how to tell if a flat-coated retriever is pregnant

How to Tell if a Flat-Coated Retriever Is Pregnant?

Are you curious about how to tell if a flat-coated retriever is pregnant? Well, the good news is that dogs’ pregnancy signs are somewhat similar to those in humans! Though the first few weeks may be difficult to spot, certain physical and behavioral changes can indicate pregnancy in these pups.

From changes in behavior and physical features to vet check-ups, there are many ways to determine if you’ll soon welcome a litter of puppies into your home. And this blog post will discuss all of them! So let’s get started.

Understanding the Female Flat-Coated Retriever Reproductive Cycle

how to tell if a flat-coated retriever is pregnant

As a responsible pet owner, understanding your dog’s reproductive cycle is essential. This knowledge can help you properly care for your pet, breed, and avoid unwanted litters. If you own a female Flat-Coated Retriever, understanding her reproductive cycle is even more important since they can experience several health issues. The female Flat-Coated Retriever reproductive cycle can be divided into four stages, namely proestrus, estrus, diestrus, and anestrus.

1: Proestrus:

The proestrus stage is the first female Flat-Coated Retriever reproductive cycle stage, typically lasting around 9 days. During this stage, the ovaries prepare for ovulation, and the uterus prepares for implantation. The most noticeable symptom during the Proestrus stage is increased vaginal discharge, which is reddish-brown. Your pet may also exhibit behavioral changes, such as anxiety, restlessness, and excessive licking of the genitals. At this stage, keeping your female Flat-Coated Retriever away from male dogs is best, as she is not yet ready to mate.

2: Estrus:

Estrus is the second stage of the female Flat-Coated Retriever reproductive cycle and typically lasts around 9 days. This stage is also called the “heat” stage. During this stage, the female releases fertile eggs and is ready to mate. The most noticeable symptom of estrus is that the vaginal discharge becomes clearer, and the vulva becomes swollen. They also become more vocal and may try to escape or show more attention to other dogs. If you decide to breed your female, this is the best time, as the egg is ready for fertilization.

3: Diestrus:

Diestrus is the third stage of the female Flat-Coated Retriever reproductive cycle and typically lasts around 2 months. During this stage, the uterus prepares for pregnancy, and the female’s body prepares for a possible pregnancy. The most noticeable symptom during diestrus is that the vaginal discharge reduces, and the vulva returns to its normal size. It is best to rest your pet during this stage, provide proper care and attention, and monitor her for any signs of illness.

4: Anestrus:

Anestrus is the final stage of the female Flat-Coated Retriever reproductive cycle and typically lasts around 4 months. During this stage, the dog’s body resets and prepares for the next proestrus stage. Female dogs do not experience estrus or proestrus during this stage. The most notable symptom during anestrus is that your pet’s behavior and health return to normal. It is best to use this time to plan your pet’s next cycle and take her for regular veterinary checkups.

Female flat-coated retrievers are pregnant for approximately 62-64 days. So, if you have been counting down the days since your furry friend mated with a male, it won’t be long until you welcome a litter of sweet pups into the world.

How to Tell if a Flat-Coated Retriever Is Pregnant

how to tell if a flat-coated retriever is pregnant

Now that you know about the reproductive cycle of a female flat-coated retriever, it is time to know how to tell if a flat-coated retriever is pregnant. Fortunately, there are several tests that your vet can perform to determine if the female is pregnant. Some of these tests include

💉Hormone Tests

A hormone test detects any changes in your dog’s estrogen and progesterone levels, which can indicate pregnancy. Blood tests and urine tests can both be used to detect hormone levels. Blood tests typically offer more accurate results and are more reliable than urine tests, but they can be more expensive and inconvenient for the owner to administer.

Fluctuations in hormone levels occur in your FCR during her pregnancy, particularly in progesterone levels. Progesterone levels will remain consistently low until ovulation, then surge and remain high throughout the pregnancy. Therefore, the highest progesterone levels in your FCR’s bloodstream indicate she is pregnant.

