Stages of a Large Dog's Pregnancy

Written by tiffany garden
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Stages of a Large Dog's Pregnancy
Large dogs show pregnancy later than smaller dogs. (dog image by Ramona smiers from

Large dogs, such as golden retrievers and malamutes, have a few differences in their reproductive and pregnancy cycles compared to smaller dogs. Large dogs do not have their first heat until they are 12 to 24 months old, and they do not show pregnancy as early as smaller dogs. The pregnancy stages remain the same, but a large dog may end up being much further along than assumed. Large dogs will also eat much more during their pregnancy--50 per cent over their normal food consumption.

First Stage

Trimesters for dogs are only 21 days long, as the entire gestation period only lasts 60 to 64 days. You won't see many changes in the dog during the first trimester. The eggs implant in the uterus at about 10 days in, and physical changes will begin to occur at the 15th day. Her nipples will begin to grow larger and turn dark pink. The fur on the belly may also thin out noticeably.

Second Stage

The large dog may have morning sickness in the second stage of pregnancy. This typically only lasts about a week. This is also the time that you should be able to tell that your large dog is pregnant. Vets can check the abdomen or perform a x-ray to confirm. Large dogs can be hard to check by just an abdominal examination, so they will most likely need to perform the x-ray. Food consumption will continue to rise.

Third Stage

In the final stage before birth, the dog may have a marked loss of appetite. Smaller meals throughout the day are easier on large dogs about to give birth. Nesting instincts will begin to show, as the dog prepares to find a place in which to birth her litter. Her nipples will be swollen, and milk may begin leaking. Signs that she is about to give birth include a clear vaginal discharge or a large rectal temperature decrease.

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