In general, larger dogs tend to have larger litters compared to smaller dogs. However, it’s important to note that the size of a dog’s litter can also be influenced by other factors such as genetics, breed characteristics, and individual variation. While there are exceptions, the trend is for larger dogs to have larger litters and smaller dogs to have smaller litters.
Larger breeds such as Great Danes, Saint Bernards, and Irish Wolfhounds are known for having relatively large litters. They typically give birth to around 8 to 12 puppies, although litter sizes can vary. On the other hand, smaller breeds like Chihuahuas, Shih Tzus, and Dachshunds tend to have smaller litters. They usually give birth to around 1 to 6 puppies, with the average being around 3 to 4.
It’s worth mentioning that the size of a dog’s litter is not always indicative of the overall health or quality of the puppies. Responsible breeding practices focus on the health and well-being of both the dam (female dog) and the puppies, rather than solely aiming for large litter sizes.
Checking how many puppies your dog will have
Firstly, this is a task for a vet. They may use a combination of methods to determine the number of puppies a pregnant dog is carrying. The most common methods are palpation, ultrasound, and radiography (x-rays). The timing of these procedures varies depending on the stage of pregnancy.
- Palpation: This method involves gently feeling the dog’s abdomen to detect the presence of developing fetuses. Palpation can be performed around 3-4 weeks after breeding, as the embryos are usually large enough to be felt at this stage. However, this method is not always accurate, especially if the dog is carrying a small litter or if the person performing the palpation is inexperienced.
- Ultrasound: An ultrasound examination is a more accurate and non-invasive method to determine the number of puppies. It can be performed as early as 3 weeks after breeding, but it is more reliable around 4-5 weeks into the pregnancy. Ultrasound allows the veterinarian to visualise the developing fetuses and count their heartbeats, providing a more accurate estimate of the litter size.
- Radiography (x-rays): This method is the most accurate for determining the number of puppies, as it allows the vet to see the developing skeletons of the fetuses. X-rays can be taken around 45-55 days after breeding, as the fetal skeletons will have calcified enough to be visible on x-rays. This method not only provides an accurate count of the puppies but also allows the veterinarian to assess their size and position, which can be helpful in anticipating any potential complications during delivery.
A dog’s gestation period is approximately 63 days or 9 weeks, so depending on when you think the pregnancy occurred, different methods may be used.