Stages of Canine Pregnancy

Stages of Canine Pregnancy

Dec 10, 2021

The canine gestation period is fairly short, only 63 days or 9 weeks on average from ovulation to birth. That is why these stages go by quite rapidly and a lot  happens in just one weeks time. 

There are different things to look out for in each stage but overall it is important to keep your pregnant, or hopefully pregnant, females happy, content, safe and without any additional stress or risk of infection or contamination. This is especially important during the first month of pregnancy when implantation occurs. 

First Month 

After a successful mating and fertilisation, embryos start off high up in the uterus, but towards the end of the first week they migrate down towards the uterine horns where they float around within the uterine liquid. 

Implantation occurs around day 16-21. 

Towards the end of the first month you can test your dog to confirm pregnancy.

Many dogs do not show any symptoms during the first three weeks of their pregnancy. On the other hand pseudo or phantom pregnancy might make your bitch appear very pregnant.  Some symptoms to watch for during the first month are:


  • Increased appetite
  • Slightly enlarged nipples and reddish 
  • More affectionate behaviour and tiredness
  • Clear vaginal discharge (around week four)
  • Decreased physical activity
  • “Morning sickness”


Second Month

Foetal development moves quickly during the second month. Eyelids form by day 32 and toes are visible by day 35. The claws form by day 40, and the coat and skeleton follow a few days later (day 45). After day 50, an x-ray will reveal the number of puppies in the litter, and the bitch will start looking for a place to nest already at day 58.

Signs of pregnancy in the bitch are much more obvious during the second month:


  • Noticeably increased appetite
  • Weight gain of 20-to-50 %
  • Increased urination
  • Changes in behaviour
  • Clear, odorless vaginal discharge
  • Enlarged, firm abdomen (days 45 to 50)
  • Decreased appetite (day 45)
  • Visible puppy movement in abdomen (day 50)


Third Month

The bitch is ready to whelp by the start of the third month. Puppy development is almost complete around day 58, which means the puppies will begin to move into whelping position in the birth canal over the last few days of the bitch’s pregnancy.

Symptoms during the last few days of pregnancy in dogs:


  • Waist will trim as puppies move into the birth canal
  • Appetite loss around day 61 or 62
  • Drop in body temperature 12-to-24 hours before labor
  • Restless behaviour
  • Pacing, panting, shivering, or digging

ALSO notice:  A drop in progesterone to below 2ng/ml indicates that your dog is going to give birth.


Signs and Stages Of Dog Labor

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