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Is My Great Dane Pregnant?

Great Danes puppies are adorable and cute.  Every owner who is trying to breed puppies wants to know as soon as possible if their dog is pregnant.  This allows them to provide proper care and nutrients to the mom. However, many dogs will not show physical changes until they are several weeks pregnant.  The only way to know for sure is a trip to the veterinarian, which may include an x-ray or ultrasound.

How can I tell if my Great Dane is pregnant? Early signs of a Great Dane pregnancy may include vomiting, appetite changes, increased tiredness, and a swollen or firm abdomen. A veterinarian can confirm a positive pregnancy using a physical exam or x-ray after 3-4 weeks. As the pregnancy progresses, the outward signs will become more apparent.

Most dog owners want to know as soon as possible if their dog is pregnant.  It is important to know so that things like diet and healthcare can be addressed. 

Pregnant dogs should not be given live vaccines, cannot have flea and tick treatments, and have certain dietary needs.  Knowing they are pregnant can ensure proper care, while knowing they are not lets you continue to provide them routine care.

Veterinarian Visit

Three to four weeks after mating occurs, a veterinarian should be able to assess if your Great Dane is pregnant. They will gently feel the abdomen for the presence of bumps.

Because of their size, it may be more difficult to tell if a Great Dane is pregnant compared to smaller breeds.  This is also true if the litter size is smaller. In these cases, palpating the abdomen may be inconclusive.

When an exam doesn’t determine pregnancy, taking an x-ray can show if she is pregnant. It is also possible to wait a few more weeks until the dog is further along.

However, it is important to know as soon as possible if your Great Dane is pregnant to ensure correct feeding and so any other medical concerns can be addressed as soon as possible.

Physical Changes

The gestational period for dogs is 56 to 66 days.  On average, the pregnancy lasts about 63 days. As the pregnancy progresses, Great Danes will show physical changes. 

Some of these changes can take longer to be noticeable in a larger dog, like a Great Dane. While dogs may show signs sooner and others later, just as in people. 

Some of the earliest sign include:

Not every dog will show each of these signs, and some may show up at different times for others. Some dogs will show personality changes, such as being overly affectionate.

While other dogs show almost no changes at all.  That’s why a veterinarian exam is the best method for confirming a pregnancy.

Morning Sickness

Just like people, dogs can get morning sickness.  A pregnant Great Dane may vomit first thing in the morning. 

It is important to monitor for this not only because it is a sign of pregnancy, but also to be alert for dehydration and/or decreased nutrient intake if the dog is having severe morning sickness.

Not having morning sickness does not mean your Great Dane is not pregnant. Just as with humans, not all dogs will get morning sickness. Some may get it at other times of the day. 

It is also a sign that can be missed as they may only be sick for one or two days.

Appetite Changes

Over the course of her pregnancy, your Great Dane’s appetite will change.  Initially, it may decrease. The decrease is sometimes mistaken for signs that the dog is not pregnant. 

However, a dog that is lethargic, having morning sickness, or having lots of hormonal changes may have a decreased appetite.  So, an initial decrease does not mean that the dog is not pregnant.

Over the course of the pregnancy, the appetite is likely to steadily increase back to normal. Eventually, the dog will be safety eating up to one and half times her food intake prior to becoming pregnant. 

Some owners recommend feeding a hard-boiled egg and cottage cheese along with regular feedings. Over time the meals, egg, and cottage cheese should be increased.

Lethargic

Your Great Dane may become more lethargic.  She may take naps more often. This can be due to hormonal changes. 

When she is active, she may move slower and do less.

This is normal!

Your Great Dane does still need to get her regular exercise even during this stage to stay fit and healthy, so it is important to continue to exercise her.  

A dog that has been sedentary will need to have some minimal exercise to help with the pregnancy. This will be hard to initiate during this phase due to the lack of energy but is important for your dog’s health. 

An inactive dog is at risk for pregnancy complications.

Swollen Abdomen

One of the most evident signs that a dog is pregnant is her abdomen begins to swell and becomes firm to touch. This is typically seen around the fourth week.

However, depending on age, litter size, number of pregnancies, and size of the dog, she may be farther along before it is noticeable. This is why a veterinarian check is important to make a final determination. 

As the pregnancy progresses, the Great Dane will lose her “tuck up.” This is the term for the small waistline in some dog breeds, such as Greyhounds and Great Danes. 

It is the area of their body after their rib cage where they “tuck up” towards the backbone. Pregnant dogs will lose this after week five or six.

False Pregnancy

A false pregnancy is a display of mothering behaviors combined with physical signs of pregnancy when the dog is not. This can happen in dogs regardless of whether they were bred or not.

A large number of female dogs will show these signs due to hormonal fluctuations following their heat cycle.  Great Danes seem more prone to it than some other dog breeds.

The cause of false pregnancies has to do with the corpus luteum. It is produced by the ovary and can take up to sixty days to fade away when the dog does not get pregnant. 

During that time, it continues to produce progesterone and other hormones. However, in some cases, the corpus luteum stays longer than necessary, leading to a rapid hormonal change that appears to mimic pregnancy.

Many of the signs and symptoms of a false pregnancy are the same as a real one. The dog may even have swollen and enlarged breasts that leak milk. 

She may exhibit nesting behaviors, get a fuller abdomen, and treat her toys as if they are her “babies.” Ultimately, sometimes, only an ultrasound or x-ray can determine if it is a false or true pregnancy.

For more information about Great Dane heats, make sure to take a look at our dedicated article here.

Final Thoughts

Great Danes will show physical and personality changes if they are pregnant. However, just like with people, the changes can vary from dog to dog.

Because of their size, Great Danes rarely show before four weeks of age and maybe not then. The best way to know for sure if she is pregnant is to have a veterinarian check.

Even then, it may take x-rays or an ultrasound to make the final determination.

Great Danes are prone to false pregnancies. In these cases, the dog because of hormonal changes from their heat cycle can mimic the signs and symptoms of pregnancy. 

Again, a veterinarian examination can determine if they are truly pregnant. This is necessary because some routine health care, such as flea and tick medications or vaccines, should not be skipped if your Great Dane is not pregnant.


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