How long does it take for a dog to give birth?

How long does it take for a female dog to give birth? How to prepare for this moment? In this article we will talk about the pregnancy duration in female dogs. Let’s discuss about the parturition moment in female dogs and how to prepare to prevent problems from happening.

How long does it take for a dog to give birth?

Gestation in female dogs can last from 58 to 63 days and can be extended up to 72 days or reduced to 57 days. To have the precise date of parturition, it is important to know the exact moment of ovulation, and in this way, veterinarians carry out hormonal dosages for the correct identification of the ovulation date, thus being able to discover the most certain date of parturition.

The parturition date may vary in some breeds, as large breeds tend to prolong gestation longer, while small breeds tend to reduce gestation time. The number of puppies is also directly related to the parturition time, pregnant dogs with too much puppies tend to reduce the birth date, while dogs with few fetuses can prolong gestation.

The approximate date of delivery can also be evaluated by ultrasound from the 25th day of gestation. By measuring the fetus or parts of the fetus it is possible to know an expected date of parturition.

What about female dogs parturition?

Parturition can be divided into 3 stages. The first stage is the preparation phase. During this period female dogs become restless, reduce food consumption, may try to hide in the chosen place for birth and may dig in the soil.

The second stage of parturition is the fetal expulsion; this phase begins with the birth of the pups along with the amniotic and allantoic sac. Some puppies may come out along with their placentas.

The third stage of labor is the phase of placentas delivery. Some puppies can be born without their placentas and these can come out at the end of the second stage of birth.

Delivery in female dogs can be normal or eutocic, when the female dog does not present difficulties in giving birth to the puppies alive. Difficulties at the time of parturition in bitches is called dystocia, when proper treatment of dystocia is not performed, many puppies and parturients can die.

Some factors can lead to dystocia:

  • Neonatal malpositioning;
  • Neonatal malformation;
  • Absence of uterine contraction;
  • Mother’s pelvic conformation.

Neonatal malpositioning

Puppies must be born in a proper position. Either with the head and forelimbs stretched out, or backwards. Puppies in the transverse position, or with flirted limbs, can lead to dystocia, as they cannot pass through the vaginal canal and also prevent the passage of other puppies.

A veterinarian must be called for obstetric maneuvers to be performed. If the puppy is still not born and the other puppies have neonatal stress, cesarean section surgery should be performed.

Absence of uterine contraction

Some female dogs may not have uterine contraction, the absence of uterine contraction can be defined as primary uterine inertia, when there is a failure of uterine contraction in the fetal expulsion phase, or secondary uterine inertia, when it occurs mainly due to the loss of uterine contractions, as with bitches with many puppies and very prolonged labor.

In these situations, the cesarean section must be performed by the veterinarian to avoid the loss of puppies from the dog.

Maternal pelvic conformation

Some breeds have a pelvic conformation that is not compatible with natural parturition, as is the case of the most brachycephalic dogs, whose pelvic conformation is not compatible with puppies that tend to be born large.


Neonatal malformation

Dogs with malformation may not be born alive but may also prevent the birth of others, as they are stuck in the vaginal canal during the parturition. And straining contractions can lead to exhaustion and secondary uterine inertia. In these cases, a fetotomy and cesarean section can be performed by a veterinarian.

How to prepare for dog parturition?

At the end of pregnancy in female dogs, it is advisable to follow-up with ultrasound by veterinarians for breeds that are highly predisposed to dystocia.

Breeds with a great predisposition to have dystocia:

  • English bulldog;
  • French Bulldog;
  • pug;
  • American Bully and others.

If the female dog is not of one of these breeds, and has a high chance of vaginal parturition, the nest should be prepared in a whelping box two weeks before the birth takes place, so that the parturient adapts to the environment.

The whelping box should be in a closed, calm and peaceful environment, away from windy places. The place must have a heat source for the puppies, as they do not control their own temperature.

On the day of parturition, separate clean towels to dry the newborn puppies, a sterilized scissors, in case it is necessary to cut the puppies umbilical cord and leave a veterinarian under notice in case of any problem at the parturition time to provide emergency care for the mother and puppies as necessary.

The parturition can take up to 12 hours to complete, and the puppies birth interval cannot be longer than 2 hours. If the interval between puppies is too long, look for a veterinarian.


Parturition is the successful pregnancy. Pregnancy can last from 58 to 63 days in dogs. There must be a complete preparation for the day of parturition to avoid losses of both puppies and mothers. There should always be a veterinarian accompanying the pregnant dog, especially of breeds that are predisposed to have dystocia.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): How long does it take for a dog to give birth?

What is dystocia?

Dystocia is any act that prevents the beginning or progression of natural parturition in animals. Dystocia must be properly treated by a veterinarian, thus preventing the death of puppies and mothers.

How many placentas does a dog have?

Each pup has only one placenta, so the number of puppies is the number of placentas.

How do you know if you still have a puppy in the dog’s belly after parturition?

At the end of parturition, the best way to know if there are puppies in the female dog’s belly is through imaging tests such as ultrasound or X-ray. The experienced veterinarian can also perform abdominal palpation to identify puppies.


Bergström, A., Fransson, B., Lagerstedt, A. S., & Olsson, K. (2006). Primary uterine inertia in 27 bitches: aetiology and treatment. Journal of small animal practice, 47(8), 456-460.

Greer, M. L. (2014). Canine reproduction and neonatology. CRC Press.

Kustritz, M. V. R. (2005). Pregnancy diagnosis and abnormalities of pregnancy in the dog. Theriogenology, 64(3), 755-765.

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