Once the veterinary technician takes a blood sample, they can analyze the hormones to determine if they are within the normal pregnancy range. If the levels are outside the normal range, it could mean your dog is experiencing an ectopic pregnancy or may even have a tumor.


Palpation is a safe, non-invasive method used to determine pregnancy in dogs. Unlike other methods such as ultrasound or radiograph, palpation is most effective if done by a veterinarian with extensive procedure experience. The best time to palpate a flat-coated retriever is about three weeks after breeding when the fetuses have started to form and grow.

During palpation, the veterinarian uses their hands to feel for the presence of puppies in the uterus. The dog is laid on its back, and the doctor gently applies pressure on the stomach, feeling for soft bumps that signify the presence of puppies. You can determine the number of fetuses during this procedure, and you can identify any signs of abnormalities.

Palpation is especially beneficial for breeders who want to keep accurate breeding records. Knowing the exact number of puppies in a litter helps plan their care, vaccinations, deworming, and feeding programs. Additionally, palpation can help detect potential problems, such as a smaller litter size, which may indicate complications with the pregnancy or a breeding problem.

Before palpation, ensuring that the dog is comfortable and not stressed is crucial. It is essential to ensure that the dog is comfortable and calm. It will make the procedure easier, safer, and less stressful for the dog and the veterinarian.


X-rays are an excellent tool that veterinarians use to determine if a Flat-coated Retriever is pregnant. One of the primary advantages of using X-rays is that they can provide information on the number of puppies your dog is carrying. This is crucial for planning for the arrival of puppies and ensuring that your dog gets the right nutrition to support her pregnancy. Another advantage of using X-rays is that you can determine the gestational age of your dog.

Regarding the actual X-ray process, your vet typically takes the X-ray image while your dog is lying on her side. They will shave the area around your dog’s belly and rub in some alcohol to remove any dirt or debris that may reflect on the X-ray. During the X-ray, your dog will generally be sedated to ensure she remains still and relaxed, allowing for the clearest image.

Once your vet has taken the x-ray, they can determine how many puppies are present and their estimated age. If your dog is less than six weeks pregnant, it may be difficult for the vet to determine anything on the X-ray. However, after six weeks, fetal skeletons become visible on the X-ray, making it much easier to tell if your dog is pregnant and how many puppies she carries.

When it comes to considerations, it is essential to talk to your veterinarian about the risks associated with X-rays. While the radiation exposure is low, it is still present, and your dog will have to go through a sedation process. If your dog is overweight or obese, this can also make it challenging to get a clear image, making the X-ray inconclusive.


Ultrasound is a diagnostic imaging technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce real-time images of the body’s internal structures. An ultrasound machine can detect pregnancy as early as 25 days after mating for dogs. During a canine ultrasound, a transducer, a wand-like device, is applied to your dog’s belly, which emits sound waves that bounce back, creating a picture of the uterus on a monitor. It is a painless and non-invasive procedure that usually takes 15-30 minutes, depending on the dog’s size and cooperation.

Ultrasound can determine not only pregnancy but also litter size, gestational age, and the presence of any abnormal conditions such as fetal mummification, resorption, or miscarriage. Knowing the due date and litter size is essential for planning the delivery and ensuring the mother’s and puppies’ health. Moreover, ultrasound can help diagnose potential complications early on, such as placental or uterine problems, which can be life-threatening for both the mother and puppies.

Unlike other pregnancy tests, such as blood tests or X-rays, ultrasound does not expose your dog or her unborn puppies to ionizing radiation. It is also relatively painless and requires no anesthesia, making it a safer option for your furry friend.

It’s also worth noting that ultrasound doesn’t just provide practical benefits and allows you to connect with your dog and her puppies more profoundly. Seeing the live images of your dog’s puppies on the monitor and hearing their heartbeat can be an enriching and emotional experience, making it an excellent way to bond with your furry friend and engage with the pregnancy experience.

These are the most common methods to tell if a flat-coated retriever is pregnant. Talking to your veterinarian about any other tests or examinations needed to ensure the mother’s and her puppies’ health is important.

Signs to Look Out For During the Early Stages of Pregnancy

Aside from the tests mentioned above, there are certain physical signs that you can look out for to tell if a flat-coated retriever is pregnant.

