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Maltese Pregnancy


If you have a female Maltese, you probably have a lot of questions about Maltese pregnancy. This section will cover:
  • The age a Maltese should be for a first pregnancy
  • How long pregnancy lasts
  • Signs of pregnancy and how to be sure that a Maltese is expecting
  • Litter size
  • Care tips
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.

Best Age for a First Pregnancy

There are 3 ages to keep in mind:

The age that a Maltese can become pregnant:

As soon as a female enters puberty, which is signaled by her first heat cycle, she can technically become pregnant. For this breed, this will be between 4 and 8 months old.  However, it is not recommended to breed a female during her first cycle. 

A Maltese will not be at her full adult size, her pelvic width will not be at its maximum size, pregnancy can be extremely overwhelming for such a young dog, and breeding may not be successful at any rate since eggs are immature. 

The age per AKC regulations: 

Per the AKC, a dam must be at least 8 months old. Still, this is very young for all reasons listed above. 

Recommended age:

It is generally recommended to wait for until a Maltese has had her 2nd or 3rd heat cycle and is at a minimum age of 2 years old. 

Maltese Pregnancy Stats and Facts

Length of gestation is the same for all dog breeds; a Maltese will be pregnant for about 63 days; anywhere from 58 to 65 days is considered normal.

The average size of a Maltese litter is 2 - 5 puppies; however having just 1 puppy is not unheard of. Every now and then, a litter can 6 or more pups. 

A female dog can become pregnant at any time during her heat cycle. Her most fertile time is generally 10 to 15 days from the start of heat. 

A female can carry a duel-sired litter if she mates with two males within a short window of time. 

Pseudopregnancy (false pregnancy) is possible. If so, signs such as enlarged belly and swollen breast tissue typically dissipate after 3 weeks. 

Pre-pregnancy testing should be done. Aside from a general exam and determining pelvic width, both a cardiac exam and a patella evaluation should be performed to rule out hereditary health issues with this breed (and these are AKC recommended tests). 

A female Maltese will gain about 20% of her normal body weight while pregnant. For example, a 6 lb. Maltese will gain 1.2 lbs. 

Signs that a Maltese is Pregnant

A female dog's pregnancy will last 9 weeks. Signs will start to be noticeable in weeks 2 and 3. By the beginning of Week 4, signs are very obvious. 

Swollen stomach. This begins toward the end of Week 2, with a very noticeable distended stomach by Week 4. 

Nipple changes. Also beginning toward the end of Week 2, with clear signs by Week 3, nipples may become larger, pinker, and some that were previously flush with her skin may now be popped out.

Nausea. There may be some 'morning sickness' that can occur at any time of the day. This is typically seen in Week 2, but may carry into later stages as well. 
Appetite changes. Increased appetite usually begins by the end of Week 3. 

Mammary glands become enlarged. Due to milk production, mammary glands will start to fill with colostrum. While this is a gradual process, it is generally noticed in Week 3, with increased fullness as each week goes by. 

Behavioral changes. Nesting tendencies may been seen as early as Week 3. A Maltese may start to gather up items and keep them together in one spot. She may be more clingy, or want to retreat and rest by herself. 

Confirming a Maltese is Pregnant

If you want to know for sure if your Maltese is pregnant without waiting the 2 to 4 weeks for obvious signs to emerge, there are several tests that can be done at the vet's office. 
  • By Day 22, a blood test can confirm pregnancy
  • By Day 28, both palpation and/or an ultrasound can confirm
  • By Day 48, an x-ray will show the developing fetuses, and this is typically recommended to confirm the size of the litter before whelping. 
If a pregnancy is suspected, and particularly if it was not planned, a veterinary visit is recommended ASAP to check her overall health, have her pelvic width examined, and discuss her diet. If recommended pre-breeding testing was not performed, this will need to be discussed as well. 

Maltese Pregnancy Care Tips

1. Do not give your pregnant Maltese any extra calcium (food or supplements). Increased calcium during pregnancy (excluding right before labor) has been connected with eclampsia, more difficult labor, and both calcium deposits and certain joint abnormalities with newborns puppies. 

2. Keep her exercising as normal to maintain muscle and endurance which will help her with whelping. 

3. Limit jumping. You may want to obtain pet steps or ramps to place against sofas or chairs. 

4. Nesting instincts will be strong; if your Maltese does not have her own bed, now is the time for her to have one. 

5. Keep other dogs in the house away from her if she seems troubled by them. And, if the sire is present in the house, he should be segregated away from her by Week 5. Also, do not allow him access to her during delivery and do not allow him access to the newborns until they are at least 4 weeks old. 

6. Do not use any flea or tick treatment on her without vet approval. 

7. By Week 4, the veterinarian may recommend a switch to puppy food to offer a diet higher in fat. 

8. As you get closer to the expected whelping time (Week 6 or 7), speak to the vet about starting to offer calcium-rich foods such as whole cottage cheese (do not give this earlier in the pregnancy, and do not add this at this time without vet approval). 

9. The sign that a Maltese will be ready to give birth will be a drop in body temperature. Therefore, her temperature should be read daily starting on Day 57. By Day 60, this should be done twice per day. When it drops from its normal 101 and 102.5° Fahrenheit (38.3 to 39.17 Celsius) to below 100° F (37.77 C), she should deliver her litter within 24 hours. 

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