The Oldest Dogs to Have Puppies

Mom Labrador retriever and puppies
© Dreno

Written by Kristen Holder

Published: January 2, 2023

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While a dog’s ability to have puppies declines with age, they never go through menopause. Their chances of pregnancy dwindle as the years go on, but dogs can get pregnant when they’re elderly. Human women are incapable of having children after menopause which almost always starts before age fifty. Let’s explore what are the oldest dogs to have puppies.

What Are the Oldest Dogs to Have Puppies?

Pebbles, a Fox Terrier, is known as the oldest dog giving birth; she mothered thirty-two puppies during her lifetime with her partner Rocky.


Nobody is sure who the oldest dog to have puppies is because old dogs giving birth are uncommon. Both male and female dogs are theoretically capable of breeding until they die. Because of this, pregnant geriatric dogs are not newsworthy. 

One of the oldest dogs to have ever lived was named Pebbles. Pebbles was a toy fox terrier that lived the last half of her life in South Carolina. She mothered thirty-two puppies during her lifetime with her partner Rocky.

Rocky died in 2016, and Pebbles passed away on October 3, 2022, at the age of twenty-two. This means that Pebbles may have had puppies at an age as old as sixteen years old. 

How Old is Too Old to Breed a Dog?

Most female dogs shouldn’t breed after around six years of age or after having more than three litters. Males shouldn’t breed after they’re ten years old. Breaking these rules creates a higher risk of complications, including death.

Larger dogs generally have a lower life expectancy than smaller dogs. This means that smaller dogs can be bred for a few more years than larger dogs. The largest dogs, like Great Danes, are considered seniors when they’re five years old.

A female will go into heat less frequently as her fertility decreases. However, she will periodically go into heat until she dies. A pregnancy late in life carries the risk of stillbirth, c-section, the birth of only one puppy, and other complications.

Dogs with litters too late in life will not be able to produce the milk they need to support their puppies. They will require an artificial formula. Producing milk when a dog is elderly is extremely taxing and weakens the dog.

The act of birthing is an exhausting process requiring physical strength. Old dogs in labor may not have the strength to push their puppies through their birthing canal. This is especially true for breeds with big heads, like pugs, French bulldogs, and Boston terriers.

The bones of dogs change as aging progresses. As a result, the pelvic bones of an elderly dog aren’t as elastic as they used to be. This may make the laboring process much harder.

How To Tell if Your Dog is Pregnant

Dog mothers gain weight and develop swollen bellies in a way that’s similar to humans.

©Pavel Shlykov/

If you think your dog is pregnant, you should immediately take it to the veterinarian to confirm. However, it isn’t always possible to rush a potential mother to the vet as soon as suspicions arise. A dog pregnancy test is the most reliable way to determine if your dog is pregnant without a vet visit.

Pregnant dogs aren’t as active as normal. Their nipples enlarge and may change color. Dogs get morning sickness like humans, so a mother may vomit and avoid food in the first few weeks of her pregnancy.

Dog mothers gain weight and develop swollen bellies in a way that’s similar to humans. Toward the end of their pregnancies, they become irritable and begin to nest. Small and unpredictable behavioral changes are typical during a dog’s pregnancy. 

Should I Breed My Dog?

No, most owners should not breed their dogs. Breeding a dog is a financial investment that takes considerable time and needs careful consideration. While some people are prepared to rear puppies, most are not.

Over three million dogs become shelter dogs in the United States every year. Almost all of these dogs are mixed breed dogs with no pedigree, meaning there is no professional interest in breeding them. Consider adopting one of these shelter dogs, which may rescue an animal from euthanasia.

That isn’t to say that purchasing a dog from a reputable breeder is unethical. However, versed breeders specifically select desirable traits and cultivate animal qualities through the generations.

If you aren’t prepared to do meticulous research and properly pick a mate for your dog, the resultant appearances and personalities will be unpredictable. This type of unpredictability also occurs when breeding mixed dogs. Unless you’re working with a breeder to improve a bloodline worth strengthening, it’s best if you don’t breed your dog. 

A gravid spay can be used if your dog is unexpectedly pregnant and you’re unprepared. This means the dog is spayed while pregnant, which terminates the pregnancy. Almost all veterinarians will do this procedure if the dog isn’t too far along.

Remember that any intact dog must be carefully monitored to avoid unwanted pregnancy. Intact animals of opposite genders need to remain separated.

Any unaltered animal must be leashed at all times, as they are likely to bolt if an opportunity to mate arises. Female dogs in heat are especially vulnerable in public because they attract dogs and are easy to mount. A determined male dog will most likely finish mating with your female dog before you’re able to react.

Which Dog Breed Has the Lowest Life Expectancy?

Bulldogs have the lowest life expectancy. French bulldogs are especially short-lived; some scientists show that their average age at death is as little as five years old.

They are afflicted with congenital disorders and breathing conditions at a higher rate than average due to over-selective breeding. Brachycephalic breeds or dogs with shortened airways, like all bulldogs, experience a significantly higher rate of medical complications than most other breeds.

Bulldogs are also one of the more difficult breeds to reproduce because mating is sometimes difficult. Because they have large bodies compared to their stumpy legs, sometimes male dogs cannot mount a female. Artificial insemination is sometimes used in this situation though it is controversial.

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About the Author

Kristen Holder is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics related to history, travel, pets, and obscure scientific issues. Kristen has been writing professionally for 3 years, and she holds a Bachelor's Degree from the University of California, Riverside, which she obtained in 2009. After living in California, Washington, and Arizona, she is now a permanent resident of Iowa. Kristen loves to dote on her 3 cats, and she spends her free time coming up with adventures that allow her to explore her new home.

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