When can a Golden Retriever get pregnant? If you’re asking this question, you’re surely planning to stud your dog soon. In general, dogs, Goldie or not, can get pregnant once their first heat cycle arrives. This can happen within the first year of the dog’s life. But for female Goldens, the ideal age for pregnancy is slated between 18 to 24 months of age.
In this post, I will discuss Golden Retriever pregnancy in length to help you navigate your pet’s journey to motherhood. Aside from age, I will also discuss other factors that will affect your dog’s viability to be pregnant.
When can a Golden Retriever get pregnant?
If we’re just talking about a Golden Retriever’s ability to be pregnant, the answer would be as early as six months. HOWEVER, it’s not the safest age. Think about teenage pregnancy: it will be the same thing if you get your dog bred at a very young age.
The American Kennel Club clarifies that each dog breed has a specific ‘ripe age’ for pregnancy. Usually, bigger canines will take longer to be fully prepared for pregnancy. This is due to their growing bodies taking longer to reach its adult size than smaller breeds.
Also, you’d want to make sure that your Golden Retriever’s hormones have subsided. Getting them bred too early will mess their growth and even compromise their safety.
You can ask any professional breeder, and they will surely tell you that breeding a Goldie under a year old isn’t humane. The pup is still growing, and you should give it time to achieve its full body size first.
Signs that your Golden Retriever is in heat
Dogs are fertile when they are in heat. It’s the perfect time to get them stud, but make sure that your Goldie has reached the right age.
You can expect your Golden Retriever to experience its first heat cycle within its first 10 to 14 months of life. It could be earlier or later, depending on the specific dog.
Once your dog is in heat, it will undergo these four stages:
- Stage 1 (Proestrus). This phase can last from 4 to 20 days, characterized by swollen vulva and vaginal discharge. Take note that Goldies in heat can have a vulva that’s four times larger than its normal appearance. Aside from that, you’ll notice a grumpier behavior.
- Stage 2 (Estrus). This is the fertile period for your Golden Retriever. This can last for 6 to 14 days, characterized by reddish vaginal discharge, tail moving to the side, and willingness to mate. A female Goldie in the estrus stage may lick her genitals profusely.
- Stage 3 (Diestrus). At this period, your dog is no longer fertile. The discharge will also stop, and your Goldie will start avoiding a male from mounting her. The doggo may also become aggressive if another canine tries to mate.
- Stage 4 (Anestrus). In the last stage, your female Golden Retriever is back to its normal phase. This can last for 60 to 90 days, which is basically the window time before the next heat cycle starts.
Signs that your Golden Retriever is pregnant
If you’re trying to breed your dog, you have to watch out for the signs of pregnancy. This way, you can give your Golden Retriever the care it needs while growing the puppies inside its tummy.
Here are some of the tell-tale signs that a Goldie is pregnant:
- Increased appetite. When it comes to pregnant dogs, it’s not just eating for two, it’s eating for a whole litter. A pregnant doggo will have a sudden increase in hunger since the pups are requiring more and more nutrition. Also, a pregnant Goldie may vomit, which is the equivalent of morning sickness in humans.
- Enlarged nipples. When a dog is pregnant, its nipples will start to swell as the mammary glands are activated. For Golden Retrievers, you may need to comb through its feathers to see if its nipples are enlarged or discolored.
- Decreased activity. Like humans, pregnant Golden Retrievers will have decreased physical activity as they progress through the pregnancy. You will notice your dog being sleepier and being reluctant to physically exert.
- Enlarging belly. One of the tell-tale signs of Golden Retrieve pregnancy is the enlargement of the belly. The pups inside your dog’s tummy will grow fast, which will make the belly visibly bigger than normal. Halfway through the pregnancy, abdominal palpation will occur where you can already feel the puppies like little golf balls when you touch the Goldie’s belly.
- Nesting behavior. Nesting occurs in the last weeks of the pregnancy. By this time, you surely confirmed the pregnancy of your Golden Retriever. Take note that nesting is a female dog’s preparation for whelping. Make sure that you have the whelping box ready as the puppies will be arriving anytime soon.
In this video, Top Dog Tips tells us how to determine if your dog is pregnant without a pregnancy test:
How to care for a pregnant Golden Retriever
Whether you’re a breeder or have a dog that accidentally got pregnant, you need to observe proper care to produce a healthy litter. Here are some of the key things you need to keep in mind:
✔️Provide ample nutrition
The key to a healthy litter of Golden Retrievers is a healthy diet. It’s not just about feeding your dog more but feeding it with the right food that meets its needs.
Most of the time, you only need to make changes to your dog’s diet once it’s in the last weeks of pregnancy. Your Goldie’s veterinarian can advise about the best food selection. You can also consult a pet nutritionist if your dog has sensitivities or special dietary needs.
Take note that as your pregnant Golden Retriever’s weight increases, its food requirement also escalates. You need to feed the expectant mother more until she eats 50% more of her original diet. The most important thing is that you invest in high-quality dog food.
Also, be modest when it comes to supplements. Always consult a veterinarian since not all pregnant Golden Retrievers need too many minerals and vitamins.
