Is There Any Way of Knowing How Large of a Litter a Pregnant Dog Will Have?

by Naomi Millburn
    Your vet can offer you a guess on your pet's litter size.

    Your vet can offer you a guess on your pet's litter size.

    Janie Airey/Lifesize/Getty Images

    You can never expect 100 percent precision when it comes to guessing the size of a pregnant dog's litter. However, several key factors can often point you in the right direction for making an educated guess regarding whether mom is carrying one pup or a whole lot more.

    Breed and Size

    Taking a pregnant dog's breed and size into consideration can be helpful for anticipating how many bundles of furry joy she's expecting. Smaller dogs usually have smaller litters, while bigger dogs, on the other hand, usually have bigger ones. If the mother dog is of a wee toy breed -- such as a Pekingese -- she could have a litter of merely one puppy. If she's a massive Neapolitan mastiff, she could have a litter of more than 15 puppies. If she's of a mid-sized breed, the litter could be somewhere in between.

    Patterns in Litter Size with Age

    Thinking about a pregnant dog's age often is an important clue for guessing how many puppies she's about to have. Youthful mother dogs who have never had puppies before usually have tiny litters. Their litter sizes, with experience and time, generally steadily get higher until they reach about 5 years old. Once the mother dogs get to this approximate age bracket, their litters frequently become smaller again. This falling off of litter size at a certain point doesn't typically apply to females of especially small canine breeds, however.

    Age of First Time Breeding

    Age can be useful for guessing litter size in one other key way. If a dog waits until she's a minimum of 4 years in age to reproduce, she might have fewer puppies than a mother who started breeding earlier on. If a female dog begins reproducing at a young age, expect her to have somewhat bigger litters, comparatively speaking.

    Length of Pregnancy

    The duration of pregnancy also can sometimes provide hints regarding litter size. Although it might seem the other way around, briefer gestational periods often signify more puppies on the way. Lengthier ones, however, often denote less of them. If a mother dog has been pregnant for more than 63 days, then it might not be because she has so many of the little ones coming. Note, however, that there are always exceptions to any of these possibilities, whether they involve time of gestation or how many puppies a big dog might bear.

    Veterinarian

    Veterinary appointments can also provide insight into a dog's litter size. Ultrasounds aren't always the most effective options for these purposes, however. Depending on where all of the little guys are located in the mom's stomach, picking them all out individually can often be a rather tricky thing. Abdominal X-rays as parturition draws closer usually offer more precise estimates on litter size.

    Photo Credits

    • Janie Airey/Lifesize/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

    Trending Dog Behavior Articles

    Have a question? Get an answer from a Vet now!