The average litter size by dogs is between 5 to 6 puppies per litter. However, a dog may give birth to between 1 to 12 puppies in a litter.

If your dog is expecting puppies, you’ve probably begun to wonder how many will be born in the next few months. After all, you must start purchasing supplies and preparing for all those adorable puppies, so it’s important to know what to anticipate.

We’ll further explain the average litter size for dogs, discuss why litter sizes vary, and share a few other dog pregnancy facts below.

Typical Average Dog Litter Sizes

Typical litter size ranges from 1 to 12, with 5 to 6 puppies being the average number across all breeds of dogs. Giant breeds, however, can have up to 15 puppies, and it varies widely and is based on the species, size, health, and past pregnancies of your dog.

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The litter size of giant dog breeds is frequently larger than that of smaller breeds, which may only have a few puppies, resulting from the breeds’ smaller stature. If it is your dog’s first time giving birth, they might also have fewer puppies, but subsequent pregnancies are likely to result in more puppies.

Additionally, your dog needs to stay healthy because it affects how many puppies she will have. Also, a dog’s proper nutrition is a significant factor that will help her produce more puppies and survive the pregnancy process.

How Many Puppies Can a Dog Have?

Toward the end of her pregnancy, your dog’s vet will probably be able to count the exact number of puppies in her belly by palpating her stomach or taking an x-ray (although it can be easy to miss one of the puppies, so you won’t know for sure until the pups start coming out).

Even though your pregnant dog mom isn’t far enough for your vet to determine how many pups she’s carrying, there is some value in knowing an approximate number to anticipate.

A thorough analysis on the subject was released in 2011. The mean (average) litter size in this group was 5.4, according to the researchers’ analysis of over 10,000 litters from 224 different breeds.

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There is, however, a good deal of variation at work. Large breeds typically produced 7.1 puppies per litter, compared to 3.5 puppies for miniature breeds.

Factors Influencing Litter Size

Some factors determine the number of puppies in a litter. While some factors are influenced by lifestyle and health, some are genetically predetermined.

  1. Breed and Size
  2. Method and time of conception
  3. Gene Pool Diversity
  4. Age
  5. Number of Pregnancies
  6. Overall Health
  7. Diet
  8. Individual Genetic Factors
  9. The Father


1. Breed and Size

Your dog’s breed and stature are the main determinants of the size of a litter, and a giant dog breed will frequently produce a larger litter than a smaller dog breed. In comparison, an average of three puppies are produced by small breeds, while giant breeds typically produce an average of seven puppies per litter.

Great Danes and Labradors are two dog breeds with more than ten puppies that occasionally have litters. Compared to other breeds, their bodies can better support the development and delivery of numerous puppies.

You also need to think about your dog’s pedigree. A hybrid dog might need a larger litter because of its genetic diversity. On the other hand, an inbred dog may possess specific traits that cause them to have fewer puppies in its litter.

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2. Method and time of conception

Surprisingly, your dog’s number of puppies may depend on how she conceives. Some dogs conceive through artificial insemination, while others become pregnant naturally, increasing their chances of having a larger litter. During the freezing process, the preserved semen kills many sperm cells, reducing fertilization and fewer pups in a litter.

The number of puppies in a litter is also determined by the date of conception. Agronomists have found a high likelihood of a larger brood in dogs that conceive within 48 hours of ovulation.

3. Gene Pool Diversity

Dogs with smaller gene pools tend to have smaller litters; in contrast, dogs with larger gene pools tend to have larger litters. This indicates that dogs from extensively inbred lines will gradually produce smaller and smaller litters.

4. Age

There is no upper age limit for conception in dogs. A female dog can reproduce up until the time of senility. However, a dog’s early adulthood is when it is most likely to have a larger litter. Between the ages of two and five, dogs are at their peak productivity, and their litter size will decrease as they age.

5. Number of Pregnancies

Every time a dog is on heat, another litter is ready to be born. Additionally, a dog’s chances of producing even more puppies in the following litter increase each time she becomes pregnant. These larger litters are frequently visible during pregnancies three, four, and five.

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The first pregnancy is special because it frequently has a small baby. Although most people think the dog doesn’t understand how pregnancy works, this isn’t the case for a specific reason. Your dog will experience stress and anxiety as its hormones mature, which will impact her developing eggs.

