When it comes to owning a purebred dog, there are countless different things that you have to be aware of. For some people, being mindful of the breed’s temperament is something that is important, and for other people, knowing what to expect when a dog first gives birth is also important.
A lot of people do not realize that dog pregnancies are far more varied than human pregnancies, especially given that different breeds also have different standards. What this means for you and your dog is that you should know what to expect given the breed of the dog, as it will likely be somewhat different than an “average” dog.
For example, chihuahuas are small dogs that typically do not give birth to many puppies at once. Compared to many larger dogs, the chihuahua’s litter size is astronomically small, especially for a dog’s first litter. These are just a couple of the factors that go into determining how many puppies will be in a litter.
What Factors Determine Litter Size?
Just as with people, there are a number of different things that will determine the litter size of a dog. The size of the dog and the breed of the dog are just a couple of them. Other aspects include the dog’s overall health, how many litters the dog has previously had, and any complications from the pregnancy itself.
The breed plays a fairly large role in determining litter size, especially in brachycephalic dogs. Brachycephalic is the term used to describe dogs with flatter faces and large skulls compared to their small stature. On average, brachycephalic dogs (pugs, chihuahuas, terriers, and bulldogs, to name a few) will have smaller litter sizes than other breeds.
Additionally, whether or not it is the first pregnancy for your chihuahua will make a difference as well. Statistically, the first litter a dog has, especially at a younger age, will be smaller than other litters. Subsequent litter and having litters of dogs at a somewhat older age will usually contribute to a higher puppy count.
What Is Considered the Average?
Dogs have such a varied number of breeds, so the average for what to expect from your dog can differ quite a bit and isn’t always the most reliable thing to count on. For instance, the average number of puppies in a litter is between one and twelve puppies. This leaves a lot of room for variation, and some breeds of dogs, such as the chihuahua, will never even reach the upper echelon of the number of puppies born.
An easier way of determining what the average litter size is going to be is to look at the size of the dog. Giant dogs (Great Danes, Mastiffs, and so on) will easily give birth to more than nine puppies at a time, whereas small breeds (chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and so on) will rarely ever give birth to more than four puppies without health problems.
All of these numbers are assuming the best circumstances for your dog. This means that this is assuming your dog’s pregnancy goes without complications, that this isn’t the first litter (which is often drastically lower in number), and that your dog is getting the proper nutrition throughout the pregnancy.
What About Chihuahuas?
With all of these facts in mind, it may make more sense why chihuahuas tend to have fairly small litters. They are a small breed of dog and on top of that, they are brachycephalic. When you are wondering how many puppys can a chihuahua have, the answer is that most chihuahua litters will range between one and four puppies in size, with the first litter being closer to one to two puppies.
Another variant of the chihuahua breed, the teacup chihuahua, is considered to fit into the miniature category of dog sizes compared to the standard small category for chihuahuas. Because of this, teacup chihuahuas will usually give birth to one to two puppies on average, regardless of if it is the chihuahua’s first pregnancy. This has more to do with the size of the dog than anything else.
What Should You Expect During a Chihuahua’s Pregnancy?
There are a number of circumstances to keep in mind for your chihuahua while it is expecting. For one, you should expect that you will need to take your chihuahua to the vet for a C-section, and you will need to budget accordingly for that. Planned C-sections are a fraction of the price for emergent ones.
This is because giving birth naturally is dangerous for both the mother chihuahua as well as the puppies. Chihuahuas tend to have fairly narrow hips compared to other dog breeds, and this can mean that the puppies can get stuck in the birth canal, which will affect the health of the stuck puppy, any puppies left in the womb, as well as the health of the mother.
You don’t always have to rely on a C-section for chihuahuas, but it is the recommended route if you want to avoid the cost of emergency procedures.
Keeping the Health of the Mother Intact
Another thing that you need to keep in mind when nurturing a mother chihuahua through its pregnancy is that at around the 45-week mark, you should have a vet perform an X-ray to determine how many puppies there are. Not only does this give you a good sense of what to expect, but it can also help you prepare for adverse circumstances.
If your chihuahua is giving birth to more than four puppies at a time (three puppies for a teacup chihuahua), especially as a first birth, there is an increased risk of complications. Think about how people have an increased risk of complication when they have triplets. The concept of this is the same.
When a chihuahua has too many puppies in a litter, there is a larger risk that the puppies will be underweight and may be runts, which mother dogs may have a tendency to ignore. There is also the risk that the puppies may not even make it through the birth.
How Many Times Can a Chihuahua Give Birth?
Every dog is different when it comes to how many puppies they can have in their lifetime. Some dogs are able to give birth more often than others, and litter size can vary. Much like with people, having frequent births can harm the health of the mother dog as well as the health of the puppies being born.
Typically, chihuahuas should never have more than one litter per 12-month period. Ideally, you should wait at least a year to let the mother fully recover her energy. In dogs that have had birth complications (planned C-sections do not count), it may take even longer for your dog to be considered healthy enough for another litter.
As a rule of thumb, chihuahuas should never have more than three or four litters in their lifetime. More than this can affect the health of the mother, both physically and mentally.