How Long Are Dogs In Labor?

Learn everything you need to know about how long dogs are in labor. We’ll cover the different stages of labor, what to expect, and when to call the vet.

Checkout this video:


Dogs are pregnant for about 63 days. The first stage of labor is called the latent phase. During this phase, the cervix begins to dilate and the bitch may start to dig and nest. This phase can last for several hours or even a couple of days. The second stage of labor is called the active phase. During this phase, contractions become more frequent, strong and regular and the bitch will start to push. Pushing generally lasts for 30 – 60 minutes, although it can be shorter or longer depending on whether it is the bitch’s first litter or not. After the baby (or babies) are born, the third stage of labor begins. This is when the placenta is delivered.

The Stages of Labor

There are three main stages of labor in dogs: pre-labor, active labor, and post-labor. Each stage has different signs and lasts for a different amount of time.

Pre-labor is the longest stage of labor, and can last for several hours to a few days. During this time, the dog’s body is preparing for delivery by softening and opening the cervix. The dog may also start to Nest, which means she will start to look for a place to deliver her puppies. She may also seem restless, anxious, or exhibit a loss of appetite.

Active labor is when contractions become more regular and intense, and the dog starts to push puppies out. This stage usually lasts for about two hours. During this time, the dog will likely pant or pace around as she feels the urge to push. Puppies are born one at a time, wrapped in a sack called the chorioallantoic membrane or CAM. The CAM sacks need to be removed so that puppies can start breathing on their own.

Post-labor is when the dog delivers the afterbirth (also called the placenta). This stage usually lasts for about 30 minutes to an hour after puppies are born. During this time, the dog may eat the afterbirth or may clean her puppies with it.

The First Stage of Labor

The first stage of labor is the longest and it can be divided into three phases. The first phase is called latent labor. This is when the dog’s body is preparing for labor but there are no visible contractions or changes in the cervix. This phase can last for days or weeks and is often the most difficult for owners to recognize. The second phase of labor is called active labor. This is when contractions begin and the cervix starts to dilate. The third and final phase of labor is called transition. This is when the cervix dilates from 8-10 centimeters and contractions become more intense.

The Second Stage of Labor

The second stage of labor begins when your dog’s cervix is fully dilated at 10 centimeters and ends when your dog gives birth. This stage can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.

During the second stage of labor, your dog will push the puppies out through the birth canal. The average litter size for dogs is six puppies, but this can vary depending on the breed of dog.

You may notice that your dog’s contractions become more forceful during the second stage of labor. She may also make grunting noises as she pushes. It’s important to stay calm and let your dog do the work. If you’re concerned about anything, contact your veterinarian.

Once the first puppy is born, there is a brief rest period before the next puppy is born. This rest period can last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour. The length of time between births varies depending on the number of puppies in the litter and the size of the breed of dog.

Generally, smaller breeds of dogs have shorter labor times and produce smaller litters than larger breeds of dogs. Some larger breeds of dogs, such as Great Danes and Newfoundlands, can have up to 16 puppies in a litter!

After all the puppies are born, your dog will expel the placenta (afterbirth). The placentas look like large pieces of tissue and are usually dark red in color. It’s normal for your dog to eat one or two of the placentas, as they contain nutrients that help her recover from labor.

The Third Stage of Labor

The third stage of labor is when your dog expels the placenta and any remaining tissue from the uterus. This stage usually lasts 5-30 minutes, but may take up to two hours. You may see your dog lick her vulva or bite at the air. This is normal as she is trying to stimulate contractions to help expel the placenta. Once the placenta is delivered, offer your dog some food and water and monitor her for any signs of illness or bitches in season discomfort.

After the Birth

Once your dog has given birth, she will expel the placenta or afterbirth. This is a normal part of the birthing process and you shouldn’t be concerned unless your dog is bleeding excessively or the afterbirth isn’t expelled within an hour or two.

Your dog will also be exhausted after giving birth and may want to sleep for long periods of time. It’s important to let her rest and recover, but you should also keep an eye on her to make sure she’s nursing her puppies and staying hydrated.

Give her plenty of fresh water and if she doesn’t seem interested in food, offer her a small meal of bland, easily digestible food like boiled chicken and rice.

When to Worry

If your dog is in labor and you are worried about her, there are several things you can look for to determine if she is progressing normally. First, keep track of the time between when contractions start and when Puppy A is born. If the time between Puppies is less than 30 minutes, this is considered normal and not something to worry about. If the time between Puppies is more than an hour, however, you should contact your veterinarian as this could be a sign of potential complications.

Another thing to look for is the color of the amniotic sac that each Puppy is born in. The sac should be clear, not cloudy or discolored in any way. If the sac looks abnormal in any way, contact your veterinarian immediately as this could also be a sign of potential complications.

Finally, keep an eye on your dog’s energy level and general demeanor. If she seems tired or listless, or if she stops eating or drinking, these could also be signs that something is wrong and you should contact your veterinarian right away.

Common Concerns

During labor, your dog’s body is going through some major changes. She’s working hard to push her puppies out into the world, and this can take a toll on her both physically and emotionally. It’s normal to feel worried or even a little panicked during this time, but there are some things you can do to help your dog through labor and delivery.

First, it’s important to know that every dog is different and will experience labor in her own way. Some dogs will have a relatively short and easy labor, while others may take longer and have more difficult deliveries. There is no “right” or “wrong” way for a dog to give birth, so try not to compare your dog’s labor to that of other dogs you may have seen or heard about.

Second, keep in mind that the average length of labor for a dog is 12-24 hours (though it can be shorter or longer in some cases). If this is your dog’s first litter, she may take closer to 24 hours. If she’s had puppies before, she may only be in labor for 6-12 hours. Either way, it’s important to be patient and give your dog the time she needs to deliver all of her puppies safely.

If you’re concerned about your dog’s labor progressing too slowly or if she seems to be in pain, talk to your veterinarian. They will be able to assess your dog’s condition and give you guidance on how to best support her through the delivery process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Dogs usually give birth within 60-90 minutes, although the first puppy may take longer. The delivery of subsequent puppies is usually quicker, with an average interval of 15-20 minutes between each one. However, there can be a lot of variation between different dogs and litters, so it’s always best to seek professional advice if you’re unsure.


Based on the information we gathered, it appears that the answer to how long are dogs in labor is “it varies.” There doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer, as different factors can affect the length of labor. Factors such as the size of the dog and the number of puppies can play a role in how long labor lasts. Additionally, first-time mothers may have longer labors than mothers who have given birth before. Ultimately, it seems that every dog is different and will experience labor for varying lengths of time.

Scroll to Top