How Many Puppies Do German Shepherds Have In Their First Litter?

Puppies In German Shepherds First Litter: 2022 Guide

How Many Puppies Do German Shepherds Have In Their First Litter? Well, the answer is not that straightforward.

It is important to know that this is not a standard number. This is because there are many factors that affect the litter size in dogs. 

However, GSD is a large breed, therefore, the ovaries have the capacity to produce much more eggs and the uterus also has space to keep the pups. 

  • German Shepherds (non-pedigree lineage) have 7 to 9 puppies in their first litter.
  • German Shepherds (pedigree lineage) have 4 to 6 puppies in their first litter.

According to the American Kennel Club, the largest litter known is 17 puppies!

How Many Puppies Do German Shepherds Have In Their First Litter?

Factors Affecting German Shepherd Litter Size

First of all, breed size affects the litter size significantly. Other factors also play an important role here. These factors can help you have a good guess. 

Female GSD’s health

Unhealthy canines fail to grow 100% healthy pups. This increase the risk of miscarriage. Therefore, it automatically reduces the litter size. 

The mother canine does not have to be blatantly unhealthy either.

Even if the canine gets good food, some health issues can cause pups to perish before they fully develop. 

The best example here is Diabetes. It goes unnoticed unless it becomes severe. 

Female GSD’s size

Large canines have large litter. This is the most common comparison between breeds.. however, the exact size of the canine matters a lot. Larger GSDs have larger litters than smaller GSDs. 

Male GSD’s age

Male GSDs age helps to determine if the female gets pregnant and how many puppies she will give. As the male dog ages, the sperm count decreases. Hence, it affects the litter size. 

Female GSD’s age

Female GSD’s age has an impact on the litter size. Middle-aged female GSDs have larger litters than younger or older ones. They have largest litter around 5 years of age. 


According to Science direct, canines may differ in their litter size potential. Canines that are born to big litters usually have big litters. 

This factor is not that huge though. A sick canine does not always have a big litter even if the mother did. Also, heritability is somewhere linked to the size of the dog. Many canines are the same size as their parents. Therefore, they may have the same litter sizes as well. 


There are some nutritional elements that have the potential to affect the litter size and overall health of the canines. Therefore, AAFCO has released nutritional guidelines for pregnant canines. 

Protein is the most important element for pregnant canines. According to AAFCO, a pregnant canine should consume 29% to 32% of protein. 

Can we increase the litter size of the German Shepherd?

To increase the litter size of the German Shepherd, here are the 3 things you can do:

  1. Maintaining you’re canine healthy
  2. Regular testing for infections
  3. Routine vet checkups for reproductive tract health

Can Humans Affect A Dog’s Litter Size?

Humans do affect how and when a female canine is bred. This can affect the litter size. Artificially inseminated dams can produce smaller litters than the natural process.

This is because the sperm usually die during the collection and insemination process. Another thing that can affect the size of the litter is the time when a dam gives birth. 

How Long Do German Shepherds Stay Pregnant?

The standard time period of a German Shepherd pregnancy is around 63 days. They tend to be large because of that their pregnancy can be longer than the smaller breeds.

To estimate your GSD’s pregnancy, you need to monitor the pregnancy very closely. This starts from the first heat cycle to how many heat cycles are counted. Therefore, make sure to record the time so that you can find the estimated time of your German Shepherd.  

What Are The First Signs Of Pregnancy In A Dog?

There are not many early signs indicating your dog’s pregnancy. In most cases, you will have to wait for 3 to 4 weeks before seeing the signs of pregnancy. 

Some common signs that you may see if your canine is pregnant:

  • After 1 month of mating, your canine may produce heavy vaginal discharge.
  • Some canines exude semi-clear fluid from their nipples after one month of mating.
  • The female dog nipples start to swell and change colour
  • During the 3rd week, many canines have morning sickness. This can include changes in appetite, lethargy, behavioural changes, and vomiting.
  • In the 4th week, the canine starts gaining weight. Most canines end up gaining 50% more than their original weight by the end of the pregnancy.
  • Around the 40th day, the canine’s belly will start to bulge. However, this is not the case for every dog as the litter size differs. 
  • Your canine starts eating more during the 2nd half of the pregnancy.

Of course, these are the suspected signs. However, it is better to take your canine to the vet to confirm the pregnancy. 

Preparing Your German Shepherd for Birth

Canines usually are self-sufficient in the birth process. However, you can still offer them a clean and comfortable environment. Also, you can keep the vet on stand-by if anything goes wrong during labour. 

A whelping box with a heating lamp or pad helps keep the newborn pups warm as they are unable to regulate their body temperature. Therefore, this artificial heat will provide them with comfort. 

What are the life stages of a German Shepherd dog?

Canines have 6 life stages –

  • Puppy stage – A pup is a juvenile canine that has not reached puberty. This means that it is under 6 months of age.
  • Junior – A junior is the dog version of a teenage human. This is usually between 6 and 12 months of age.
  • Adulthood – Here the dog has finished growing. This is the age between 1 to 7 years. 
  • Mature – Canines reach the mature level when they are at least 7 years old.
  • Senior – This is an old dog who is living the final quarter of his life.
  • Geriatric – This dog has reached the end stage of his life and is still strong. 

Final words

The average litter size of GSD is about 8 puppies. However, there are some factors that affect litter size. For example, health issues can highly affect a canine’s reproductive chances.

Therefore, it is very important to keep your canine healthy to maximise the litter size. However, there are a few factors that are not in our hands. For instance, genetics play a potential role in determining litter size. If the pup has specific genes, it is less likely to develop correctly and may lower the litter size.

I hope you enjoyed the article. I will be back soon with more interesting and informative pieces of writing. Till then, stay connected. Thank you. 

Frequently asked questions

Can a German Shepherd give birth to one puppy?

Yes, in rare cases, a German Shepherd can give birth to one puppy. However, the most common litter size is 4 to 9 puppies. There are many factors that contribute to the litter size. Therefore, it is important to control the factors affecting the litter size at hand.

How long are German shepherds pregnant?

Around 63 days. The average gestation period in German shepherds is around 63 days from conception. However, this can vary by some days.

How can you tell how many puppies a dog is going to have?

The best and most accurate way to tell how many puppies a dog is going to have is via X-ray. During the last week of the pregnancy, you can do an X-ray to see how many puppies to expect.

How long is German Shepherd labor?

Labor in German Shepherds is usually 10-30 minutes. Once the first baby is delivered, the canine starts relaxing. When all the puppies are out, the canine’s stomach starts relaxing.

What should a mother dog eat after giving birth?

Access unlimited access to dry food. Increase the number of meals and Feed nutrient-dense food