Last Updated on April 1, 2023 by Becky Roberts
Being a pet parent, one of the most exciting things to ever come your way is when the day finally comes that your dog will, at last, have her babies.
For female dogs, it’s fairly important to be healthy and well-prepared before she gives birth, but just like any healthy relationship. the preparation and readiness must be done on both ends: the pet and the owner.
But for most of you who are first-timers in handling such a situation, it can be quite daunting to be exposed to such an immense responsibility, considering that female dogs are known to give birth to a certain puppy count: they don’t give birth to just one!
Known as a litter of puppies, these baby boys and girls will oftentimes require even more tender love and care, compared to the common adult dogs. You, however, being a responsible pet parent, will have two main things to look out for: the well-being of the parent and the children.
Now I can almost hear you thinking.
“How can I prepare myself for such an exciting part of my pet’s life?”
Lucky for you my friend, I’ll be discussing some of the most important things you need to know when faced with the wonderful task of catering to your dog’s needs when she gives birth.
In this feature, we’re also going to talk about just how many you should expect when anticipating a puppy litter size.
Let’s get started!
The Heat Cycle
According to the American Kennel Club, a female dog will experience estrus or heat, roughly every six months. This usually lasts from about six months old to through the rest of her life. The heat cycle is the period of time when your dog is known to be receptive to mating.
Wait, what is that? You are requesting an even more detailed overview of when does the heat start, and how long does it take?
Alright then. I got you covered!
For smaller breeds, it is known that they can go into heat as young as four months, with the average being six months old. Although according to AKC, there are some larger breeds that may not go into their first heat until they’re 18-24 months.
There are four known stages of the canine heat cycle. Allow me to discuss them briefly.
Proestrus – this is known to be the start of the heat period, wherein your dog’s body preparing to mate. This usually lasts on an average of nine days, but can even sometimes last from three to seventeen days. Common signs will be swelling of the vulva, and you may start to notice a blood-tinged discharge. Other signs you may want to look into is when she holds her tail close to her body and stick closely to your side.
Estrus – this is popularly known as the mating phase. This usually lasts for about nine days, but can sometimes be shorter, as in three days, and sometimes longer, as in 21 days. During this period, you may start to notice that blood flow will lessen, and will eventually stop. During this period, female dogs will start to attract and accept males, with ovulation occurring two to three days after mating.
Diestrus – which occurs directly after the in heat stage, this period usually lasts for about two months. Your dog’s body will then proceed with the pregnancy, or can even return to rest as you may notice her vulva return to its normal size.
Anestrus – this is also known to be the uterine repair phase. No sexual or hormonal behavior is present during this phase, and this is known to last anywhere from 90 to 150 days before another cycle begins.
Factors That Affect Litter Size
Some of the most important factors that affect litter size are breed, age, size, diet, health, gene pool diversity, and even individual genetic factors.
The breed is arguably one of the most important factors that affect litter size in a dog’s birth. In a nutshell, larger dogs are known to produce more litter. Just to give you an overview of numbers, smaller dogs usually give birth to four puppies, while larger dogs are known to give birth to eight or more.
Age simply affects them since they are most capable of producing an abundance of offspring during their early adulthood. It also helps to know that a dog’s first litter is generally smaller than the following litters.
Dog litter size can also vary within a given breed, as larger breeds mostly give birth to larger litters.
Additionally, dogs in good condition or in a decent healthy state generally give birth to larger litter sizes. Since they are known to be healthy, chances are the puppies will also be in ideal health condition.
Dog diets can also prove to be a factor, as large litters can be tied to having a well-balanced and nutritional food intake.
For gene pool and individual genetic factors, it can be pretty self-explanatory. They can also be related to the female dog and the male dog, and both their sizes can affect the overall size of the litter. However, it is known that dogs who come from diverse backgrounds are usually common to produce larger litters.
Now, after all this talk, you must be wondering at what part of this feature will you finally be able to know just about how many puppies can a dog have.
The Matter At Hand
Ah, yes, the moment we’ve all been waiting for!
For miniature dogs, you can expect 1 – 2 puppies.
For small dogs, you can expect 1 – 4 puppies.
For medium-sized dogs, you can expect 3 – 6 puppies.
For large size dogs, you can expect 4 – 8 puppies.
For the giant-sized dogs, you can expect 8 – 10 puppies, and in some cases, even more!
The Wrap Up
Now that you’re all set for the birth of your new fur babies, it helps to know that it’s always a good idea to pay your veterinarian a visit whenever you are expecting your canine family to grow! At the end of the day, you’re going to want a licensed professional being around in arguably one of the most exciting parts of being a pet parent!