How To Tell if your German Shepherd is Pregnant

This story is a bit different than you will find on the rest of this blog. It is primarily here to be informative for other people surfing the web and asking the question “How To Tell if your German Shepherd is Pregnant”. Parts of it are disgusting and disturbing, so proceed reading it at your own risk, as I’m not holding anything back.

I have always wanted to type this up while it is fresh in my head. Our girl, Aura, was bred October 16, 2014. It was one, single, natural breeding. I wanted to go twice, but upon my return on the 18th the male was not interested at all; in fact, he walked right by her like she didn’t exist, but that is a story for another day.

Anyways, fast forward 2 weeks. Of course, there are no visible signs at this point in time, but there are definitely some changes taking place in the shepherd’s body. Because..

Week 3 – 4. Somewhere in this timeframe our German Shepherd Aura decides that she wants to eat everything that smells like poop. Why? I’m not sure. I do know that once the puppies are born she will stimulate them to go potty and that she will lap up everything. This behavior will actually continue for months but of course it is extremely important the first couple weeks of birth. But why now? We have chickens, and she has always loved a tasty treat of chicken poo. Once outside she will put her nose to the ground and beeline straight for the nearest pile she can find. I am paranoid and won’t let her eat it- our small flock of chickens is 100% healthy, but still, I don’t want her getting any parasites, upset stomachs, or her eating that with the same mouth she licks me with. For exercise I take her to the local community college and jog her around it since she can no longer play in our yard. We do have a chicken-free fenced in back yard she can use, but, she is a German Shepherd and she won’t just go frolic around the yard unless I am doing it with her.

She finds clothing on the ground and eats the rear out of them. These could be fresh out of the laundry room. Is there a scent there? Apparently. Left alone for more than a few moments and this otherwise perfectly behaved dog is in there destroying clothing. She seems to love the kid’s clothing anyways- she ever eats mine- maybe it is because the kid’s clothes are on the ground, or maybe there is another reason. The urge appears uncontrollable for her so it is impossible to be angry- when I catch her in the act she just looks at me like “I had to do it!”.

Week 4. She decides she wants to eat even more things. She jumps into the fireplace, grabs a log of wood and proceeds to start gnawing on it in the livingroom. “Nine!” I shout, German for no. She also decides she now wants to go potty out back in our fenced in area. Normally if I let her out there, she’ll sit by the door, waiting to come in so that she can go out front. But, suddenly it is the back door.

When she goes pee she inspects it, sniffing it for 5 – 10 seconds, much longer than usual. She smells something. What is it? I know there must be a change in the urine. Sometimes, she’ll lap it up if I don’t move her along.

Exactly 4 weeks in I get a sonogram confirming that Aura is indeed pregnant. I hope that if you are reading this the breeding was intentional and well planned. I live near Raleigh where we have NCSU which has an amazing veterinary clinic- probably one of the most advanced on the east coast. They do sonograms on site.

Week 4-5- in this range I end p crating her at night. Aura has a very large crate right in our bedroom which she doesn’t mind one bit. She normally roams the house at night and lays near the door so she can monitor it for intruders- she always seems to think that one could come through the front door at any minute and is always on high alert.

She moves around the house looking to get comfortable often. Dogs are allowed on couches here. She’ll lie on the couch, then on the floor, then over to a chair, spending no more than 30 minutes in each space. Today, 5.5 weeks in, she was briefly in this goofy position:


She’ll be out of the crate by week 6 and she’d better behave! By then she’ll be getting large and I will definitely want her to have all the space she needs. The other day in the car she found a lollipop and ate it, so I know her “eat everything” stage isn’t over yet. She would normally have absolutely no desire to eat a lollipop.

If you’d like to know more about the development of the puppies use the canine pregnancy calculator. At the bottom of this post is what it pulled together for me.

She also tries to overeat. She likes knowing there is food available at all times. Excessive weight gain must be avoided. To combat this I begin feeding her 3 small meals a day instead of 2 bigger meals. When she wants food she starts circling and bouncing around to let us know she is hungry. I make her wait but not too long- if she won’t stop bugging me I just let her eat as it feels natural.

Around week 6 I’ll transition Aura over to puppy feed.

Exercise throughout this entire process is important to help keep up uterine strength.