1: Increase in Appetite:

One of the early signs of pregnancy in Flat Coated Retrievers is increased appetite. Your dog may begin to eat more than usual, especially in the first few weeks of pregnancy. This is completely normal, and ensuring your dog’s diet consists of high-quality food to meet her nutritional needs during pregnancy is essential. You may also need to increase the feeding frequency and serve smaller portions to reduce the risk of digestive issues and discomfort for your dog.

2: Weight Gain

Your Flat-Coated Retriever’s weight will increase during the early stages of pregnancy. However, it is essential to bear in mind that dogs should gain weight gradually during pregnancy to avoid complications. It’s recommended that your dog should gain between 15-25% of her pre-pregnancy weight by the time she gives birth. You should monitor your dog’s weight by tracking it during her regular vet checks and adjusting her diet accordingly.

3: Increase in Nipple Size:

The nipple size of your Flat-Coated Retriever will increase in the early stages of pregnancy. The nipples become more considerable, and the color of the skin surrounding the nipples will darken. This change is a result of hormonal changes due to pregnancy. You may also notice that your dog begins to produce a milk-like substance called colostrum. Colostrum is vital as it contains antibodies that provide immunity to your puppies during the first few days of their lives.

4. Swollen Belly:

In the early stages of pregnancy, your flat-coated Retriever’s belly will become swollen as the puppies grow. The swelling will be most noticeable from the fourth week of pregnancy. As the pregnancy progresses, the puppies will continue to grow, and the mother’s belly will become more significant. You must not put pressure on your dog’s abdomen during this time, and it is crucial to engage in light exercises to avoid strain.

5. Changes in Behavior:

Your Flat-Coated Retriever may become more affectionate and clingy, or she may become more distant and prefer to hide. Your dog may also show nesting behavior, where she will start to arrange bedding materials. It’s essential to give your dog time to adjust to her new situation, and you should provide her with a warm, comfortable space to rest and nest.

6: Lethargic

If your usually active Flat Coated Retriever starts to seem lethargic, it could be a sign of pregnancy. Pregnant dogs often tire more easily than usual, so it’s worth watching if your pup starts to slow down. However, if your dog’s energy level drops suddenly and without explanation, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.

7: Nesting Behavior

Pregnant dogs often become more selective about where they lay and spend time. You might notice your dog rummaging around the house, picking up toys and blankets, and moving them to a specific location. This behavior is known as nesting and signals that your dog is preparing for labor and delivery.

8: More Affectionate

If your usually independent Flat Coated Retriever starts to become more touchy-feely than usual, it could be a sign of pregnancy. During pregnancy, dogs may become more affectionate and seek more comfort and attention from their families. If you notice your dog suddenly wanting more cuddles or attention, it may be a sign that she’s expecting puppies.

9: Irritability

As anyone around pregnant humans knows, pregnancy can be an emotional time, and the same goes for pregnant dogs. If your Flat-Coated Retriever seems irritable or more prone to mood swings, it could be a sign of pregnancy. Being patient with your dog during this time is important, as mood swings and irritability are common in pregnant dogs.

10: Morning Sickness

Just like humans, dogs can experience morning sickness during the early stage of pregnancy. If your dog seems to vomit more than usual or is retching but not producing anything, it could be a sign that she’s pregnant. However, if vomiting persists for over a day, you should immediately take her to the vet.

Take note of any of these signs, and if your Flat-Coated Retriever is exhibiting any of them, you should take her to the vet for a checkup. An early diagnosis will ensure she and her puppies have the best chance of a healthy pregnancy.

Stages of Flat-Coated Retriever Pregnancy

As your Flat-Coated Retriever’s pregnancy progresses, there are several stages that you can expect.

🔴First Month:

During the first month of your Flat-Coated Retriever’s pregnancy, you may not even know she’s pregnant! The puppies are so small that they cannot be detected on an X-ray. However, your Flat-Coated Retriever’s body is already starting to go through changes. You may notice that your dog is tired more often, lacks energy, and is not as interested in her usual activities. She may also experience some mild vomiting, which is normal. During this time, ensuring your dog receives a balanced diet, gets enough rest, and starts taking prenatal vitamins is essential.

