🦴 Updated on July 20th, 2023
It was like any other day when suddenly I noticed my young Pitbull acting strange. She wasn’t eating as much, she didn’t want to go on our regular daily walk, and she was super affectionate. I instantly knew something was off.
As a vet, I knew I had seen these signs in other dogs during pregnancy, so I looked at her stomach, and sure enough, her nipples were enlarged. Swollen nipples are your dog’s first sign of pregnancy.
Having been here before, I knew what to do. This was the second time my Pitbull had gone into heat. I knew my neighbor’s Pitbull and my baby had mated, and so I knew for sure my young Pitbull was pregnant. A Pitbull’s pregnancy can be alarming, confusing, and exciting, and I’m here to share everything you need to know about a Pitbull’s pregnancy.
How to Tell If You Have a Pregnant Pitbull
Female Pitbulls can become pregnant during the time they go in heat, which is every six months. However, the first time your pup shows that they are in heat (estrus) can happen as late as fifteen months of age.
Signs Your Pitbull is in Heat
If you know when your Pitbull goes into heat, you can watch closely for signs of pregnancy later. Whether you are hoping for a pregnancy or just watching for the signs, the first step is understanding when your dog goes into the estrus cycle.
Every breed is different, so it can be difficult to tell when your dog goes into heat. Some signs that your dog is in its estrus cycle are:
- Swollen or inflamed genitals
- A period of light pink spotting discharge from the vulva
- More affectionate or more aggressive behavior
- Frequent urination
- Submissive or more friendly to male dogs (regardless of the breed)
If you’re trying to breed your Pitbull, ensure that you allow them time to hang out with another male breed during this time.
Once your dog finishes the estrus cycle, watch for pregnancy signs, especially if you are trying to breed adorable puppies.
Pitbull Pregnancy Signs
Since dogs do not show signs of pregnancy right away, it can be hard to miss the signs. Early signs that your Pitbull has become pregnant may consist of behavior and appetite changes.
Although most dog breeds won’t show any signs of pregnancy until they are in their third or fourth week, taking them to the vet a few weeks after they have mated is a good idea. Some signs of Pitbull pregnancy are:
- Mucusy discharge one month (approximately thirty days) after mating.
- Her nipples will grow in color and swell.
- Weight gained roughly thirty to thirty-seven days in her pregnancy.
- Appetite might drop as well as becoming more affectionate or lazy.
- In the second stage of pregnancy, your Pitbull’s appetite will increase.
Most signs will not be visible until the second trimester of your Pitbull’s pregnancy. However, by about forty days, you will start to see your Pitbull’s abdomen expand slightly.
Confirming Your Pitbull Is Pregnant
As soon as you suspect a pregnant Pitbull, ensure you take them to see your vet right away. The vet will take a dog’s pregnancy test, which will show negative or positive depending on the level of hormones in your Pitbull’s urine.
If the diagnosis is positive, your vet will set weekly or bi-weekly prenatal appointments to ensure your Pitbull has the healthiest pregnancy possible. Your vet will give you the best advice on what to feed your pregnant Pitbull, how to care for her, and what to expect in the following weeks.
How Long Are Pitbulls Pregnant?
A Pitbull’s gestation period from the beginning to end is roughly fifty-seven to sixty-five days (nine weeks or two months and one week). However, like humans, Pitbulls can have overdue pregnancies. In the case where your Pitbull is pregnant for longer than sixty-five days, your vet will schedule an emergency C-section.
Still, most dogs have a relatively easy pregnancy and almost always give birth on time. C-sections are not very common.
Pitbull’s Gestation Period: What to Expect
First of all, ensure your Pitbull gets a ton of space during the pregnancy and only gives attention when she asks for it.
Some Pitbulls become very territorial during their pregnancy, so secure an area, specifically hers, where she will choose to have labor. Most Pitbulls like to create their own labor space if you don’t provide one, making it challenging to help her in labor if she needs it.
When setting up the labor spot, make sure there are no other pets, children, or a ton of traffic. A whelp room is a second bathroom, a storage room, or even the laundry room where only one person does the laundry.
How Many Puppies Can a Pitbull Have?
Pitbulls should not breed more than four times in their lifetime.
The number of puppies your Pitbull can have primarily results from how old and big she is, how healthy her pregnancy is, and whether or not this is her first pregnancy.
During the first pregnancy, your Pitbull will only produce up to five Pitbull pups. However, with another pregnancy, she can produce up to ten. The amount of puppies determines how healthy your Pitbull is and how old she is. Size plays a significant role as well.
On the first vet visit, where you find out if your Pitbull is pregnant, ask your vet to check for hereditary health issues such as hip dysplasia. Caring for a pregnant Pitbull can be difficult because you have to watch their stress level, feed them a high-protein diet, and ensure they get enough exercise. All these factors play a role in how many puppies your girl will conceive and how many will survive.
Larger breeds often have more puppies because they are safely able to carry more. On average, based on just the size of your Pitbull, you can expect five to six pups.
The older your pregnant Pitbull, the fewer puppies she can carry. Also, a Pitbull’s first pregnancy usually has a lower count of puppies.
The bottom line for how many puppies do Pitbulls have? Depending on the size, age, and overall health of your Pitbull, you can expect no less than three and no more than ten.
Pregnant Pitbull Stages
Your Pitbull is pregnant for an average of nine weeks, and there are four different stages. The first stage begins in the estrus cycle, and the second is the actual pregnancy. The third is where the puppies grow, and the last stage is the labor stage.
Throughout the nine-week process, it’s your job to make sure your mama Pitbull is happy, healthy, and gets enough exercise.
