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If your chihuahua is pregnant then congratulations because you’ll soon have little adorable puppies running all around. I’m sure at this point you’ll be asking, “how many puppies can a chihuahua have?”. It’s also good to have an idea of how many puppies she’ll have so you can make preparations. Well for those of you who have pregnant dogs and those who are just curious and want to learn, you’re welcome to come along.
Before we continue, I should explain the meaning of the term “litter” because you’ll be seeing it a lot. Litter is used to refer to the live birth of one set of offspring (usually more than one) given birth at one time and from one set of parents. The litter size is the number of offspring in a litter.
How Many Puppies Can a Chihuahua Have?
Currently, the largest litter size recorded for any chihuahua is 11 puppies and they were born in March 2018, in Kansas. But don’t get your hopes too high. This is extremely rare and it’s not likely that your dog will be the one to break that record.
Chihuahuas have an average litter of 3 puppies and they usually range from 1 to 5 puppies per litter.
Because of their small size, most of them will have to give birth through a caesarean section to avoid any complications that can come from natural birth. However, some can give birth safely and to healthy puppies naturally, so don’t be worried. This decision is for your veterinarian to make so they should be given the opportunity to monitor your chihuahua all through the pregnancy so make sure you don’t skip any appointments.
The puppies getting stuck during the birthing process can be fatal for them and their mother so it’s best to leave it in the hands of your veterinarian.
What About Teacup Chihuahuas?
Very small chihuahuas are usually referred to as toy or teacup chihuahuas and they usually weigh less than 3 lbs (1.36 kg). Their litter sizes are usually smaller than average litter sizes ranging from one to three puppies per litter
What Factors Affect My Chihuahua’s Litter Size?
Larger breeds usually have larger litter sizes and smaller breeds have smaller litter sizes. Larger breeds like German Shepherds may have litter sizes of up to 8 puppies but being one of the smaller breeds, chihuahuas have smaller litter sizes and that’s one of the reasons chihuahua puppies are so expensive. So, like I said before, don’t expect to see 10 to 12 puppies, that’s highly unlikely.
Even among dogs of the same breed, the size of your particular dog affects the litter size. This is why teacup chihuahuas will have smaller litter sizes than regular chihuahuas.
If your chihuahua stays healthy they’re more likely to have larger litters and also give birth safely to healthy puppies without any complications.
The first litter is usually small. This is the same for all dogs and not just chihuahuas and the litters following will get larger. However, when they get old, the litter size will start decreasing.
A healthy diet contributes directly to staying healthy and this will ensure that she gives birth safely and has healthy puppies and can also lead to larger litter sizes.
Other Individual Factors
Each dog is different even though they might be the same breed so there will be a slight variation that depends solely on your dog. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care of them properly or ignore all the other factors. This only has a small role to play in the number of puppies per litter.
The mate also has an important role to play in litter size because his health and age will also have their effects on the number of puppies. Make sure you find a healthy mate for your chihuahua.
Effects of Breeding over the Lifetime of Your Chihuahua
Dogs can give birth a lot of times during their lifetime but each pregnancy takes its toll on your dog’s health. Your dogs should have only two heat cycles every year which are about six months apart but some might have up to three or four heat cycles a year.
Chihuahuas usually have two heat cycles every year and breeding the same dog twice a year is considered cruel and usually frowned upon although to some breeders if the dog is in good shape, isn’t too old and is healthy then you can go on because the litter size will decrease as they get older but breeding excessively like this will also cause the litter size to reduce because of the toll each pregnancy takes on the other’s body.
You should not breed your chihuahua more than four times in her lifetime and it is recommended that you give a recovery period of at least 18 months because breeding more times than this will have serious effects on her physical and mental health.
Some of the reasons you should not breed more than four times are:
Risks of Multiple Caesarean Sections
More often than not, your chihuahua will give birth through a caesarean section. Having too many operations like this will lead to multiple health problems which are not limited to the risks of the operation itself and a failed surgery can be fatal for her and the puppies.
They Need Time to Heal
After giving birth, she will need time to heal from the stress and if she gave birth through a caesarean section, the scars will need time to heal and that can be a painful process.
Because of their small bodies the stress is even more and it’s considered unethical to breed them too many times if you care about the long-term health of your chihuahua you’ll stick to this.
Pregnancy and its Symptoms
Pregnancy for dogs will usually last anywhere from 58 to 68 days and for chihuahuas its usually 63 days. They have three trimesters during their pregnancy which last about 21 days for each trimester. If you believe that your chihuahua is pregnant, you should take her to see your veterinarian. There are very few initial signs of pregnancy and you probably won’t notice anything except a little weight gain until 3 to 4 weeks into the pregnancy.
One month after conception, you can look for signs like a release of a semi clear liquid from their nipples, swelling and color change in their teats and a mucus laden vaginal discharge.
By the time you get to the third and fourth weeks, she might begin to experience morning sickness and signs of this change in appetite, lethargy and vomiting. However, this only affects some dogs and will only last a few days. Around this time, she will start gaining more weight and will most likely end up weighing about 50% more when she’s getting to the end of the pregnancy.
At the end of the first trimester, your veterinarian should be able to confirm the pregnancy with a blood test. It is also possible to visualize the puppies through ultrasound at this point.
Your veterinarian can also safely feel around her belly to confirm that the puppies are there and give you an estimate of how many they will be and this can only be done between the 28th and 35th days. At this point they will be roughly the size of walnuts and they’ll be evenly spaced along her uterus. Please do not try to feel them yourself. It should only be done by a professional because if it isn’t done properly you might injure the puppies or worse, cause a miscarriage.
By the 40th day, their nipples will start getting larger and they will become darker. Around the 45th day when the third trimester has begun, your veterinarian will perform an x-ray so they can check their bone structure and make sure they’re all fine and this is also a way to check how many puppies she will give birth to.
Near the end of the pregnancy, your veterinarian through x-rays will determine if your chihuahua will have to go through a caesarean section. This depends on if the size of the puppies. If they’re too big to fit through the birth canal, then she’ll require a caesarean section for delivery.
Because there aren’t any very early signs, you should take her to the veterinarian anytime from two to three weeks after mating to confirm. If she is pregnant, your veterinarian will be in the best position to give advice on what and how she should eat, what to expect, how frequently she will need to come for a checkup and answer any questions you might have.
The only way to know for sure is when the x-rays are performed or after she has given birth but with all the information provided you should have an idea of how many to expect and how to take care of her during the pregnancy.