The German Shepherd breed has always been popular in America. In fact, they have been ranked as number 1 in popularity throughout most of U.S. history. If a female German Shepherd dog (GSD) has joined your family, and you are thinking about breeding from her, you may be curious about how many puppies you should expect in one litter – as well as how many she might have over her years with you.
In this article, we’ll go through everything you need to know about your German Shepherd’s puppies – including how many to prepare for!
The Two Breeds That Make the German Shepherd
What makes the German Shepherd Breed? Well, the answer to this may help you understand the quantity of puppies they produce in a litter.
The German Shepherd is native to Germany and is a cross breed between working sheep dogs and a dog believed to be a quarter wolf. They were originally bred to protect families and to herd livestock.
Are there factors that affect the number of puppies a female German Shepherd can have? How many times in a year can they give birth?
Factors That Affect the Number of Puppies in a Litter
Are you anticipating the arrival of a GSD puppy litter? Knowing how many puppies to expect may help you plan resources to accommodate them if you are planning on becoming a breeder.
If you just adopted a German Shepherd dog and you have no clue about how to predict your litter, here are some helpful points to consider:
SIZE OF THE FEMALE DOG
The size of a mother dog, meaning her body structure rather than her weight, has an influence on how many puppies she can carry. A female German Shepherd with a small body will have a smaller litter size compared to a GSD with a bigger body. This is because a smaller body doesn’t have the capacity to handle a large litter size.
AGE OF THE FEMALE DOG
As with humans, the ability of a dog to get pregnant lowers with age. If you want a larger litter size, therefore, you should breed your German Shepherd before they are seven years or older. The best breeding years are between 2- 5 years of age.
AGE OF THE MALE DOG
The age of a male German Shepherd will also help to determine if a female German Shepherd will get pregnant and how many puppies she will have. As the male dog ages, their sperm count decreases, and this affects the number of puppies in the litter.
If you are a breeder, it is best to practice breeding when the male dog is in its prime years, between 2- 5 years. This way, you are likely to get a bigger litter size.
HEALTH CONDITION OF BOTH MALE AND FEMALE GERMAN SHEPHERDS
To get a large litter size, both the male and female dogs should be in great health. It’s recommended to take them to the vet, for a pre-breeding check-up.
The female should also have a healthy diet before breeding. Diet and health go hand in hand. A diet that consists of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates will help your GSD to have a larger litter size. Your vet will help you determine the perfect diet before, during, and after your dog's pregnancy.
How Many Puppies Can a German Shepherd Dog Have?
On average, a German Shepherd can have 5-8 puppies per litter. Some have as many as 15 or as few as one puppy per litter. On record, the biggest German Shepherd litter was 17 puppies by a dog named Mosha.
The gestation period is approximately 63 days (about two months) after conceiving. However, this number may vary by several days. A German Shepherd dog can have two litters per year until around the age of 8. This means that a German Shepherd Dog can have approximately 14 litters in her entire lifetime. Assuming your dog has an average 7 puppies per litter, that means she could produce nearly 100 puppies in her lifetime – and if she’s like Mosha, that figure could be nearer 200!
Preparing Your German Shepherd for Birth
Once your German Shepherd conceives, you need to prepare for the arrival of the pups. Although it may be nerve-wracking, you need to be there to help your German Shepherd give birth. Dogs are usually self-sufficient during the birth process, but you can offer them a comfortable and clean environment, and be prepared to call the vet if things don’t go to plan.
Pro Tip: You should give her space when she is giving birth so that she doesn’t get frustrated.
A whelping box with a heating pad or a heating lamp will help keep the new-born puppies warm. New-born puppies are unable to regulate their body temperature, hence why the heating pad or lamp will come in handy.
- Heating pads: place them under the blankets or towels where the puppies lie. Make sure the setting is comfortable for them.
- Lamp: Place it far enough from the puppies so that they don’t get burned.
German Shepherd: The Puppies
German Shepherd puppies are delightful little things – but they don’t stay little for long! At birth, they weigh about 0.8-1.3 pounds, and at one month, puppies will weigh around 4.5-9 pounds.
German Shepherd dog puppies have four developmental life stages after they are born. These are:
This is the stage immediately after they are born. They are blind, deaf, toothless, and rely solely on their mother’s milk. You will notice the mother licking her puppies to clean them.
This is when a puppy is between the age of 0-2 weeks, and at this stage, they are mostly blind and spend most of the time sleeping. Milk from their mother is very crucial at this age.
Between 2-4 weeks, the puppies start opening their eyes and moving around. They can begin eating some main foods but still nurse and feed on soft foods.
This is between week 4-8, and at this stage, their mother’s milk production is going down, and it is the right time to introduce your puppies to semi-solid food. By eight weeks, a puppy has all its teeth, and the teething process begins.
At this time, you should ensure each puppy starts to wear a properly-fitted dog collar. For added security, choose a collar that allows you to track their location via GPS.
Owning a dog is a joyous experience, and when you own a German Shepherd, you have a loyal, smart, fierce, and protective dog for life. To add to that, German Shepherd dogs make good mothers and they know what to do during and after giving birth.