🔴Second Month:

The second month is when things start to get exciting! By now, your dog’s belly should start to enlarge, and you should be able to feel the puppies moving around (although don’t be alarmed if you can’t feel anything yet!). It is also when you should take your dog to the vet to confirm the pregnancy and ensure everything goes smoothly. Your vet may also be able to tell you how many puppies to expect based on an X-ray or ultrasound. During this time, your dog’s calorie intake should increase to keep up with the growing puppies.

🔴Third Month:

During the third month, your Flat-Coated Retriever’s pregnancy is in the home stretch! Your dog will start to get visibly bigger, and you may even be able to see the puppies moving in her belly. At this point, your dog’s calorie intake should be at its highest point, and she should be getting plenty of exercises to keep her muscles strong and prepared for delivery. It’s important to prepare a comfortable space for your dog to give birth and have all the necessary supplies, such as towels, blankets, scissors, and sterilized strings.

You can provide the best care possible by understanding the different stages and the changes that come with them.

The Three Labor Stages

Labor can begin any time between the 57th and 65th day of your Flat-Coated Retriever’s pregnancy. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with the three stages of labor to know what to expect and how to help your dog through it.

Stage 1:

The first stage of labor is usually the longest, lasting between six to twelve hours. During this stage, the dog’s cervix dilates gradually, leading to contractions that result in abdominal discomfort and restlessness. The dog may pant heavily, lick herself excessively, and lose its appetite. It is best to watch your furry friend closely during this stage, providing her with plenty of water, a comfortable resting spot, and reassurance. It’s important to note that this stage is generally not as intense in first-time mothers. Experienced mothers may experience a shorter stage 1 and proceed to stage 2 quicker.

Stage 2:

The second stage of labor typically lasts between six to twelve hours. The cervix should be fully dilated during this phase, and developing puppies pass through the birth canal. This stage becomes more intense, with stronger contractions and an increasing urge to push. At this point, your dog may begin to vocalize discomfort, and you may notice the amniotic sac protruding from its vulva. During this stage, it is crucial to keep a close eye on your dog and call your veterinarian if the contractions are too far apart or last too long.

Stage 3:

The final stage of labor is the shortest, lasting between 5-30 minutes. During this stage, your dog passes the placenta and membrane surrounding each puppy. It is best to keep the placenta for each puppy as they hold a wealth of nutrients that the mother can claim to help in full recovery. However, suppose this stage lasts longer than 50 minutes, and there has been no sign of a placenta. In that case, contacting the veterinarian is essential, as this might indicate a placental detachment that can lead to serious health concerns.

Remember, when in doubt, don’t hesitate to call your veterinarian and follow their advice to ensure your dog and puppies’ health and safety.

Caring for a Pregnant Flat Coated Retriever

how to tell if a flat-coated retriever is pregnant

Caring for a pregnant Flat-Coated Retriever is an important responsibility. Here are some key tips to keep in mind when caring for your pregnant pup:

✔️Proper Nutrition

Proper nutrition is crucial for your flat-coated retriever during pregnancy. Start feeding your dog a high-quality, well-balanced dog food that includes essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Sticking with food specifically formulated for pregnant dogs is best, as this will provide adequate nutritional support for both the mother and her puppies. Additionally, you should start feeding your pregnant dog smaller and more frequent meals to help avoid any stomach discomforts. Your vet can provide you with feeding guidelines, as the nutritional needs of a pregnant dog vary depending on the stage of pregnancy.


Exercise is also important during pregnancy. Your flat-coated retriever should continue to exercise during pregnancy, but it should be moderate and low-impact. Let your dog take breaks whenever it needs to, and avoid activities that require sudden movements or jumping. Walking is an excellent way to get exercise while pregnant, and it also helps to stimulate digestion. You should always consult a veterinarian to determine the appropriate exercise routine for your pregnant dog.

