How to tell the sex of puppies

Written by cate burnette
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How to tell the sex of puppies
You can clearly see this male puppy's prepuce and penis. (my small puppy image by amlet from

A mother dog needs to lick the genital area of her puppies, as they are unable to voluntarily eliminate faeces and urine until they are 23 days old, even though dogs are born with fully developed male and female genitalia. Because both male and female puppies are born with nipples but differing genitals, learning the sex of your new litter without veterinary help aids in naming each individual pup and prepares you for your dog's breeding -- or non-breeding -- future.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Old towel

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  1. 1

    Hold the puppy in your lap on an old towel, and gently roll it onto its side where you can clearly see the belly.

  2. 2

    Raise the hind leg closest to you with one of your hands while softly holding the puppy safely in your lap with the other.

  3. 3

    Look just to the rear of the umbilical cord for a small, skin-covered lump. You are seeing your male puppy's penis and prepuce -- the penis's protective covering.

  4. 4

    Check under the puppy's tail between his legs for the small, soft scrotal sac. It will feel like a tiny, deflated balloon until his testicles drop approximately seven weeks after birth, says veterinarian Jon Rappoport of

  5. 5

    Confirm the lack of a penis by finding your female puppy's leaf-shaped vulva between her hind legs. Her vaginal opening rests in the V-shaped section underneath her anus.

Tips and warnings

  • If your puppy becomes too stressed lying in your lap away from the mother, roll the puppy on its side while it is nursing and too preoccupied to care. Also, holding your puppy on an old towel prevents any faeces or urine from getting on your clothes.
  • When handling newborn puppies, rest their heads and necks on your outstretched fingers to avoid possible spinal and brain injuries -- just as you would support the head and neck of a newborn human.
  • Depending on the size and breed, bitches -- female dogs -- sexually mature and become capable of reproducing between 6 and 16 months of age. Male dogs typically begin producing sperm around 10 months of age, according to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Spaying and neutering your puppies prior to sexual maturation keeps unwanted animals out of the shelter system. It can also prevent particular cancers in your older dogs.

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