What to Expect

Whether your dog ended up pregnant accidentally or by design, puppies tend to follow the mammalian adage, “It’s a lot harder getting them out than it was getting them in there.” Although dog owners commonly suppose that all will end well if nature takes its course, canine reproduction is a relatively risky venturethat has the potential to end quite badly.

Because of size variability in dogs (i.e., a big dog/little dog mating) and the selective breeding we’ve done to change their shape, birthing is no longer an entirely natural process in the canine. Some of the most popular dog breeds are largely incapable of doing it on their own, which translates to a much higherriskfor both mother and offspringSurgery is very often necessary to extract the pups ofbulldogs (including the highly popular “Frenchie”), mastiffs, Boston terriers, and a handful of other varietiesmaking these types of dog much more difficult and expensive to breed. 

valuable piece of advice, embraced by veterinarians on every surface of the planet, is not to breed troublesome dogs if you’re not prepared for a boatload of trouble. Let’s assume, though, that you’re in the tunnel now and currently searching for a light at the end. After all, many canine pregnancies are unplanned/accidental. Know that you can visit your vet (well, your emergency vet) at any time during the birthing event (and this may take up a day or more of your time), but that travel to and from the clinic should not be done on a whim. It tends to slow and complicate the process if not medically necessary. So how will you know when it is?

1. It’s been 70 days since your dog was bred, and nothing is coming out. Of course, you know how many pups to expect because of the radiographsyou requested at 45-50 days.

2. You’ve been taking her resting temperature 2-3 times a day, and it dropped a whole degree, but over 24 hours has elapsedwith no sign of pups.

3. She started having regular contractions, but four hours later there is no first pup.

4. She started producing greenish-black discharge (which is okay in itself), but it’s been 30 minutes and no first pup. 

5. She’s been having regular contractions for more than 2 hours between pups.

6. She’s been pushing hard for 30 minutes but can not get that pup out.

7. She’s quit having contractions for more than 2 hours, but you know more pups are in there. Because of her radiographs.

8. She’s acting really distressed and panicky. If she’s in so much pain that she loses her focus on the birthing process, she should be checked by the vet.

It’s worth noting that puppies can normally be born as little as 56 days after the breeding. Genuine premature labor is an extremely rare event in dogs, and in any case your vet will likely be unable to stop it. If pups start to appear earlier than you planned, that would typically not warrant a frantic trip to the vet.

Dr. M.S. Regan