German Shepherd Pregnancy Length, Stages & Signs

German Shepherd with its puppies

Once you have a pregnant German Shepherd, there’s a wealth of information to consider and understand. Being well-informed about what your pregnant GSD might go through makes it easier to support them. 

Understandably, a dog’s pregnancy can be both a thrilling and nerve-wracking experience, especially when dealing with a breed as unique and dynamic as the German Shepherd.

This guide offers insights into the length and stages of their pregnancy, recognizing the signs and addressing frequently asked questions. Let’s begin!

How Long Is a German Shepherd Pregnant For?

Pregnant German Shepherd on the sand
Image credit: nilahandfriends / Instagram

The duration of pregnancy for a female German Shepherd typically lasts about 63 to 65 days, measured from the day of ovulation. This period of pregnancy can vary slightly based on health, age, and other factors.

After confirming that your female dog is pregnant, it’s crucial to provide a balanced diet, regular exercise, and prenatal care. Consult a veterinarian for a tailored care plan, especially if it’s the dog’s first time.

The second half of the 65 days of pregnancy is when a female German Shepherd starts showing significant physical changes.

Each stage of dog pregnancy is unique, and knowing what to expect can help you provide optimal care, regardless of the type of German Shepherd you have.

Consistent veterinary visits, a balanced diet, and a calm environment will make the experience smoother for a female German Shepherd who is expecting new pups.

When Can a German Shepherd Get Pregnant?

A German Shepherd becomes ready for pregnancy after reaching sexual maturity, which usually occurs between 6 and 24 months of age

However, experts recommend waiting until the dog is at least 18 to 24 months old for responsible breeding. Whether your German Shepherd is ready depends on both physical and emotional maturity.

Once you’re considering breeding, it’s vital to consult a veterinarian to confirm that the dog may safely become pregnant. 

The vet will check for any genetic or health issues that could impact a pregnant GSD. If your dog gets the green light, you can proceed with finding a suitable mate.

You can tell if your German Shepherd is in heat and thus capable of becoming pregnant through various signs. 

These include changes in behavior, such as increased restlessness or affection, as well as physical symptoms like vaginal bleeding or swelling. A dog is most fertile about 9 to 15 days into its heat cycle.

Make sure to take into account the dog’s age, health, and emotional state, along with advice from your vet, to make the most responsible choice for your pet and future puppies.

German Shepherd Pregnancy Stages (Week-by-Week)

Pregnant German Shepherd during pictorial
Image credit: nilahandfriends / Instagram

Understanding the early pregnancy stages of a German Shepherd is crucial for any dog owner. When your female dog is pregnant, knowing what to expect week-by-week can help you provide the best care possible. 

Here, we’ll delve deep into the developmental journey your German Shepherd is expecting, ensuring you’re well-equipped with the necessary knowledge throughout your dog’s pregnancy:

  • Week 1: During the first week of pregnancy, fertilization occurs, but changes are mostly internal. Your German Shepherd may not show any visible signs of being pregnant. At this early stage of pregnancy, the eggs travel to the uterus for implantation.
  • Week 2: The second week involves the implantation of fertilized eggs into the uterus. Your German Shepherd may start to display changes in appetite and behavior. However, these changes are often subtle, and you might not notice them unless you are actively looking.
  • Week 3: By the third week, the embryos will start to develop. This week marks the beginning of noticeable behavior changes. Your dog might appear more affectionate or tired. A vet visit is recommended to confirm pregnancy at this stage.
  • Week 4: This week signifies a crucial point in the German Shepherd pregnancy week-by-week guide. Ultrasound scans can now reliably confirm pregnancy. Your dog’s nutritional needs will begin to increase, and a balanced diet is essential.
  • Week 5: As you enter the midpoint of the pregnancy, physical changes become more apparent. The dog’s abdomen will start to grow, and her nipples may become more prominent. Keep up with regular vet check-ups.
  • Week 6: During this week, your dog’s energy levels may fluctuate. She may seek out more comfortable and secluded places around the home. Prepare for the last stage of pregnancy by setting up a whelping box.
  • Week 7: The seventh week involves significant fetal development. You might notice your dog gaining weight and becoming less active. At this point, X-rays can usually confirm the number of puppies your German Shepherd is expecting.
  • Week 8: In the eighth week of pregnancy, prepare for the imminent arrival of puppies. Your dog will likely show nesting behaviors. This is an important week to revisit the vet and discuss birthing complications and signs of labor.
  • Week 9: The last week of pregnancy is all about preparing for labor. Your German Shepherd may become restless or anxious. Once you notice a drop in body temperature, labor will typically commence within the next 24 hours.