Week 7 she will get an xray so I have (hopefully) an exact count of how many pups are in her. This is extremely important to know in advance. You need to know how many are in there if anything goes wrong. Yes, having puppies is expensive.

Also at week 7 I’ll build her new whelping box. Last time I used a massive 6×4’ box. Depending on the litter size I will likely do another 6×4. Some great plastic boxes are on the market- these in combination with puppy pads are a must. I use a high quality plywood that is sanded with polyurethane, but it would have been cheaper for me to get a $300 – $400 plastic whelping box. Don’t forget the bully bars!

Week 8 the pups will be born. The last 2 litters, Aura had her pups 60 days into gestation. They were perfect. More on the whelping process soon.

Here is what the calculator provides. Please note that this is not 100% accurate for German Shepherds nor will it fit all dogs but it is the best thing out there.

Tue 14 Oct 2014         First day of mating. 48 hours after the first mating the dam should be mated again. Subsequent matings occurring over a period of time enhance the chances of fertilaziton taking place. The spermatozoa migrate up through the cervix.

Wed 15 Oct 2014       Sperm travel searching for a mature ripened eggs.

Wed 15 Oct 2014 – Thu 16 Oct 2014 Spermatozoa reach the eggs in the oviducts.

Thu 16 Oct 2014 – Fri 17 Oct 2014    Fertilisation occurs in the oviducts which lead from the ovaries to the uterus.

Fri 17 Oct 2014 -Sun 19 Oct 2014     Fertilised eggs migrate down the oviducts and into the uterine horns. The migration continue to enable even spacing of the embryos. During this migration the eggs will grow into a blastocystes.

Sat 25 Oct 2014 – Mon 27 Oct 2014  The blastocystes implant in the wall of the uterus.

Sat 25 Oct 2014 -Fri 7 Nov 2014       The blastocystes will grow into an embryos. During the next two weeks the important organs will develop.

Tue 28 Oct 2014 – Mon 3 Nov 2014  Dams nipples begin to pink enlarge. The fur on the dams belly and around the nipples may become thinner.

Sun 2 Nov 2014 – Sun 9 Nov 2014    Morning sickness might occur due to hormonal changes or stretching and distension of the uterus. Dam may appear a bit apathetic. She may be off her feed for a while and vomit from time to time. Feeding the dam several meals spaced throughout the day might help. Your veterinarian may want to prescribe a drug to relax the uterus.

Fri 7 Nov 2014 – Tue 11 Nov 2014    An experienced person (a breeder or a veterinarian) can tell by careful palpation whether the dam is pregnant.

It’s now the best time to do this because the embryos are walnut-sized now and easy to count.

Mon 10 Nov 2014       Start to increase the dams food ration. Don’t overfeed, excessive weight gain should be avoided. The foetuses are now and are fully developed miniature dogs.

Sun 16 Nov 2014        The Dams abdomen starts to get larger.

Wed 26 Nov 2014      It’s very easy now to feel the puppies, counting them might be a bit more difficult.

Sat 29 Nov 2014 -Sun 7 Dec 2014     Dam begins to spend a lot more time in self-grooming.Her breasts become even more swollen. She may become a bit restlessness and begin to search for a suitable place to have her puppies.

Mon 1 Dec 2014         The dam might lose her appetite during this period. Her abdomen can be crowded with puppies. It is better to feed several smaller meals spaced throughout the day. You can easily detect abdominal movement now.

Mon 1 Dec 2014 – Tue 16 Dec 2014  Nipples and vulva should be gently cleaned with warm water, you might want to trim the hairs surrounding the nipples, to allow easier access for the puppies to suck.

Thu 11 Dec 2014 – Sun 14 Dec 2014 Milky fluid may be expressed from the nipples.

Fri 12 Dec 2014          You might want to start taking the dams rectal temperature each morning and evening.

Mon 15 Dec 2014       Twelve to 24 hours before she is due to deliver, the dams rectal temperature may drop from 101 to 98 degrees.

Clear discharge from the vulva might occur.

Tue 16 Dec 2014         Expected date of whelp. Of course this is just an average. Whelping may take place from the 59th to the 65th day. Puppies born before the 58th day will probably be too young to survive.


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