How Long Does it Take For a Dog to Give Birth?

how long does it take for a dog to give birth

You’ve probably seen your dog giving birth a couple of times in a year and wondered how many more times she will give birth. Well, it’s all about the gestation period, so how long does it take for a dog to give birth?

The gestation period for dogs is about nine weeks or 63 days and is separated by three trimesters that last for 21 days each. And while dogs are pregnant for only nine weeks, it may take a few days longer for a dog to give birth for various reasons, such as the dog’s breed and health situation.

To know the exact period it takes your dog to give birth, you might have to consult your veterinarian to run tests and accurately determine how far along the pregnancy is and when the dog will most likely give birth.

The Dog Gestation Period and Labor

Have you ever heard of the mating season? This is a season most common to deer hunters, and well, dogs also have the season when the female dog goes into estrus. The heat cycle lasts for 21-28 days, and during this period, a female dog will be attuned to males from the beginning of day nine of her cycle. 

Conception period for the female dogs will be in the next three to eleven days, and for you to know the optimum time for breeding, consider keeping track of these cycles.

After a dog gets pregnant, the embryo begins to move at around day 7. Passing through the uterine wall it gets embedded in the uterine wall on day 16. The fetuses begin to form when it hits three weeks. From about day 28 to day 30, the vet can be able to see the heartbeat with ultrasound from 

The eyelids of the puppies form around day 32 and their toes and claws are formed afterwards. The skeleton and coat will then form at around day 45 and by the 58th week of pregnancy, the puppies are fully formed.

Signs of Pregnancy in Dogs

Although some pregnancy signs will show externally, it’s not always easy to determine whether a dog is pregnant without carrying out veterinary tests. This is because pregnancy-like symptoms are sometimes brought by other medical issues that are affecting the dog.

Dogs have a very short gestation period, and knowing the signs of pregnancy in dogs is crucial to allow for proper planning in terms of housing and veterinarian services.

Some of the signs of pregnancy in dogs to watch out for include:

Sudden Change in Appetite

Like humans, dogs can experience morning sickness that puts them off their food during their first weeks of pregnancy. Other dogs, however, experience an increase in appetite as soon as they become pregnant.

Lack of Energy

Dogs will display lethargy signs when pregnant. Since their hormones will be changing significantly, they’ll appear tired more often.


When pregnant, your dog starts to behave differently. Sometimes they’ll want to keep away from you, while other times, they’ll become extremely affectionate. You’ll also notice some changes in sleeping patterns and some sort of restlessness. 

Changes to the Nipples

Like humans, your dog’s nipples and general breast will swell as the tissues enlarge to create space for milk production. Some don’t even show breasts until they are pregnant.

You’ll also observe that the ones closest to their hind legs change color, turning darker.

The Dog’s Stages of Labor

Dogs have three stages of labor;

Stage 1: Labour Contractions

Labor contractions take about 12-24 hours. Uneasy and sometimes painful contractions will cause the mother dog to lose her appetite, pant, vomit, show restlessness, or show other symptoms that indicate the start of labor.

Stage 2: Giving Birth

At the second stage of labor, the mother gives birth to the puppies. She’ll give birth to a puppy in 30-60 minutes each, and it shouldn’t  take longer than 2 hours.

Stage 3: Placenta Comes Out

Stage three is finished shortly after stage two has ended and is marked by the appearance of the placenta.


A dog’s gestation period lasts for 63 days, so she can give birth more than once a year. You are likely to notice some changes in appearance that will tell a dog is pregnant and some behavioral changes, but these can’t determine how far off the dog is.

A vet, in this case, is essential to determine how long it will take a dog to give birth and how many puppies to expect to allow for planning.