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How Many Puppies Can a Dog Have?

Is your dog pregnant, and are wondering how many puppies to expect? This is an exciting time that can also be full of apprehension. You want to make sure that you anticipate and plan correctly for the litter while maintaining your pooch’s health and safety. So, how many puppies can a dog have?

The average dog can produce a litter of six puppies, though this number varies. Factors affecting litter sizes include the breed, size, age, and health conditions of your dam. One breed will have a single pup, while another will drop 16 puppies.

With selective or cross-breeding, she might be gunning for the World Record set by a Neapolitan mastiff with a litter of 24 in 2004. Stay with this article as I give you an idea of what to expect so that you can start getting ready for the little ones.

What Factors Determine the Number of Puppies a Dog Can Have?

As an avid dog parent, it’s essential to find out how many puppies she’s expecting. Sometimes you’ll have to find good homes for the new litter. You can get the exact number of anticipated pups on your dog’s third trimester of pregnancy by palpating or with ultrasounds and x-rays of her belly.

Your dog can fail to produce all her pups during labor. With an anticipated number in mind, you’ll be able to save her life with professional intervention.

Determining the exact number of soon-to-be-born puppies involves some guesswork. Contributing factors include;

  • Your dog’s breed and body size
  • Age and health condition
  • Number of pregnancies

Litter Size by Your Dog’s Breed

The breed of your dog, whether pure or mixed, will have a significant effect on the number of pups you can expect from her pregnancy. Generally, the larger the breed of your dam, the more puppies she’s bound to deliver.

Smaller-bodied dog breeds such as a Yorkie will birth one or two little mutts. A bull mastiff or Great Dane, on the other hand, can drop 13 babies at a go.

Exceptions to this rule include selectively and cross-bred dogs. Despite small sizes, they have a high libido and quick-gestation periods, where they birth large litters. Uncommon breeds like the Pekingese are small, but the females can achieve up to ten pups in a litter.

Her Age and Health Condition

The first litter, a dog, produces when she reaches sexual maturity is bound to be small, maybe one or two pups. This number will rise until she nears the age of five, and past six years, dams tend to slow down the number of puppies they have. At this age, health also starts to deteriorate in many breeds.

Your dog’s overall condition of health and nutrition will also affect how many puppies she can have. Average litter numbers are achievable by keeping her at her optimum weight. This involves ensuring that her nutrition is sufficient before and during pregnancy.

Does Breeding Influence the Number of Pups to Expect?

As we’ve seen, your dog’s first and subsequent deliveries will be different, and how you breed her also matters. If you’ve let your dam meet a male, the ensuing natural conception will result in larger litters than artificial insemination.

You can expect a significantly smaller litter as, during the collection of semen, some sperm die before they can be viable for conception. AI is a recommended method for uncooperative dams that have refused to mate with males or where you are selective of the resultant breed.

With artificial insemination, you can also control the number of puppies you think your dog will be able to handle. A sick dog with a stellar personality or characteristics can get bred artificially to maintain the gene even after it’s passed on.

The exact timing of your dog’s impregnation is also a factor that affects litter sizes. After ovulation, dogs are most fertile, seeing as there is the right level of hormones. It’s a method used by breeders where more puppies result from conceptions in the first 48 hours after ovulation.

Is Counting Nipples a Myth?

A popular idea among dog owners is that the number of puppies she will have can get guessed by counting her nipples. This theory suggests that when your dam is pregnant, she’ll have pups half the number of nipples, so there’s equitable resource sharing.

Since most female dogs have between eight and ten nipples, an average litter size would be four or five puppies. That’s near the resolute average of six puppies, so I’ll say there’s some truth behind the so-called nipple myth.

However, there is no scientific backing for counting nipples, as evidenced by the Neapolitan mastiff I mentioned earlier. Tia, who set the 24 puppy world record, didn’t have 48 or even 24 nipples, but causation and correlation aren’t ever the same.

Can You Feel Your Dog’s Tummy for How Many Puppies There Are?

To get a more precise count of how many puppies your dog can have, there are several ways to estimate that. One involves feeling around your dog’s belly, trying to count the number of bulges you can feel.

From the 25th to the 28th day of pregnancy, you can start feeling the little lumps that are grape-sized where your dog’s belly extends. Palpating is a potentially dangerous procedure as with too much force, you risk damaging the embryos.

I recommend that you leave counting puppies by feel or any other intrusive methods to your dog’s vet. Even with professionalism, unless backed by an X-ray or ultrasound scan, the number given is still an estimate, more or less one or two.


The number of pups your dog can have will vary significantly depending on breed, size, and other contributing factors. According to breed range from tiny Chihuahuas with a 3.3 to the mighty Labrador retriever with seven, average dog litter sizes vary.

A small litter isn’t always better, as your dog may take longer to go into labor, endangering the unborn pups. On the other hand, large litters can have a mother exhausted to push, seeing as some labors extend an entire day.



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