How Soon Can A Dog Get Pregnant After Giving Birth (Explained!)

Immediately after having a litter of adorable pups, dogs are only just recovering and not ready for another pregnancy but if you are preparing your pooch for a second pregnancy, it will definitely go a long way to know the length of time to wait.

We will assist you below, as we delve into the how soon dogs can get pregnancy after whelping, explore the entire heat cycle of dogs, and answer some useful questions like signs of heat and can a dog get pregnant while lactating. Let’s begin without further ado.

How Soon Can A Dog Get Pregnant After Giving Birth

After having a litter of puppies, it takes an average of 4 months for bitches to go into heat again and get pregnant. However, it can take as little as 3 weeks in small dog breeds and as long as 6 months in large dog breeds. This waiting period encompasses both the anestrus and proestrus stages of the canine heat cycle. Pregnancy has no impact on the duration of these two stages of a dog’s heat cycle.

To accurately monitor your dog’s reproductive status, consider using a reliable canine pregnancy test kit.

When dogs come out of the heat, they become infertile and if they get pregnant they usually go through a gestation period of 2 months after which tissue repair begins in preparation for the next heat cycle. There are also various hormonal fluctuations in your dog’s body.

The length of the heat cycle varies from one dog breed to another — so are the anestrus and proestrus stages of the heat cycle. Large dog breeds experience a longer heat cycle while small dog breeds experience a shorter heat cycle. However, individual variations exist.

To calculate how soon your dog can get pregnant after giving birth, you have to first. find the length of his heat cycle by averaging the period between previous heats and, then divide by 1.8. While this formula is not 100% accurate, it may serve as a useful guide.

Understanding Dog’s Heat Cycle & Stages

The canine heat cycle is a repetitive series of reproductive changes in dogs brought about by hormonal fluctuations.

The average length of the canine heat cycle is 6 months but this can be up to 12 months in large dog breeds and as short as 4 months in small dog breeds.

Female dogs often attain sexual maturity at about the 6th month of their life but this can vary depending on the dog breed. It is earlier for smaller dogs and later for bigger dogs. Also, bitches also approach sexual maturity faster if they are often surrounded by intact females.

In the first few seasons, the duration of a dog’s heat cycle is usually erratic and dogs can reach as long as 2 years to establish regular cycles.

The heat cycle of dogs consists of four stages which include proestrus, estrus, diestrus, and anestrus.


The proestrus stage of a dog’s heat cycle lasts roughly 7 days and it is hallmarked by various physiological and behavioral changes. There is often vulva swelling and bloody discharge.

During this stage of the heat cycle, bitches produce various pheromones that interest males. Female dogs also tend to display aggression and they become receptive toward males but are not open to mating as they often prefer to sit.


When a female dog is in the estrus stage of the heat cycle, she is receptive to males and open to mating and the dog is said to be in heat or season. The length of estrus in dogs ranges from 2 to 3 weeks. The discharge continues but without blood and the swollen vulva softens.

Bitches in heat are seen lifting their tails up and slightly downwards to show their readiness to mate. During this period, your dog can get pregnant if mounted by an intact male.


This is the period after heat when your dog is either resting or pregnant. It averages between 2 to 3 months. The swollen vulva goes back to normalcy and the discharge stops. The progesterone level begins to increase and the estrogen level declines.


Reproductive activity is low during anestrus and it lasts for 3 to 4 months. The duration of the anestrus is not affected by pregnancy. The uterine tissue repair takes place during this period and both discharge or vulva swelling is no more.

Very few superficial cells are present in the smear when viewed microscopically but the number of intermediate and parabasal cells is increased.

How To Tell If Your Dog Is In Heat

To know whether your dog is in heat, here are various signs to look out for:

Enlarged Vulvar: Vulva is the exterior part of the female reproductive system. When a dog is in heat, one of the first signs easily observed is a swollen, turgid and red vulva.

Discharge: The beginning of the dog’s heat cycle is also featured by the presence of bloody discharge which eventually becomes straw-colored during the estrus phase of the heat cycle.

Excessive Grooming: Dogs have the habit of licking their private area more frequently during the heat period to clean up the discharge. One of the reasons why you may not notice any discharge in dogs during the heat is how properly they groom themselves. However, silent heat is a more common reason.

Frequent Urination: Another important sign to look out for is frequent urination. Bitches often urinate in different spots leaving trails of pheromones that attract males.

Open To Males: Females dogs often refuse mounting up until the heat period when they are more receptive as evidenced by raised and slightly sideways position of their tail.

Preparing Your Dog For The Next Pregnancy

If you are expecting pregnancy in your dog, you have to make necessary preparations to ensure the pregnancy is safe and free of complications.

You can start by paying a visit to the vet for a check-up as this will help to assess the risks associated with the pregnancy and determine whether your dog is in a good state to get pregnant.

It is also important to educate yourself on various physiological changes. For example, you will need to prepare for bloody discharge, urination, and aggression by using pee pads, and dog diapers. Also, it is best to treat your dog for any skin infection that can be transferred to the pup.

Getting a hygienic whelping box for your dog is important for safe and convenient delivery.

Can A Dog Get Pregnant While Lactating

Dogs can nurse their litters for up to 8 weeks from the time of birth but dogs go into heat at least 3 months (12 weeks) after birth. Hence, dogs do not normally lactate during their heat period even though they may have enlarged mammary glands.

However, in cases of false pregnancy, a condition where there are hormonal changes that mimic those of pregnancy, dogs do lactate when in heat.

Apart from lactation, other common signs of false pregnancy include weight gain, breast enlargement, anorexia, fluid retention, restlessness, and affection toward stuffed toys.

How Long After A Dog Gives Birth Can A Female Dog Be Spayed

Bitches should be spayed in at least 5 to 8 weeks after whelping when their pups have been completely weaned. Doing it earlier may affect the hormonal regulation responsible for lactation. This may also result in behavioral changes that are not typical of a nursing dog.

Besides, nursing puppies after spay surgery can be a painful activity for the mother dog who is still recovering. Constant physical contact with pups can also delay the healing process and expose your dog to infection.

Spaying is an invasive surgical procedure done to remove the reproductive organs of female dogs and prevent them from experiencing estrus cycles. The vet either removes the only ovaries or both the ovaries and the uterus.

Also Read: How Long To Keep Cone On Dog After Neuter, Spay, Surgery, and More

Dog Not Going Into Heat After First Litter

If your dog is yet to go into heat after the first litter, chances are that he is experiencing a silent heat or has a longer heat cycle. Other reasons for this include hypothyroidism, malnutrition, and ovarian tumors.

If your dog is not in heat in the expected period, quickly make an appointment with your vet for a thorough examination and accurate diagnosis.

How Many Times A Year Do Dogs Give Birth

It depends on how many cycles the dog has in a year. Most dogs go into heat every 6 months. Smaller dogs, every 3 months, and large dogs, up to 12 months. In essence, most dogs can give birth twice a year.

Final Thoughts: How Soon Can A Dog Get Pregnant After Giving Birth

As soon as 4 months after whelping, dogs go into season and get pregnant if breeding takes place. The period after giving birth and before heat consists of both the anestrus and proestrus phases of the dog heat cycle.

Remember, when it comes to the health cycle, there are always, breed and individual variations. So, we can only estimate the expected period of the next heat by using data from previous cycles.

When getting ready for pregnancy make sure you give your pooch a healthy, nutritious diet, provide just enough exercise, and consult your vet in case of any health concerns.

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