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Maltese Pregnancy

If you have a female Maltese, you probably have a lot of questions about Maltese pregnancy:
  • How old should a Maltese be when she first becomes pregnant?
  • How long will a pregnant Maltese be expecting?
  • What are the first signs of labor?
  • What should I expect?
  • How many Maltese puppies are in a litter
We discuss all of these questions and more.  Whether Maltese puppies on the way are a surprise, a well-planned event or you are thinking about breeding your dog, this section should help you.

This X-ray clearly shows the growing puppy inside this Maltese soon-to-be mom

Age of a Pregnant Maltese

it is surprising to many owners, however a female dog can become pregnant during her very first heat cycle. The Maltese may enter heat as young as six months old and as late as 16 months. 
See Heat
Learn  about  the
Maltese Heat Cycle

What is the Best Age For a Maltese to Have Puppies?

Ideally, you will want to wait until your dog is at least 18 months old before allowing her to have puppies.  Good and ethical breeders will not breed a dog with each cycle.  They will allow the dog to rest and breed every other cycle.  In many cases, a female will need to be allowed to rest for 2-3 cycles before breeding again.  Some dogs never stop their heat cycle and have it for their whole lives; therefore a female dog can become a mom when she is very old.  For this reason, it is very strongly recommended to have your dog spayed if you are not planning on breeding her.

How Will I Know if My Maltese is Carrying Puppies?

The signs are subtle, however you can spot them if you know your dog well:
  • The tummy will quickly swell
  • Nipples will enlarge
  • Your dog may show nesting actions, such as attempting to create a more comfortable resting area.  Some dogs gather pillows and blankets and bring them to their regular resting areas
  • Her appetite will increase
How Large are Maltese Litters?

The average size litter for the Maltese is 4 puppies.  A Maltese may have 2-5 pups. In very rare cases there will be a lone newborn.

What Happens if I Did Not Want My Maltese to Become Pregnant?

If you know that your dog has been mated and it is under 72 hours, a veterinarian can give your dog a medicine that is equivalent to the human "Morning After Pill".  After 72 hours, this is not possible.   It is possible for a dog to have an abortion if her health is at riskThis should only be performed by an experienced veterinarian who has done this procedure many times without incident.  Most often, this will be combined with spaying the Maltese as well.  The dog will be put under anesthesia; rest will be needed for several weeks afterward.

How Soon Until I Can Be Sure She is Going to be a Mother?

A dog must be at least 4 weeks along before a vet will be able to take an X-ray to confirm.  X-rays are usually done twice: once to confirm the pregnancy and see how many puppies are growing; the second time to see if the pups are small enough to pass through the birth canal.

How Long Does a Maltese Pregnancy Last?

She will have her puppies relatively fast!  They will arrive in about 9 weeks. While the average is 63 days, this is not an exact science...Anywhere between 61-65 days is normal.

How Do I Prepare For the Pups?

9 weeks goes by very fast when your Maltese is soon to be a mom!  She will need:
  • An increase in food, usually puppy food is recommended since it contains necessary vitamins, minerals and calories formulated to help with growth.
  • She will need rest
  • Ramps and steps should be placed next to any furniture she normally jumps onto.  You do not want her jumping down from any heights.
  • Vet checkups along the way are important to make sure both mom and soon-to-be-born pups are doing well
  • Look for red flag warning signs.  Bleeding is the most common and dangerous; it is not normal for her to have a discharge of blood and she must be taken to the vet or animal hospital ASAP.
  • Preparation and planning for the actual birth should be made in advance.  Your dog's veterinarian will tell you if she will be able to go "natural" or if she will need a Cesarean section (this is not uncommon for small breed dogs). Decide if you wish to supervise the birth or if you will have assistance.  While breeders help their dogs give birth all the time, average owners are encouraged to allow their vets to guide them and deliver the puppies.
How Will I Know it is Time?

You will know your Maltese is ready to give birth by taking her temperature.  Using an oral thermometer, her temperature should be taken anally.  A dog's normal resting temperature is 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38.33 Celsius).   When her temperature drops, get ready!   Many dogs will also have an increase in bowel movements right before it is time.

Will She be in Pain?

Sadly, it is believed that dogs do experience cramping and pain just as a human female does.  It is common for a dog to cry throughout the process.  Offer comfort to her and take comfort in the fact that it is only temporary.

What Exactly Happens?

The process is very much the same as with humans.  She water will break.  Sometimes the water sac is expelled intact.  It is part of nature if your dog tries to eat the sac, so do not worry.   The pups should naturally be pushed out.   If you will be supervising this, a pup may need to gently helped out.  The mother dog should bite the umbilical cord and then lick the pup to get it breathing.  If she does not do this, you should use sterilized thread to cut the cord and using a small bulb dropper, suck excess mucus from the nose and mouth of the puppy.  You should then gently rub the puppy to stimulate blood flow and encourage breathing.  Pups may need you to carefully help them over to the dam to find her milk.  Do not be shocked if your Maltese eats the cords or the placenta that is expelled at the end of the process.

Would you like to have very detailed information on all pregnancy issues...pre-pregnancy care, preparing, labor & aftercare, all female issues AND full training (housebreaking, commands & socialization), behavior, health, puppy through senior care and so much more?  We have this for you via our PetMaltese eBook.  Find out how to get your copy.

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