The infinite variety of the canine kingdom means that no two dogs are the same, and every breed has its own unusual quirks and behavioral and personality traits.
Unfortunately, it also means that certain breeds are hampered by physical issues and health concerns that can be particularly worrying during some of the more stressful and demanding periods of a dog’s life.
And one of the most exacting moments of any female dog’s life, just as it is for humans, is pregnancy.
Unlike people though, an expectant dog mum-to-be has her work cut out for her, as she rarely, if ever, gives birth to a single puppy. The number of puppies that a bitch has is dependent on several factors, namely size (the bigger the breed of dog, the more puppies they tend to have in a single litter) and the physical characteristics of a breed.
Neither of which work in French Bulldogs favor, as they’re a small, brachycephalic (a physical feature, which also tends to reduce the number of puppies) breed.
Their bodies just aren’t designed to carry large litters, and nature has a way of ensuring that no mother carries more babies than she can successfully manage to look after.
There are, however, no absolutes in nature, which means that the number of puppies that a French Bulldog has per litter can vary.
However, while it isn’t uncommon for them to have up to five puppies at a time, in some cases Frenchies have given birth to up to seven puppies, the usual number of pups in Frenchie a litter is closer to three.
And it’s mainly due to the fact that they’re small dogs, with narrower hips who really speaking aren’t cut out to be pregnant. They’re great mothers who dote on their puppies when they arrive, but biologically French Bulldogs aren’t made to be pregnant.
But as we’ve already said, nature and biology always find a way, which is why despite the odds being stacked against them, Frenchie’s, like every member of the four-legged world, do get pregnant.
Now that we’ve covered some of the more fundamental points of Frenchie pregnancies, and how many puppies an expectant mother is likely to deliver, we’re going to get a little more in-depth so that if you are thinking about breeding your Frenchie, you’ll know what you need to do in order to make sure that your dog can, and will, successfully deliver her puppies when the time is right.
The Natural Way Isn’t The Frenchie Way
Any prospective breeder needs to be aware of the fact that it’s highly likely that any expectant Frenchie mother will need to have a Cesarean section (C-Section) in order to successfully give birth.
Unfortunately, French Bulldogs are hampered by their own biology, and it isn’t just their narrow hips and relatively fragile anatomy that poses a risk to both mother and puppies during birth.
The breed has a higher than average possibility of developing a condition called dystocia, which is similar to a breech birth in humans, but far more dangerous.
Just like in a breech birth, the puppies in a mother dog suffering from dystocia are in the wrong position, which makes it much more difficult for them to pass through their mother’s birth canal, which in turn slows and can, in some cases, even halt the birth.
If this does happen, the prognosis is never good and it’s often fatal for the mother, and nearly always results in the death of the puppies that she’s carrying.
French Bulldogs are up to twenty percent more likely to suffer from dystocia during pregnancy, which is one of the main reasons why your veterinarian will suggest that you opt for a C-section for your Frenchie.
Then there’s the brachycephalic issue. Giving birth is just as hard for a dog as it is for a human, and during and after the birth, your Frenchie will need to breathe harder and faster in order to ensure that her body has the oxygen it needs to make it through and recover from the trauma of having a litter of pups.
For a brachycephalic dog like the Frenchie, this is much harder than it is for a normal dog and puts the mother at a much greater risk of cardiac arrest, which again is why most veterinarians will suggest that the safest option for any Frenchie mother is always a C-Section.
The C-Section Risks
Cesarean sections aren’t without risk, and shouldn’t be viewed as an easy way to encourage a Frenchie to have multiple litters. After giving birth, a mother’s body needs to heal and repair itself and given how fragile a French Bulldog’s biology is, ideally you should wait at least a year before breeding her again.
As well as the potential risk of adverse reactions of anesthesia, blood clotting, internal bleeding, and infection, there’s a possibility (which is anywhere between one and three percent depending on which statistics you choose to believe) that the mother won’t survive a cesarean section.
