Blue Heeler Pregnancy: Gestation Period, Weekly Milestones, and Care Guide

Australian cattle dog puppy outdoor. Blue and red heeler dog breed. Puppies on the backyard. Dog litter. Dog kennel
© OlgaOvcharenko/

Written by Oak Simmons

Published: July 11, 2023

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Blue heelers, also known as Australian cattle dogs, are an incredibly intelligent and independent dog breed. Australian cattle dogs are sometimes called blue heelers or red heelers based on their coloring, but they are both the same breed. These dogs were first bred to herd livestock, but they also make great companions. Blue heelers are an ideal breed for people who have plenty of time and energy to give them lots of enrichment and stimulation. This comprehensive guide covers all of the important information for those who are planning a blue heeler pregnancy, or those who suspect their blue heeler may be pregnant.

Australian cattle dog laying in leaves

The Australian cattle dog is also known as a blue heeler.


Blue Heeler Summary

Blue heelers were bred in Australia as livestock herding dogs. The complete origins of the breed are not entirely known. What is known is that domesticated dogs first arrived in Australia on British ships in 1788. Blue heelers were then bred from dogs that arrived on these ships.

Blue heelers are incredibly intelligent, motivated, and energetic. They do best when they have plenty of stimulation, such as trick training. People who are up for the task of keeping this energetic breed happy are rewarded with an affectionate and loyal companion.

Blue Heeler Pregnancy Symptoms

Pregnancy symptoms in dogs may be subtle. To know if your blue heeler is pregnant, it is helpful to note if she has recently been in heat. This is the time at which female dogs can become pregnant. Signs of being in heat include swollen genitalia, red discharge, excessive licking of her backside, and frequent urination. You may also notice changes in her social behavior, particularly toward male dogs. For example, a female dog in heat may approach male dogs more frequently and be more friendly with them than usual.

If your blue heeler has recently been in heat, it is helpful to watch for early pregnancy symptoms. Some initial signs of pregnancy include a decrease in appetite and reduced energy levels. As the pregnancy progresses, you may notice a firmer abdomen and the ability to feel the puppies when gently touching the dog’s belly. However, it is important to only allow a qualified veterinarian to feel the dog’s abdomen since improper touching can harm the puppies. Towards the later stages of pregnancy, your dog’s appetite may increase, and her nipples may become larger.

Gestation Periods: How Long Are Blue Heelers Pregnant?

Since all dog breeds are the same species, they all have the same gestation period. Dogs are pregnant for 63 days, which is around two months. It can be quite tricky to spot the early signs of pregnancy in dogs, which is why it’s important to keep a keen eye out once a dog is in heat.

Pregnancy Care for Blue Heelers


Once you know or think that your blue heeler is pregnant, you can take some steps to make sure she stays healthy and comfortable. The first thing to do is to give her good quality dog food that is full of nutrition. If your dog is already eating well and is at a healthy weight, you might not have to change anything right away. A visit to a trained vet to confirm this for you. If you suspect that your blue heeler is pregnant, it’s important to schedule a visit to the vet. A trained vet will tell you if you need to change your dog’s diet early on in her pregnancy. During the third trimester, when the puppies are growing quickly, your vet might suggest switching to a special food made for pregnant dogs.


Another important part of caring for a pregnant blue heeler is to ensure she gets the right type and quantity of exercise. It’s advisable to steer clear of rigorous activity during the initial two weeks of a potential pregnancy, as it could assist in the successful implantation of the embryos. This is something worth considering if you intend to breed your dog. Once the first two weeks pass, it is recommended to engage in regular exercise until the final trimester of the pregnancy. When in the final trimester, it’s best to limit demanding physical activity. A great approach to maintaining your dog’s health during this time is to go for shorter walks throughout the day. A visit to the vet will confirm what exercise is best for your blue heeler throughout her pregnancy.

Vet Visits

Finally, if you’ve got a pregnant blue heeler, it’s time to take her to the vet. If you’re hoping to breed your blue heeler, it’s important to schedule a prenatal checkup to ensure her health is in good shape to carry those precious puppies. She needs to be up to date on her vaccinations and parasite-free. Your vet might suggest some parasite treatment to ensure she is completely parasite-free. Once your suspect your blue heeler is pregnant, regular vet visits are essential to maintain her well-being. The vet will also be able to determine if your blue heeler can have a natural birth or if a cesarean may be necessary.

Average Litter Size for Blue Heelers

The usual number of puppies in a litter for most dog breeds is around five to six. Blue heelers can have anywhere from one to seven puppies in a litter, with an average of five. Once your dog reaches week eight of pregnancy, an x-ray can help confirm how many puppies are expected.

Australian cattle dog puppy outdoor. Blue and red heeler dog breed. Puppies on the backyard. Dog litter. Dog kennel

Australian cattle dogs, or blue heelers, can have up to seven puppies in a litter.