✔️Regular Veterinary Care

Regular veterinary care is essential during pregnancy. Visiting the vet for regular checkups throughout your dog’s pregnancy is critical to ensure that all is well with both mother and puppies. Your veterinarian will guide the appropriate visit schedule based on how many weeks your dog is pregnant. Your vet can also conduct an ultrasound to determine how many puppies you can expect.

✔️Prepare a Comfortable Whelping Area

Prepare a comfortable whelping area for your pregnant dog. About a week before your dog’s due date, make sure you have set up a warm and quiet area for it to give birth. This can be a designated room in your home, a whelping box, or a safe, enclosed outdoor area. Ensure the area is clean, free of drafts, and equipped with everything you’ll need for the delivery. It includes clean towels, a heating pad, a scale, and a newborn puppy care kit. Your veterinarian can provide you with a list of essentials.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your pregnant flat-coated retriever is properly cared for throughout her pregnancy.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long after mating can you tell a dog is pregnant?

Typically, it takes about 25-30 days after mating before you can confirm a flat-coated retriever pregnancy. During this time, you may notice some early symptoms such as decreased appetite, lethargy, or mild nipple enlargement. However, these symptoms can also be attributed to other factors, so it’s important to confirm pregnancy through a blood or urine test administered by a veterinarian.

How to tell if your dog is pregnant at home?

While some early pregnancy symptoms exist, it’s difficult to confirm without a test. However, if you’re observant, you may notice your dog exhibiting certain behaviors that indicate pregnancy. For example, it may start to nest or become more affectionate with you. Additionally, you may notice a shift in its mood or behavior, such as acting more tired or protective.

What does a pregnant flat-coated retriever belly look like?

As your dog progresses in her pregnancy, you may notice her belly starting to grow, especially after around 5-6 weeks. However, it’s important to note that every dog’s body is different, so not all pregnant flat-coated retrievers will have the same size or shape belly. Additionally, it’s normal for some dogs to carry their litter differently, so even if your dog’s belly doesn’t look like what you expect, it doesn’t necessarily mean she’s not pregnant.

How does a flat-coated retriever hint at pregnancy?

As mentioned earlier, flat-coated retrievers may start to exhibit different behaviors when they’re pregnant. In addition to becoming more affectionate or protective, they may start eating less or exhibit morning sickness-like symptoms. Some dogs may also become more vocal and express themselves through whining or barking more frequently.

What do pregnant flat-coated retriever nipples look like?

Another early symptom of pregnancy you may notice is a change in your dog’s nipples. They may enlarge and become more pronounced around 3-4 weeks of pregnancy. Additionally, you may notice the nipples themselves become darker or take on a more pronounced pink or red hue.

Does my flat-coated retriever realize that she is pregnant?

While dogs don’t necessarily understand the concept of pregnancy, they recognize the physical changes that come with it. Your dog may start to act more protective of herself and its belly as it progresses in its pregnancy, and it may also become more attuned to your behavior and mood.

Can a flat-coated retriever show pregnancy symptoms at 1 week?

You’ll unlikely notice any significant symptoms just one week after mating. However, the fertilized eggs may implant in the uterus around this time, which can cause some mild cramping or discomfort. Additionally, you may notice your dog’s behavior starting to shift in terms of becoming more affectionate or protective.

Final Words

After considering all the signs and symptoms, it’s safe to say that how to tell if a Flat-Coated Retriever is pregnant is not just about looking at their swollen belly. Physical changes in their body and behavior changes are critical indicators to remember. However, the best way to confirm if your Flat-Coated Retriever is pregnant is by seeking veterinarian assistance. So, if you suspect your pup might be pregnant, consult a vet as soon as possible.

About Tom Thorpe

Tom Thorpe has overtime interacted with different species of dogs mostly through breeding and training; according to him, man’s best friend is yet to find solace in the company of man, as they are continuously mistreated. He, therefore, runs a rescue center that provides shelter to stray dogs, and has been advocating for the rights of animals; the Golden Retriever dogs are among his favorites, the reason he came up with the extensive excerpts to help educate the society on the right treatment and care of the respective breed. Tom spends most of his time running his dog shelter; he is a husband and proud father of two boys and loves to go fishing during his free time.

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