Maltese Pregnancy – Everything you need to know

Puppies are the joy from a Maltese pregnancy

If you own a female Maltese dog and have not had them desexed then there is a chance that they could become pregnant unexpectedly or you may want to breed Maltese puppies. Regardless if the pregnancy is a surprise or if you are planning on breeding your female Maltese there are a lot of questions which need to be answered. This article will set out the basic information for a Maltese pregnancy and then dive into all of the possible questions and answers which you may be thinking about.

What are the stages of a Maltese pregnancy ?

There are various stages in a dogs pregnancy as it progresses from day 1 through to the whelping of the litter. This is a brief summary of what to expect at each week of the pregnancy:

  • Before pregnancy : You should get pre-breeding checks done for your Maltese and get advice on the best way to improve the chances on the breeding of your Maltese.
  • Week 1: Mating occurs and your Maltese is impregnated. This will involve fertilization of the litter.
  • Week 3: The embryos of the puppies embed themselves into the lining of the uterus. The initial signs of pregnancy may start to show on your dog.
  • Week 4: By the time you reach the end of week 4 you can visit the vet to get an ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy is on track.
  • Week 5: The embryos take the form of fetus during this week.
  • Week 6: The embryos will continue to gain in weight, skeletal and muscles will begin to form.
  • Week 7: Hair will start to form in this week. The fetus will continue to gain weight and increase in size.
  • Week 8: At this late stage in the pregnancy your vet may recommend an x-ray to confirm the number of puppies in the litter. Milk will also start to form in the Maltese teats.
  • Week 9: This is the final week and whelping should occur. Keep an eye on your Maltese and keep an eye on their temperature as this is a good sign the birth is about to happen.
  • Whelping : This is when the puppies are born. Ensure that you are ready for puppies and consult your vet for any specific advice around your Maltese pregnancy.
  • Post birth: Keep the mother and the litter away from the father for a while as it is in their best interests. Make sure the vet checks the mother to ensure she has recovered from the births. Keep the puppies warm and safe and can an eye on the mothers condition to ensure all is going ok in the days after whelping.

When is the female Maltese most fertile in the heat cycle ?

A Maltese female will be the most likely to get pregnant in the second week of being on heat. The exact best time is usually between 10 days and 15 days of her heat cycle.

How do I know my female Maltese is pregnant ?

How do you know your Maltese is pregnant ?

If you suspect your Maltese is pregnant or you are trying to breed your Maltese you can wait 2 weeks to 4 weeks and the obvious signed will start to show. These obvious signs will include a swollen belly and swollen nipples. They may also have Nausea and you may notice behavioral changes.

If you want to know earlier than waiting for the obvious signs then from Day 22 you can use a blood test to determine if the Maltese is pregnant. By week 4 a palpation and ultrasound test can confirm the pregnancy. At Week 7 an x-ray can confirm the litter and confirm the number of puppies to be born.

If you have any concerns, or the pregnancy was unplanned, then you should consult a vet to get an overall check done and confirm the Maltese is able to mother a litter. The vet will be able to give you good advice on what is going to happen, whether your Maltese is in a good condition to deliver the puppies and some tips on caring for your dog both during and post pregnancy.

What is pre-breeding testing for a dog pregnancy ?

If you are intending to breed your Maltese then there are a few checks you can perform to ensure that there is no genetic diseases or predispositions that will be passed onto the pups. Pre-breeding testing will help ensure that the puppies produced by breeding will be fit, healthy and have the best chance of life.

The checks will best be determined by your vet but a few things they will consider is the weight of the dog, the pelvic width and blood samples. The blood samples identify any infections and any high concentration on minerals which may affect the pregnancy such as calcium. The vet may also want to do a fecal exam to look for intestinal worms. Also your vet will ensure that all vaccinations are up to date. If you are labelled as a top breeder you may want to get official certifications for the dog include eye, hip and specific breed certifications. Your vet can arrange these for you. There are also other tests which can be done to ensure there are no bacterial infections such as brucellosis which can cause still births and infertility.

These checks are worthwhile so that your dog is in a good condition to give pregnancy and since breeding can be an expensive hobby it will also lessen the chance of the litter having issues which means you will not be able to sell your puppies. Also note if you are thinking of breeding you should know the laws in your city,state and country about what certifications, registrations and checks you need to go through before being able to sell the puppies. These can be extensive in some areas and are there to stop random breeding which results in lots of puppies being given up to the dog shelter and having to be put down. Be responsible and do your checks before breeding your Maltese.

