German Shepherds are very popular dogs today and they are often kept as service dogs, hunting dogs, police dogs, and pets. Breeding a German Shepherd requires some special attention. Even for those who have experience in dog breeding in general, German Shepherd pregnancy may differ from other dogs in various ways.
Updated on 9/18/2019 by William Hill: Updated info, adding some additional info, links, and formatting.
From the time of conception, the average length of the pregnancy / gestate is about 63 days.
Since German Shepherds are large dogs, their pregnancy term may be slightly longer than that of a tiny breed.
Since you will want to monitor your GSD (German Shepherd Dog) pregnancy very closely, ideally you should keep track of the GSD female’s heat period and note how many times she is bred and record the dates and times.
That way you will have almost the exact data on the conception.
You’ll be able to note the due date based on an approximate 63 day gestation period.
In general, an average GSD litter is about 8 puppies.
Some large females can have up to 15 puppies while a smaller or less healthy GSD may have fewer than 8.
The health of the pregnant female (also known as a female in whelp) can have an effect on the number of puppies.
A German Shepherd is more likely to have a moderate to large litter if she has been given a very healthy diet, adequate exercise, and care, veterinary checkups.
If the dog was bred on the first heat cycle, the litter is likely to be smaller.
If your GSD female is bred at the exact time of ovulation (release of the egg) the litter may be larger.
Of course, the father will have some impact as well. A male with a higher sperm count can produce more puppies. The health and history of male matters as well.
In the early stages, you may not see much different, although some females will have less appetite in the first weeks of pregnancy.
A lot is happening inside the pregnant GSD, it’s just not external yet.
Signs of Dog Pregnancy
- Increase in appetite
- Weight gain
- Morning sickness
- Increase in nipple size
- The nipples may darken or become pinker
- The fur around the teats begin to thin out
Some dogs will show no signs of nausea or even lack of appetite.
About 2-3 days
After conception the eggs are fertilized and the dog’s reproductive system is preparing for pregnancy.
Around the 10th-12th day
If the eggs stay healthy they will typically implant themselves into the lining of the uterus.
By the 14th or 15th day
You may be able to see some early changes that really give you notice.
Look closely at the dog’s teats and see if there are signs of color and size changes.
- The nipples may darken or become pinker and will tend to get a bit larger.
- The fur may also begin to thin out around the teats.
- Some dogs will experience morning sickness just like humans do.
- Other dogs will show no signs of nausea or even lack of appetite.
By the third or fourth week
If your dog does begin to seem restless in the mornings , this could be an indicator of pregnancy.
Around the end of the first month
Females who begin to vomit regularly at this time are probably pregnant. This will usually pass very soon.
By the end of the first month
You may actually be able to hear puppy heartbeats if you have a good stethoscope.
Even if you press the stethoscope against the abdomen you probably won’t be able to tell much about the number of puppies, but you may hear extra little beats that are clearly not the mother’s heart.
At this point, you know for sure that your female is pregnant and the puppies are viable (alive) and strong.
After the first month
You can begin to feel around the abdomen of the mother and see if you can feel the puppies.
It takes practice, so a veterinarian can show you have to search if you haven’t done this before.
If you can feel the puppies early enough they will be around the size of walnuts.
If you have a practiced hand or are very patient, you may be able to actually count them and get some idea of how big the litter will be.
If not, a veterinarian can tell either by feeling around the abdomen or doing a test to see the tiny puppies.
The next sign is typically a swelling abdomen as the puppies begin to grow.
The female’s belly will become larger and heavier. At this point, even an inexperienced person can probably tell that the female is likely to be pregnant.
It is possible to confuse the abdomen of a female who has just given birth with one who is about to give birth, but if you’ve been around the dog every day you will be aware of the stage she is in.
You must know – How many calories does your GSD need each day?
Caring for a Pregnant Dog
1. Proper Nutrition
- Not make any breaks to her nutrition for the first part of her pregnancy if your dog is on a good quality dog food and is at a healthy weight
- As her weight increases in the last 5 weeks of her pregnancy, the AKC recommends rising her feed intake gradually, until she consumes 35-to-50 percent more than usual
- Increase her intake slowly and feed her little, frequent meals, as large parts of food can cause disadvantage
2. Visits to the Vet
- Visit veterinary regular to maintain a dogs healthy state.
