Many pet owners find themselves wondering, how long is a dog gestation period? Whether you’re worried about your pet dog becoming pregnant, or you’re eagerly anticipating the arrival of a new puppy from a breeder, you might want to know a little more about dog pregnancy. All dog breeds look and act a little differently from each other, but that doesn’t stop them from being pregnant for roughly the same amount of time.
Here, we’ll find out just what it takes to be a dog, from their size, looks, diet, and even behavior. Then, we’ll learn about your pooch’s reproductive cycle, and find out just how long a dog gestation period lasts. We’ll learn about the different states of dog pregnancy, and how to tell if your pup is expecting. Finally, we’ll go over a few of the key questions you should ask yourself if you’re considering not spaying/neutering your furry friend.
Read on to learn more about dog gestation periods and more!
What Makes a Dog a Dog?
Dogs: humankind’s best friend. They’ve been a part of our collective human lives since hunter-gatherer times. And today, more than 300 breeds of dogs live in just about every place on the planet. They come in small (less than ten pounds) sizes, and huge sizes (over 200 pounds) that rival small ponies. Many dogs are simply companions to their owners, while others, like border collies and Australian shepherds, serve as working dogs on farms and ranches. Still others, like German shepherds and malamutes, work alongside law enforcement as drug or bomb sniffing dogs.
Let’s take a closer look at just what makes dogs, and dog gestation periods, stand out from other animals, both wild and domestic.
Size and Appearance
Dogs range in size from just a few inches tall to over three feet tall at the shoulder. Chihuahuas and teacup poodles are among the smallest breeds, while mastiffs, Irish wolfhounds, and great danes are the biggest breeds. All dogs have four legs, mouths equipped with heterodont dentition (different types of teeth) and either long or short tails. No matter how big they are, or what they look like, all dog gestation periods are about the same length.
Some dogs have short, sleek fur, while others have long, fluffy fur. They come in a wide variety of colors and color combinations. Common colors for dogs include black, white, brown, tan and gray, with many combinations of each. Unlike domestic cats, dogs don’t come with stripes, though they are sometimes spotted, as in dalmations.
Diet and Behavior
Dogs are social animals who thrive in the company of other dogs and humans. They’re born in litters of anywhere from 1-12 pups. As they grow, socialization with their litter mates, and with adult dogs, teaches them how to be a dog. That is, what behaviors are appropriate, such as playing and romping, and what behaviors are inappropriate, such as hard bites and aggression.
The diets of our canine companions vary widely depending on food availability and owner preference. But, in general, most people feed their dogs a combination of kibble and supplemental wet food, like canned dog food. It’s important that dogs get a combination of meat and other types of food, like carrots, sweet potatoes, and even blueberries. This is especially true when it comes to dog gestation, and keeping mother dogs healthy.
The Dog Reproductive Cycle
Dog gestation periods start with the dog reproductive cycle. Intact (unspayed) female dogs go into ‘heat’ every six months. During heat, their bodies prepare for potential pregnancy, signaling to other dogs that they’re ready to mate. If the female dog does not become pregnancy during her heat, also known as estrus, than the cycle starts over again.
How Many Months are Dogs Pregnant?
No matter the size or breed, all dog gestation periods last between 57-65 days, or, around two months. It’s important to know exactly when estrus and mating took place in order to properly take care of the pregnant dog. If you suspect that your dog may be pregnant, contact your vet, and schedule an exam.
How to Tell if a Dog is Pregnant
Pregnancy in dogs is often difficult to detect in the first month of gestation. One of the best ways to detect gestation in early pregnancy is through ultrasounds. Ultrasounds can detect pregnancy as early as 20 days into the gestation. Further, palpating the dog’s uterus can reveal the presence of fetus’ as early as 21 days into gestation. After the dog is about 30 days along, veterinarians can conduct hormone tests and even X-rays to determine whether or not there is a pregnancy. They can also see how many fetus’ there are, and whether or not they are viable, with these tests.
Should You Breed Your Dog?
The decision to breed your pet dog is not something that should be taken lightly. If you do not plan on breeding your dog, be sure to have them spayed or neutered as soon as they’re old enough—typically after at least six months of age. If you are considering breeding, be sure that you have a set plan for finding homes for all the puppies. Finally, before you decide to breed your dog, consider the thousands of dogs in need of homes. For many, adopting a puppy from the shelter is a wiser choice than breeding new puppies.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Andrii Zorii
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