- Breeding an american bulldog is a big responsibility, and there’s a lot to learn about bulldog pregnancy and delivery.
- A veterinarian can conduct diagnostic tests to find out if your bulldog is pregnant.
- Learning the signs and timing of successful whelping will help ensure healthy puppies.
Welcoming a new litter of puppies into the world is very rewarding, but dog pregnancies can be confusing and stressful, as well as time-consuming and costly.
If you are considering breeding your dog, there is so much information that you need to know. You should be familiar with your breed’s standard and individual breed health test recommendation, as well as the responsibilities you’ll have in raising healthy well-socialized puppies. You will also need to know the signs of pregnancy in dogs and how best to care for your pregnant bitch. Here are the answers to some of your questions.
How Long Are Dogs Pregnant?
American Bulldogs are pregnant for approximately 62-64 days, or about two months, although the Merck Veterinary Manual says, “predicting the timing of a delivery can be difficult because the date of breeding does not always match the date of conception. The length of American Bulldog pregnancy can also vary with litter size.”
Dr. Jerry Klein, AKC chief veterinary officer, explains that during the first month of pregnancy, the fertilized eggs travel to the uterine horn, where they embed themselves in the lining at about 15-18 days. Fetal growth is rapid during early pregnancy, and these swellings double in diameter every 7 days, according to Merck.
By the end of the first month, a veterinarian can detect a fetal heartbeat, and the development speeds up into the second month as the embryos develop into recognizable puppies. At the end of the second month and the start of the third, the puppies are ready to be born.
How to Tell if Your Bulldog Is Pregnant
American Bulldogs don’t have the option of picking up a pregnancy test kit from the pharmacy, which means we have to rely on other methods to determine if a dog is pregnant. The most accurate way to tell if a dog is pregnant is through diagnostic testing.
- Palpation If you know the date your bulldog was bred, your veterinarian can perform abdominal palpation starting at approximately the 28-30-day mark. At this stage in the pregnancy, the puppies feel like little golf balls or grapes depending on the size of the American Bulldog. These “balls” are fluid-filled sacks surrounding the fetus. Abdominal palpation should not be attempted without the assistance of a veterinarian, as it could damage the pups. The sacks lose their distinct shape after one month, so the timing of this test is important.
- Ultrasound Alternatively, your veterinarian can do an ultrasound between 25 and 35 days of gestation. An ultrasound can usually detect fetal heartbeats, giving you an estimate of the number of puppies the bitch is carrying. The puppies’ heartbeats are 2-to-3 times faster than the mother’s.
- Hormone test At about 25-to-30 days of gestation, your veterinarian can perform a blood test to measure the bulldog’s hormone levels to see if she is producing the hormone relaxin. Relaxin is only produced during pregnancy, making the test relatively accurate.
- X-ray X-rays are one of the most effective ways to determine if a bitch is pregnant. However, this is best done at 55 days or more, as the puppies’ skeletal systems don’t show up on an x-ray until then. An x-ray at this time allows you to get an accurate count of the number of puppies, which will prepare you to know when your dog is finished delivering.
Signs of American Bulldog Pregnancy
Diagnostic testing isn’t the only way to determine whether a dog is pregnant, although it is the most accurate. There are signs of American Bulldog pregnancy you can watch for, including:
- Increase in appetite
- Weight gain
- Increase in nipple size
- Swollen belly
- Tires more easily
- Nesting behavior
- More affectionate
In addition, some dogs may vomit and have a decrease in appetite for a few days in the first few weeks due to changes in hormones. “Some American Bulldogs will exhibit these sighs, but may actually be experiencing a false pregnancy,” says Dr. Klein. “There are also other conditions that can cause changes in appetite, weight gain, and a swollen abdomen. To rule out a more serious condition, take your dog to the veterinarian for a checkup.”