The procedure also carries a risk to the puppies and can put their lives in danger as well, so the fewer C-sections that your dog has to endure, the more likely she, and her puppies, are to emerge from one unscathed.
How Many Litters Can A French Bulldog Have – Safely Breeding A French Bulldog
While it’s an open-ended question whose answer seems to vary according to which licensed breeder you ask, the general consensus seems to be that ideally, no French Bulldog should have more than four litters during her lifetime.
The risk to both mother and puppies increases with each litter, and the older a dog is, the more likely it is that something might go wrong either during the pregnancy or while she’s giving birth.
And given the time frame involved and the necessary time that she’ll need between having each litter, by the time a French has her fourth litter she’ll be at least seven years old, which for a dog is middle age.
And no one wants to have to endure another pregnancy when they’re about to have a mid-life crisis, especially if they’re highly strung, to begin with. Which most Frenchies are.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of less reputable breeders out there who put profit before the welfare of their dogs and don’t think twice about forcing their Frenchies to have two litters a year, which is why it’s essential for any would-be Frenchie owner to always insist on seeing the breeder’s license and relevant papers and where their dogs come from before handing over any cash.
Any puppy that’s born as a result of mass breeding will be far more prone to ill health and be physically weaker than one born to a mother dog that is well-treated and looked after properly.
Always insist on seeing the paperwork, and the mother dog before you agree to buy a puppy. Your dog’s life might just depend on it.
After everything that you’ve just read, you’re probably assuming that motherhood for most French Bulldogs is all doom and gloom and that it isn’t safe for your dog to breed, and while an element of that is certainly true, motherhood isn’t necessarily miserable for a French Bulldog.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at what it entails for your dog, and what she and you can expect when she becomes pregnant.
Before we begin, a word of caution. French Bulldogs can go into heat at just five months old, but as they’re nowhere near mature at that age, letting them breed while they’re still puppies can be potentially dangerous for both the mother dog and her offspring.
Most Frenchies tend to reach maturity between eighteen months and two years of age, which is why most breeders tend to let their dogs mate between the ages of two and seven.
The typical gestation period (the length of a pregnancy) for a French Bulldog is between sixty and sixty-three days, and the dog can enter labor at any point during that time.
Unless the pregnancy is unexpected, you’ll be aware of the time between your dog first falling pregnant, and when she’s likely to give birth, It’s also advisable to talk to your vet about the pregnancy, as at some point during the second month, around day forty-five or so, so they perform an ultrasound to determine how many puppies your dog is likely to have, which can help them to determinant the best course of action for the inevitable C-section that your Frenchie will need to have.
While the gestation period for a Frenchie is far shorter than that of a human, they do have an “unofficial” developmental period, which evolves and changes drastically during the three months of their pregnancy.
In the first month of her pregnancy, you might notice that your Frenchie starts to become even more affectionate than she already is and that her appetite has increased.
As Frenchies tend to like their food and are incredibly affectionate toward their families, this clear sign of pregnancy might go unnoticed at first, which is why it’s sometimes hard to know if your dog is actually pregnant before she starts to show.
And she’ll start to show the first signs of being pregnant around the start of the second month of her pregnancy, by which time her puppies will be almost full-formed, but will still have a lot of growing to do before they’ll be ready to be born.
Her appetite might start to wane toward the end of the second month, as her body starts to prepare to give birth.
By the beginning of the third month, sometime between the fifty-fifth and sixtieth day, she’ll stop eating and will try to find somewhere dark and far from prying eyes to make a nest in order to get ready to give birth.
This is when you’ll need to be hyper-vigilant, and as soon as she starts to enter labor (ideally a day or so before), you’ll need to call your vet and rush her there so that she can have the C-section that she’ll need to ensure that she and her puppies emerge unscathed, safe and well.
The Final Frenchie Word On Motherhood
And that’s it, you now know what you’ll be letting yourself, and your dog in for if you do decide to breed her.
And if you do, remember that she’ll probably only have three puppies at a time and that she shouldn’t have more than four litters during her lifetime, which is more than enough for any mother.