French Bulldogs are typically pregnant for between 62 and 64 days, although this can vary by a few days on either side. The average pregnancy length is 63 days (9 weeks).

Just like humans, their pregnancy can be divided into 3 trimesters. For female dogs, each trimester lasts around 21 days (3 weeks). At each stage, important developments are going on inside her womb as the puppies grow.

French Bulldog Pregnancy Calendar

First Trimester

 

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The first trimester begins when the female Frenchie’s eggs are fertilized. From there, the embryos begin to develop.

Week 1

For the majority of Frenchies, natural mating isn’t possible due to their body shape. Instead, artificial insemination is used to fertilize the female’s egg.

During the first week, you likely won’t notice any outward signs of pregnancy, and you don’t need to worry about making any changes to diet or exercise.

Week 2

At the end of week 1 and the very beginning of the second week, the embryos travel to the uterine horns. This simply means they’re on their way toward the uterus. The cells of the embryos begin to develop and grow slightly.

You likely won’t notice any signs of pregnancy at this time. As with week 1, you don’t need to make any changes to your dog’s diet or exercise yet. You can carry on with their usual routine.

Week 3

At the beginning of week 3, the embryos embed into the uterine lining. They’ll stay safely embedded there as they begin to develop more.

You might start to notice some gradual changes in your dog’s appetite and behavior during this time. You might also notice the dog equivalent of morning sickness. Although, in some Frenchies, you won’t notice any signs of pregnancy at all.

If your dog’s appetite increases during this time and you think they’re pregnant, you can slightly increase their food intake at each meal.

Second Trimester

In the second trimester, the French Bulldog puppies will really start to grow. Your vet will be able to start testing to confirm pregnancy during this time. You’ll also start to notice considerable putward signs of pregnancy.

Week 4 and Week 5

During week 4, the puppies begin to grow more inside their protective fluid-filled sac. They will still be very small but start to gradually look like tiny dogs, with their skeleton developing.

By the 5th week they develop even more. Their eyelids, little toes, and claws start to develop: how cute!

At this point, you should take your female French Bulldog to the vet for a health check. This helps to ensure your dog is healthy and reduces the risk of any health issues.

The vet may be able to detect pregnancy by palpating your dog’s stomach. This means manually feeling for signs of pregnancy.

At this stage, they can also do an ultrasound. This will allow them to detect the heartbeats of the puppies which both confirms pregnancy and gives an estimation of litter size.

The vet can do blood tests to confirm pregnancy by taking a small blood sample to test for pregnancy hormones.

During this pregnancy period, you’ll likely start to notice the following changes:

  • Increased appetite
  • Reduced activity level/less energy
  • Changes in shape of the abdomen
  • Slight weight gain
  • Clear vaginal discharge
  • Enlarged, darkened nipples
  • Changes in behavior
  • ‘Morning sickness’

At this point, your dog is using more energy as the puppies grow, so she needs to eat more. Your vet will be able to give you advice on how to change her diet and increase her portion sizes. They may also advise you to limit strenuous exercise to protect the puppies.

Week 6

By the 6th week, the puppies’ skeletons and organs are starting to develop. Even their coats and eyes are developing this week.

In fact, the Frenchie puppies are developed enough now that they’re fetuses rather than embryos. This means they have enough features that they can be recognized as tiny little puppies.

The mother will be very obviously pregnant at this point, with an enlarged stomach to accommodate her growing pups. The symptoms of pregnancy we mentioned in week 5 will be enhanced this week.

At this point, the change in diet becomes more important. The pregnant French Bulldog needs high-energy food and may need added supplements, which your vet can advise you on.

If her appetite is reduced during this time, you might need to offer more regular, small meals. It’s crucial she gets enough energy and nutrients for both herself and her growing puppies.

Ensure she has a comfy, quiet space of her own to retreat to. She’ll start nesting soon and may want time alone.

Third Trimester

 

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In the third trimester, the mother’s body is getting ready to give birth.

Strenuous exercise should be avoided completely from here onwards, although it’s likely that she’ll be too tired and uncomfortable to do much physical activity anyway.

Week 7

At this stage, the puppies’ skeleton, coat, organs, claws, and other features will progress nicely.

