As more and more dog owners are looking to Labrador as potential companions, there are lots of questions about their breed. For example, how many lab puppies can a Labrador have?
Labradors have a reputation for being patient and gentle with their pups, so it's no surprise that most breeders recommend waiting as long as possible before you have another litter. This means the question of how many Lab puppies can a Labrador have, is one that many people are curious about.
How To Find Out If Your Dog Is Pregnant?
Just like human pregnancies, dog pregnancies are complicated and sometimes confusing. An understanding of dog pregnancy is crucial especially if your dog is pregnant or you are planning to breed your dogs.
There are many things you need to know about dog pregnancy, from the signs of pregnancy to caring for your little puppies is born. Here is some information about dog pregnancy that should help you out.
How Long Does A Dog Carry Their Puppies In Her Belly?
For female dogs, sexual maturity is reached between the ages of 6 to 12 months. This means they can get pregnant at just 6 months of age. Dog pregnancies normally last for nine weeks (approximately 60 days), although they might give birth sooner or later.
Signs of Dog Pregnancy
A Larger Belly
Pregnant dogs will have a bigger belly as the pregnancy progresses, just like humans. However, a bigger belly could sometimes be a symptom of the disease.
Be alert to any changes in your dog’s appetite. A dog that is pregnant may eat more than usual. However, a pregnant dog may also have morning sickness that causes it to lose appetite and vomit, just like humans. Unlike humans, morning sickness in pregnant dogs ends fast. It normally lasts for just a few days.
Increased Breast and Nipple Size
The size of the breast of a pregnant dog will increase significantly and its nipples will become swollen. You might even detect some milky fluid as well.
You will notice a constant mucous discharge from the vulva if your dog is pregnant.
As the pregnancy progress, the pregnant dog’s weight will start to increase. She is likely to gain 15% to 25% of weight depending on the number of puppies she is carrying.
Some dogs could experience phantasm pregnancy where the dog shows the signs of pregnancy but she’s actually not pregnant. A dog might gain weight, have larger breasts and nipples, display nesting behavior, and even produce milk, but she's actually not pregnant.
This is a rare phenomenon that happens only in dogs. If your dog is having a phantasm pregnancy, consult your vet for a solution.
How Many Puppies Can A Labrador Actually Have?
Although Labs don’t lose their charm even after they grow up, the cuteness of small puppies is unmatched. So you may wonder how many puppies are usually born when a female Lab gets pregnant.
While results vary based on a number of factors, researchers have arrived at an average litter size you can expect. So, how many puppies do Labradors have? According to a study conducted by the American Kennel Club, Labradors usually have 5 to 10 puppies in a litter.
Litter sizes vary due to size, age, health, diet, and genetic diversity. A female Lab’s first litter is typically smaller than average. The largest recorded litter to date is 15.
It’s important to understand how the above-mentioned factors can impact litter sizes. If you’re looking to breed your Lab, there are many things that can be done to influence how many puppies Labradors have. I’ll discuss each of those throughout the article. Additionally, I’ll cover when you should breed, how often, and how many litters a single female is capable of having.
Determining Your Labrador's Litter Size
As we’ve said, the number of puppies inside a Labrador’s belly varies greatly. Your pet can have anywhere from one to over twelve puppies. The average litter size is five to ten, but it is heavily influenced by several factors (more on that later).
Your veterinarian can actually help you find out exactly how many puppies there are inside a Lab’s uterus. They can take X-rays of the pregnant female and count the skeletons of pups in her belly. This is an acceptable way to determine litter size in dogs.
Although it’s not sure-fire—because it’s easy to miss one of the puppies—this process gives you a good idea of how many little wigglers to expect. You have to wait until six weeks of pregnancy for puppies’ skeletal system to develop. Ultrasound scans and abdominal palpation are other ways to estimate litter size.
Average Litter Size For Labradors
In 2011, a comprehensive study was performed to answer the question of litter size in dogs. The researchers analyzed 224 breeds and more than 10,000 litters, and they calculated the average litter size to be 5.4.
However, there was a clear difference between miniature and large breeds. The former only had 3.5 pups per litter, while the latter produced 7.1 pups on average.
The above research is for all dog breeds. But the AKC analyzed over 85,000 Labrador litters to conclude that Labs have a typical range of five to ten puppies, with an average of 7.6.
So we can safely say that Labradors, being a large breed, will likely have a larger litter size. Though cases of producing just a puppy or two are not unheard of.
Overall, if you have a pregnant Lab mother, expect her to give birth to about half a dozen babies.
On average, Labradors usually have between 6 and 10 puppies given that they are a large breed. Of course, this is only an approximation because there are many factors that can influence the number of pups a dog might give birth to. In some rare cases, the dog can have up to 14 puppies.
The Biggest Labrador Litter Size On Record
Now you know how many puppies to expect when your Lab gets pregnant. And you’re probably wondering, “But what’s the maximum they can pop out?” Well, you’ll be shocked to find out that it’s twice the average litter size!
Back in 2014, when a black Scottish Labrador named Anne was pregnant, the vet predicted that she would have three to six puppies. Little did they know, the proud mama kept popping out babies one after the other until there were 15 of them!
A more recent case was reported a few months back in April 2020. Here, A Labrador called Bella produced 14 fur babies, just one shy of the record set in 2014. The labor lasted for seven hours, and Bella gave birth to eight black and six yellow Labs.
Fun fact: Anne’s 15 kids are a lot, but the Guinness World Record for most puppies is set by Tia, a Neapolitan mastiff. She gave birth to 24 puppies in November 2004. Of course, she couldn’t do it all by herself and had to take the help of a Cesarean section.
Factors That Influence The Number Of Puppies
An average litter contains 6 to 10 puppies; however, many factors can influence the size of the litter, which can contain less or more. The first thing to be aware of is the fact that the size of the litter can vary for the same bitch. This will depend on:
The Dog's Size and Genetics
Factors that affect the number of eggs released in the womb.
After the bitch has been in heat four times, the size of the litter tends to increase.
Your dog's diet and nutrition, as well as its general health and well-being.
When The Dog Is Bred
If your dog is mounted during the two most fertile days, there is a greater chance of a larger litter. On the other hand, if it is done one or two days before her most fertile days, although the male dog's sperm can survive in the female's body for up to 48 hours, fewer eggs are likely to be fertilized, meaningless puppies are born.
Nutrition and Health
This one is a no-brainer. If your Lab is happy and healthy, she’ll give birth to more puppies, and the babies born will be healthier as well.
The mother needs to be in perfect health so that she and her pups survive the birthing and whelping process. Not only the female but the male Lab should also be healthy if you want to avoid complications.
Nutrition is crucial for your Labs throughout their entire lives. And when it comes to breeding, diet directly affects the litter size. Both male and female Labs will produce healthier and larger litters if they’ve been fed a high-quality diet.
Other Factors also Include:
The Breeding Type
Natural breeding results in more puppies than artificial insemination (AI). Using AI can decrease litter size by as much as 15 percent.
Usually, if a Lab gives birth in spring, she produces more puppies. But if the breeding takes place in summer, the litter size is smaller.
The Frequency of Mating
Litter size is smaller if the female is bred only once. So it’s recommended to mate the Labs every other day until the female refuses to mate.