Stages of Pregnancy in an English Bulldog

cute puppy image by Craig Stevens from

Preparing for English Bulldog puppies is exciting. After the female English Bulldog or dam is mated, her pregnancy can't be confirmed until two to three weeks into the gestation period with the use of an ultrasound conducted by a veterinarian. The puppies' fetal heartbeats are detectable at about three weeks.

Once the dam's pregnancy is confirmed, you can determine her delivery date by counting forward about 59 to 63 days from the day of mating. A typical English Bulldog pregnancy lasts nine weeks. Like humans, dogs have a pregnancy schedule occurring in three stages.

Stage One: First Five Weeks

The first five weeks of pregnancy is considered stage one. During this stage, you may begin noticing physical changes in the dam's appearance. For instance, her vulva may be enlarged and she may begin putting on weight in her body's mid-section.
Although the temptation is to feed her more to support her body and the development of her puppies, you should feed her normally at this early stage of pregnancy. Any changes to the dam's routine can cause her stress and jeopardise the pregnancy. Address any diet concerns with your veterinarian who can conduct a blood test and recommend a nutritional supplement, if needed.

Stage Two: Weeks Five through Seven

Weeks five through seven is when further physical changes appear in the pregnant dam. Her nipples turn pink and become engorged with milk. Her waist and chest broaden. Her need for more feedings increases during this time. During the latter week of this stage, you may notice her sleeping patterns changing. She sleeps for longer periods and takes more frequent naps.

Stage Three: Weeks Eight through Birth

Her weight increases by about 15 to 20 per cent during this final stage of pregnancy. Her need for additional feedings continues to increase. You may need to give her smaller portions spread out in three or four separate portions to prevent bloating and stomach pressure. She begins displaying early signs she's preparing for delivery at the end of this stage. She may begin urinating more frequently and appear nervous. Her rectal temperature decreases from 38.6 degrees C to 37.2 degrees C about 12 to 24 hours prior to going into labour. In addition to these changes, she may vomit, shake and pant. She also may scratch at the ground as she instinctively prepares to nest. Prepare for whelping---natural delivery---or take the dog to the veterinarian for a C-section. It's common for English Bulldogs to deliver by C-section due to their narrow birthing canals, which makes it difficult for a puppy's head to pass through.