When Can Dogs Have Puppies?

Photo of author
Written by: Celestine Gomez
Last updated:

Having a dog is a fantastic experience; not only do you get a friend for life, but they’re also the most loyal and loving pets you can have.

Understandably, you might want to have more, maybe even make your dog a dad or a mom, but if this is your first time, you might be asking yourself, when can dogs have puppies?

It’s a good question, and this article is here to answer it. There are a few things you need to know about before going all-in. So read on to find out when your dog will be ready to have puppies and how to do it safely.

When Can Dogs Have Puppies?

The answer isn’t as straightforward as you might think since many factors come into play when considering the age a dog can have puppies. A general rule of thumb is that a doggo can start having puppies as soon as they have fully matured.

Age isn’t just a number in these situations, as it’s one of the most vital factors to consider when breeding, especially when it comes to female dogs.

Another main reason to wait for a dog to fully mature is to see if any genetic defects might appear. If there are any, you wouldn’t want to pass them down, as they’ll show up again the puppies.

How the Dog’s Breed Can Affect Their Sexual Maturity

Dogs from smaller breeds tend to reach sexual maturity faster than bigger ones. Typically, dogs hit puberty within six to eight months, and become full adults after a year. Larger breeds like Great Danes, for example, take longer, since they’re considered full adults at two years of age.

So you’ll have to think according to what breed of dog you have; this is mainly to ensure that the dog is healthy and ready to breed.

The Difference Between Males and Females During the Breeding Process

Male and female dogs are vastly different in when they can start to have puppies, and when they can. That said, before doing anything, you’ll need to take them to the vet to do all the necessary checkups and get the clearances required to make them ready for breeding.


Males can become sires as soon as they’ve hit puberty, approximately six to eight months old. However, sires’ sperm counts tend to be low during the two ends of their reproductive life cycles. This means, that if you try to make him sire early, the dam might not get pregnant.

This situation is why you need to wait for the doggo to fully mature, which happens when they’re one to two years old, so you can ensure that the sire will impregnate the dam.

Another thing to consider is that fully matured dogs can mate almost every day if they need to, but you can’t say the same about dams.


Like with the males, you need to make sure that the dam is fully mature. Getting your dam pregnant early in life, or when she gets too old, puts her and the unborn litter in a risky situation. That’s because complications might occur, which could lead to stillborn puppies or physical problems later on.

Similar to males, female dogs tend to reach sexual maturity after six months. Unlike males, experts recommend waiting until the dam reaches its second or third heat cycle. After the dam’s first heat cycle, she’s considered fully matured and ready for breeding.

Dams that are too young could get strained during their pregnancy as their body can’t handle the stress leading to different problems. These issues include birthing complications and premature labor.

On the other hand, aging female dogs, which are usually aged five and up, might have difficulties after giving birth. This can form in several ways, such as their body might not be able to release enough milk to feed the puppies, during which the owner will need to intervene.

What Happens During the Female Heat Cycle?

When a female goes through a heat cycle, it passes by four different phases, each having a different effect on the dog.

  • Proestrus: Lasting between seven to ten days, the female discharges bloody vaginal fluids. The dam will also start attracting dogs during this phase but won’t mate.
  • Estrus: It lasts about five to ten days in total, and it’s usually the breeding window when the males can impregnate the female, with the first two days being the most effective.
  • Diestrus: This one lasts longer, with the maximum being 90 days, during which the dam could show signs of pregnancy even though she might not be pregnant.
  • Anestrus: Lasting for up to six months, this is a rest period during which the female doesn’t get pregnant as she awaits the cycle to begin all over again.


The main thing you need to make sure of is that if you’re intending on making your dog have puppies, they should be in good health and have fully matured.

Yes, smaller breeds get sexually mature faster than bigger ones, but experts recommend that you wait at least a year for the males and up to the second or third cycle for the females.

Why? To ensure that you end up with a healthy litter without endangering the mother’s health or any puppies in the process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it OK for a one-year-old dog to get pregnant?

Most dogs tend to fully sexually mature after a year, making it OK for them to get pregnant. That said, there are large dog breeds that need more time to fully mature. For those, you should wait until they reach their full potential.

Can a female dog have puppies at six months?

Yes, as some smaller breeds of dogs reach puberty at that age; but it’s recommended that the dog fully matures before breeding. When it comes to females that’s after her first heat cycle.

Can dogs have puppies at four months?

No, the dogs are still physically developing during this period, and are generally considered puppies, so you’ll have to wait until they reach puberty.

What if my 10-month-old puppy gets pregnant?

There shouldn’t be a problem as long as the dog is healthy; if you’re still worried, you can check regularly with a vet to see how she’s doing physically.

Photo of author

Celestine Gomez

I'm Celestine Gomez, worked for 5 years in an animal shelter in Los Angeles, California. Having noticed the inherent passion and zeal in me to care for pets, I took a step further to create a team of I and like-minded individuals to provide an informative resource in order to broaden the knowledge base of a regular pet owners.