When you have a dog, you may have to deal with your dog giving birth to puppies. For some owners, this could be a good thing or a bad thing. Many owners may give away the puppies, actively breed them for sale, or make them a part of the extended household. 

Any pet owner whose dog has just given birth to purebred German Shepherd or Golden Retriever puppies will have no problem finding a good home for them.  Whatever your preference is in regards to puppies, it is important to understand your dog’s breeding cycle, so you are prepared. 

When a dog is in heat, this is part of the cycle when the female can become fertilized and pregnant.

How quickly does a dog go into heat after having puppies?

On average, a female dog will go into heat once every 6 months. Certain dogs may go into heat up to 3 times a year or only once. A female dog can become pregnant again, 4 months after giving birth to her previous litter.

How soon after having puppies can a female be spayed?

When you have your female dog spayed, she will no longer be able to give birth to any more puppies. She also will never go into another heat cycle ever again. When a female dog is spayed, it is similar to when a hysterectomy is performed on a female human. The dog’s reproductive organs are removed – ovaries and uterus.

Sometimes, dogs can be neutered without surgery. Drugs may be used to prevent fertility. However, the effects are only temporary. In addition to possibly causing side effects in the dog,  the drug method offers no foolproof guarantee of infertility during the temporary time.

Unless the owner is a breeder, getting a dog spayed or neutered ( for males) is usually a good option once a litter of puppies has been born. Puppies require a lot of care. You don’t want a bunch of puppies if you cannot care for them all. There is no guarantee that you can find them a good home elsewhere – unless they are a highly sought after breed. 

Sadly, many dogs end up in an animal shelter because there are not enough loving homes to take them in.  This is why keeping a dog spayed or neutered after one or possibly two liters is highly considerate. This helps to ensure too many dogs won’t need to be put to sleep later.

How long does it take a dog to recover after having puppies?

A dog can get pregnant again while it’s still nursing its current litter of puppies. Dogs’ heat cycle can vary based on the breed. It normally takes puppies about 2 months to gestate. So, if a dog goes into heat shortly after birth, there’s a possibility of being pregnant once again while still weaning her current brood.

Female dogs  often go through similar physical changes that humans go through during gestation and after giving birth. Mother dogs often gain weight because they must increase their food intake to care for their growing pups. However, the female dog will normally quickly shed her birth weight as she becomes active again.

Giving birth is physically exhausting for a dog. She will often pant for several hours after giving birth while her body calms down and relaxes. As her growing puppies wean off of her breast milk, her teats go back down to their normal size. A female dog should be back to her pre-pregnancy body by the time the pups are big enough to go to another home. 

A mother dog may stress and show different behavior due to her strong maternal instincts during this time. She may be extra possessive and need more privacy than normal during the first four weeks of the puppies’ lives. So don’t take it personally if you’re normally affectionate dog days away from you during the first month of motherhood. Once that fragile time passes, your loving dog behavior should be back on track.

The puppies begin to experience more independence after the first month. By this time, your mother dog will encourage her puppies independence and want to be with their owners once again.

As you can see, a female dog can recover within a relatively short amount of time after giving birth to her puppies. Motherhood brings about physical and emotional changes in a dog, but she will get back to normal in no time – a month or two.

How many liters can a dog have?

A female dog goes into heat twice a year. In some instances, it may be as much as three times a year. If the female dog is near a male and gets fertilized, she can get pregnant during any heat cycle. In other words, a female dog can actually have as many as three liters of puppies in one year. Puppies only take about two months to gestate and the mother is relatively recovered within a month or two after that.

Different breeds reach their first heat periods at different times. A large breed may not experience its first heat until they are almost 2 years old. On the other hand, smaller breeds may achieve their first heat at 6 months. 

A six-month-old male dog is able to breed, yet he should not breed until full maturity. The male dog reaches maturity between 15 and 24 months old. 

The earlier a dog begins to breed, the more litters she can have. However,it is irresponsible for an owner to allow a dog to breed when it is too young. Dogs should always be allowed to physically mature before giving birth to a litter.

If an older dog continues to have litters, there is a high risk of an unhealthy pregnancy. The health of the puppies is also at stake. Ideally, female dogs should stop breeding around the age of 5 to 7 years old.

Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.