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How Can You Tell If Your Dog Is Pregnant Without Going To The Vet? [11 Dog Pregnancy Signs]

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Before Raven had her first litter of Golden Retriever puppies we weren’t totally sure if the breeding had taken. For almost the entire 9 week gestation period we were wondering: “How can you tell if your dog is pregnant without going to the vet?”

Not that we didn’t want to go to the vet, but a month after Raven was bred, to our casual eye we did not notice any changes in her physical appearance.

At the time my wife was pregnant with our first child and there were noticeable signs that she was pregnant. Then again she could also vocalize any changes she was noticing in her body while Raven could not (well I guess she could have barked at us).

So, what are some signs of dog pregnancy? Is there a way to figure out if a dog is pregnant before taking her to the vet?

11 Signs of Pregnancy in Dogs: A English Cream Golden Retriever feeds her 10 Golden puppies

Fast forward to today.

Raven has had three litters and now that we have some experience under our belt we have a better idea (or maybe just more observant) of knowing when our dog is pregnant.

Here are some of the dog pregnancy signs we noticed during Raven’s three pregnancies.

How Can You Tell If Your Dog Is Pregnant Without Going To The Vet?

First, let’s start off by asking how long are Golden Retrievers pregnant? In case you didn’t know Raven is a Golden.

We’ve been working very closely with the breeding manager at our guide dog school who has 20+ years experience breeding dogs and by my guestimation has whelped and raised hundreds if not thousands of litters.

We asked her what is the gestation period in Golden Retrievers? In other words how long will my Golden Retriever be pregnant?

Her answer: Golden Retrievers are pregnant for approximately 63 days/9 weeks from conception and that number can vary by a few days.

That’s a short period of time compared to people which on average is 40 weeks or around 280 days.

Of course puppies can and do come early. Always be prepared and have all your whelping supplies ready well in advance.

Here’s how long Raven was pregnant for her three litters:

Litter# of Days# of Puppies
Litter #160 Days6 Puppies
Litter #262 Days8 Puppies
Litter #361 Days10 Puppies
Litter #4??????

That’s petty darn close to the 63 day gestation period mentioned above.

So, lets get back to our question.

I’m sure you’re still wondering how to tell if your dog is pregnant at home? How did we know Raven was pregnant and what dog pregnancy signs did we see leading up to Raven’s delivery?

Here’s a list of dog pregnancy signs from our experiences and the experiences of our friends and family.

A culmination of knowledge from the whelping of hundreds of litters.

11 Dog Pregnancy Signs

  1. Strange Behavior
  2. Lower Activity Level
  3. Nipples Change
  4. Changes In Appetite
  5. Bigger Belly & Gaining Weight
  6. Puppy Movement
  7. Fur Flaring At Sides
  8. Nesting Behaviors
  9. Temperature Drop
  10. Pacing & Panting
  11. Puppies

The dog pregnancy signs can also be a sign that your dog is sick. If you are noticing any of these changes you should have your dog checked out by your vet.

Here’s a more detailed account of the different dog pregnancy signs we noticed when Raven was pregnant:

1. Strange Behavior

Some dog’s become clingy. Some dogs become depressed. Some want to be left alone. Unusual behavior runs the spectrum and could mean anything, but if it’s different from your dog’s norm then she could be displaying some early signs that she’s pregnant.

Is your dog doing something different from her norm is she exhibiting unusual behavior? This could be a sign your dog is pregnant

If being clingy was a definite dog pregnancy sign then I believe all Golden Retrievers would be showing signs of pregnancy.

Yep, Raven is a clingy Golden and loves to be around her owner. When she has been pregnant we haven’t noticed any weird behavior outside her norm.

2. Lower Activity Level

In the early stages many of our “breeding experts” have mentioned that pregnant dogs can show a decrease in activity and lower energy level.

Does your dog get exhausted more easily? Does it seem like she spending more time napping then usual? This could be a sign your dog is pregnant

With Raven’s pregnancies we never really noticed a decrease in activity level early in her pregnancy. She continued to enjoy her romps in the backyard.

However, we did notice her energy level got sapped in the third trimester presumably because of the increase in weight and from what I could tell she wasn’t as comfortable moving around.

3. Nipples Change

Our breeding manager told us to keep an eye out for an increase in the size of Raven’s nipples as well as color change. We were also told we might see a milky discharge as we got closer to the due date.

Are you noticing some changes in your dog’s nipples including increase in size and a darker color? This could be a sign your dog is pregnant.

We didn’t notice any changes in Raven’s nipples during her first pregnancy. However, in her second and third pregnancy there was a noticeable increase in the size of her nipples. We did not notice a change in color or a milky discharge.

4. Changes In Appetite

Our experts say that changing hormones can cause many different changes in a dog’s appetite. It can lead to an increase, a decrease, and even picky behaviors. Others have told us that their dogs have gotten morning sickness.

Have you noticed your dog hungrier then usual? or perhaps the opposite and she’s eating less? This could be a sign your dog is pregnant.

I feel lucky that we haven’t had to deal with morning sickness. It would be easy for us to spot a decrease in Raven’s appetite because she always acts like she’s starving even through pregnancy. Needless to say we haven’t noticed a change in Raven’s appetite.

5. Bigger Belly & Gaining Weight

I guess this one should be obvious. Experts shouldn’t have to tell you you’ll see weight gain and a bigger belly on your pregnant dog. However, it was tough to tell that Raven was pregnant as her belly barely pooched with her first litter.

Did your dog gain weight and have you noticed her belly start to pooch? This could be a sign your dog is pregnant.

By the time Raven got to her second and third litter her belly was obviously bigger several weeks before she had puppies. I’m guessing a big part of that had to do with the size of her litters.

