How to Tell if a Labrador is Pregnant: Signs Revealed!

In what ways can you recognize pregnant dogs? It’s natural to be concerned about the possibility of pregnancy in your dog if she hasn’t been spayed or if you’re planning on breeding her. There are some instances in which animal pregnancy is same as that to humans, yet crucial distinctions exist. So, how to tell if a Labrador is pregnant?

Comparatively, a human pregnancy lasts for nine months, while a dog’s pregnancy only lasts about 63 days. However, much like humans, a pregnant dog will experience three distinct stages of gestation. Even dogs can get morning sickness occasionally. Each canine pregnancy trimester lasts roughly 21 days. 

How to tell if a Labrador is pregnant is discussed in further depth in our post. Do you know any additional telltale symptoms of pregnancy? Knowing what to expect and being well-informed will help your dog have a healthy and happy delivery, which will result in a litter of cute little puppies.

How to Tell if a Labrador is Pregnant – Signs to Look for

If I were to have a Labrador Retriever, how long would the pregnancy last? Pregnancy in Labs typically lasts 63 days (9 weeks) from the time of conception, though this time frame can be off by a day or two. Comparatively, the average human gestation length is 40 weeks or about 280 days, so that time frame is quite brief.

Obviously, there are puppies who arrive early. Prep ahead of time and have everything you need for whelping on hand.

Dog Pregnancy Signs to Tell if a Labrador is Pregnant

Dogs showing pregnancy symptoms may also be ill. More specifically, we noted the following dog pregnancy indicators when a furry buddy was expecting:

1- Strange Behavior

One way how to tell if a Labrador is pregnant is when the dog has become overly attached. Some canines get melancholy. A few canines just want to be alone. There is a wide range of possible causes for unusual behavior, but if your dog is acting differently than usual, it could be an indication that she is pregnant.

If your dog exhibits these symptoms, it may be because she is pregnant. All Labrador Retrievers would be pregnant for sure if they were clingy. The extremely attached Labrador thrives when she is close to her master. There has been no change in her normal behavior during her pregnancies.

2- Lower Activity Level

Many of our “breeding experts” have noticed that pregnant dogs tend to be less active and have less energy than usual, especially in the early stages. How tired does your dog get? Does it appear like she is dozing longer than usual? If yes, it could be a possible pregnancy symptom in your dog that would help you to answer how to tell if a Labrador is pregnant.

Some dogs show no signs of a drop in their activity levels in the first trimester. They never stopped looking forward to their playtime in the backyard. In the third trimester, though, they seemed less energized and less at ease when moving around, which may have been a result of their growing baby.

3- Nipples Change

Breeding experts may suggest watching for your Lab’s color to change and their nipples to get bigger. Additionally, they will warn that a milky discharge was possible as the due date approached. Are the nipples on your dog changing in size and color? 

If your dog exhibits these symptoms, it may be because she is pregnant. During their first pregnancy, there were no changes to their breasts. In contrast, their nipples grew significantly larger with their subsequent pregnancies. There was no discoloration or white discharge to expect.

4- Changes in Appetite

Experts said that hormonal changes can make a dog hungry in a lot of different ways. It may cause one to become more generous or selective. Some pet owners confessed that they observed morning sickness on their pets.

Do you notice that your dog is consuming more food than usual? Perhaps she is truly cutting back on her food intake. If your dog exhibits these symptoms, it may be because she is pregnant.

5- The Effects of Gaining Weight and a Bigger Stomach

This is probably obvious. During pregnancy, your dog’s body naturally craves more food. So, it’s no surprise that she’ll put on some pounds and round out a bit. Has your dog recently gained weight? If so, she may have developed a pooch. If your dog exhibits these symptoms, it may be because she is pregnant.  

Several weeks before each of your Lab’s subsequent litters, her belly had visibly expanded. With this, it is good to assume the length of their puppies played a significant role in that. A dog-specific scale is useful for keeping tabs on your dog’s weight gain if you suspect she could be pregnant.