What is a false Maltese pregnancy?

A false pregnancy is when the body reacts as if the female Maltese is actually carrying a litter even though she is not pregnant. This will result in common pregnancy signs such as a swollen belly but they will disappear by around week 3 of the false pregnancy. A false pregnancy is also known as a pseudo pregnancy.

How long does a Maltese Pregnancy last ?

The length of a Maltese pregnancy is the same as other small dog breeds which means the Maltese is pregnant for approximately 8 to 10 weeks. From 8 weeks the Maltese litter could be delivered at anytime. A vet will become concerned with a prolonged Maltese pregnancy after 10 weeks.

What is the Youngest Age a Maltese can get Pregnant?

Technically a Maltese can get pregnant as soon as they have their first heat cycle. This generally will come in the age of 4 months to 8 months which is an extremely young age. It is not recommended for a Maltese to get pregnant in their first heat cycle as their body has not developed properly and it is dangerous at this age. Breeding at this age has many complications and reputable breeders will always warn against allowing a Maltese getting pregnant during their first cycle. The main reasons this age is not recommended is that the Maltese is still a small puppy itself and its body, especially its pelvic region, has not developed into full size. Another reason is that the eggs in such a young dog are not always of the best quality and will not produce the best offspring. The last reason is that a pregnancy is a traumatic event and it can have an affect on the Maltese puppies mental state as they are still puppies themselves.

What is the recommended age for breeding a Maltese?

While the youngest age a Maltese can get pregnant is the first heat cycle, it is usually advisable to wait for at least the second and preferably the third heat cycle before breeding a Maltese. The American Kennel Club (AFK) recommends that a Female Maltese should not be bred or impregnated before 8 months old. It is safer to extended this another cycle which may be in the 24 – 30 month old range. A Maltese dog who has gone through a couple of heat cycles and has fully formed their body is much better placed to have a successful pregnancy.

What is the oldest age that a Maltese can get Pregnant ?

As long as a Maltese is in heat it can get pregnant. As a dog gets older the length of time between heat cycles may increase but they never stop. Technically your Maltese could get pregnant at any age but there are more complications and serious risks as the Maltese ages into a senior dog. If you have a Maltese that is getting on in age and are considering whether they should be breed there are a few things to take into consideration. These include that most vets suggest that 8 years is the oldest age to breed a puppy. Some kennels will not register litters from any female which is older than 8 years of age. In fact many vets will suggest you should retire a dog from being impregnated at the age of five. It is also noted by vets that smaller breeds should be removed from breeding at a younger age than larger dogs due to the stresses it puts on the female Maltese body. Vets recommend small breeds to only breed up to the age of five. A final thought is that most kennels and vets recommend that a female Maltese not produce more than 4 litters. If the dog had been bred from the age of two then it would be around the age of five when the dog has reached the accepted maximum number of litters.

What is the best time to breed a Maltese ?

A Maltese female dog will be the most fertile between 10 days and 15 days (which is approximately the second week) of her heat cycle. But a Maltese dog can become pregnant at anytime in the heat cycle.

How many puppies are in a Maltese litter ? How many puppies can a Maltese have?

The average size of a Maltese litter is between two and five puppies. This is the average sizes but the litter can be only one puppy or even more than six puppies. It depends on nature and how fertile the female Maltese is at the time of impregnation.

Most pregnancies will ave at least 3 puppies. As the litters get bigger there is a chance for more complications with the pregnancy and with the puppies as they will have to fight for nourishment in order to grow and thrive in the world.

What preparation activities should be taken breeding a Maltese?

Before you intend to breed your Maltese you should see a vet and get a few pre-pregnancy tests done. These will differ per breed but for a Maltese this will include checking the pelvic width, testing the heart and also having a patella evaluation. Your Vet may recommend blood tests and talk to you about diets which can help with improving the chance of the pregnancy being successful. The American Kennel Club has a set of recommended tests which should be done for each certified breed.

What changes occur to my female Maltese during pregnancy ?

During a Maltese pregnancy your dog will gain about one fifth of their body weight. This will be a gradual gain over the pregnancy but you will start to see the gains by week 2 of the pregnancy. The signs in the second week are generally just starting to develop but by the time the pregnancy has moved through to week 4 there should be a very noticeable weight gain.

Other changes which can occur during the pregnancy include the Maltese nipples becoming larger and will start to pop out from the skin. This is obviously so she is ready to feed the Maltese litter when it is born. The nipples will start to change by week 3 of the pregnancy.

