus stage, which is about 6 months.

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How Can I Tell If My Dog Is Pregnant?

pregnant Doberman dog standing outdoors
Image Credit: AkkalakAiempradit, Shutterstock

There are a few ways to tell if your dog is pregnant:

  • Ultrasound scan: Your vet will be able to scan your dog from 25-30 days after mating.
  • Blood test: A blood test is also available that measures the levels of a hormone called relaxin. This can be done from around 30 days post mating.
  • Palpation: Between 3 and 5 weeks of pregnancy your vet might be able to feel the puppies developing. Depending on the size and shape of your dog this can be difficult though and is not the most accurate way of determining pregnancy.
  • X-rays: X-rays are rarely used to diagnose pregnancy but are occasionally used in late pregnancy to find out the number of puppies.

A Dog’s Gestation Period

Dogs are usually pregnant for about 63 days after mating. However, the actual date of conception can be hard to determine because the eggs remain fertile and the sperm active for several days after mating. Your dog’s due date can therefore range from about 58-68 days after mating. Some breeders will have had blood tests done to determine the time of ovulation and this means that the due date can be more accurately determined.

What Happens During Your Dog’s Pregnancy?

pregnant Dogue De-Bordeaux
Image Credit: Jan-Dix, Shutterstock
  • In the early stages of pregnancy there may be very few changes noticeable other than slightly larger and pinker nipples.
  • As the pregnancy progresses you might start to notice weight gain and a rounder abdomen (tummy).
  • Your dog’s appetite will increase especially in the second half of pregnancy.
  • Her mammary glands will start to develop from the 5th week of pregnancy and she will start to produce milk.
  • She may show behavioral changes such as being quieter than normal and nesting. These are particularly obvious as the time of whelping (birthing) approaches.

Whether a female is pregnant or not, the hormones after being in heat are similar and this means that dogs can show signs of a false pregnancy such as lactation and behavioral changes.

When Should You Call a Vet?

When you know your dog is pregnant it’s important to seek your vet’s advice. As well as making sure that your dog remains healthy through pregnancy, they can give you advice on preparing for whelping. Having a dog go into labor in your home can be a scary experience, so it’s important to be prepared and know what to expect and when to contact your vet. Most dogs will give birth without needing help but sometimes they will have difficulty and need veterinary assistance. Some brachycephalic breeds (short-nosed) such as English Bulldogs and French Bulldogs may even need planned cesareans.

Some signs of concern when you should contact your vet straight away include: if your dog has been straining for 30 minutes or more without a puppy, if the mother seems in pain or distress, if there is longer than a 3 hour gap between puppies or if there are fetal membranes seen without a puppy being born within 15-30 minutes or a green vulval discharge.

young female veterinarian doctor listen to dog with stethoscope
Image Credit: aslysun, Shutterstock

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Kind of Care Do I Need to Provide for My Pregnant Dog?

Your dog will need a high-quality diet, light exercise, and several vet visits. The vet can help provide tips for the best nutrition, advice on worming medication and ensure that the puppies are developing properly while also keeping an eye on the mom. In general pregnant dogs should be transitioned onto a higher calorie pregnancy or puppy food in the last trimester of pregnancy. Your dog should be offered multiple small meals throughout the day towards the end of pregnancy as her womb will be pressing on her stomach.

How Do I Prepare for a Dog to Give Birth?

Prepare a comfortable, quiet, and warm whelping box away from heavy traffic, and keep plenty of supplies like clean towels, scissors, and a heating pad ready in case you need them. Notify family and friends that your dog will have puppies so you can get assistance if you need it, and keep the vet’s number handy.

Can Dogs Experience Complications During Pregnancy?

Unfortunately, they can. Dogs can have difficulty giving birth and may face problems that can include miscarriage and premature labor. If you notice your dog having problems, contact the vet immediately for guidance.

vet examining the stomach of a labrador retriever dog
Image Credit: Dragon Images, Shutterstock

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To become pregnant, a female dog must mate with a male during the estrus stage, which takes place after the proestrus stage about 10 days into the heat cycle that occurs roughly every 6 months. Dogs are pregnant for about 63 days from the time of ovulation. If the timing of ovulation is not known, the due date can range between 58-68 days from mating. Your veterinarian can confirm pregnancy and will give you advice on caring for your pregnant dog. It is important to be prepared for the birth of the puppies to reduce the chance of any problems.

Featured Image Credit: Hanna Dymytrova-kaihila, Shutterstock

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