6- Puppy Movement

During the Lab’s pregnancy, a change in her behavior is one way how to tell if a Labrador is pregnant. She may start moving around like a puppy. Do you feel any squirming once your hand is on the belly of your Lab? If your dog exhibits these symptoms, it may be because she is pregnant. 

7- Side-flaring Tufts of Fur

This could be a breed-specific issue, especially if your Lab lacks a coat that would otherwise cause a rash. There may be times that the fur along the sides of the Labrador Retriever has been flaring outward for two weeks.

Have you seen your dog’s fur spreading out more than usual around her sides? If your dog exhibits these symptoms, it may be because she is pregnant. The growing girth in her midsection likely caused her fur to sag in the same way that her belly did.

8- Nesting Behaviors

A pregnant Labrador may begin nesting as her due date approaches. She can, for example, start looking for a quiet place to sleep. The stockpiling of bedding, clothes, and other things she needs for a good nap should be built. Is your dog showing signs of wanting to nest, like looking for a quiet place and gathering things to make a nest? If your dog exhibits these symptoms, it may be because she is pregnant.

9- Temperature Decrease

In the weeks leading up to the due date of your Labrador Retriever, you need to monitor her temperature often. Expect that she would give birth within the next twelve to twenty-four hours if the temperature started to fall. If your dog exhibits these symptoms, it may be because she is pregnant. 

There’s a chance your dog is expecting puppies. It would be probably within 24 hours after the temperature drop that the puppies started arriving.

10- Pacing & Panting

Before pacing and panting, you probably noticed your dog’s pregnancy. This would be an obvious confirmation that the puppies were about to come. Can you hear your dog panting and walking in circles? If yes, then this is one way how to tell if a Labrador is pregnant.

How to Tell if a Labrador is Pregnant – The Diagnostic Tests

Diagnostic tests are the most reliable method for confirming pregnancy in canines. If you want to know how to tell if a Labrador is pregnant, try any of these tests with your vet and you will surely have a confirmed result.

Abdominal Palpation

Abdominal palpation involves gently stroking the dog’s belly to check on the developing puppies. Puppy harm can be avoided with proper veterinary supervision when doing belly palpation. As soon as three weeks following mating, the abdomen can be palpated.

how to tell if a labrador is pregnant

Ultrasound Examination

An ultrasound can confirm pregnancy as soon as three weeks after mating. Your veterinarian can use an ultrasound to get an idea of how many pups your dog will still have. The ultrasound will help your veterinarian predict when your dog is likely to give birth.

Participate in a Relaxing Test

After 4 weeks of pregnancy, a cheap, relaxing test can be done by your veterinarian. To confirm the existence of relaxation, the hormone relaxin is exclusively present in the dog’s body during pregnancy.


A dog’s pregnancy can most reliably be detected by X-rays. The skeletal system of the puppies is not visible until around week six of pregnancy. Thus, this method must be delayed until then.

To count the number of puppies in a dog’s womb, X-rays are the most accurate method. Some worry that the high levels of radiation from X-rays could be harmful to unborn puppies.

Identifying a Fake Pregnancy vs. a Real One

It’s not always easy to tell if a Labrador is pregnant or if she is just acting to be one. This is due to the fact that both illnesses have essentially identical symptoms. A fake pregnancy normally doesn’t show up until four days or nine weeks after the heat cycle. During the first two days of pregnancy, you will likely see a number of indicators that indicate your Lab is indeed pregnant.

Dog Pregnancy: What to Expect?

There are several indicators of canine pregnancy if your dog has not been spayed. Even though there won’t be any outward indicators for the first month, your dog will start showing pregnancy symptoms and giving you clues through her behavior and noticeable physical changes.

Veterinarians say that early pregnancy signs include inactivity, changes in hunger, a desire to nest, swollen or colored nipples, and sudden weight gain. You should talk to your vet about your dog’s nutritional needs and what to expect if you think she might be pregnant.

