Pregnant Labrador – Complete Guide: Basic Concept, Necessary Care.

Last Updated on November 17, 2023 by Linda Richard

Pregnancy is a special period in the life of a Labrador dog. Proper care of a pregnant dog promotes the birth of healthy offspring. The physiology of pregnancy in Labrador Retriever dogs does not differ from that of other dogs that belong to large breeds. The average gestation period for a Labrador is 63 days (the period from the day of mating to the date of delivery). Puppies can be born either a few days early or later than their due date, this is completely normal. At the same time, premature and too late births are considered pathological. You should familiarize yourself with the peculiarities of Labrador pregnancy even before the knitting. That is why in this article I will provide you with complete and necessary information about the pregnancy of the Labrador as well as brief information about the labor of the Labrador. By studying this material, you will be well acquainted with many aspects and your Labrador’s pregnancy will not be a difficult period for both pet owners and your Labrador Retriever.

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Preparing for Labrador Pregnancy

The owner of a female Labrador Retriever must be sure that the dog will be ready to bear and give birth to healthy puppies by the next heat. It is important to start preparing for your dog’s pregnancy early. About six months before the intended mating, the Labrador should be prepared for the upcoming strain on her body. The first thing to do is to increase the duration of walks to at least 2 hours a day. An active lifestyle means strong muscles and a strong body in general. Couch potato dogs have a hard time with pregnancy and labor, often requiring a C-section due to sluggish contractions (and a dog’s first pregnancy, as well as first birth, is a particularly difficult ordeal). Maintain an exercise routine, but keep in mind that strenuous exercise is unacceptable, you should gradually increase the load and walking time so as not to harm your dog’s health.
A Labrador Retriever about to be knitted must have healthy teeth and gums! Therefore, a month before the intended knitting, it is necessary to visit a veterinarian who will examine the dog’s oral cavity and, if necessary, prescribe treatment and remove tartar.

Before a Labrador is mated, a number of tests should be carried out to ensure that there are no hereditary diseases and disorders. Labradors are prone to a number of conditions, including hip and elbow dysplasia. A veterinarian will be able to determine if your Labrador is predisposed to these diseases through x ray. Also potentially dangerous are retinal dysplasia, which can lead to blindness in puppies, and progressive retinal atrophy, which can reduce vision throughout life. A veterinarian should be consulted in detail before breeding a Labrador. If necessary, blood draws, diagnostic tests may be performed to check the condition of the dog.

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How to Determine if Your Female Labrador is Pregnant

The physiological signs of Labrador Retriever pregnancy will only become visible in the middle of the term, a month after mating. You won’t be able to detect pregnancy right away without doing an examination, as there are no visible changes in the dog for the first few weeks.
In order to identify early pregnancy before visual manifestations appear, you need to be as attentive as possible to changes in your dog’s behavior:

  • Changes in appetite and taste preferences. A female dog may lose her appetite, and in some cases refuse to eat at all. Do not panic and try to feed the dog by force, it is all the fault of hormonal changes in the body of the future mother. It is necessary to provide the dog with access to food and clean water, it is enough. Appetite will be restored in time. During this period, the dog may even lose weight, weight gain, of course, we are not even talking about.
  • Signs of toxicosis. Female dogs, like humans, are prone to toxicosis, which is also a consequence of hormonal and endocrine changes in the body. Toxicosis manifests itself as nausea and vomiting, and usually subsides by mid-pregnancy. If signs of toxemia persist for a long time, the Labrador Retriever should be seen by a veterinarian.
  • Behavioral changes in a Labrador. Dog is pregnant may become anxious or, on the contrary, excessively sleepy and apathetic. A previously restrained female dog may show unaccustomed affection, or, on the contrary, a previously always affectionate dog may become anxious when touched. Compulsive behavior, unwillingness to leave the owner, as well as completely opposite signs – apathy, sleepiness, desire for privacy, refusal to play active games – all this may be signs of Labrador Retriever pregnancy.
  • Change in the nipples of the dog. The nipples of dog is pregnant become darker and swollen, in dogs giving birth for the first time, this process begins earlier – at 2-3 weeks of pregnancy, in pregnant dogs for the first time, the nipples will begin to change a little later.
    After mid-term, the dog’s abdomen will begin to enlarge, which is an indisputable sign of pregnancy.

If the presence of pregnancy is very doubtful, it is advisable to go to a veterinary clinic, where a test showing the level of hormone relaxin can be used to confirm pregnancy or deny the pregnancy, two weeks after mating.
Also the presence of puppies in the womb can be established by ultrasound, after the third week of pregnancy ultrasound will record the puppies heartbeats.


Signs of False Pregnancy in a Dog

Since dogs are first bred on their 3rd or 4th heat, the owner has the opportunity to monitor how the dog is tolerating the heat period. Some dogs are prone to what is known as false pregnancy. False pregnancy in dogs is not a disease, but a peculiar condition of the body. It is not fully understood why some dogs experience false pregnancies severely and others are not affected at all, but it is known that false pregnancies are accompanied by hormonal imbalances.

Signs of false pregnancies in dogs:

  • swollen hard nipples, sometimes painful on palpation;
  • lactation;
  • increased nervous excitability;
  • pseudo-motherhood (the dog “nurses” various objects, taking them for puppies);
  • increase in the size of the dog abdomen.

More often, however, such dog pregnancies are almost asymptomatic. But if the dog is milk production, measures must be taken to prevent stagnation and consequent mastitis. Long walks and active games help with false pregnancy – the dog gets tired and distracted from the “puppies”.

If the dog is severely tolerating false pregnancy, it is necessary to consult a veterinarian, who will prescribe a hormonal or homeopathic preparation based on the results of tests, blood test. Hormonal treatment of false dog pregnancy should be carried out only under the supervision of a veterinarian!