I’m sure during all three litters Raven gained a substantial amount of weight, but we don’t have a scale at our house to check her weight. If you think your dog is pregnant it might be smart to get a scale suitable for weighing your dog to monitor any weight gain.

6. Puppy Movement

No one mentioned puppy movement as a possible sign that our dog was pregnant, but it was the first real indicator I noticed during Raven’s first pregnancy.

When you place your hand on your dog’s belly do you feel unusual movement? This could be a sign your dog is pregnant.

Raven showed very little physical changes during her first pregnancy and while I thought there were some small changes I didn’t think they were conclusive until I saw and felt little puppies moving around in her belly.

7. Fur Flaring At The Sides

It might just be a Golden thing especially if your dog doesn’t have fur that can flare. 🙂

This is something we noticed on Raven that we didn’t read about or hear from others. The last couple weeks when Raven was walking away I noticed the fur along her sides was flaring outwards.

Do you notice your dog’s fur flaring out along her sides more so then usual? This could be a sign your dog is pregnant.

In hindsight this is probably related to the increased size in her belly which caused not only her belly to pooch out, but her fur as well.

I noticed this physical change in both Raven’s second and third litters.

8. Nesting Behaviors

We were told that Raven may start to nest when it’s getting close to her delivery date. For instance, she’ll start looking for a quiet spot to rest and gathering blankets, clothes, and other items to make a comfortable spot.

Is your dog displaying nesting behavior i.e. looking for a quiet spot and gathering up items to create a nest? This could be a sign your dog is pregnant.

While I can’t totally confirm it I have noticed some nesting behavior from Raven during the last few days before her pups arrive. I say I can’t confirm because she does some nesting all the time gathering up our clothes, shoes, and other items to her sleeping areas. 🙂

9. Temperature Drop

We were advised to start checking Raven’s temperature a couple weeks before her due date. When we saw a drop in temperature she would deliver within the next 12-24 hours.

Did you notice a temperature drop in your dog? This could be a sign your dog is pregnant. Actually this could indicate your dog is about to give birth!

We did notice the temperature drop in all three of Raven’s litters. While I’m not sure of the exact numbers I do believe the puppies came within 24 hours of the temp drop.

10. Pacing & Panting

You probably already saw the early signs that your dog was pregnant before the pacing and panting begins. We were told this would be a clear indication that we were close to puppy time.

Is your dog pacing and panting? This could be a sign your dog is pregnant.

I’d guess it was probably in the 24-48 hour range pre-puppies that Raven started to seem uncomfortable, panting and pacing around the house.

11. Puppies

The number one indicator that your dog might be pregnant. She whelps a litter of puppies!

Did your dog give birth to a litter of puppies? This is a sign that your dog was pregnant.

Funny as it may sound I’ve talked to people who say they got home one day and low and behold their dog had a litter of puppies!

Wow! Now that would be an unexpected surprise.

*Most of these symptoms could also be an indication that your dog is sick. Please bring your dog to the vet if your unsure about her health.

Guys, if your dog is pregnant or you suspect your dog is pregnant I highly recommend taking her to your veterinarian.

We take Raven to our vet to make sure her pregnancy is going smoothly and to get x-rays to find out approximately how many puppies she’s going to have in her litter.


Now that you know your dog is pregnant? What’s next?

It’s an exciting time! Time for you to get ready for a litter of puppies.

One thing I’d highly recommend is to start looking into all the supplies you’ll need to help your dog during the whelping process.

Lucky for you we put together a whelping checklist to make sure we had everything we needed before Raven’s second litter.

You’ll also want to take a peek at our puppy weight chart PDFs so you can track your puppies weights after they are born.

If you want to see when your puppies will hit different milestones including when they open their eyes, start to walk, and sprout teeth then check out our series of posts about Raven’s first litter.

Okay guys that’ll about do it for this week. If you have any questions be sure to drop me a line in the comment section below.

Do you have any tips on how to tell if your dog is pregnant without going to the vet? What signs have you come across that indicated your dog was/is pregnant?

If you’ve whelped and raised a litter tell us about your experiences in the comment section below.

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11 Signs of Pregnancy in Dogs - Golden Retriever in whelping box with 11 newborn puppies nursing.
Dog Pregnancy Signs

Disclaimer: We are not veterinarians. All of the information in this article is based on our experiences. If you think your dog is having puppies then please consult a veterinarian for professional advice.

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  1. Tks for all of your advice, I think holly will have her first litter. Keep well. Donna

  2. My girl is a big girl to start with she is 115 pounds and I cannot tell still if she is pregnant. She is due tomorrow. All she has been doing today is lay around. Her teets are huge but I’m not sure if I am feeling any puppies

  3. I’m not an expert, but it’s my understanding that no, your dog will not get pregnant every time the stud ejaculates in her. When we breed our dogs they are artificially inseminated three times on the optimal days to try and ensure best chance for pregnancy and even still our dogs do not always get pregnant.

  4. I just want to know if my female that I have bred gets pregnant every time the stud ejaculates in her

  5. Good to read, understanding and helpful article for every pet owners! Thank you for sharing whelping checklist and given tips and tricks. I am newbie pet owner, so your blog is important for me. Thank you for sharing pregnancy signs and information about how to care during their pregnancy time.

  6. Yep! I’m sure it also depends on the size of the litter. I mentioned that Raven didn’t show for her first litter of 6 right up until the very end. On the other hand her litters of 8 and 10 showed much earlier. While I want to chalk it up as being more experienced I think the larger litter sizes really did show much sooner.

  7. I can’t wait for Raven’s next litter too. I’m hoping we’ll have a great video and blog series for all of our readers and subscribers. Stay tuned!

  8. I would freak out if I came home and all of a sudden there were puppies in the house! Can’t wait to see Raven’s next litter!

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