Toy poodles are a well-favored breed, known and loved for their teddybear appearance as puppies. If you are breeding with your toy poodle female, there are a few signs to look out for to help assist her with a successful pregnancy and birth process.
Toy poodles are pregnant for approximately 63 days and go through various stages of gestation as the fetuses grow. If your female is pregnant, you will notice her stomach and nipples enlarging as early as two weeks and may notice that she is acting more tired than usual.
If you suspect your female toy poodle is pregnant, read on as we discuss the signs to watch out for to confirm her pregnancy, the stages of pregnancy, and the signs and stages of labor.
Signs of Pregnancy
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Mating and The Onset of Symptoms
If your female toy poodle is in her heat cycle and mates while out of sight, you may not notice signs of pregnancy until at least four weeks, where the symptoms are more obvious.
When your female mates intentionally during the correct stage of her heat cycle, and you witnessed her getting tied with the stud, you may suspect she is now pregnant. In this case, you can track her pregnancy more efficiently than accidental pregnancy.
Although you may have witnessed her mating, you will only know for sure between weeks two and four, when she is most likely to show more noticeable symptoms of pregnancy. You can take her to a vet for confirmation that she is pregnant.
Behavioral and Physical Symptoms
Behavioral signs of pregnancy include lethargy, possessiveness, and maternal behaviors over toys. She may also begin dragging bedding and materials into one place, performing nesting behaviors.
Subtle symptoms begin to show from two weeks onwards, including the hardening and swelling of your female poodle’s stomach. More obvious physical signs of pregnancy start showing closer to four weeks.
From four weeks onward, your female toy poodle’s nipples will enlarge. Some smaller nipples will pop out and become much more noticeable. She may start producing clear discharge from her vulva, and her appetite will increase significantly.
Other signs associated with pregnancy include cleaning herself more than usual and less willingness to socialize.
Determining Pregnancy Before 4 Weeks
Once you have mated your female toy poodle, you may want to be certain that the mating was successful instead of relying on subtle signs that could be misleading.
Veterinarians have various ways of determining pregnancy for dogs (source). The earliest a vet can determine pregnancy for certain is after 21 days. The vet will administer a blood test to detect the Relaxin hormone, which is present in high levels for pregnant dogs.
Alternatively, some will buy a dog pregnancy test that is available online. These tests work by picking up the Relaxin hormone in urine, much like how a human pregnancy test will test for the human pregnancy hormone. Use two pregnancy tests to rule out a faulty test result.
Gestation Length for Toy Poodles
Gestation refers to the total length of pregnancy from being mated until giving birth. Different dog breeds have different gestation lengths. The size of the breed most often determines gestation length.
Toy poodles are a small breed and have a longer gestation period; their gestation length averages 63 days in total with a range of 57 to 64 days.
Stages of Pregnancy
From the moment of successful fertilization, the litter will begin developing from single cells to fully developed puppies, ready to enter the world.
Gestation includes three main stages, broken up into weeks one through nine. Stages include mating and fertilization, development of the fetus, and whelping or birth.
Mating and Fertilization of the Egg
If you are breeding your female with the intention of selling the puppies, you must wait until she is ready. When a female poodle is ready and old enough, pair her with a competent stud and have them mate (source).
The stud will generally get the mating done quite quickly, often after only a minute or so. Once mated, the bulbus glandis on the sides of the penis swell, holding it inside the female for up to half an hour. We refer to this process as a “tie.”
Be aware that the reproductive tissue can be significantly damaged on both parties if they are forcefully separated.
Sperm has the ability to survive in the uterus for a few days, where fertilization will take place. It may be the day she mated or a few days later, so be aware that your calculations may be off a few days when tracking her pregnancy.
By week two, a tiny fetus forms and begins to make its way down the uterus to implant itself in the lining.
Symptoms of pregnancy will become more apparent as your female starts showing some behavioral symptoms for the first time.
By week three, the fetus firmly plants itself in the uterine wall. All embryos will begin proper development.
Your female will start to behave differently than usual and will experience a slight increase in appetite.
Week 4 – 5
From week four onwards, it is now possible for veterinarians to physically tell whether puppies are developing.
The puppies will start developing facial features, spines, and eyeballs. At this stage, the fetuses slowly start to look more like puppies.
Your pregnant female’s stomach will begin to noticeably swell and fill up with a liquid that will protect the puppies inside.
By week 6, the puppies’ eyelids have developed, and their coats start acquiring pigmentation.
Your pregnant female will be much more uncomfortable from this stage onwards, as the puppies grow bigger and take up more space.
This is the most common stage for clear discharge to appear from her vulva, although it may only appear much later or not at all.
Things start becoming more exciting during this stage as the puppies begin to gain size significantly. You can now see the puppies moving from outside the stomach.
Your female will start to show signs of preparing to whelp, sleeping more often, and finding comfortable places to exhibit nesting behavior. Her nipples will be large and full of first milk.
The Final Week
During the final week, the puppies have developed their fur and are ready for birth. Your pregnant toy poodle could give birth any day now and should be kept in close observations. Nesting behavior intensifies, and she may begin acting more agitated.
Your female will show signs of anxiety, restlessness, and will be quite uncomfortable.
As the puppies are born, one by one, she will break open the sack they arrive in and lick them each clean, eating the placenta in the process and breaking the umbilical cord. She then allows the puppies to nurse for the first time.
Signs of Labour
Labour, known as whelping, is a long 24-hour journey for a pregnant toy poodle. Whelping is quite uncomfortable for the female, and there are many possible complications to look out for.
Being prepared for when your female is ready to start whelping is of utmost importance to avoid any dangers to her or the puppies’ lives. There are a number of signs to look out for when you suspect she is near her due date.
If you have been tracking the weeks, you should know when the final week is approaching.
When your female is in her final week of gestation, you can take her temperature daily at least once. Her temperature will drop by about 1-degree Celcius 24 hours before whelping.
Your female will show more intense behavioral changes when nearing labor. She will start becoming anxious and agitated and search for a comfortable place to have her puppies.
From this point onwards, the main assistance needed is a supportive role for your female’s needs, and to watch out for any complications.
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The Three Stages of Labour
Stage 1: Dilation and Contractions
The first stage of labor is extremely painful. The cervix begins dilating to allow for an easier passage for the puppies. Your female will experience intense contractions, and the pain will cause her noticeable agitation.
Stage 2: Birthing of The Puppies
One by one, the puppies are born. Each puppy is born in its own amniotic sack that is broken on the way out of the birth canal or by the mother upon arrival.
Puppies can be born up to as long as 60 minutes apart, and can also all be born within a short period of time. Any longer than 60 minutes between pups, and there is cause for concern.
Stage 3: Afterbirth and Full Uterus Contraction
After all the puppies are born, the placenta should come out on its own. It may take some time, but once the placenta is out, the uterus will contract fully.
On occasion, the placenta does not come out on its own, and it may cause problems. If this happens, seek veterinary advice.
To avoid complications, have a vet on call as an extra precaution. A vet will be able to talk you through any difficult situations that arise.
Complications to be aware of include:
- Lengthy gestation period surpassing 65 days
- Bleeding that does not seem normal
- Labor that lasts over 24 hours before a puppy is born
- Discharge from the vulva smells strong and unpleasant
- Straining for a puppy without success
If you are uncertain about something that is happening, be sure to address it with your vet just to be safe.
Gestation is an exciting process to witness. Once puppies are born, sleepless nights are guaranteed, but it is well worth the trouble.
Breeding your female toy poodle is a highly rewarding experience. However, if you lack previous experience in the process, consult your veterinarian and do as much research and receive as much advice as possible.