During my experience with my own pregnant German Shepherd named Lucy, I found the early stages to be filled with small but significant signs. She became less active, and her eating habits changed noticeably. 

We switched Lucy to a high-quality dog food formulated for pregnancy and lactation. This was essential to support her increasing caloric needs, as well as the health of the unborn puppies. 

My training in animal healthcare became especially useful here, as it guided me to select the best nutrients and supplements. And when the time came, Lucy delivered a litter of seven healthy puppies.

German Shepherd Stages of Labor and Birth

When your German Shepherd approaches the end of her pregnancy, it’s time to prepare for the big moment—when she gives birth. 

By understanding the different stages of labor and birth, you can offer the best possible support during this critical time.

Stage 1: Early Labor

In the first of the four stages, your German Shepherd becomes restless and may start pacing, shivering, or panting. 

She may refuse food and even vomit. This stage can last up to 12 hours. The uterine contractions begin, but they are not yet visible.

Stage 2: Active Labor

This is when the real action starts. The contractions become more frequent and intense. You’ll notice puppies moving towards the birth canal. 

During this stage, your German Shepherd may lie on her side, and you might see her abdomen tightening during contractions. Each puppy will be delivered surrounded by a fluid-filled membrane.

Stage 3: Delivery of Placenta

After each puppy is born, the placenta should follow. Sometimes, two puppies might be delivered consecutively, with the placentas coming out together. It’s crucial to ensure that all the placentas are expelled to prevent any infections.

Stage 4: Rest and Recovery

After your German Shepherd gives birth, she will be busy cleaning her puppies and encouraging them to nurse. 

It’s vital to provide a warm, comfortable environment for the mother and her newborns. Make sure to have fresh water and food available for the mom.

Understanding the stages of a German Shepherd’s labor and birth can help prepare you for the experience, making it less stressful for both you and your dog. 

For more insight, watch this video that shows a German Shepherd giving birth to nine puppies:

German shepherd Giving birth to 9 puppies - (First Litter)

Signs Your German Shepherd Is Pregnant

Pregnant German Shepherd in the neighborhood
Image credit: roxy_gshepherd / Instagram

Do you suspect your German Shepherd may be pregnant? Recognizing the early pregnancy signs can help you provide the best care for your four-legged friend. 

There are various symptoms and behavioral changes in your German Shepherd that you should be on the lookout for. 

  • Initial behavioral and appetite changes – In the earliest weeks after conception, you may notice subtle shifts in your German Shepherd’s behavior and eating habits. These early signs of pregnancy can include becoming either more affectionate or withdrawn, as well as changes in eating patterns.
  • Physical changes: nipples and weight – As pregnancy progresses, the physical indicators become more pronounced. The dog’s nipples will enlarge, and you may see a slight weight gain. By the fourth week, a slight swelling in the German Shepherd’s abdomen might become apparent.
  • Enhanced appetite and noticeable weight gain – By the fifth week, your German Shepherd will likely experience a significant increase in appetite due to the growing nutritional needs of the puppies. This boost in appetite will coincide with a visible weight gain, particularly around the German Shepherd’s stomach.
  • Preparing for labor: nesting and milk production – As the due date approaches, your German Shepherd will display behaviors indicating she is getting ready for labor. Nesting behaviors and further enlargement of the German Shepherd’s nipples are signs that she is preparing to give birth. You might also notice milk production, most especially within 24 hours before labor begins.

By being attentive to these signs of German Shepherd pregnancy, you can take timely actions, such as consulting your veterinarian, to ensure your dog receives the best possible care during this important phase.

How to Test Your German Shepherd’s Pregnancy

So, you’ve noticed some changes, and you’re wondering how to confirm your German Shepherd’s pregnancy. The next step is getting an accurate diagnosis. 

There are different methods to test for pregnancy, from at-home solutions to a German Shepherd ultrasound. 

Knowing the right pregnancy test options will give you peace of mind and help you prepare for a possible litter of puppies.

