Watching a dog become a new mom is one of the most beautiful things in life. Many dogs are great mothers and love to care for their new babies. We rounded up 10 interesting facts about dog motherhood.
Did you know ...
1. The gestation period for puppies is only about 9 weeks (instead of 9 months like humans!)
We’re sure some human mothers are reading this and very jealous as those last long months of pregnancy can be rather uncomfortable. This short pregnancy is an evolutionary miracle as it puts significantly less stress on the mom’s bodies.
2. Pregnant dogs need more calories and can generally eat as much as they want.
Even the Association of American Feed Control Officials classifies gestation and lactation as life stages that need a little extra nutrition. The extra calories help mom have the energy to carry, nurse, and care for her babies.
3. The average dog mom gives birth to 5-6 puppies
Dogs get to have a shorter pregnancy than us humans and they usually have multiple babies, around 5 or 6 per litter to be precise. Some dogs only have 1-2 babies at a time and others can have larger litters. However, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the record for the largest litter ever was a total of 24 puppies born to a Neopolitan mastiff named Tia in 2004.
4. Dog moms have to do everything for their babies
The shorter gestation period does not leave time for the puppies’ senses of hearing and eyesight to develop in the womb. This is why puppies are born deaf and with their eyes closed. Once the babies are born you will see their mom clean them off and guide them to start nursing.
5. When dogs are pregnant, they too can experience morning sickness
If you thought nausea and vomiting during pregnancy was only for human’s you’d be mistaken. Pups can also experience this uncomfortable symptom during pregnancy.
6. Dog moms can be in labor from 2-20 hours
Depending on the breed and mom’s experience as a mother labor can range from 2- 20 hours so if you are caring for a pregnant pup be prepared for anything. Try to arrange for someone to be with a birthing mom at all times in case she or the puppies is in distress.
7. You may see the mother dog start nursing her puppies while she is still in labor
Dog moms are super moms and may nurse puppies right after they are born - even as she’s delivering their siblings.
8. Before a dog goes into labor she may shred paper or blankets to make a comfortable and safe nest for her babies
If you (or a human mother you know) has had the overwhelming urge to nest before the baby comes, your pup may have the same urges. It’s not uncommon for pregnant dogs to exhibit these nesting behaviors. If you see your dog starting to do this it may mean the puppies are coming soon.
9. Mom might be overprotective of her defenseless puppies
So don’t be surprised if she’s extra leery of strangers or doesn’t want you to handle them. Keep kids away from a new mom dog as they may be too tempted to play with the puppies and unintentionally upset mom.
10. Your dog might get depressed for a few days after her puppies are weaned
While it may be 8 weeks of absolute chaos and you may all be grateful for a quiet house, don’t be surprised if your mamma dog (and you) miss the puppies when they’ve all gone to their forever homes.
Even if you never directly get the privilege of watching a dog have and raise puppies, we know you can appreciate the miracle that it is. Remember that if you are going to breed your dog to do so responsibly and get guidance from your dog’s vet. Otherwise, spay or neuter your dog when they are old enough to have the procedure. It can help with many health and behavioral issues as well as prevent unwanted or unintended litters.
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.