Awesome news, your dog is pregnant but you have no idea how many puppies can a dog have. What a wonderful time it is, yet uncertain.
We all love our canine companions, so it is a great time to start preparing for all the cute puppies and buying supplies, that’s why you will need to know how many to expect.
Heading towards the end of the pregnancy, the vet will likely be able to examine the mom’s belly or have an x-ray to determine the exact number of puppies.
Although it’s easy to miss one of the puppies while examining, there are some factors that determine litter size which we will overview later in this article.
What Determines a Litter Size?
There are different factors that can impact the litter size of a female dog, and we will talk about the most important ones below.
It can be difficult to analytically determine how much these factors affect litter size, and they can influence each other to some extent.
The type of breed factor is one of the most important factors. Relatively, larger breeds produce larger litters.
For example, larger litter breeds like Cane Corso, Great Dane, Mastiff have litters typically ranging from 8-10.
Large breeds like Pitbull, Doberman, Golden Retriever have litter sizes ranging from 4-8.
Medium size breeds such as Australian Shepherd, Cattle Dog have litters typically ranging from 3-6.
Smaller dog breeds like Chihuahua, Shih Tzu, Pomeranian have litter sizes between 1-4.
Breed size is another factor which affects a litter size.
Although the average number of puppies in a litter is 6, the number of puppies in one litter can vary depending on the mother’s size, even within a specific breed.
For example, larger dogs like Labradors typically have a litter size ranging between 6-10 puppies.
Relatively, a 45 pound Labrador retriever may give birth to only 5-6 puppies, while an 85 pound Labrador may give birth to 10 puppies or more.
Dogs typically keep reproducing for their entire life cycle, but they are most fertile between two and five years of age.
However, usually a dog’s first litter is normally smaller than consequent litters.
A healthy pregnant female dog is most likely to produce larger litters, and healthier pups. Good diet is very important to being able to produce healthy puppies who can survive the birthing process.
A healthy strong diet has a great influence on litter size. Some breeders argue that dogs who are fed a high-quality commercial food that is enriched with high-protein foods (such as meat and cheese) produce larger litters.
While dogs who are fed inadequate foods or those fed only high-quality commercial foods (with no supplemental proteins), tend to produce smaller litters.
How Many Puppies Can a Dog Have in an Average Litter?
A thorough and intense study of the average litter size was published in 2011. Over 10,000 litters were analyzed representing 224 breeds. The study found that the average litter size in that group was 5.4.
However, some breeds such as bull dogs, female and male dogs actually struggle to breed because of their small legs, so you will need to take them to the vet for artificial insemination.
How Many Litters Can a Dog Have in 1 Year?
Usually, most female dogs only have two birthing cycles per year, spaced about six months apart.
Although, some dogs can give birth to multiple litters within a 12-month period, it depends generally on the dog’s body condition, natural cycle, and what the breeder desires.
Many breeders are against breeding a female dog twice a year. This is because it’s hard on her body, and they believe it will result in a decline in the total number of puppies produced over her lifetime.
Respectively, they will allow their dog to produce a litter, then give her a break during her next heat cycle. This means that they’ll produce one litter per year.
How Many Litters Can a Dog Have in a Lifetime?
Hypothetically, one female dog could produce 14 litters over her lifetime.
Assuming that a female produced two litters per year starting at year one of age and continued until she was eight years of age.
Based on the average litter size, which is five puppies per litter, that means, theoretically, a single dog may be capable of producing up to 70 puppies over her lifetime!
However, this sounds insane. Breeding a dog this many times would harm her health. Additionally, some of the registration organizations wouldn’t allow you to register an unlimited number of litters.
Breeds with Large Litter Sizes
There isn’t a reliable study that was able to specify the most fertile breed, but large litters as mentioned earlier is associated with large breed dogs such as:
- Irish wolfhounds
- Neapolitan mastiff
- Great Danes
- Golden Retriever
- Cane Corso
- German Shepherd
How Long is a Dog Pregnant For?
A dog’s pregnancy usually lasts 58-68 days. This period varies based on a number of factors, such as the dog’s age, health, and her breed.
Usually, you can assume that your dog will be pregnant for about two months, or perhaps a bit longer.
Do You Need to See a Veterinarian?
To be able to prepare properly for the dog pregnancy, you should visit your vet after the 45th day of the dog’s pregnancy.
Your vet can take an x-ray and tell you how many puppies to look for during delivery.
Your vet can also help prepare you for what to expect and how to help your dog during pregnancy, go over their diet, which at this stage should have high calories and enriched in nutrients.
They will also advise you to have a backup plan or inform you where your nearest local emergency animal hospital or clinic is.