Watching a puppy grow from a newborn into an adult is a magical experience for many dog lovers. However, newer dog owners may be wondering about what exactly happens from conception until birth. Understanding the timeline of dog gestation can help responsible pet owners and breeders take better care of their pregnant dog.
RPBA endeavours to give all dogs the best chance of success in life, regardless of breed. RPBA expects its registered dog breeders to comply with all state and local legislation, as well as uphold our stringent Code of Ethics. Buy your puppy from a RPBA breeder and help encourage responsible dog breeding.
This article contains general information. Always consult with your veterinarian for medical advice specific to your animal/s.
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The dog gestation period is approximately nine weeks, or 63 days – though there is some variance depending on the dog. The development of a puppy from fertilisation to a birth is an incredible process. During this time, the puppy transitions from an embryo and into a fully developed puppy.
It is important for potential owners and breeders to understand the various stages that the puppy will go through so they can provide their breeding dog with the best possible care.
The first stage of puppy development begins with fertilisation. This occurs when sperm cells enter the female dog’s reproductive tract and one successfully fuses with an egg cell in her uterus. Once fertilised, the egg cell begins to divide and form an embryo. At this stage, the embryo is roughly 1/100th of an inch in size, but will quickly grow larger over the next couple of weeks.
By week two, the embryo has grown significantly and now consists of 16 cells that are arranged in a ball shape. At this point, its heart also begins to beat while blood vessels form throughout its body. The embryo also continues to grow rapidly during this time as it draws nutrients from its mother’s bloodstream.
By week three, more complex organs have begun to form within the embryo’s body such as its lungs and kidneys. The face also starts to take shape at this time, as the eyes, ears, nose and mouth begin developing too. By week four, major organs have formed, while bones have started replacing cartilage throughout the body. Most of the skeleton structure is solid by week five. Additionally, fur has started growing along the back, while whiskers sprout around the muzzle area.
During weeks six through eight, major physical changes occur within the puppy’s body as it prepares for birth. The fur continues to grow thicker while the puppy gains more muscle mass which helps it become more mobile within the uterus. You may even be able to feel the puppies move in your dog’s abdomen. Vital mental development ensues as neural pathways begin forming between regions within the brain.
By week nine, puppies will have reached full gestation, which means they are ready for birth at any point. During these final few days before birth their fur becomes even thicker while they continue gaining more muscle mass, helping them become even stronger than before.
RPBA covers everything from puppy checklists, supplies needed, to tracking weight, puppy introductions, health recording, and much more. To access these resources, become a registered breeder with RPBA. All of our registered breeders must follow the RPBA Code of Ethics as well as all state and local legislation to ensure the best standard of care for their pets. Click on the button below to apply.
Newborn puppies are at a critical stage of development. RPBA provides its members with downloadable and printable templates to assist breeders throughout different stages of puppy life: