As Puppies Develop

As you probably already know, our Charcoal Silver Lab, Tula, is expecting her next litter of puppies around the 20th of December.  Our Facebook page posts weekly updates of puppy development along with pictures of Tula as she blossoms into motherhood.  She is on day 21 at this time.  Below is a guideline that  gives weekly development of the puppies.

Canine Gestation Calendar

Week Changes


Breeding takes place.  Within a few days, the sperm reaches the eggs and fertilization occurs.


The fertilized eggs make their way to the uterus for implantation.  You may notice behavioral changes in your dog. She may become moody or more affectionate.


Implantation has taken place and the embryos begin to develop.  Your dog may begin to display mood swings, appetite changes and breast tissue development.


Fetuses can be felt in the uterine horns around day 28, and can also be seen by ultrasound.  The spinal cords are developing, and the fetuses are beginning to grow facial features.  Your bitch’s uterus will shortly fill with fluids to protect the fetuses. After this, it will be weeks until the puppies can be felt again.  Your dog’s appetite will likely increase, so offer her more of her food.


The fetuses develop their sex organs and begin to look like actual puppies. The leg buds lengthen and develop toes.  Your dog’s belly will begin to look noticeably swollen as the pups take up more space.  With less room for full meals, it’s time to begin serving smaller meals more frequently.


Pups continue to grow and pigmentation develops. The eyes now have lids and remain sealed until approximately ten days after birth.  Your dog is noticeably more uncomfortable at this point. She may vomit occasionally due to the extra pressure against her stomach. *You may also notice clear fluid discharge from her vulva. This is normal.


Puppies are well-developed, and now begin attaining size in preparation for birth.  You may be able to see/feel the puppies’ movements in your bitch’s abdomen.  Her breasts are well developed and probably contain a bit of colostrum or “first milk”.  Your dog is noticeably tired and may begin searching for a place to whelp. Time to set up a whelping box.


The pups have fur and are now crowded in the uterus.  You may notice a lot of activity as they get into position for the coming birth.  Your bitch may begin digging the bedding in the whelping box.  This is natural “nesting” behavior.  Allow your bitch to feed freely as she is able.


The pups are ready for birth, and may be quite still as they rest in preparation for the marathon to come.  Your dog may appear uncomfortable and restless or anxious.  Time to begin taking rectal temperature readings 12 hours apart.  Normal temperature is 100 to 101 F; a drop down near 97 F held for two consecutive readings indicates labor will begin within 24 hours.