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Latest health and behavior news and advice from the veterinarians at Tufts University.

Expert Advice April 2017 Issue

Dogs Are Never Too Old to Get Pregnant

Q: Is there an age when female dogs no longer go into heat, a sort of doggie menopause? I am asking because I just adopted two dogs who have not been spayed. One is 10, and the other is 5.

Jesse Clay
Albuquerque, New Mexico

A: There is no menopause in the canine world. First, dogs do bleed a little during certain parts of their heat cycle, but that’s different from women’s bleeding during menstruation. In people, the bleeding is to rid the body of a sloughed off uterine lining because a pregnancy has not occurred. In a dog, the bleeding is a sign that pregnancy can occur.

Estrus tends to occur in female dogs twice a year. After about the age of seven, the regularity of estrus, or heat, will diminish, meaning she will not be able to become pregnant quite as often. But female dogs never lose their ability to bear puppies. Litters will tend to be smaller than when the dog was younger, and there will be more puppy deaths — the health of the newborns will not be as robust as the health of pups born to younger bitches. Whelping (labor) can be more difficult for older dogs, too. But older dogs can definitely bear litters.

The bottom line: if you are not looking to mate your new dogs, have them spayed. Along with insuring that you don’t end up with more mouths to feed, spaying will lessen their chances of developing pyometra — a potentially fatal uterine infection most often occurring in aged female dogs. Yes, the spaying will involve surgery, but older dogs in good health usually recover just fine. You shouldn’t let fear of surgery be a deterrent. Your five-year-old adoptee most certainly shouldn’t have any problems. 

Comments (5)

Can age 9 maltese get pregnant?

Posted by: Reni | January 9, 2020 2:29 AM    Report this comment

I have a 5year old Chihuahua that ive had since birth. Ive delayed getting her spayed because i want her to have at Leaste one litter before. But time has passed so quickly and shes already 5 years old. Is she too old for a first litter? Should i go ahead and spay her anyway since we've waited so long to breed?

Posted by: Chihuahua momma | June 3, 2019 12:05 AM    Report this comment

My dog after few weeks of mating had a painless swollen her head and bark at anything unlike before, could she be pregnant?

Posted by: Goodygoody | October 14, 2018 11:29 AM    Report this comment

I have a rat terror got pregent but shes 13 and her first liter will out come be ok for her shes in good health

Posted by: | August 26, 2018 4:54 PM    Report this comment

I have a rat terror got pregent by neighbors dog my dog is 13 years old and her first liter and I'm worried this will be to hard on her she is in good health just small

Posted by: | August 26, 2018 4:51 PM    Report this comment

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