German Shepherds have a gestation period of 9 weeks on average. Since German Shepherds are large dog breeds, their pregnancy might be significantly longer than other canines. If you would like to find out whether your German Shepherd is pregnant, you will need to look for signs and check on her heat cycle.

What is the Best Mating Age of a German Shepherd?

Female German Shepherds move real close to pregnancy whenever they have their first heat phase, and it depends on a dog’s breed. The mating age of GSDs is around two years, and you should not breed her before that even if she has had her first heat cycle. Bigger German Shepherd dogs often get their first heat between 9 and 12 months of age. [1]

Your GSD will experience extreme pain throughout her heat cycle, so she might not want to eat a lot or feel tired. As she’ll be bleeding, she might get irritable or aggressive during these days. You should use dog diapers to avoid bloodstains on your floor, couch, or other furniture. At this point, you must be patient with your furry friend and leave her alone. [2]

Note: Many dogs might get their first heat as soon as they turn 6 months of age.

What are the Stages of Pregnancy in German Shepherd Dogs?

Stage One

The first phase of pregnancy lasts from week 0 to week 4. The embryos move to the endometrial horn within this period, where they will attach to the endometrium and begin to develop. Typically, this simple process would take around 16 days.

Dogs are not considered “pregnant” till the pups have embedded themselves in the endometrium. Throughout this time, the dog will not have any signs since her body will not be aware that she is expecting. [3]

But by day 22, the embryo will begin to grow. Just a week after, from day 28 to 30, an ultrasound can monitor a heartbeat.

It’s extremely hard to tell if your pet is expecting during this time without taking her to get an ultrasound. They wouldn’t even start embedding till the midway of the phase.

Did you Know?

The infants are barely noticeable during stage one

Most dogs could show the following symptoms immediately after the eggs are implanted:

  • Feeling tired
  • Morning sickness
  • Highly-friendly behavior
  • Increase in diet
  • Enlarged nipples

Stage Two

The embryos grow faster from week 4 to week 8. For example, their feet appear about day 35, whereas their claws appear about day 40. Around day 50, you should be able to tell how many pups are in a litter since all of their skeletons would be visible.

Those who have an unexpected litter would likely discover that their canine is expecting during this time. Most of the signs that pregnant dogs experience will be seen around this time.

All breeders, in fact, are already aware that their pet is expecting with the use of hormonal testing. They will evaluate their pet’s health and offer necessary vet treatment throughout this month. [4]

Throughout this phase of labor, your dog may show the following symptoms:

  • Behavioral changes
  • Abdomen enlargement
  • Increased hunger due to weight gain
  • Discharge from the vagina
  • Puppy motion may be seen

Stage Three

In the last stage of pregnancy, the dog’s main focus will be on getting ready for birth. Nesting usually starts in the initial days during this period. Changes can occur suddenly within one of two days while the mother dog’s body gets ready for birth.

Puppy formation is completed around day 58. As a result, if the puppies are delivered a few days in advance, there is typically no issue. Most puppies, on the other hand, require some days after birth to transition into a whelping posture. As a result, the birth of the puppies normally occurs some days after they have fully formed.

As the pups proceed into the delivery canal, the mother’s abdomen usually shrinks. Puppies that were closer to her chest will now shift further away. Often, there are visible changes in her physical form. When the pups begin to move, it is generally only a matter of days before labor starts.

It is normal for the canine to eat very little in the times before the delivery. It is usually a difficult period for dog moms. They can pant and look irritated. Some dogs might act as if the time is running and they want to eat at all.

During this period, most breeders will keep an eye on their pet’s temperature.

Did you Know?

A canine’s temperature could start decreasing 12 to 24 hours before the delivery

How to Tell if a Dog Is Pregnant?

  1. Increased Appetite
  2. Frequent Urination
  3. Physical Changes
  4. Behavioral Changes

1. Increased Appetite

One of the most obvious indications that your German Shepherd is expecting is an increase in appetite. Your expectant GSD will consume more than just a regular GSD. As a consequence, your German Shepherd will acquire a significant amount of weight — typically, between 20% and 50%. Although this may appear to be a big weight, don’t panic; your dog will drop the excess weight once her pregnancy is over. [5] [6]

Ensure you have enough dog food reserved for your companion. Also, try purchasing nutritious foods rather than ones that are mainly concentrated on flavor instead of nutrition.

2. Frequent Urination

Whenever German shepherds are expecting, they begin to pee a lot frequently. They are also marking their territories, wherever they want to remain seated and not bothered. Female German Shepherds will never mark their territories surrounding your private places, such as the couch or bedroom.

3. Physical Changes

You’ll observe physical changes in your dog about halfway through the pregnancy. Her abdomen and genitals will expand to be significantly bigger than they have ever been. As your German Shepherd approaches the second stage of her gestation period, you might observe that she is losing hair around her abdomen. But, you shouldn’t really be concerned about losing hair because it is a normal part of pregnancy for nearly all female GSD.

Did you Know?

The nipples of German shepherds would become dark in color during pregnancy. [7]

4. Behavioral Changes

Your pet’s mood and behavior may vary in addition to her physical changes. For instance, if your dog has morning sickness or is tired, she will be less active, cheerful, and want to be left alone. She could avoid bouncing, running, playing, or interacting with everyone. Your GSD would also spend a lot of time relaxing and eating.

Despite that, if your dog is upset, she may become irritable and aggressive. It’s mostly because their motherly instincts have kicked in. You shouldn’t be concerned if you notice these symptoms in your dog. A short visit to the veterinarian may reveal your dog’s pregnancy.

How Can You Test Pregnancy?

  1. Hormone tests
  2. Palpation
  3. X-ray
  4. Ultrasound

1. Hormone Tests

If a dog is pregnant, vets can examine for the hormone levels. Relaxin is a hormone that is only produced in endometrial cells during pregnancy, making it a very precise diagnostic tool. The dog should be a minimum of 30 days pregnant for the diagnostic to get correct results. Tests performed prior to then may result in a negative outcome. [8]

2. Palpation

Palpation is the simplest and most cost-effective method of detecting pregnancy. The walls that surround each embryo develop to create a fluid-filled pouch as they evolve. These pouches could be noticed between days 21 and 35 of pregnancy (around 3 to 4 weeks) which develop of a tennis ball size in a 45-pound dog. The pouches lose their unique form after 30 days, and the uterine has a droopy appearance that might be misinterpreted for obesity or a pyometra. [9] [10]

3. X-ray

Breeders can use an x-ray to figure out how many pups their dog will deliver. X-rays are particularly helpful later in pregnancy since the fetus’s skull and spinal cords are not seen on an x-ray before days 42 to 45. Veterinarians can accurately measure the number of expecting pups and choose the optimal time for an optional cesarean delivery if it gets delayed after day 55. [11]

4. Ultrasound

An ultrasound is the most precise method to determine if a canine is pregnant during its beginning stage. Ultrasounds are recommended around days 25 and 35 of pregnancy by veterinarians. Ultrasounds will not only identify pregnancy, but they can also tell if the embryo is healthy by detecting embryonic heartbeats. Ultrasounds can sometimes be performed to determine the presence or absence of uterine dilatation, such as pyometra, as well as to estimate the embryo’s gestational age. [12] [13]

Did you Know?

Ultrasound can not detect the number of puppies during pregnancy.


Providing a balanced diet and looking after your pregnant canine is a serious commitment, and you must be incredibly careful and aware of the pet’s every action. Throughout the pregnancy, you must care for your furry friend more than anything. Your efforts would be fruitful when you will see little puppies hanging around and playing with you.