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What to Expect from a Female Dog After Mating: A Complete Guide - PawSafe

What to Expect from a Female Dog After Mating: A Complete Guide

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

What to Expect from a Female Dog After Mating

Navigating through the journey of your female dog’s mating process can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. From understanding the initial signs of mating to recognizing the aftermath and preparing for potential pregnancy, there’s a lot to consider.

This article aims to shed light on what to expect after your female dog has mated, offering insights into the physical and behavioral changes that may occur, as well as tips on providing the best care for your furry friend during this time. Whether you’re a seasoned breeder or a first-time dog owner, understanding these nuances is key to ensuring the well-being of your dog and any future puppies.

To provide you with the best information and advice, we’ve consulted our expert source, Dog Breeding, Whelping, and Puppy Care, by Gary England. So, let’s look at what you can expect from your dog after mating.

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Let’s look at what you can expect from your dog after mating.

Changes in Behavior 

After mating, you may notice some changes in your female dog’s behavior. She may become more affectionate, seek solitude, or exhibit nesting behavior (although nesting behavior usually happens toward the end of the pregnancy and is one of the signs a dog is going into labor). 

These behavioral changes are natural and indicate her instinctive preparation for motherhood. Behavior changes in dogs after they have mated really depends on the individual dog. You may see her:

  • Become more impatient and snappy with other dogs (so it’s always good to give her more space to herself);
  • Become more clingy and needy;
  • Become more lethargic and prefer to nap most of the time; and
  • Become significantly sweeter or gentler.

In many dogs, you may not notice any major behavioral changes at all. Especially in the first few weeks.

Nausea and Vomiting

Just like humans, pregnant female dogs get morning sickness. And like humans, it doesn’t mean they only vomit in the morning. Morning sickness in dogs means you may see her vomiting for a few days during the third and 4th week after conception, as her hormones fluctuate. Keep an eye on this and make sure she stays hydrated.

Changes in Nipples And Mammary Glands

Changes in Nipples And Mammary Glands to expect in female dog after mating

Perhaps the first key sign that you will notice about 3 weeks after a dog has conceived is that her nipples grow larger. They may also change color, becoming a deeper shade or turning a lighter pink or red as the hormone prolactin affects the tissue in her mammary glands. This does not always mean a dog is pregnant, but it’s usually a pretty good indicator.

But keep in mind, young females who are pregnant for the first sign often don’t show much enlargement in their nipples until the final two weeks of pregnancy. Keep an eye on this to make sure she has enough milk when the puppies come.

Changes in Her Private Parts

After she has passed her fertile phase, her vulva should no longer be swollen, and any kind of discharge should stop until she is near giving birth. Nevertheless, keep an eye on her private parts for any signs of problems, including unusual discharge. See our articles on female dogs leaking clear fluid for more information on when vaginal discharge in a dog is a problem.

Changes in Physical Condition

If she is pregnant, physical changes are also apparent in a female dog after mating. She may look like she has gained weight, but this is usually fluid retention in the beginning. Real weight gain only starts in the final three weeks of pregnancy and while she may need more food more regularly, be careful of overfeeding her.

Both overweight and underweight mothers pose a risk to themselves and their puppies. Keep in mind that all these signs are also signs that you may see in dogs with a false pregnancy, so it is vital to see a vet 4 weeks after conception to confirm the pregnancy. You also need to have x-rays taken to know how many puppies to expect.

Changes in Appetite

During pregnancy, a female dog’s appetite may change. Some dogs experience an increase in appetite. Others may become more selective. Some dogs even experience a temporary decrease in their appetite. Providing a balanced diet to meet your dog’s nutritional needs is essential. 

Understanding Pregnancy in Female Dogs To Know What To Expect

Gestation Period

Pregnancy in dogs typically lasts around 63 days, although it can vary. Once conception takes place, the embryos migrate and attach to the uterus. That initiates the gestation period, during which the puppies develop and grow. See the video below to show how a pregnant dog develops week by week:

Signs of Pregnancy In Dogs After Mating

While physical changes are apparent, definitive confirmation of pregnancy requires a veterinarian’s expertise. Around three to four weeks after mating, a veterinarian can perform an ultrasound or an X-ray to detect the puppies. Early signs of pregnancy in dogs usually only start around three weeks after mating, and they include:

  • Behavioral changes like lethargy or clinginess;
  • Irritability with other dogs;
  • Enlarged nipples that change color;
  • Changes in appetite;
  • Vomiting; and
  • Swollen midriff or weight gain from water retention.

Ultrasound and X-Rays

Veterinarians commonly use ultrasound and X-ray imaging to confirm pregnancy in dogs. These scans help the vet gather additional information about the developing puppies. It’s vital to go for these ultrasounds and x-rays to confirm pregnancy, know how many puppies to prepare for, and detect any possible problems.