The mother’s enlarged abdomen will start to firm up at this point and she will have gained a significant amount of weight. The American Kennel Club states that pregnant dogs can gain between 20% and 50% of their original body weight. This depends on many factors including the size of the litter of puppies.

Her nipples will be very noticeable this week and will likely become darker as blood flow increases. They’ll also change shape, becoming rounder rather than flat so it’s easier for the puppies to latch on.

You may also see her losing fur around her stomach to make it easier for her puppies to nurse. Towards the end of this week and onwards, you’ll see milky fluid leaking from the nipples.

Some mothers may experience an increase in urination, either due to the puppies pressing on their bladder or because they’re drinking more.

Towards the end of this week, you might see a decrease in appetite as she becomes more uncomfortable. It’s still crucial she’s getting enough nutrients, so good quality food with a high nutrient value is key.

Week 8

At the end of week 7 and the beginning of week 8, the puppies’ skeletons are formed enough that they can be detected on an x-ray. Your vet will usually do an x-ray to determine the number of pups in the litter. Frenchies tend to have around 3 puppies on average.

The x-ray also helps the vet collect vital information to make choices about the birth. It gives a good idea of your dog’s due date.

This is particularly important for pregnant Frenchies because the puppies’ large heads and the mother’s small hips and birth canal mean they usually can’t have a natural labor. Instead, as a general rule, the vet will schedule a cesarean section to keep both mother and pups safe.

This week, your dog will look increasingly uncomfortable which is natural. You might be lucky enough to see signs of the puppies moving in her large belly.

You should definitely see lactation (milk coming from her nipples) at this point. You’ll also notice nesting behaviors, such as digging, shredding items to make a nest, and circling.

Week 9

Puppy development is now complete and they’re ready to come into the world! They’ll be changing position as they move into the birth canal ready to make their appearance.

You will likely notice the following signs in the mother:

  • Increased nesting behavior
  • Appearing restless and irritable
  • Waist trimming as the puppies move into the birth canal
  • Appetite loss
  • Panting, shaking, and shivering as the birth nears

At this point, you should be in close contact with your vet and be ready to head into the office for your dog’s cesarean section.

Soon you’ll be home with your Frenchie and her adorable little puppies, watching them nurse and seeing them start to learn about the world around them.

FAQs

How easy is pregnancy for a French Bulldog?

Getting pregnant is difficult for a Frenchie as they struggle to mate naturally. Instead, most Frenchie pregnancies are achieved through artificial insemination.

The pregnancy itself is fairly standard for most Frenchies. However, the birthing process can be risky. Research shows they’re 15.9 times more likely to suffer from difficult births than crossbreeds.

As dog owners, we want to keep our furbabies safe and healthy. Therefore, it’s important you do your own research and make an informed choice about breeding your dog.

Do nutritional needs change for a French Bulldog during pregnancy?

Yes, nutritional needs change during a French Bulldog’s pregnancy, just like humans. When pregnant the mother needs extra energy and her appetite will often increase.

Frenchie owners can gradually increase the amount of food on offer. Your vet may recommend a more nutritionally dense food or supplements to ensure she gets everything she needs.

How many puppies can a French Bulldog have?

Frenchies typically have between 2 and 4 puppies, with 3 being the average number of puppies. They can have up to 7 puppies, but this is very rare. Unlike other breeds, large litters aren’t seen in French Bulldogs.

Is a cesarean the only way French Bulldogs can give birth?

Most Frenchie females have a caesarean section as the puppy’s heads are so large and the mother has narrow hips. This means that a natural birth isn’t safe for them and they can have health problems.

Brachycephalic breeds like French Bulldogs are at high risk for complications during birth. In some cases, French Bulldogs can give birth naturally but this is fairly rare.

References

Harriet Meyers, (2021), Dog Pregnancy: Signs, Care, and Preparing for Puppies. American Kennel Club.

Anna Burke, (2021), How Long Are Dogs Pregnant? American Kennel Club.

Pretzer, S. D. (2008). Canine embryonic and fetal development: A review. Theriogenology, 70(3), 300-303.

Royal Veterinary College, VetCompass, (2019), French bulldogs more prone to birthing problems than other breeds.