Three Australian shepherd dogs

A dog can get pregnant when she is in season.

© Pixabay

When can a dog get pregnant?

By G. John Cole Content Writer

Updated on the

A female dog can only get pregnant during a certain stage of her cycle. However, it is important to be aware of when this time is, to avoid unwanted pregnancies and your female dog from getting injured by pursuing male dogs.

Not everybody wants to spay or neuter their dog. Some believe it deprives a dog of their natural rights. Others want their female dog to breed at some point. If you decide to keep your dog unspayed, you will want to know more about the chances of her becoming pregnant.

When can my dog get pregnant?

A dog doesn’t have the same menstrual cycle as a human woman. She doesn’t get a ‘period.’ So, if you notice that she has blood coming from her vulva, it likely means she is ‘in heat’ or ‘in oestrus’. This means that she is just about ready mate with a male dog.

From the time when your dog is six months old, she is likely to go through this process – known as the oestrus cycle – a couple of times a year for the rest of her life. This is also known as a ‘season’. It can be more or less frequent than twice a year, depending on your dog’s breed and individual traits.

Her season can last two to three weeks. Although she is only fertile for a few days in the middle of this cycle, dog sperm can survive for a week or more once inseminated– so she can get pregnant even if she has mated early on.

Her season begins when she starts to show discharge from her vulva. She may start to lick it, and it may also start to swell. It will take two or three weeks to return to normal. In the meantime, she will start to bleed a bit. And from the beginning, she will become super-attractive to male dogs. They can smell her hormones and pheromones on her urine, and she will begin to mark her territory all around the neighbourhood.

Those canine chaps can get pretty serious when they sense a female dog in heat. Dogs have been known to jump fences, dig holes, break through glass, or even copulate through the bars of a cage in order to impregnate a lady dog in heat. So, you will need to be very cautious if you’re trying to find the right man for your dog or avoid pregnancy all together.

Your female dog will probably not allow a male to mate with her in the first few days. And you can certainly help prevent injuries by keeping her away from male dogs. But these are the things to know about when you’re inviting a female dog into your family.

Breeding your female dog

Your female dog might become pregnant at any point in her season. However, she is most likely to be both fertile and receptive to a male around eleven days after it begins. That said, it can be different from dog to dog, and even from cycle to cycle.

Males are able to mate from as early as four months old. Those eager pups!

Your dog’s vet can carry out a blood progesterone test on your female dog to check when she is most fertile. This measures the hormones in your dog’s blood. This might need to be done over several days to measure the differences and changes in your dog.

Mating may be more likely to be successful if it’s done at the male’s ‘place’ rather than the home of the female. It is normal to have one or two breedings over a period of two-three days to achieve maximal chance of conception.

Avoiding pregnancy in dogs

It is very common to have a female dog spayed. This involves removal of a dog’s ovaries and uterus. In the UK, it is normally carried out around three months after the first season, as this is the best time to ensure minimal side effects. However, many countries elsewhere in the world spay at around six months old to ensure your dog will never have a season.

Other advantages of spaying included a reduced chance of certain types of cancer, eliminating risks of uterine infections and preventing the mess of seasons.

Reviewed by Dr Jo de Klerk, BVetMed (Hons) MScTAH MRCVS 
More advice on...

What did you think of this advice article?

Thanks for your feedback !

Thanks for your feedback !

Leave a comment
Connect to comment
Want to share this article?