How Many Beagles In A Litter? : The Full Guide
If you’re looking to breed beagles, or are just curious about beagle pregnancy in general, one of the first questions that will likely arise is: how many puppies are in a beagle litter?
Well, it was bound to come up. The canine version of the ‘birds and the bees’ have led to a new set of beagle puppies. How many is the normal size of a beagle litter?
Six puppies is the average size of a litter of beagles.
Beagle litters commonly fall within the range of four to eight puppies, however outliers can occur.
Factors That May Influence Your Beagle’s Litter Size
- Has She Bore Puppies Previously?
If she has bore a smaller litter previously, history will likely repeat itself with this future one, as well.
2. How Old Is She And Her Partner?
If they are both between the ages of 2 to 5 years of age, they have a slightly higher probability of having a larger litter, then if they were outside of those age ranges.
A female beagle exhibiting poor health, either acute or chronic, will likely have a smaller litter. As such, make sure that she is being examined by her veterinarian with more frequency to ensure that both her and her puppies are at minimal risk.
Signs That Your Beagle Is Pregnant
Similar to a human female, she will exhibit symptoms resulting from her hormonal changes. Those symptoms include:
- Reduced appetite
- Exhibiting nesting behavior
- Weight gain
- Increased affection
- Enlarged or discolored nipples
- bodily discharges
How To Tell If Your Beagle Is Pregnant?
You will be able to tell when your female beagle by looking at some indicators. A beagle’s gestation timeline is about 63 days or more or less 9 weeks. Interestingly enough, beagles go through 3 trimesters, just like us humans; except theirs are 21 days each.
What Type Of Physical Changes Should I Look Out For?
As we mentioned, weight gain is an expected product of your beagle’s pregnancy. Just don’t tell her that she looks like she’s gained a few pounds — it might make her paranoid. Just kidding.
Now logically if your female beagle isn’t or hasn’t been accessible to any male dogs; clearly something else is going on there. Either way, you should bring her to the veterinarian to get her checked out thoroughly.
Some other visible changes are her nipples will appear larger and her areolas will become more circular. Her nipples will change to a darker hue as increased blood flow is triggered by her gestation. In addition, this is a precursor to her body readying to produce milk for her litter of puppies that are on the way.
What Type Of Behavioral Changes Should I Look Out For?
When your female beagle is pregnant, she will likely exhibit signs of decreased energy. Another consistent sign would be if she becomes overly clingy or detached. Detachment is particularly observable during the latter part of pregnancy as that is indicative of nesting behavior. Nesting behaviors can include but are limited to shredding or destroying materials around the home. She will become increasingly sensitive and isolated as she is seeking a safe and comfortable place to deliver her offspring. This maternal behavior is entirely instinctual, as if she was in the wild, she would be doing the same in order to protect her and her brood from the elements and predators.
The Scientific Way To Know That Your Beagle Is Pregnant
Your veterinarian has a few things in their arsenal to their avail, to determine your beagle’s pregnancy status.
One is a blood test that measures her relaxin hormone muscles. No, I’m not making a joke about her relaxin — although I could see how you’d try to run with that.
But back to the topic: Relaxin is a hormone that is produced by a developing placenta after successful implantation of an embryo. This hormone readily detectable in blood in many pregnant female beagles in as early as 3 weeks after copulation. It is measurable throughout her pregnancy, but will wane after her pregnancy is concluded. Accordingly, it also is used to observe if she is going pseudopregnancy, also known as false pregnancy. She may be exhibiting nesting behavioral signs after her heat cycle, but in a pseudopregnancy, she is not producing relaxin as there is no actual placental development.
Another practice frequently deployed by veterinarians to determine your beagle’s pregnancy is taking an X-ray or ultrasound of her abdomen. Also, if you bring your beagle into her veterinarian after the one-month mark, they will frequently be able to ascertain pregnancy by palpating (examining by touch) around her belly. Words of explicit caution: Do not attempt this at home — unless your licensed veterinarian has granted you permission to do so. Doing so without their prior approval could potentially injury her developing brood.