  • Visual inspection and behavioral changes: One of the earliest ways to know if your German Shepherd is pregnant is by observing behavioral and physical changes. These may not be conclusive, so it’s always good to consult a veterinarian.
  • Use a pregnancy calculator: You can use a dog pregnancy calculator online that can provide a rough estimate of your dog’s due date based on the first day of mating. Remember, this is not a definitive test but a useful tool.
  • Visit the veterinarian for blood tests: Blood tests can detect a pregnancy hormone and can generally be performed about 20 to 30 days post-conception. Your vet can confirm or deny the presence of this hormone to confirm your German Shepherd’s pregnancy.
  • Ultrasound scans: An ultrasound is an effective method and can be conducted around 21 to 25 days post-breeding. It will also give you an idea of the number of puppies.
  • Watch for false pregnancies: Symptoms like enlarged nipples and weight gain can sometimes point to a false pregnancy. A vet can rule this out through tests and observations.
  • Advanced methods: Some veterinary clinics offer more advanced methods to detect pregnancy, including hormone-level tests that are even more accurate.
  • X-rays for late-stage confirmation: Around the 45th day, X-rays can provide a clear picture of the developing bones of the puppies, further confirming the pregnancy and giving a count of the litter.

The video below shows how an X-ray is done to detect a GSD’s unborn puppies: 

Pregnancy x-ray for German Shepherd mama.

To definitively confirm the pregnancy, a trip to the veterinarian is essential. Even if your German Shepherd shows signs of pregnancy, medical confirmation is necessary for proper prenatal care.

How to Take Care of a Pregnant German Shepherd

Pregnant German Shepherd while taking a walk
Image credit: roxy_gshepherd / Instagram

Taking care of a pregnant German Shepherd requires extra attention and love. Responsible breeders also consider many factors to ensure a safe pregnancy for the mother dog and a healthy litter.

Firstly, make sure your German Shepherd gets regular veterinary check-ups to monitor her health, as well as the growth and development of the puppies. This is also essential for tracking any potential complications.

Nutrition is paramount when it comes to pregnancy. Your German Shepherd will need a balanced diet rich in protein and nutrients. 

You may want to switch to specialized dog food designed for pregnant dogs, which contains all the essentials for both the mom and her growing pups. Always consult your vet about the best feeding routine.

Care of your dog’s physical well-being also extends to exercise. Regular, but not strenuous, exercise can help her manage her weight during pregnancy. Light walks and playtime in a safe environment can keep her active and fit without putting too much strain on her body.

As she advances in her pregnancy, you may notice she’s not as agile or energetic. Take your dog to the vet for periodic scans to ensure that everything is progressing smoothly and prevent the possibility of dystocia.

Based on your vet’s advice, prepare a birthing space for her. Make it quiet, warm, and comfortable to give her a sense of security.

Hygiene is another factor that shouldn’t be ignored. Bring your German Shepherd in for regular grooming sessions, but be extra gentle. As the due date approaches, her body will go through several changes, making her more sensitive to touch and temperature.

Frequently Asked Questions

Pregnant German Shepherd in a farm
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How Many Puppies Do German Shepherds Have in a Litter?

On average, a German Shepherd can give birth to around 6 to 10 German Shepherd puppies. However, like their colors, this number can vary based on factors like the dog’s age, health, and genetics.

First-time moms usually have fewer pups compared to more experienced mothers.

How Many Hours Is a German Shepherd in Labor?

The length of labor can differ among individual dogs but typically lasts between 6 to 18 hours. It’s crucial to monitor your German Shepherd closely during this period.

If labor extends beyond 20 hours or if you notice complications, consult your vet immediately.

How Do You Know When Your German Shepherd Is Ready to Give Birth?

You’ll observe behavioral changes when your German Shepherd is ready to give birth. She might start nesting, which involves making a comfortable space for her upcoming German Shepherd pups. 

Other signs include panting, restlessness, and sometimes a drop in body temperature. Keep an eye out for these symptoms to ensure you’re ready when she is.

Does My German Shepherd Need a C-Section?

Most German Shepherds can give birth naturally without the need for a C-section. However, complications like prolonged labor, fetal distress, or the presence of a very large puppy may necessitate surgical intervention. 

It’s essential to be in regular contact with a vet during the dog’s pregnancy and labor to make informed decisions.

Understanding the changes and needs of your German Shepherd during her pregnancy is vital, and we hope this guide has provided you with all the necessary information you need, from the early signs to the stages of labor. 

If you have additional questions or experiences to share, we invite you to leave a comment below.

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