Taking Your Dog For An Ultrasound After Mating

Taking Your Dog For An Ultrasound After Mating

Ultrasound is a non-invasive and safe imaging technique that uses sound waves to create images of the inside of your dog’s body. It can confirm pregnancy in dogs and estimate the number of puppies present.

  • It works as early as 25-30 days after mating. However, it is generally more accurate after 35 days when the puppies’ structures become more visible.
  • During an ultrasound, the veterinarian will apply gel to your dog’s abdomen and use a handheld transducer to emit sound waves. The waves bounce back and create images of the uterus and developing puppies on a screen.
  • The veterinarian will examine the images to identify signs of pregnancy, such as gestational sacs or fetal heartbeats. They can also estimate the litter size based on the number of visible sacs or puppies.
  • An ultrasound can provide valuable information about the puppies’ development, position, and well-being. It can also help detect abnormalities or complications.

X-rays For dogs After Mating

X-rays For dogs After Mating

X-ray imaging, also known as radiography, uses small doses of radiation to create detailed images of the body’s internal structures. X-rays can estimate the number of puppies, evaluate their size, and determine their position.

  • X-rays are typically performed around day 45 of the pregnancy when the puppies’ skeletons have developed enough to be visible on the images.
  • Your dog will sit or lie on a table, and the veterinary staff will take protective measures to shield her from unnecessary radiation exposure.
  • The X-ray machine will emit a focused beam of radiation, passing through your dog’s body and creating an image on a digital screen or film.
  • The veterinarian will examine the X-ray images to count the number of puppies and assess their size and position. 
  • They can determine if any puppies appear to be oversized or if there are any complications like fetal malformation.
  • X-rays provide a clearer view of the puppies’ skeletal structures, making it easier to estimate their size and spot potential issues.

Physical Activity and Rest

When your dog is pregnant, finding the right balance between physical activity and rest is essential to keep her and her puppies healthy and happy. 

Physical Activity

Pregnant dogs benefit from regular exercise, but keeping it gentle and safe is essential.

  • Take your dog for short walks on a leash to keep her muscles toned and maintain her overall health. Aim for multiple shorter walks instead of long ones, and keep a slow pace to avoid overexertion.
  • Engage your dog in activities that are easy on her joints and don’t require unnecessary stretches. That helps keep her active without putting too much strain on her body.
  • Pay attention to your dog’s energy levels during exercise. If she seems tired, slow down or take a break. The goal is to keep her comfortable.
  • Every dog is different, so it’s always a good idea to consult your vet for personalized exercise recommendations based on your dog’s health and pregnancy stage.

Rest After Mating For Dogs

Pregnancy is a time when rest becomes even more important for your dog. Here’s how you can create a comfortable environment for her:

  • Set up a quiet and cozy spot for your pregnant dog to relax. It can be a soft bed or a designated area where she feels safe and secure.
  • Pregnant dogs need more sleep, so let her take those well-deserved naps. Make sure she has a quiet area where she won’t be disturbed.
  • Minimize loud noises, sudden movements, and stressful situations that could cause anxiety for your pregnant dog. A calm and peaceful environment is beneficial for her well-being.
  • Regular veterinary check-ups are important to ensure the pregnancy progresses well. Your vet can guide rest and activity levels specific to your dog’s needs.

Nutrition and Supplements After A Dog Has Mated

When your dog is pregnant, proper nutrition is crucial for her health and the development of her puppies. So, what should you feed her? Does she need supplements?

A Balanced Diet

During pregnancy, your dog’s nutritional needs change, and providing a well-balanced diet that supports her and her growing puppies is essential.

  • Choose a high-quality meal plan made for pregnant or nursing dogs.
  • As your dog’s body works hard to support the growing puppies, she’ll need more calories.

Remember that pregnant dogs need food that is specially formulated for them. Typically, it is higher in calories, with more nutrients like DHA or quality protein.

 Do not try to supplement a balanced diet for pregnant dogs with nutrients like calcium, as it can cause dangerous conditions like eclampsia. It’s better to pick a balanced diet for expecting mothers or consult a veterinary nutritionist.

Adequate Hydration

Keeping your pregnant dog well-hydrated is vital. Ensure she always has access to fresh and clean water. Pregnant dogs may drink more water, so refill her bowl frequently.


A balanced diet should provide your pregnant dog with the necessary nutrients. However, your vet may recommend supplements.

  • Prenatal Vitamins are specially formulated supplements that contain additional vitamins and minerals to support your dog’s and her puppies’ health.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oil, can benefit your dog’s overall health and promote healthy brain development in the puppies.
  • Probiotics can help support a healthy digestive system and nutrient absorption for the mother and puppies. Your vet can recommend the right probiotic supplement for your dog.

Speak to your vet before adding supplements, however, as some supplements like calcium can be dangerous to your pregnant dog in excess.

When to Consult Your Vet After Your Dog Has Mated

Don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian with questions or concerns about your dog’s health or mating process. Pregnancy is a difficult business and it’s best to be able to speak to your vet throughout the process, just like a pregnant human has regular check ups and appointments with their doctor.

