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Signs of Pregnancy

If pregnant, a bitch will deliver the pups exactly 63 days after ovulation. If you do not believe me ... ask Myra Savant-Harris.

Now that the union has been successfully consumated, we wait ... patiently ... or do we? There are many signs and signals that the bitch will communicate to you. The following signs, when taken together, can indicate that she is pregnant. A bitch that has a false pregnancy can also show all these signs and signals; including producing milk and her abdomen enlarging. Good luck!

  1. During her heat cycle a bitch's vulva will swell larger than normal. The swelling is a normal reaction to the progesterone that is flooding her system and triggering ovulation. If pregnant, the bitches vulva will remain slightly swollen after her heat cycle ends and stay that way until after she has given birth and her progesterone levels return to a normal level.
  2. Starting in the first two weeks, the bitch's teats (nipples) will be larger and more firm than usual.
  3. Starting in the first two weeks, you may notice a change in temperament. The bitch may become calmer, and more cuddly.
  4. The bitch may experience a week of "morning sickness" between two and three weeks after ovulation.
  5. At two weeks there have been reports of bitches that urinate more frequently. This can be caused by the release of pregnancy hormones. Elizabeth, of Dante Kennels reports "At two weeks from breeding, my extremely fastidious sheltie bitch has started peeing in her crate regardless of the time she is let out in the morning. I asked my physician husband if this could be a sign and he asked if I didn't remember the increased need to go in the early stages. I told him it had been too long since the youngest is 18. He told me that pregnancy hormones can trigger increased frequency. So we are keeping our fingers crossed."
  6. Four weeks after ovulation you may notice a thickening of her sides, between her hip bone and her ribs, as the pups move lower into her abdomen.
  7. Between days 25 & 28 you can test for pregnancy yourself by using the Draminski® Canine Pregnancy Detector, or get your Veterinarian to perform an Ultra-sound examination.
  8. Between 28-32 days after ovulation you can palpate the bitch's abdomen and can actually feel the pups. Do not press too hard or you can hurt the pups and/or the bitch. The best way to palpate the abdomen is to:
    • Lay the bitch on her side.
    • Slide one palm beneath her.
    • Place your other palm over her top side, just below her ribs.
    • Gently squeeze your palms together and feel for little firm golf ball size pups. Some people are so good at this that they can count how many pups there are.
  9. Five weeks after ovulation and beyond the bitch may actually 'show'. Large breeds may not ever show as they can carry their pups high up in their rib cage.
  10. Some people report being able to hear puppy heartbeats at six weeks. Ashley, from Mountain Maltese says, " I can hear a baby heartbeat at 6 weeks, almost to the day. They are even easier to hear with a stethoscope. In fact I can count from the day I start hearing heartbeats, to the 63rd day." However, Ashley says "I cannot tell the difference between female and male heartbeats."
  11. Six to Seven weeks after ovulation, you may notice a clear discharge, with the consistency of vaseline. If the discharge is green or bloody, before she starts labour, get her to the Vet immediately, she may be loosing her pups.
  12. Eight weeks after ovulation, you can feel the pups moving inside their mother.
  13. In the eighth week after ovulation, you can use a stethoscope to hear the individual heartbeats of the pups. You can count the pups by how many different heart beats you hear. You can also tell the sex of the pups. Female pups' hearts beat slightly slower than male pups' hearts. It has been compared to listening to "Morse Code". The males heartbeats are the 'dot' and the female heartbeats are the 'dash'.
  14. Some breeders x-ray eight weeks after ovulation. The x-rays will tell you if the bitch's pelvis is wide enough to pass the pups and how many pups there are.
  15. Nine weeks after ovulation, a pregnant bitch's abdomen will start to descend and she may spend lots of time stretching her front legs out far from her body. This helps her to positon the pups in the horns of the uterus and point them in the right direction.
  16. During the ninth week you'll be constantly watching for signs of the impending birth. The bitch may look for a dark secluded place to have her pups. Under porches, beds and in closets are favourite places to whelp. It is best to have her whelping box ready with some towels for her to 'nest' in. Here is a short video of Tara nesting prior to delivering her third litter.

There are a lot of signs to watch for. Each bitch is different. For example, Tara has never been morning sick. Tara also has a very distinctive "I'm so pregnant!" walk, where she walks slowly like every step is exhausting and she is carrying a tremendous weight. This might work for her, in the last few weeks, however ... she starts her 'walk' at about 14 days after ovulation. In the last three weeks Tara demands belly and back rubs. When you rub her back she actually moans with the pleasure of it all.

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