Physical Changes

During pregnancy, your dog might gain weight and have a belly that sticks out. Both of these are potentially major physical shifts she may experience. Gaining a lot of weight quickly is a confirmatory sign that your dog is pregnant. There are no other explanations for it.

When your dog is pregnant, you’ll notice a change in her nipples and areolas. Increased blood flow during pregnancy also causes your dog’s nipples to darken. Her system is getting ready to begin making milk for the puppies she’ll shortly give birth to.

Behavior Changes

During pregnancy, a dog’s normal behavior may change, and she may lose interest in her usual activities and become less active. Any change in your dog’s behavior may be a sign that her health is declining. 

Most pregnant dogs get too attached to their owners because they want to be with them all the time. A lot of canines are simply introverts who require their personal space. When she’s in her latter trimester of pregnancy and showing signs of nesting, the latter is especially true.

One example of a nesting activity is shredding sheets and towels. She may be a bit more snippy and secretive than usual as she searches for a quiet location to settle down before giving birth to her puppies. This is a natural instinct for a mother since she needs privacy and protection to give birth and care for the puppies when they are young, helpless, and dependent.

When a Dog May Be Pregnant: What Should You Do?

Consult your family vet immediately if you suspect your dog is expecting a litter. After the dog has been carrying the baby for about 4 weeks, an ultrasound can be done to confirm the pregnancy. They hope to be able to conduct blood testing in 35 days. There are some measure you can employ once you know your dog is pregnant.

1-Feed Your Dog Proper Nutrition

About four weeks into a dog’s pregnancy, you should start feeding them a high-calorie, nutrient-dense food. Your veterinarian can help you find a high-quality dog food brand that is specifically formulated for pregnant dogs. If your dog is pregnant, she needs extra calcium and phosphorus, which aren’t typically found in large-breed puppy feeds. Because of the limited space in its stomach, it is best to feed your dog several smaller meals throughout the day.

2-Take Your Dog to The Vet

how to tell if a labrador is pregnant

If you want to make sure your dog is healthy and doesn’t have any diseases to pass on to her puppies, you should take her in for a checkup before she has any puppies. A fecal examination for intestinal parasites is included. Over-the-counter dewormers should not be given to your dog when she is pregnant. If you want your dog’s pregnancy to go according to plan, she must be up to date on her immunizations and parasite protection.

3-Make a Home for Them to Nest In

Near the end of your dog’s pregnancy, give her a safe, warm place to nest away from other animals’ sights and sounds. They should be able to freely come and go from the area, so adequate space is required.

4-Keep Them Away from Other Dogs

Dogs are particularly vulnerable to getting the herpes virus during the three weeks leading up to and following childbirth, so it’s important to keep them isolated from other pets during this time. While this infection isn’t usually fatal in older dogs, it can be fatal in pups.

5-Monitor Their Temperature

It is possible to predict whether or not your dog will give birth within the next 24 hours by taking its rectal temperature. Within this window, they will experience temperatures below 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can a dog be used to take a pregnancy test?

Unfortunately, pregnancy tests designed for humans are not accurate for dogs. There is no human pregnancy hormone that can be detected in a dog’s urine, so this method of testing is not applicable to canines.

Q: When pregnant, does a dog’s stomach get hard?

Be on the lookout for an abnormally large and hard belly in your pregnant dog if that is something you intend to do.

Q: How old must a dog be before she can produce healthy offspring?

Although, generally speaking, a dog needs to be at least 2 years old before it is considered safe to own.

Final Words

Though early pregnancy symptoms may be hard to spot, they tend to become more obvious as the pregnancy of the Labrador Retriever develops. In order to better comprehend what is going on within your dog’s body during pregnancy, it is important to educate yourself on the topic. Estimate when your buck is likely to give birth to puppies with the help of a dog pregnancy calendar and, of course, your vet.

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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