Pregnancy and puppies

They carry their young for 9 weeks

over 58 weeks

The fine line

Pregnancy for a dog, or wolf, is 63 days (9 weeks), give or take. Anything born earlier than 58 days won’t survive, as their lungs are under-developed. Generally anything over 65 days gestation will also not survive, as the placenta will begin to break down as the bitch can’t sustain the pregnancy any further. The bitch will come into labour, much as a human woman does, and the puppies will be born one at a time, complete with their placenta and sack. 

The she-wolf will break open the sack, lick to stimulate the puppy to breathe, and then eat the placenta and gnaw at the umbilical until it’s severed. In the dog, often they don’t know how to do this, especially for a first litter. Human intervention is often needed to assist in a whelping.

In the case of the wolf and many dogs the hormonal changes are extreme during this time. This is where the “bitch in heat” part comes in.

Total affection

Very attentive

For the first few weeks of her puppies’ lives, the bitch or she-wolf is very attentive towards them, not wanting to leave their side for more than a quick toilet break. Her body temperature is raised, and blood supply increased, so she can keep her puppies warm, and she snuggles close to them most of the time.

She licks their bottoms to stimulate them to wee and poo, then laps up the urine and faeces so her whelping area remains clean and unsoiled. This is another remnant of the Wolf, as the she-wolf in her den dug into the earth doesn’t have a faithful horde or people constantly changing her bedding and cleaning up any messes the puppies may make; she has to do it all herself.

Other members of the pack will help (usually junior bitches), but the majority of that early puppy care is still performed by the mother.

Tired mothers

The strain

By the time the puppies are 5 weeks of age, the strain is starting to show on the poor mothers, and their duties are almost finished. When the puppies are very small, every time the bitch stimulates her puppies it’s just a few millilitres of urine and a dash of faeces she’s cleaning up. As they grow that quickly changes and, while it’s a strain for the mother, it’s manageable while the pups are only drinking her milk. Once solid food is added, the strain doubles, as all the urine and faeces the bitch has been eating is being processed by her kidneys and liver. If this time isn’t carefully managed, a bitch can go into toxic overload, and runs a real risk of liver and/or kidney failure. In the wolf pack, this is where others help to divide the burden, by cleaning up after the puppies. For our own dogs, who usually whelp on their own, we need to watch for the signs of toxic overload. That’s why we wean puppies between 5 and 6 weeks of age. By this time the bitch is usually quite ready to give up her puppy duties and to have some “adult” conversation, and most skip their way to the kennels and don’t look back! For the wolf, it takes the combined effort of the entire pack to raise just one litter of puppies. We expect our bitches to do it all on their own, and it’s very taxing.

3-6 months


It usually takes a bitch between 3 and 6 months to recover from having a litter of puppies. Dietary and herbal supplements can help to rebuild their immune system and health more quickly, but the fact of the matter is it takes TIME for a bitch to regain full health after having a litter. If you were being totally honest to the wolf ancestry of the dog, then a bitch would have one litter of puppies every year for their adult life. The problem is many breeds of dog aren’t as robust as a wolf, and by the age of 7 years they’ve really reached the end of their ability to successfully raise a litter of puppies.

Any attempt to allow a bitch to have a litter after 6 years of age will often end in disaster, sometimes catastrophically for the bitch. If they haven’t already been, all our bitches will be sterilised during their sixth year, and none will have a litter at 7 years or above.

Get in touch

Contact us


A. 82 Peters Road, Muchea, 6501
(Prideland Kennels and Cattery)
M. PO Box 237, Muchea, 6501

Phone or email

P. (08) 9571 0677
M. +61 414 898 236