In fact, too much calcium consumption among lactating dogs can lead to a condition called eclampsia. Too many vitamins and minerals are also detrimental to your dog’s health. It will subject the kidney to excessive load, which can lead to infections or full-blown kidney disease.
✔️Always communicate with the vet
It’s important to take your pregnant Golden Retriever to the vet regularly. In the first weeks of pregnancy, the veterinarian can determine if your pet is suffering from an illness or anything that could compromise the pregnancy.
You should also call the veterinarian if you notice any sudden change in discharge, behavior, and appetite of your Golden Retriever. I also recommend that you ask your dog’s vet what to do in case of emergencies.
Many veterinarians are more than willing to open their lines after work hours, especially if the dog’s pregnancy is quite sensitive.
Once your dog is weeks into the pregnancy, the veterinarian can conduct an X-ray examination to determine the size of the litter. This will let you prepare for the arrival of the puppies, especially if you’re planning to rehome them.
Overall, you need to coordinate with your dog’s veterinarian several times during pregnancy. And when the puppies are born, you’d need to take the momma dog and the entire litter to the clinic for examination.
✔️Be careful with the amount of exercise
You need to limit your Golden Retriever’s strenuous activities within the first two weeks of its pregnancy. This will allow the safe implantation of the embryos. After some time, you can introduce calm walks and other low-impact activities to keep your Goldie in shape.
You can also ask your dog’s vet for the best exercise based on how sensitive the pregnancy is. Take note that Golden Retrievers are prone to obesity, so you shouldn’t eliminate exercise entirely during pregnancy.
✔️Keep the mother dog comfortable
As pet owners, it’s our job to keep our pregnant dogs comfortable throughout the gestation period. Give your dog an orthopedic bed to support her body and the growing babies in her tummy.
Aside from that, you should reduce stressful experiences like bringing the pregnant doggo to a crowded park or having loud sounds around the house. You’d want to keep it calm and quiet as the expectant momma needs a lot of rest.
Most dog vaccinations are discouraged when the canine is pregnant. Also, you shouldn’t administer dewormers or any parasite treatments until you’ve talked to your dog’s vet.
Even if your Golden Retriever is due for vaccinations, you should wait until the puppies are born. Most vets will proceed with the shots even if the dog is nursing.
Aside from vaccinations and parasite treatments, you should also consult your dog’s vet when it comes to other medications and supplements. Like with pregnant humans, you have to be careful what you’re putting inside your dog’s body.
✔️Prepare the whelping supplies
Once your Golden Retriever is nearing its due date, you should have everything prepared for the arrival of the puppies. Here are some of the things you need to get:
- Whelping box lined with lots of newspaper
- Clean towels to wipe the puppies
- Heat lamp
- Non-skid bath maths
- Sterilized scissors to cut the puppies’ umbilical cord
- Wet dog food for the mother dog
- The veterinarian’s phone number
Take note that your Golden Retriever’s rectal temperature will experience a sudden drop once it’s about to give birth. If your dog’s temperature reading is below 99F, you can expect labor to start within 8 to 24 hours.
Also, you may have to help the mother dog tear up the placental membrane once the puppies are birthed. Some dogs will lick and eat it, but your Goldie may be too weak to do it. This is why you need sterilized scissors.
Be patient because the entire whelping process can take up to 24 hours. Make sure that you feed the mother dog to give it the energy to go on.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How many weeks is a Golden Retriever pregnant?
A: A Golden Retriever has a normal gestation period that lasts up to 63 days, or roughly nine weeks. It can be longer or shorter by several days. If your pregnant dog shows signs of whelping earlier than usual, you should call the veterinarian right away.
Q: How many times can a Golden Retriever get pregnant in a year?
A: Most large breeds like Golden Retrievers should only be bred once a year. This is in line with their heat cycle and in giving their bodies time to recover. Professional breeders are very strict about this to ensure that the mother dog is in good health.
Q: How many puppies can a Golden Retriever have in one pregnancy?
A: On average, a female Golden Retriever can produce four to 12 puppies on every pregnancy. A few sites report the biggest Goldie litter to be 17 puppies. However, the bigger the litter becomes, the higher will be the risk that a puppy may not survive.
Q: Can Golden Retrievers give birth on their own?
A: Unlike other breeds, Golden Retrievers can give birth on their own. You just have to give them a comfortable whelping area since it takes them hours to birth all the puppies. Also, it’s normal for Golden Retrievers to have breech birds (tail first), but the puppies will usually pop out safely.
Q: Can a Golden Retriever suffer a miscarriage?
A: Any pregnant dog can suffer a miscarriage if not taken care of properly. Also, the health of the dog will determine how well the pregnancy will go. Getting the Golden Retriever pregnant too young or too old also increases the risk of miscarriage.
When can a Golden Retriever get pregnant? The best age would be 18 to 24 months to ensure that the doggo is already physically mature. You should also get your Goldie examined by a veterinarian before availing of stud service. Aside from that, proper diet, exercise, and care during pregnancy will ensure that your Goldie will give birth to a beautiful litter.