Do you have a pregnant dog in your home? If so, you are likely wondering how many puppies you should plan for!
In this article we’ll answer the question of how many puppies a dog can have, and how to determine how big your dog’s litter will be!
Let’s get started.
How Many Puppies Can A Dog Have?
Dogs will typically have anywhere from one to 12 puppies per litter, but the average number is around five to six. Large breed dogs typically birth more puppies than their small breed friends, as they simply have more space for puppies to develop.
Most dogs will not birth more than 12 puppies per litter, but a Neapolitan Mastiff named Tia set an impressive birthing record back in 2004. She birthed an incredible 24 puppies in a single litter, setting the record for the most puppies birthed at once. Though it is possible for large breed dogs to carry as many puppies as Tia did, it is very uncommon.
What Factors Impact A Dog’s Litter Size?
As we mentioned above, the average dog can have anywhere from one to 12 puppies per litter. There are a variety of factors that can impact your dog’s litter size, so let’s break them down below.
Your Dog’s Breed
Your dog’s breed is the biggest factor that impacts their litter size. Large breed dogs tend to have bigger litters due to their ability to carry more puppies safely, so the larger your canine friend, the more puppies they will likely have. While small dogs like the Chihuahua have an average of 3.5 puppies per litter, Great Danes have an average of 7.1 puppies per litter.
Your Dog’s Age
Age is another factor that impacts the number of puppies a dog will have. Pregnant mothers tend to have less puppies the older they are, so as your canine friend ages, their litter sizes will decline. In fact, dogs between the ages of two to five seem to have the largest litters, and many breeders stop breeding their females once they reach five years of age.
Your Dog’s Birthing History
A dog’s first two litters will typically be smaller than their other litters, no matter their age or breed. Once they have reached their third pregnancy, you may begin to see a larger number of puppies.
Your Dog’s Health
Your dog’s overall health can impact how many puppies they will have. Dogs that are struggling with any underlying medical conditions may struggle to carry a pregnancy to term, and they may even have a hard time conceiving altogether. We always suggest having your dog assessed by a vet before you consider breeding them.
Your Dog’s Nutrition
Nutrition plays a major role in your dog’s ability to conceive, develop, and carry healthy puppies. Inadequate nutrition can lead to small litters, low birth weights, and even developmental complications in the growing puppies. Pregnant dogs should be fed a high quality adult diet throughout most of their pregnancy, and switched to a high quality puppy diet during their last trimester.
Average Litter Sizes For Different Breeds
To help you make an educated guess on your dog’s litter size, let’s list some of the litter averages of popular dog breeds below! Just keep in mind that these are only averages, and that every dog is in individual.
French bulldog: 3 puppies
Labrador retriever: 7 puppies
German shepherd: 8 puppies
Poodle: 7 puppies
Golden retriever: 8 puppies
Dachshund: 5 puppies
How To Determine My Pregnant Dog’s Litter Size
The most accurate way to determine how many puppies your pregnant dog will have is by having an x-ray performed at your vet’s office. The best time to perform an x-ray is one week prior to your dog’s expected due date, as it takes 45 days for the growing puppies’ bones to mineralize and be seen on x-ray. Not only will your vet be able to collect an accurate puppy count, but they can measure your dog’s pelvis size to make sure they won’t have any birthing complications.
Many pet parents have reservations about performing an x-ray on a pregnant dog, but your vet will assure you that a few images will not impact your pregnant dog or their puppies. The risk from x-ray exposure comes with prolonged exposure, and since your vet will only need one to three views to count their puppies, your little one will be just fine. The puppies will also be close to full development by the time they are visible on x-ray, so you will not need to worry about any growth complications from x-ray exposure.
We always suggest having a puppy count performed by your vet so you can spot any birthing complications if they occur. For example, if you know your dog should be having six puppies, and they only birth five, then you know to seek urgent vet care.
Dogs will typically have anywhere from one to 12 puppies per litter, but the average number is around five to six. Be sure to have an x-ray puppy count performed one week before your dog’s due date, as this is the only way to accurately determine how many puppies they will have!
The photo featured at the top of this post is © framsook/Shutterstock.com
Ready to discover the top 10 cutest dog breeds in the entire world?
How about the fastest dogs, the largest dogs and those that are -- quite frankly -- just the kindest dogs on the planet? Each day, AZ Animals sends out lists just like this to our thousands of email subscribers. And the best part? It's FREE. Join today by entering your email below.
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.