If you’re reading this article now, your mind probably is racing at a million miles per hour. Whether the air is full of excitement or anxiety with the thought of your precious best friend giving birth to a litter of puppies, you are probably wondering, “How long is a German Shepherd pregnant for?” The following article will provide you the details behind the stages of your pup’s pregnancy and what you should do to support her throughout this process.
The first step should be to retrace your dog’s steps and her recent interactions. Mating usually takes around 10 - 30 minutes for the more experienced dogs. This process could take even longer for the first-timer pups. If the neighborhood dog just tried to mount on your furry friend but was quickly stopped, odds are that the mating process was unsuccessful. However, if your dog ran off and had the opportunity to consummate in the wild, a few good indicators include:
These visible symptoms often occur 15-20 days after mating, but they could be indicators of other illnesses as well. Unfortunately, unlike humans, dogs do not have the privilege of going to the local convenience store to pick up a pregnancy test. If unsure, the best option is to check with your local veterinarian and allow them to conduct diagnostic testing. Some of the tests may include ultrasounds, x-rays, palpitations, etc. If all comes back positively, the next few weeks will be full of excitement and wonder!
Unlike humans, where our normal gestation period lasts 280 days or around 9 months, dogs are pregnant for a much shorter period. On average, most dogs are pregnant for 2 months or approximately 62-64 days. Though this could vary as the date of mating differs from the date of conception. This also varies with the breed of dog and the litter size as the more puppies in the litter, the longer it will take. For German Shepherds, their average pregnancy duration hovers around 63 days.
As you are counting down the days to when you will see your newborn German Shepherd puppies, there are a few indicators to be on the lookout for when your dog is entering labor, also known as whelping. As the date approaches, many dogs will suddenly lose their appetite. In addition, a few days before delivery, your dog may start building her nest too, where she will anticipate having her puppies. As an owner, you can help your dog by creating a whelping box for her to have her puppies. The details behind creating an ideal whelping box are outlined in the steps below. Once all conditions are right, you may notice the dog having abdominal contractions followed by straining, moaning, and a drop in rectal temperature. These signs indicate that your pup has finally entered the long-awaited whelping stage.
Whelping boxes allow your dog to have a safe and warm environment to give birth to her pups. Not only does it keep the mother comfortable during labor, but it also doubles as protection for the newborn puppies against the cold and smothering from the mother. The whelping box should be large enough for the mother to move around it, but also for her to keep her babies close by. A good rule of thumb is to have this area be 1.5 to 2 times the mother’s size.
The ideal box should also contain material like blankets to keep the pups warm and have short walls to prevent the newborns from wandering off. Often people include ledges or puppy rails in their whelping box to prevent the mother from suffocating the pups if they get caught between the mom and the side of the box.
When providing a blanket, keep in mind that you’ll want something that is easily cleaned as the whole process could get messy. Also, make sure there are no holes or openings in the blanket as you don’t want the pups getting stuck inside. Avoid loose bedding materials such as hay or straw as this could irritate the newborn eyes and skin.
The short answer to this question is that it depends. When whelping first begins, it’s good practice to keep your distance and quietly watch. Dog’s don’t need much support when giving birth, and it will usually take her 10-30 minutes of straining before the first puppy emerges. When it first comes out, you will notice a membrane around the pup. The mother will lick and bite at the membrane to remove it; however, if she is unsuccessful after a minute or two, you will need to step in to help remove it, or else the puppy will not be able to breathe. Afterward, rub the puppy clean until you hear it cry.
In addition to this, the mother will try to sever the umbilical cord by biting on it. If she is unsuccessful, you should step in and cut the cord around an inch away from the belly. Then tie it up with unwaxed dental floss and wipe the puppy’s abdomen down with iodine to prevent infection. Once this process has been completed, place the puppy next to the mother and make sure it is warm. Keep repeating this process for all puppies. If there are any complications in whelping, including the mother not giving birth to any puppies after 2 hours of contractions, trembling/collapsing, drops in rectal temperature, but labor has not occurred after 24 hours, etc, immediately contact your local veterinarian or emergency pet care for assistance.
Having puppies may be stressful but incredibly rewarding once the whole process is over. Please keep in mind every pet is different and may require more attention and assistance than others. Luckily this process is a very natural one for your beloved pet and should not be too complicated. However, it’s always best practice to consult your local vet expert throughout the process.