First Stage: Estrus
After six months of age, dogs go into heat – called the estrus stage – when their mucus discharge becomes thick with spotty pink blood.
At this stage, males become attracted to the smell, and your female is ready to conceive. If pregnancy does not occur at this stage, it won’t be until another six months where you can try again. Estrus lasts two to three weeks.
Second Stage: Confirmed pregnancy
It’s hard to tell in the first few weeks if your Pitbull is pregnant. However, after thirty days, a positive pregnancy test should show.
After taking your dog to the vet, they will have bi-weekly checkups to check health, check on the pups, and possible x-ray screenings.
Third Stage: The growth
On average, the gestation period for Pitbull pregnancies lasts up to sixty-five days or two months and a week. In the third stage – roughly week four in Pitbull pregnancy, the puppies already have heartbeats, and their fetuses form.
In the second month, eyelids and other organs start to form. After the third month, all puppies prepare to position themselves into the birthing canal.
Fourth Stage: Labor
At the first sign of labor, your Pitbull will start to pant or become very restless. Her mucus plug will fall out (a clear fluid discharge), and she may become sick and anti-social. The first stage of labor is when she is looking for a spot to give birth.
Deliveries will happen every thirty to sixty minutes, and sometimes it can take up to twenty-four hours before delivering her last puppy. Make sure you find out with an ultrasound exactly how many puppies to expect.
Pitbull Pregnancy – Week-By-Week
To ensure a healthy and successful pregnancy, you are going to want to keep an eye on your Pitbull throughout the entire nine weeks. Here is what you should know:
Week One: In most cases, a vet can’t confirm pregnancy in the first week. However, this is the week your Pitbull has had a successful mating experience, and the embryos start forming.
Week Two and Three: No changes are needed in the second week. However, if you are positive your Pitbull has conceived, try changing her diet and nutrition. Nutrients such as iron, zinc, and folic acid optimize the production of red blood cells and improve blood flow.
Oxy Mate by Revival Animal Health provides your pup with iron, folic acid, zinc, and other micronutrients that are essential for your dog's health and the development of strong healthy newborns.
At this stage, the puppies are developing from cells to embryos.
Week Four: At twenty-one days in, a vet can confirm with a positive pregnancy test. Your Pitbull’s pups are taking shape and starting to look like baby puppies. By the fourth week, pregnancy signs will become prominent.
Week Five: At this stage, your Pitbull puppies resemble what they will look like outside of the womb. You might be able to tell their gender at this age, and your mama’s abdomen will start to grow. It’s crucial to change her diet and exercise this week.
Week Six: Mama Pitbull’s nipples become more significant and darker this week. Her puppies develop their own markings and unique appearance.
Week Seven: This week consists of excessive shedding and an increase in appetite. Ensure your pregnant Pitbull gets lots of calcium and protein this week.
Week Eight: Just one more week until labor, you may notice signs of early labor this week. However, it’s best to keep the puppies in there a bit longer as eight weeks would be premature birth. Nesting begins this week. If you haven’t already, start creating a safe place for her to birth her puppies.
Week Nine: This week is the final moment everyone has been waiting for. Mama Pitbull will have decreased her appetite by now and become very lazy throughout this week.
Caring for a Pregnant Pitbull
Caring for a pregnant Pitbull requires your full and immediate attention. Ensure your Pitbull switches to puppy food as it has all the ingredients to prepare for a healthy pregnancy. After the fourth week, increase the amount of food you give your Pitbull by about 25%.
A pregnant Pit bull needs about one to two hours of daily exercise during pregnancy. Ensure that you are scheduling vet visits bi-weekly to avoid any complications. To avoid any complications, ensure that your Pitbull sleeps in a quiet and comfortable room. It is okay to have her mate with her – but only if she allows it (no growling or possessive behavior).
Essentially, you need to accommodate for what she is comfortable with. Some warning signs that she is not comfortable include growling and snapping at you or other pets.
How Do Pitbulls Give Birth?
Pitbulls birth through the vagina, and if you are ready and prepared to help her deliver, ensure that she completely trusts you. Without trust, the labor can become highly stressful, and she may lose a pup.
Ensure you have clean towels, rubber gloves, alcohol, sterile scissors, and your vet’s number on the speed dial. Remember, you are only there if she needs it. Most Pitbulls’ instincts kick in and only need your help if there are complications.
Stages of Pitbull Labor and Delivery
Pregnant Pitbull signs of labor include three stages:
You may notice your Pitbull become suddenly restless and anxious. It’s best to comfort her when she asks and stay out of her way when she doesn’t. She may refuse treats or food alongside panting and pacing. Contractions have started and usually last between six and twelve hours until delivery.
Your first puppy should deliver within two hours from the first visible signs of contractions (similar to your Pitbull pooping). After the first puppy is delivered, it can take up to four more hours for the next one.
After each puppy is born, your Pitbull will deliver the placenta. If you don’t see the placenta delivered within thirty minutes, call your vet. There should be as many placentas as there are puppies. After the last pup is born, your Pitbull will become very thirsty and tired. Allow her space with her new litter.
The most important thing you need to do throughout a Pitbull’s pregnancy is establish trust and ensure she gets proper nutrition and enough daily exercise. If you have any questions relating to your Pitbull’s pregnancy, have her vet on speed dial in case of any emergencies throughout the process.
Remember, Pitbulls should have no more than four litters throughout their lifetime, and the amount of puppies solely determines their age, health, and size. Knowing what to do from the first signs and stage of pregnancy will make all the difference for a healthy and successful Pitbull pregnancy.