Week 1

A dog usually doesn’t show any signs of being pregnant in the first two weeks. The first week is when the dogs mate and the female dog’s eggs get fertilized by the male dog’s sperm. If you’re breeding your dogs, you’ll want to set up a prenatal checkup with a vet before they mate. In the first week, it’s best to not make any changes to their diet unless a vet tells you to do so.

Week 2

In a dog’s second week of pregnancy, there usually aren’t any noticeable symptoms. At this point, it’s important for your dog to continue to maintain her ideal healthy weight. Putting on too much weight early on in her pregnancy can be risky for her health. You can always check with a vet to find out what a healthy weight is for your blue heeler.

Week 3

Around week three is when a vet can finally confirm if a blue heeler is pregnant. That’s when the embryos attach to the uterine lining. From that point on, the vet can do an ultrasound to check the pregnancy and look out for any potential issues. Or, another option is to confirm the pregnancy through a blood test. The vet might even be able to take a guess at how many puppies are on the way. However, keep in mind that these early estimates are difficult and may not be precise.

Week 4

A vet might do an ultrasound for a pregnant dog around the third or fourth week of her pregnancy. If your dog doesn’t have her first ultrasound in week three, she can have one in week four. An ultrasound can be useful, but it may not be absolutely necessary for a healthy pregnancy. You and your vet can discuss whether it’s the right choice for your blue heeler.

Week 5

Week five marks the start of the fetal stage, where the developing puppies are now referred to as fetuses instead of embryos. It’s during week five that the fetuses begin developing their internal organs and undergo a rapid increase in weight. In weeks five and six, the developing puppies grow a whopping 75 percent larger in terms of weight. If you have a pregnant blue heeler, you can anticipate her gaining more weight at this time. To ensure she stays healthy, it is best to ask a vet who can determine the appropriate weight gain based on her individual weight.

Week 6

Week six is an important milestone in a blue heeler’s pregnancy because it signals the start of the third trimester. During this period, you may choose to transition your dog to a high-quality diet specifically made for pregnant dogs. In week six, the fetuses undergo further development of their internal organs and experience gradual weight gain. Additionally, their skeletons start to solidify and their claws begin to grow.

Week 7

In week seven, the development of the fetuses progresses as they start to grow hair. During this period, it is normal for your pregnant blue heeler to experience the shedding of hair on her stomach. This is normal preparation for whelping and should not be a cause for concern. Week seven is the perfect time to begin making arrangements for a designated space where your blue heeler can give birth. This is known as a whelping area. Detailed guidance on how to select and prepare this area can be found in the section on preparing for labor and delivery.

Week 8

During week eight, the puppies’ skeletons complete their formation. It is possible to have an x-ray done by a veterinarian to determine the litter size, if necessary and recommended. From week eight onward, your blue heeler can start going into labor at any moment. It is crucial to have a designated area prepared for the dog to give birth by this stage. Additionally, a pregnant blue heeler may begin to lactate in this period. Trimming the hair around her nipples and backside during week eight can help keep her comfortable during birth and nursing.

Week 9

Week nine marks the last week of a blue heeler’s pregnancy. Your dog might begin to spend more time in her whelping area and display signs of anxiety. These signs may include panting, pacing, or a decrease in appetite. At this time, you may want to inform your vet about the approaching labor so that they can be alert in case any complications arise.

How to Prepare for Labor and Delivery

You can begin preparing for a healthy labor and delivery as soon as you start planning for or suspect a blue heeler pregnancy. This involves scheduling vet visits, ensuring a proper diet, and providing the right kind and amount of exercise. However, as the time for labor draws near, there are additional significant steps to take in preparation.

To ensure comfortable labor and delivery for your blue heeler, it is crucial to set up a designated whelping area. Whelping is the word for the process of dogs giving birth to puppies. Ideally, a whelping area should be away from frequent human traffic, providing the mother with privacy and tranquility. It should also be a space that won’t be required for other purposes for a few weeks since the mother and her puppies will remain there after birth. It is essential for the area to be warm and cozy. A whelping box should be placed into this space, offering safety and comfort to both the mother and her puppies. There are several options for obtaining a whelping box. If you don’t intend to continue breeding, a large cardboard box can serve as a suitable whelping box. Alternatively, you have the option to purchase or construct your own whelping box. The box should be easily accessible for the mother while securely containing the puppies.

How to Care for Your Blue Heeler Afterward

The postpartum period starts once your blue heeler has completed the delivery of her puppies. It is recommended to use a warm, wet rag to gently clean her. Do not use any soap, as newborn puppies may be sensitive to it. If the mother permits it, you can offer her clean bedding for her comfort. It is essential to respect her personal space during this time. Additionally, providing nourishing food and ample drinking water is important.

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About the Author

Oak Simmons is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering North American wildlife and geography. They graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. A resident of Washington state, Oak enjoys tracking mammals and watching birds.

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