Pet owners should clearly understand that at times like these, only a specialist can properly assess the dog’s condition, risks and problems, and prescribe the right treatment!

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How a Dog’s Pregnancy Does

How long the pregnancy of a Labrador Retriever lasts, let’s deal with this question. Labrador Retriever dog pregnancy lasts 63 days. There is also an expert opinion of breeders that the nurturing of Labrador puppies can be within 51 to 71 days. The earlier the birth begins, the greater the risk that the newborn puppies are underdeveloped and may be born weak.
If the pregnant dog has not yet given birth after this time frame, the puppies become too large, and it becomes very difficult for the dog to give birth on its own, in which case veterinary assistance is essential. If the dog’s pregnancy has progressed normally, the birth will usually take place within this time range.

Pregnancy in Dogs Week by Week

Now you will learn how Labrador pregnancy progresses week by week:

1-7 days ( 1 week)

Pregnancy in dogs occurs after fertilization of the female dog’s eggs by dog sperm, after the dog mates with the male dog. Visually, there are no changes in pregnant dogs. The dog behaves as usual, does not show any changes in mood, behavior, appetite does not change. If your dog is pregnant is already eating a high quality and balanced diet, there is no need to make any changes to his diet during the first two-thirds of pregnancy unless your vet instructs you otherwise.

8-14 days ( 2 week )

In the second week, as well as special visible changes in behavior is not, From external signs can be noticed scanty transparent mucous discharge. In other words, for the first two weeks you will not notice any obvious signs of pregnancy in dogs.

15-21 days ( 3 week )

In a pregnant bitch, the change in hormonal background is increasing, and it is already possible to manifest toxicities. Changes in nutrition may also begin, usually a decrease in appetite and vomiting. From this point on, preventive procedures and vaccinations are contraindicated. Up to this point, your dog can have a normal exercise routine.

22-28 days ( 4 weeks )

You can use an ultrasound to find out how many puppies the dog will have, or palpate (feel) the belly if you are experienced in this. From this point on, physical activity should be limited, as there are already risks of injury and harm to the unborn puppies.

29-35 days ( 5 weeks ) 

Pregnancy in dogs begins to show outwardly. The abdomen becomes more voluminous, weight gain. A pregnant Labrador becomes a calmer, more thrifty person. Gradually decreases its physical activity. From this time on, there is active skeletal formation of puppies, and there is a need to revise the dog’s diet. From about 35 days onwards, the food intake should be increased by about 10 percent. Puppies during this period begin to actively gain weight, and the dog’s appetite increases.

36-42 days ( 6 weeks ) 

Added to all the changes are enlarged mammary glands and swollen nipples.

43-49 days ( 7 weeks ) 

The dog’s belly enlarges so much that it becomes visible and clear to everyone around him. And it is already very easy to feel the puppies in the belly. From this period, you can increase the dog’s diet by another 5-10 percent. And the number of feedings per day can be increased to 5 times. In this period, it is time to take care and equip a place where your dog can bring offspring. It is important that the place is chosen so that the dog feels cozy, safe and comfortable there.

50-56 days ( 8 weeks ) 

At rest, you can see the puppies moving and pushing on the abdominal wall.

57-63 days ( 9 weeks ) 

A few days before delivery, the puppies go quiet. The dog often looks at the belly, experiencing false contractions. The belly itself is drooping. From this point on, labor can begin at any time, so you need to be prepared in advance for this process. During this period, colostrum begins to appear from the nipples. It is a good idea to monitor the dog’s temperature. It will drop dramatically 24-48 before delivery, but only for a few hours, so measure it often and record the results so you don’t miss the moment and are ready to receive puppies.

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Signs That a Dog is About to Give Birth

The owner should not only closely observe the dog’s behavior to determine the signs of impending labor, but also prepare for it.

Physiological signs:

  • lowering of the abdomen (3-4 days),
  • specific discharge from the loop in the dog (2-3 days before delivery),
  • decrease in rectal temperature by 1-2 degrees (24 hours before delivery),
  • discharge of amniotic fluid (12-20 hours before delivery),
  • shivering, chills in the dog, increased heartbeat and respiration (several hours before delivery).

Behavioral signs:

  • the dog is anxious, looking for a hiding place,
  • in some cases there is a decrease in appetite (5-7 days before delivery),
  • the dog digs the floor or its bed, hides in a hiding place,
  • the level of anxiety multiplies (2-3 days before delivery).

Be attentive to your dog and his anxiety will not go unnoticed.

A few days before the birth, you should prepare a comfortable, suitable place for your dog to give birth and then care for the puppies.

What Is The Average Labrador Retrevier Litter Size 

Each time the number of puppies is individual. Usually the number is 5-6, but it also depends on heredity and how thoroughly the preparation for mating has been done. How Many Pups can a Lab have in a first litter? Often in the first giving birth, Labs can bring even 1-2 puppies. The first litter of any dog will be in the 1 to 5 range rather than 5 to 10. There are cases when dogs pregnant that are too old to give birth produce 11-12 puppies. In this case, it is impossible to do without a C-section, and in general, such births are very dangerous for the Labrador’s health.

It will be important to know: Pregnant Dog Discharge Before Labor


A pregnant dog is an important and crucial period in his life as well as yours. The whole gestation period takes 9 weeks, which I have detailed for you, and you can now follow this period of your dog’s gestation week by week.

If you are just planning a dog pregnancy, you should also be aware of the steps you need to take to prepare for the process.

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Linda Richard

I know that all dog breeds are different, but Labradors exude a special energy, don’t they? I believe everyone deserves the unconditional love of a pet, so my main goal is to make sure you can experience it.

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