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How Long Are Pitbulls Pregnant? Vet-Approved Gestation Facts

Kathryn Copeland

By Kathryn Copeland

pregnant female pitbull

Vet approved

Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Maybe you’re wondering if you should breed your Pit Bull, or perhaps your Pit Bull is already pregnant. If that’s the case, read on!

Taking care of a pregnant dog can be quite rewarding but also challenging and at times stressful. If you’re wondering how long a Pit Bull is typically pregnant, Pit Bulls are in gestation for an average of 62 to 65 days, which works out to about 9 weeks or a little over 2 months.

Here, we get into all the details about pregnancy in Pit Bulls, including how you can tell when your dog is pregnant and how to best take care of her. Pit Bull refers to one of 4 breeds of dog and their crosses rather than a specific breed.

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How Long Are Dogs Pregnant For?

Dogs are pregnant from 57 to 65 days, with 63 days being the average for most dogs1. How long a dog is pregnant depends on their mating and date of conception. The length of the pregnancy can also depend on how many puppies she’s carrying.

There is a slight difference in how long a dog gestates based on breed. For example, a study found that West Highland White Terriers gestated longer than German Shepherds2. But Pit Bulls tend to average between the expected 62 and 65 days. A Pit Bull is not a specific breed but a name used for usually one of 4 breeds or their crosses. American Bully, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. So on average, a Pit Bull type dog will be pregnant for around 63 days.

pregnant american pit bull terrier
Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock

How Can You Tell If Your Pit Bull Is Pregnant?

It’s easy to miss the early signs, particularly in the first few weeks, but you know your dog, and you might start to notice her acting a little differently than usual. Early signs are typically changes in appetite and behavior, and most dogs don’t show pregnancy signs until about the 3rd or 4th week.

Other early signs might include the following:
  • Lethargy and general decreased energy
  • More affectionate
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting

Once you suspect that your Pit Bull is pregnant, take her to the veterinarian, who can do a pregnancy test to confirm.

How Does the Veterinarian Check for Pregnancy?

Vets have four methods that they use to determine pregnancy.
  • Hormone Test – Vets can check the levels of the hormone relaxin, which is released from the placenta only when a dog is pregnant. But for the vet to run this test, the dog must be at least 25 to 30 days pregnant for accuracy. A test run too soon can show a false negative.
  • Palpation – Palpating the dog’s abdomen can be done by about the 28th to 30th day of the pregnancy. At this time, the puppies feel like small balls, which are the fluid-filled sacs that surround each puppy. This should only be done by a veterinarian.
  • Ultrasound – An ultrasound can be done between 25 and 35 days of the pregnancy. Not only can you see the puppies, but it will also detect puppy heartbeats, which can help the vet determine how many puppies the mother is carrying.
  • X-Ray – X-rays are quite effective at determining how many puppies the mother is carrying but are best done at about the 55th day of the pregnancy or later. Knowing how many puppies are being carried is useful, so you’re prepared when your dog is giving birth.

Divider 5Taking Care of Your Pregnant Pit Bull

First, your dog will need a change in diet; typically, puppy food is a good choice because it’s full of the right nutrients to support her during her pregnancy.

Starting around the 4th week of pregnancy, gradually increase how much you are feeding so that by the time of whelping she will be on 15% to 25% more food. You’ll also want to schedule visits with your vet whenever they recommend to make sure the pregnancy goes smoothly.

Create a calm and quiet place for your dog to sleep. Essentially, you want to keep her comfortable and stress-free and accommodate her as much as possible.

Image Credit: Tamsin, Shutterstock

A Pit Bull’s Pregnancy – Week by Week

Let’s go over what you can expect each week, so you know how to take care of your dog and what is normal.

  • Week 1 – This is when your dog experiences conception, but the vet won’t be able to confirm if the mating was successful at this stage. This is when the embryos will start to form.
  • Weeks 2 & 3 – These two weeks are combined because there aren’t many physical changes in the mother. But the embryos continue to develop and grow.
  • Week 4 – By this week, your vet should be able to provide you with a positive pregnancy test. This is when the puppies start to take shape, and the pregnancy signs will start to become more apparent.
  • Week 5 – By week 5, the puppies will develop their organs and gain weight rapidly. Her abdomen will start to grow, which is also the best time for an ultrasound to determine a viable pregnancy.
  • Week 6 – The mother’s belly will become noticeably larger. She’ll start to eat more and will want to exercise less. The puppies, eyes and skeletons are developing.
  • Week 7 – The mother will start to shed more than usual, and she’ll continue to eat more. She’ll need to have the right balance of protein, phosphorus and calcium, so you’ll want to speak to your vet if you have any concerns or questions about her diet.
  • Week 8 – You are now only about 1 week away from delivery! This is when you will have to create a nesting area for her, a “whelping box”. Encourage her to enter the space. She might make “improvements” by moving things around or even ripping up blankets. Let her do what she needs to do, as this is a purely natural instinct.
  • Week 9 – Now she’ll be ready to give birth at any time, and she’ll be restless and distant. She also will lose her appetite and will become fairly lazy. Ensure that she has access to plenty of water and food if she’s interested in eating, and keep her calm.
pitbull dog check by vet
Image Credit: Andy Gin, Shutterstock

The 3 Stages of Labor

There are three stages of labor in dogs.
  • First Stage – The first stage usually lasts 12 to 24 hours. Your Pit Bull will start to become anxious and restless; she might come to you for comfort, which you should give. Otherwise, stay out of her way if she doesn’t need anything from you. She may refuse food and might be pacing and panting. Contractions will start but not be obvious from the outside.
  • Second Stage – The first puppy will likely be delivered within 2 hours of the first visible contractions. There can be variable amounts of time between the next puppies being delivered but she should not actively strain for more than 20 minutes without producing a puppy. Contact your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns.
  • Third Stage – After each puppy is born, your Pit Bull will deliver a placenta. There will be the same number of placentas as puppies, so be sure to keep track of them. If she retains a placenta, it will be problematic for her and you must phone your veterinarian for advice.

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How Many Puppies Do Pit Bulls Have?

How many puppies a Pit Bull will have depends on several factors. For a first pregnancy, she might produce about five puppies, but with future pregnancies, she can give birth to up to 10 puppies.

It also depends on how healthy she is at the time of the pregnancy. If she’s well cared for and has low stress, a healthy diet, and enough exercise, she will likely have multiple puppies, and more of them are likely to survive. Additionally, the older your Pit Bull is, the fewer puppies she’ll carry. Again Pit Bulls make up a breed type rather than a specific breed, there may be variation in this number.

three pitbull puppies
Image: Pikrepo

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Pregnancy in all dogs, including Pit Bull breeds, lasts an average of 63 days from conception, but in general, gestation can be 57 to 65 days. Just keep in touch with your vet, and ensure that you monitor your dog closely.

Be sure to do your research, as you’ll need to invest in several items for the birth, and you’ll want to be physically, mentally, and emotionally prepared for the big day.

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Featured Image Credit: Daria Lixovetckay, Shutterstock

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