However, after going through pregnancy once, your dog will know what to expect, which will lessen her anxiety.

6. Overall Health Can Influence The Average Litter Size Of Your Dog

Dogs in good health are likelier to have larger litters and healthy puppies. Any female slated for breeding trials must be in excellent health for her and the puppies to survive the birthing process.

7. Diet

There is a link between your dog’s diet and health. Whether you make your dog food or give your dog dairy feed, the quality of the food will determine how many puppies your dog will have. It will also determine how easy the birthing process will be.

A dog’s body requires a balanced, nutrient-rich food supply to support the pup’s development. If your dog does not get enough nutrients, the puppies may die before birth, or the dog may give birth prematurely.

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To increase the size of the litter, you may need to change your dog’s diet. You can add extra protein to the food your dog is already eating. However, before making dietary changes to your pregnant dog’s diet, consult your vet to ensure that this is beneficial to your pregnant dog.

8. Individual Genetic Factors Affect The Average Litter Size Of Dogs

Dogs are all unique individuals who differ in countless ways; occasionally, this can include the size of the litter. Although it is very difficult to predict, dogs with large first litters are more likely to have large second and third litters, assuming all other variables stay the same.

Remember that most of these characteristics pertain to the dam (female), not the sire (male). The sire does, however, have some impact on the size of the litter. The size of the litter he sires will be partially determined by his health, age, and unique genetic makeup.

9. The Father

In some cases, the father can determine the size of a litter. The overall health and genetics of the male dog will influence how the sperm performs and how the female dog’s body reacts to the male sperm.

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Average Litter Sizes for the Top Popular Dog Breeds

Your dog’s breed is important in determining whether she has three or ten puppies. While many breeds are more conservative, some are known to have large litters. In general, smaller dog breeds will produce smaller litters, and larger dog breeds will produce larger litters.

According to a study involving 728,271 litters

Breed Litter Size
Rottweiler 6-12 avg: 8.5 
Shetland Sheepdogs 2-6 avg:4.3
American Eskimo 5-6 avg: 5.3
Doberman, Golden Retriever or Pitbull 4-8 avg: 6.4
Australian Shepherd or Cattle Dog 3-6 avg: 4.8
Cane Corso, Mastiff or Great Dane 8-10 avg 8.8
Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas 2-5 avg: 3.3
American Cocker Spaniels 3-7 avg: 5
German Shepherds 5-9 avg: 6.6
Labrador Retrievers 5-10 avg: 7
Shih Tzu or Pomeranian 1-4 avg 2.5 


What’s the Largest Litter Ever Recorded?

A Neapolitan mastiff named Tia gave birth to 24 puppies via Caesarean section in 2004, making her the mother of the largest litter ever recorded.

This is very unusual because most dogs have much smaller litters than this, and Neapolitan mastiff litters typically contain 6 to 10 puppies.

Other notable instances of large litters include:

  • Fourteen puppies were born by Springer Spaniel In 2009.
  • 2017 saw the birth of 15 puppies from an Irish setter on Mother’s Day.
  • In 2015, Mosha, a white German shepherd, gave birth to 17 pups.
  • A Maremma sheepdog gave birth to 17 puppies in 2016, breaking the previous state record for the largest litter.
  • A bullmastiff gave birth to 23 puppies in 2014
  • A 3-year-old Great Dane gave birth to 19 puppies in 2014.
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How do you know your dog is pregnant? What Are the First Signs of Pregnancy in a Dog?

Sadly, there aren’t many early indications that your dog is pregnant. Typically, it takes three to four weeks before you’ll start to notice pregnancy-related symptoms.

The following are some of the most common signs of pregnancy:

  1. About one month after mating, a pregnant dog’s teats will swell and slightly change color.
  2. Around one month after mating, some dogs start to discharge a semi-clear fluid from their nipples.
  3. Many dogs experience “morning sickness” during the third or fourth week of pregnancy. This can include vomiting, appetite changes, lethargy, or mood changes.
  4. Your dog will most likely begin to gain weight around week four. By the end of the pregnancy, most dogs weigh about 50% more than they originally weighed.
  5. Your dog’s belly will most likely bulge around the fifth week of pregnancy, and this is not always obvious, especially in dogs carrying a small litter.
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