It’s About That Time [Whelping]
Don’t be concerned. Whelping is just the official way of describing your beagle’s readiness giving birth to her pups. At this point, she should be situated into her whelping box. A whelping box, sometimes referred to as a nesting box or whelping pen, is used to safely contain and protects the puppies during birth and early life, protect them from cold, and help to ensure their safety from the danger of crushing or smothering by the mother. If you need help with collecting items that would likely help you at this stage, we’ve placed them alongside other items that will likely help you with caring for the puppies and their mother. Just look under the “Maternity” section here.
During this final phase of pregnancy, she will more than likely lose interest in her dog food and will proceed to lick her vulva a great deal. Around this time, you may observe a greyish sac looking like a water balloon hanging from her vulva. That means that her pups’ birth is nearing. Subsequently, clear aqueous discharge will be emitted from the sac, signaling that she is ready to whelp. This all happens within an hour span, as the first pup is usually born within an hour of the sac’s observability.
No need to panic. Unlike humans going through birth, beagles don’t need a medical team to help them birth their pups.
Your role will be assistive in nature, only if even necessary. Every puppy will be born encapsulated in a placental membrane. Your female beagle will tear it off or even consume it. Now, if she doesn’t; that when you’ll want to be sure to remove the membrane yourself as her puppies’ oxygen supply is limited once they are no longer receiving their air exchange through her body.
Caring For The Newly Born Beagle Puppies + Their Mother
After her deliveries are complete, assist her by cleaning up the mother and her puppies, as gingerly as possible with warm water and washcloth; and drying them accordingly. Do not use soaps, disinfectants, etc.; unless explicitly directed by your veterinarian. Remove any soiled newspaper or bedding from her whelping box. The mother will prefer subdued lighting as it feels more sheltered to her. You can tell if she feels uncomfortable with a spot, if she starts carrying her pups elsewhere.
Once they are cleaned up and tended to; I know you’ll likely be very tempted to interact with them as much as possible with the puppies. But you’ll want to refrain. They will only be a few ounces, and are accordingly very fragile. Speaking of which: You should get yourself an electronic scale to measure their progress, if you don’t already have one. Getting back to topic: This is very important mother + puppy bonding time. Remember, the mother’s maternal instinct is tried and true, you’re just playing an assistive role to make sure that everything is copacetic.
Recording each puppy’s weight at birth and subsequent weeks, and report these back to your veterinarian, when you eventually bring them in for their appointments.
Hopefully you won’t experience this, but in the event of a malnourished puppy, you will have to provide puppy-safe milk by baby bottle. This has to be done every 2 hours, even at night. This has to be done for approximately month, until the puppy can transition into solid foods.
Now with that being said, there are other things you can do to really help the mom in her puppy-rearing duties. Providing her a balanced diet, getting her at least a little exercise as she may be pretty drained from feeding and tending to her brood; and keeping them comfortable, are all very important for her and her litter’s health.
Typically, it will likely be an arduous task to get the mother to leave the whelping box to even go to the bathroom. She may give resistance, but do not be hesitant to place a leash on her and coax her out, if she remains resistant. Her bathroom breaks, gives her a few moments to recollect without tending to her puppies constantly demanding her attention. In addition, it provides you an opportunity to take a few minutes to clean up the area and check on the safety of the pups.
Prior to reintroducing the mother to her puppies, give a brief check of her nipples and vulva to ensure there is no bleeding, discharges, or abnormalities. Inflammation and infection of the breasts is called acute mastitis.
If the mother is incapable of producing sufficient milk or it is infected, the puppies will be undernourished. Puppies that are not being fed enough milk will cry constantly and fail to gain weight. This is an extremely serious situation. It is possible that an entire litter can be wiped out within 24 to 48 hours. Yes, it’s that serious. Because of this, you need to consult your veterinarian ASAP, and they’ll refer you to milk replacer products nutritionally balanced for a puppy’s growth.