Remember, breeding dogs is best done responsibly and under the guidance of experienced professionals. 

If you’re not planning to breed your dog, spaying or neutering is an important consideration to prevent unplanned litters.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How soon can you tell if a female dog is pregnant?

Determining pregnancy in a female dog usually takes a few weeks. Your veterinarian can perform various tests, such as a physical examination, ultrasound, or blood test, to confirm pregnancy.

What are the signs of successful dog mating?

Dogs may become temporarily locked together during mating, ensuring effective insemination. After mating, the male’s penis will retract after mating, and the dogs will separate naturally. Both dogs may appear relaxed and content after mating, indicating a successful encounter.

Do female dogs act differently after mating?

Female dogs may exhibit some behavioral changes after mating, although it varies. Remember that individual dogs may react differently, so there is no one-size-fits-all behavior pattern.

Can you bathe your dog after mating?

Bathing could disrupt the natural fertilization process. It’s best to allow some time for the mating process to complete before bathing your dog.

What are the risks associated with dog mating?

Dog mating carries certain risks for male and female dogs, including:

1. Dogs may unintentionally (or intentionally) cause harm to each other, especially if there’s a significant size or temperament difference.
2. Mating can increase the risk of sexually transmitted infections or diseases if either dog is infected. Female dogs can suffer life-threatening complications from pregnancy and birth, as well as nursing.
3. Without careful breeding, unplanned litters can result from dog mating, leading to challenges in finding suitable homes for the puppies. This leads to more dogs in shelters. Breeding dogs should be left to experienced and ethical breeders only. For the sake of responsible ownership, it’s best to spay and neuter your dogs.

How long does it take for a female dog to recover after mating?

After mating, a female dog may require several days of rest and recovery. Provide her with a calm and comfortable environment for physical and emotional recovery.

Can a female dog get sick after mating?

Yes, female dogs can contract sexually transmitted infections or diseases after mating if the male is infected, including dangerous diseases like Canine Brucellosis, which can show up as a rash on a male dog’s groin but leads to many complications. It’s vital to ensure both dogs are healthy and up-to-date on vaccinations before mating.

How fast do dogs get pregnant after mating?

Dogs can get pregnant within 48 to 72 hours after mating. Sperm can survive inside the female’s reproductive tract for several days, increasing the chances of fertilization. Still, you should only be able to see signs of pregnancy after about three weeks.

What should dogs do after mating?

After mating, dogs should rest and recover in a calm and comfortable environment. It’s best to provide them with space and avoid unnecessary disturbances.

Do dogs get pregnant every time they tie?

While the copulatory tie is integral to mating, it doesn’t guarantee a pregnancy. Successful pregnancy depends on various factors, including timing, fertility, and overall reproductive health.

Do female dogs still bleed after they mate?

Female dogs may experience bleeding or discharge during their heat cycle, but it doesn’t necessarily indicate pregnancy. If bleeding occurs after mating, it could be due to various factors, including hormonal changes.However, the bleeding should stop after estrus and the type of discharge usually depends on which stage of heat they are in.

Is one mating enough for dogs to get pregnant?

Yes, one mating can be enough for dogs to become pregnant if it occurs during the female’s fertile phase and successful fertilization takes place. However, multiple matings can increase the chances of successful conception.

Should I rest my dog after mating?

Yes, it’s advisable to allow your dog to rest after mating. Rest promotes recovery and helps reduce the risk of injury or complications. Provide a calm and comfortable environment for your dog to relax.

Should you walk your dog after mating?

After mating, avoiding strenuous physical activity, including long walks, is generally best. Give your dog time to rest and recover. 

How many times can a female dog mate in a day?

A female dog can mate multiple times a day during her fertile period. However, it’s vital to prioritize her well-being and not overexert her during this time.

Help! The female dog died after mating

Mating itself should not result in the death of a healthy female dog. If any underlying health issues, complications, or external factors were involved, it’s best to have an autopsy performed to determine what could have caused a death after mating.

My female dog is shaking after mating

Shaking or trembling after mating can be expected for some female dogs. It can be due to excitement, physical exertion, or changes in hormone levels.

However, suppose the shaking is excessive, persistent, or accompanied by other concerning symptoms. In that case, it is advisable to consult with a veterinarian for further evaluation.

My female dog is vomiting after mating

Vomiting after mating is not a typical or direct result of the mating process. If a female dog vomits after mating, it is important to consider other potential causes, such as gastrointestinal issues or unrelated health problems. 

Final Thoughts

Breeding dogs and caring for them during pregnancy and mating requires careful attention and responsible ownership. Understanding the changes in behavior, physical condition, and appetite of your female dog after mating is important. 

It helps you to provide the necessary care and support. Providing your dog with rest and comfort is crucial for her recovery. Responsible breeding practices help prevent unwanted litters and contribute to the overall welfare of dogs.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.