The mother’s nipples will soon begin to swell in preparation for suckling puppies.
The female will begin to perform what is called “nesting” behavior.
This varies from dog to dog. Some will show only small signs and others will be quite forceful. Some of this depends on how familiar the female is with humans.
The mother will become very restless at around time.
She will typically begin to investigate spaces that might be suitable for privacy and safety.
If you have provided her with a good box or another suitable space, she may begin to spend more time there.
This will also help you to know when the time is coming very near and it reduces the chances that your female will hide somewhere unknown at the time of birth.
Walking with a pregnant German Shepherd without a collar? This can be dangerous for your pet and its future litter. This article will help you choose a collar suitable for this breed.
Around 45-55 days
At around 45-55 days the female’s stomach will begin to get firm as the puppies begin to crowd each other.
This will continue to increase until the day of birth.
Some females will be very guarded about their abdomen at this time and others will let you feel for the shape of the puppies.
The abdomen will gradually get harder and appear distinctly stretched. Most females will show very little hunger when they get closer to labor.
Since a female can deliver early, watch very closely by the 50th day after conception.
If nothing has happened by the 63rd day, this isn’t necessarily something to worry about.
If she has continued to take a small amount of food (don’t forget about feeding your dog the right food) and especially water and seems to be fairly comfortable, she may just be the type to go a little overdue.
Up to 70 days or so
It isn’t very unusual for delivery to be delayed up to 70 days or so.
If the GSD female does show signs of discomfort or pain or if she goes several days with food, get a veterinarian to check her.
If she stops taking water at any point, definitely get a consultation.
Otherwise, things should proceed very naturally.
Her temperature will drop a little bit and be closer to normal human temperature.
There may be some vaginal discharge.
When labor begins the female may look at her abdomen or even nip at it and she will seem very restless.
She may breathe harder or pant.
As long as she settles down and begins to deliver puppies, this is all very normal.
German Shepherd Dogs make excellent mothers and yours is likely to handle her labor and delivery very well as long as she is healthy and all goes normally.
Whelping Supply Checklist:
- Newspaper to line the whelping box during birth for simply clean up
- Non-slip bath mats for bedding after whelping is done
- Dry, clean towels to clean the puppies
- Paper towels to help with clean up
- Thermometer to control your canine temperature before whelping
- Unwaxed dental floss to bind off the navel-cord
- Clean scissors to cut the navel-string
- A heating pad or hot water bottle to keep hold off the puppies warm (be careful of it not being too hot)
- Iodine to clean the puppies stomach after the string is cut and tig on the end of the cut umbilical cord
- A baby scale in ounces
- Your veterinarian’s phone number and the number of a nearby emergency clinic
1. How many puppies do German Shepherds have in their first litter?
It will depend on her health. Usual litter size is around 8 puppies.
2. How long does it take for a German Shepherd to give birth?
It is took a few hours to give birth to her litter.
3. What color are German Shepherds when born?
All German Shepherd puppies are born black, gray or white and can turn color as they go up.
Their true coat color can generally be defined at about 8 weeks of age.
4. Why does German Shepherd eat their puppies?
These dogs may instinctively be induced to eat their pups if GSD miscarry to identify them as their own.
5. Do German Shepherds get lighter or darker?
German Shepherd pups mostly do brighten up overall as they age – the black areas on their body will shorten as the colored areas (red, silver, tan, cream etc) increase.
6. How much do German Shepherd puppies cost?
Average puppy price for a standard GSD starts at near $300 and goes up to $900.
7. Do German Shepherd puppies change color?
Their color doesn’t really turn, but the small pieces of coat may become more sightly as they grow up.
8. How long does a German shepherd puppy grow?
German Shepherds reach natural adulthood between 18 up to 24 months or 1 ½ to 2 years.
Video: German Shepherd Dog Pregnancy and How to Prepare for Whelping Day
Click here to see the video.
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