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Signs Your Dog May Be Pregnant

Updated on July 11, 2010

Are puppies on the way?

signs your dog is pregnant
signs your dog is pregnant

Did you breed your dog when she was most fertile?

When it comes to canine pregnancy, owners may scratch their heads wondering if their dog is going to expect puppies or not. Whether the breeding was planned or accidental, there are two important factors to consider that may heighten the chances your beloved dog will be soon a mommy.

The first factor to consider is the day of breeding. Female dogs are particularly fertile at a specific time of their cycle. Typically a dog's cycle is composed of 21 days and is divided in three phases.

The first phase is called Pro-estrus and takes place when the dog experiences vaginal bleeding along with vaginal swelling. Typically Pro-estrus lasts an average of 7-10 days. Male dogs at this point become extremely interested in the dog but typically the female dog will be reluctant to mate.

The second phase is called Estrus. This is the ideal time for the dog to mate because she is actually fertile. The vaginal bleeding will have turned into a straw colored liquid. She will accept the male and allow him to mount.

The third and final phase is called Di-estrus and it signals that the fertile phase is over. The female at this point will be again reluctant to mate, however, males may still show interest.

If your dog has mated therefore, at the estrus phase which usually takes place 7-10 days after the bleeding has begun, chances are high your dog may have puppies on the way.

The other factor that will heighten chances of pregnancy is if you witnessed a "tie". A tie occurs when the male and female dog mate and remain in a "locked" position for a few minutes. A "tie" grants that sperm is successfully delivered increasing chances of pregnancy.

Having evaluated the odds of a possible pregnancy, now to signs that may suggest puppies are on the way. While these signs may suggest pregnancy they may also suggest a false pregnancy, another reason why it is best to have the vet check for sure.

Early Signs of Pregnancy in Dogs

Signs Your Dog May be Pregnant

  • Your dog may refuse food in the first weeks of pregnancy. This can be compared to morning sickness experienced by women.
  • A decrease in activity may be another sign. Your dog may lay around more than usual as she goes through important hormonal changes.
  • Nipples may appear slightly enlarged. Because this change is minimal, sometimes it is best to measure and compare nipple size before and after breeding.
  • Some dogs may become more affectionate and seek owner's attention more.

While these signs may be subtle, some experienced breeders are able to detect them because they deal with pregnant dogs often. However, the only way to know for sure as mentioned earlier, is to have your vet confirm pregnancy. There are 4 ways for a vet to confirm pregnancy in your dog:

  1. After 21-25 days have passed after breeding, Relaxin, a substance that confirms pregnancy may be detected in your dog's bloodwork.
  2. After 25 days, the puppy's heartbeats may be heard via stethoscope.
  3. After about 28 days your veterinarian may detect puppy embryos simply by palpating your dog's abdomen.
  4. After 45 days have passed after breeding, x-rays may successfully detect the puppy's skeletons.

As seen, there are various signs that may confirm or rule out your dog's pregnancy. While physical cues may be hard to detect and not much reliable, your veterinarian is ultimately the only and best source.

Become a knowledgeable breeder!


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      Samantha 18 months ago

      my bitch was mated last week while she was fertile last one was Sunday and to days later she stopped bleeding does it mean she could be pregnant..?

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 years ago from USA

      It'snot impossible for an older to get pregnant but it's very unlikely. However, you are right to be concerned because you may feel she's too old to give birth and too old to be spayed. I think your best bet is to give your vet a call and see what options there are so you can plan accordingly. Back when I used to work for the vet, there were injections that would terminate pregnancy.

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      Abby 3 years ago

      My precious dog is 14yrs old and had just finished her cycle, she was unguarded for moments and a male dog hooked her. I am worried. Can she still get pregnant at this age?

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      Only a vet can really confirm this, Pauline. Dogs can still get pregnant even though a tie did not last long. Best wishes!

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      pauline 5 years ago

      i took my dog to be mated on the 10, 11.12,and 13 day of her season starting ,she stood 3 or 4 times each time i took her but they never tied they almost did on 2 occasions but only for a second does anyone think that she could be pregnant

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 7 years ago from Northern, California

      This is good stuff. The signs can be so hard to detect without knowledge. This hub will help amny pet owners to be aware and to know what to look for.