Golden retrievers are one of the most friendly, energetic, and intelligent dog breeds. They are the third most popular dog breeds in the United States of America, and they live up to 12 years.
Expanding your retriever family only seems to be the logical course of action after the little puppy you brought home brought so much love and energy into your homes. And before you knew it, the little puppy you brought home from the breeder is now ready to start her own family.
Are you wondering how many puppies can Golden Retrievers have? Let’s find out!
How many puppies can Golden Retrievers usually have?
Well, the litter size of golden retrievers varies between 8 and 12 puppies. This, obviously, depends on the mother. Are you now wondering what factors determine the size of the litter and what pregnancy-related changes you may observe in your retriever? Continue reading to know more about to expect from your pregnant pooch.
Some pregnancy-related changes which you will see in your golden retriever are:
- Less physical activity. Your otherwise active canine may now seem less active and may prefer sleeping over exercise.
- Loss of appetite in the first few days. In the initial days of pregnancy, she may not eat much. But the appetite will return after a few weeks, and you will see her belly growing.
- Becomes more affectionate. The motherly instincts kick in, and the pregnant retriever becomes more friendly and affectionate. While pregnant humans crave for chocolate or ice creams, the retriever will crave for more belly rubs and pets.
- Vaginal discharge. The creamy or transparent discharge may be observed, which you will see the retriever licking off. If the reddish discharge is observed, you should contact your veterinarian at the earliest.
- Milk discharge towards the end of pregnancy. Milky discharge indicates that the whelping process will be starting soon.
The gestation period of canines is about nine weeks, and you should be ready to welcome the puppies in the third month of pregnancy. The good news at this point is that during the whelping process, you do not need to do anything. Just let nature take over the process.
Major factors which affect litter size
Golden retrievers become sexually active from nearly a year old and remain so till old age. These are large breed dogs, and a number of factors contribute to their litter size. The major factors which affect litter size are
Genes play an important role in the litter size. It is the genes that determine how many eggs are released in the womb and how many have the chances of being fertilized. It is important to note that the genes of both the parents determine the size of the litter.
The size of the litter increases with the age of the retriever. A young retriever will have a small litter while a retriever of 4 to 5 years old will have a larger litter.
The overall health of the retriever also plays an important role in determining the size of the litter. A healthy retriever will produce a large litter while an overweight retriever will more likely give a small litter.
A healthy is very important for the parents. Especially the would-be mother needs to have a healthy diet with a good immune system to carry a healthy pregnancy.
However, a number of factors result in reduced litter size. If the sire was too old, the sperm count might be low, which will result in fewer eggs being fertilized and thus a smaller litter size.
If the mating did not take place on the two most fertile days of the dog, the size would vary. The health of both parents also matters a lot.
Any injuries on either party will affect the litter size. An extended or long labor may also lead to the birth of stillborns and, thus, a reduced litter size.
Clinical techniques to determine litter size
Towards the end of the gestation period, your vet may be able to determine the size of the litter by ultrasonography or by taking an X-ray.
Ultrasonography is a safe technique for both mother and the litter. However, on the day of delivery, you may find one or two extra wigglers.
This is because sometimes the puppies are placed inside the womb in such a way that they are not detected by the vet.
Pregnancy care tips
Exercise: The pregnant pooch can be taken out for short walks but do not exhaust her. Pregnancy causes fatigue, but a little exercise is required to keep fit.
Vaccinations and other treatments: All vaccinations should be completed prior to a planned mating. However, if there remain any pending vaccination shots, contact your vet to know about their safety for the mother and the unborn puppies.
It is generally advised to continue with any required treatments for worms and fleas during the pregnancy.
Worms such as hookworms and roundworms tend to pass on from the mother to the unborn pups, and therefore extra care is required.
Complications during golden retriever’s pregnancy
Different complications may come up during your retriever’s pregnancy. The lack of a calm and comfortable environment during the whelping process may have an adverse effect on the mother and the puppies.
Extremely large litter size may need a caesarean delivery. You should also note that an extremely long delivery may be due to a still born puppy.
If the still born remains in the uterus, it may create complications for the mother.
Preparation for the whelping process
The pregnant retriever will need a comfortable place to give birth to the puppies. The whelping process will be a long one, and she will need to be in a comfortable place where there is a minimum disturbance.
Prepare a whelping box with a warm blanket and a warm light. Place the box in a secluded area where there is a minimum movement of humans.
Keep the retriever away from other dogs. Once the whelping process starts, your intervention will not be required. However, you should keep an eye from afar.
Nature will take its course, and the mother will know what needs to be done. However, if the is unable to remove the puppy from the sac after birth, you can slowly cut it from the head side. Removal of the sac is important to allow the newborn pup to breathe.
By now, you should know how big a litter size to expect from your golden retriever and what factors affect the litter size. Moreover, understanding the breeding process helps you understand what to expect at various stages.
After the birth of the puppies, you will need to know certain aspects with respect to caring for newborn puppies. The more you read, the more you will learn about the entire process.
Do remember to keep your pregnant dogs in a stress-free, happy environment and keep them away from other aggressive dogs. Injuries during pregnancy may cause complications.
It’s important to have a clear idea about the litter size of your Golden Retriever and to take care of your flurry pet properly.