Facts About Golden Retriever Gestation

Pet Care


May 23, 2020

Everyone loves puppies. If you’re new to breeding or you’re excited about getting a puppy from a breeder, days can feel like years. Fortunately, the gestation period in dogs is significantly shorter than in humans. The gestation period for Golden retrievers is usually between 59-65 days, which equates to around nine weeks. You can find many Golden retriever pregnancy calculators online to work out and prepare for your Golden retriever’s due date.

What You Need to Know About Golden Retriever Gestation

The most common way to tell that your Golden retriever is pregnant is through numerous telltale signs of pregnancy, but if you want to be 100% certain, you can discuss canine pregnancy tests with your veterinarian. Some of the most common signs that your dog is pregnant include:   

  • Decreased energy/activity levels

It is completely normal for your dog to experience decreases in activity levels during the early stages of their gestation period. However, if you have a generally lazy pooch in the first place, you should take note of how long it takes her to become tired normally as pregnant Golden retrievers tend to tire faster than usual.   

  • Appetite Changes

Changes in your dog’s appetite are a major sign of pregnancy. Usually, changes to your female Golden retriever’s eating habits become apparent and manifest in the early to mid-stages of her gestation. She may not eat as much and vomit more often, or she may eat more than her usual intake of food. Her hormone imbalance will dictate her behavior in terms of eating.   

  • Weight Gain

Even if your Golden retriever eats less during the early stages of her pregnancy, the most obvious sign that she is pregnant is the fact that she will be gaining weight continuously. Her stomach/abdomen may be enlarged or bloated, and if you notice this, you should take her to the vet for further instruction about pregnancy.   

  • Enlarged nipples

You may also notice that your Golden retriever’s nipples and the surrounding area may become swollen and rounded. This is due to the increased blood flow in that area resulting from the pregnancy, and thus it’s another good indicator that your dog is pregnant. 

What Happens During My Golden Retriever’s Gestation?

Here’s what to expect during each stage of your beloved pet’s pregnancy:   

  • Weeks 1-3

This period is the early/beginning stage of your dog’s pregnancy. After successful breeding between your Golden and her mate, week 1 effectively begins. During week 2, the fertilized egg will descend into the uterus and embed in the uterine walls. This is the time where you are most likely to see the most significant physical and psychological changes. 

In week 3, your retriever will develop her milk ducts, and her breasts/nipples may become more rounded. This is the time where the puppy embryos develop. During weeks 2 and 3, you will most likely see all the signs listed in the above section. Your pooch may become excitable and overly clingy towards you in this period as well, or you may notice her being quite moody. All of this is normal and is due to her hormonal imbalance.   

  • Week 4

At four weeks pregnant, the puppy fetuses will be developed enough for you to be able to feel them with your hands. As the fetuses will be more demanding of her resources to be able to grow, be ready for your dog’s increased appetite! You might need to increase her portion size during this time to meet her requirements.

Your Golden retriever’s abdomen is also likely to expand significantly towards the end of week 4. During this stage, the uterus tends to fill the sack with amniotic fluids for added protection of the puppies.   

  • Week 5

Your Golden retriever will have a noticeably larger abdomen at this time. The fetuses’ sex organs will almost fully develop during week 5 of the pregnancy, and you can also expect their paws and toes to develop more pronounced features in this time frame. You should cut back on your Golden’s food portion sizes during this period, but increase the number of meals she gets in the day.   

  • Week 6

Fetuses will be much larger and more developed at this point. During week 6, the puppies develop their eyelids. Your beloved pet is likely to experience bouts of vomiting during this time. She will usually have a clear discharge coming from her vagina. Both of these signs are perfectly normal, and you shouldn’t be concerned by them, even if your Golden hasn’t vomited in the earlier stages of her pregnancy.

  • Week 7

The litter of pups inside your dog’s womb will pretty much have reached their peak size at this point. She will not only be ready to give milk; she may start to leak some of it out. Unfortunately, that might mean a bit of extra cleaning up is coming your way.

During week 7, your dog may appear visibly tired and unwilling to engage in a lot of her usual activities. You could get started on creating a suitable nesting area where she can nurse her puppies once she has given birth, and make it as comfortable as possible for her. Sometimes, your dog will happily lie in the nursing area despite her not being ready to give birth yet.   

  • Week 8

At eight weeks pregnant, your Golden retriever’s puppies will have fur. The mom herself will be extremely bloated and just looking generally ‘large.’ Bless her. There aren’t any real physical or activity changes in both your Golden and her puppies during this period. You may start to notice she is demonstrating ‘digging’ behaviors in the nursery area you have set up for her. This is a sign that she will soon be giving birth, and so she is preparing the area to accommodate her puppies.   

  • Week 9

By this point, your Golden is quite literally bursting. Bursting with excitement to meet her new puppies, but she also looks like she could quite literally burst herself! She will very soon give birth, so regular rectal temperature readings can be useful to help you get fully prepared for the moment. The normal temperature reading is around 100 degrees, but if you get two consecutive readings of 97 degrees, it indicates that your dog will go into labor within the next 24 hours. 

Usual behaviors associated with a dog going into labor include restlessness, general anxiety, and overall physical discomfort in your pet. 

Ways to Determine If Your Golden Retriever Is Pregnant

There are various methods to help you to determine if your Golden retriever is pregnant. However, these methods are only useful further along in the pregnancy. Therefore you should look out for the earlier signs that we listed at the beginning of this article and then later confirm your suspicions with these methods:   

  • Hormonal Tests

A few hormonal tests can be carried out to determine if your Golden retriever is pregnant or not. An example of one of these hormones is relaxin. The relaxin test is particularly accurate because the only time it is released from the placental tissue is during pregnancy. To give a precise answer, however, your dog should be at least 30 days into her pregnancy as tests taken earlier can be inaccurate.   

  • Ultrasound

If you want to find out whether or not your pet is pregnant during the early days of gestation, the best method to do this is via ultrasound scanning. Vets suggest you take your pet for an ultrasound between 25 and 35 days into the gestation period.

Final Thoughts  

Pregnancy can be a scary and uncertain time for both you and your pet. Still, by following your veterinarian’s advice and keeping your dog as comfortable as possible, you’ll be as ready as you can be for your Golden retrievers giving birth! Should you have any concerns during your dog’s pregnancy due to her behavior or other symptoms, consult your vet for advice.