Be Proactive In Their Health
It’s extremely crucial in the first few hours of life that her puppies be provided warmth, humidity and energy.
From birth to approximately 3 weeks of age, the puppies cannot regulate their temperature. Place them near a heating system only after they’ve been dried with a clean cloth. Word of caution: Do not use a hairdryer as it’s too hot, incredibly drying, and is quite loud. You don’t want to injury them.
While they are in their whelping box, keep tabs on its temperature. For their first week, the temperature should be kept at about 80°F [ambient temperatures above 85°F are harmful], with the temperature being gradually lowered to approximately 76°F over a period of a month or so. This temperature regulation is that much more important, if the mother is unable to keep her pups warm for whatever reason.
When checking the whelping box temperature, you will get a more accurate reading by placing directly into the box, instead of up against the wall to the structure. Infrared lamps, heated pads and even hot-water bottles are viable options, but latter two should be used with cautiously, as you don’t want to cause burns with direct contact to their skin. That being said, make sure you give them a place within the box that the heat isn’t as concentrated, given them a respite from the heat if it’s too warm to them at any time.
A general rule of thumb is this: If the puppies are located near the lamp, that means the infrared lamp is the appropriate height. If on the other hand, the puppies are piled into a circle that suggest that the lamp is placed too low or the temperature is too high.
You’ll want to check the puppies’ rectal temperature daily, ensuring that their core body temperature remain within these parameters:
- 95° to 99°F for the first week
- 97° to 100°F for the second and third weeks
- 100° to 102°F by the fourth week of life, which is also the typical temperature range for an adult beagle
Just like humans, a beagle puppy’s body composition is made up of approximately 80% water. They have difficulty maintaining hydration as they lack a protective layer known as a stratum corneum, that helps to lock in hydration. To assist them with this, you’ll want to place a hygrometer [a device to measure humidity], close to the whelping box. Ideally, you want it in the 65% range, not allowing it to fall under 55%. As you are warming the whelping box artificially, the air will dry out more rapidly then the ambient temperature in the rest of the room. To regulate this, place humidifiers or a pot of water inaccessible to the mom + pups, so they can’t tip it over.
Beagle puppies must start suckling soon after their arrival. The first milk (or colostrum) provides energy, prevents dehydration and provides antibodies to protect against infection and disease. It is imperative that every newborn is guided to their mother’s teat, if she doesn’t facilitate this herself.
Now, in the event that any puppy fails to suckle properly, be sure to promptly check the puppy’s core temperature is below 93.5, the puppy won’t be able to digest the milk properly. Focus on elevating their temperature to a normalized range, before making another attempt to allow suckling or even bottle feeding, in this circumstance. Failure to do so, may upset their stomach or induce vomiting.
From 4, 8, and 10 Weeks of Age
At 4 weeks, your puppies have mobility and have the vision and hearing to get them around effectively. At this point, your role is to ensure that their playfulness and curiosity is kept within safe boundaries. Just bear in mind that they are still very much bonding with their mother at this point.
At 8 weeks of age, the puppy (or puppies) can be separated from their mother.
At 10 weeks of age, the puppy (or puppies) will have received training, socialization and second-to-none nutrition from their mother. With that being said, the longer a puppy stays with its mother and litter-mates after 10 weeks; it can become codependent or begin to show signs of separation anxiety; and it may have difficulty accepting other animals or humans.
- Get the mother + puppies dry, warm and fed; within the first hour of life. Ensure that all puppies are able to reach their mother to feed.
- Keep the whelping box focused on a temperature of 80°F and humidity of 65% in the first week. Maintain 65% humidity after first week.
- It is imperative that every newborn is guided to their mother’s teat, if she doesn’t facilitate this herself to ensure they receive the colostrum (first milk).
- If you’re unsure about anything we’ve discussed or have any questions regarding your mom beagle or her puppies, reach out to your veterinarian.
Good luck, friends.