Also just like human pregnancies the Maltese pregnancy can have nausea and vomiting. This can be brought on by certain smells, foods or times of the day. The nausea will present itself in week 3 of the pregnancy and will generally disappear as the pregnancy continues. It is not unheard of though of dogs have nausea through the pregnancy.

Appetite changes are likely to occur around the third week. during week 3 your Maltese will need to be able to provide nourishment for the litter she is carrying and the food intact should be increased.

Other behavioral changes can also occur as the pregnancy progresses. Nesting is one of these signs and your Maltese will gather up toys and food and keep them in her spot. Some dogs do react differently in a pregnancy so make sure you notice if your Maltese is becoming clingy and attached to your side or if she wants to be by herself in a corner. If she wants to be by her side you should encourage it to reduce the stress on your Maltese during this important time. There are some studies that show that stress during pregnancies can make the offspring less likely to handle stress in their life. A dog which grows up with Anxiety and unable to handle stress will have long term behavioral issues such as clingyness, barking and can be destructive to property when the owner isn’t around. For these reasons you want to try and provide a stress free environment while your Maltese is pregnant with her litter.

What are the Best Tips for Looking after a Female Maltese during Pregnancy ?

There are quite a few things you can do during the pregnancy to help your Maltese have an easier time:

  • Ensure that you keep up regular exercise although make sure you take into consideration how your dog is handling it. You don’t want to stress out your Maltese with a long hike but short walks to keep her fit are important. They will help maintain the muscle definition and allow her to have the endurance when she is whelping.
  • Try to limit any sort of jumping your Maltese needs to do. There are a variety of products that can help with this during the pregnancy such as pet steps and ramps. Check them out as limiting jumping will stop the strain on your Maltese body considering the additional weight she will be carrying with her litter.
  • Limit calcium intake during the pregnancy. A high calcium intake during pregnancy has been connected with eclampsia and difficult labor. It can also cause abnormalities in the puppies. Towards the end of the pregnancy, as you approach the whelping, your vet may suggest to increase the calcium. Only do this on your vets advice and your vet will only recommend this after week 6. Your vet will only recommend this if there is a need to increase the calcium in your Maltese. There are a few options to increase calcium but most people find cheese such as cottage cheese an easy choice which the Maltese will like. But it should be stressed calcium early in the pregnancy and without vets advice is a very dangerous thing to do. Calcium after the birth may be suggested to prevent eclampsia.
  • Check with your vet on any medications or treatments you give your Maltese. This includes flea and tick treatments, as well as shampoos and soaps. Your vet can guide you on the best alternatives during the pregnancy to ensure a safe pregnancy for your Maltese.
  • Diets during pregnancy can help with certain aspects of the pregnancy so talk to your vet to get their recommendation. Generally the food later in the pregnancy from about week 4 should be high in fat. This can be easily given by steering towards the puppy foods but your vet will have a good recommendation on the best food for your pregnant Maltese dog.
  • Maltese pregnancies can bring on nesting characteristics in your puppy. If your Maltese does not have a safe place that is hers such as a nice warm bed to herself then it would be a great idea to get something for her. She might like a warm blanket as well if it is cold.
  • Relationships with other dogs can sometimes be a problem during the pregnancy as the Maltese will not feel comfortable and have less tolerance levels. You should try and keep your pregnant female Maltese by herself if she is annoyed by the other dogs in the house. If the sire is also in the house you should keep the mother and father away from each other from week 5. The father (or sire) should be kept away from the actual pregnancy and the puppies until they have grown significantly. This is usually around week 4 after the pregnancy but may be longer if needed. You should be careful reintroducing the puppies and sire and do it through a fence, and on a leash to gauge the reaction from both the father, mother and Maltese puppies.

How do I know my Maltese is ready to give birth?

You Maltese pregnancy is coming to an end when her body temperature starts to drop. This temperature drop is a clear sign the female Maltese body is preparing itself for the delivery. Starting around Day 57 of the pregnancy, the temperature should be taken daily. Twice daily is recommended after you progress past day 60. of the Maltese pregnancy. The normal temperature for a Maltese is 101 to 103 degrees Fahrenheit (which is equivalent to 38.3 to 39.4 Celsius). When the pregnancy is within 24 hours of happening this temperature will drop top 100 degrees Fahrenheit (which is equivalent to 37.8 degrees Celsius. It might only be 1 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit but this is the clearest sign your dog is ready to give birth.

Another less obvious sign of an impending birth is that the milk will start to fill the teats of your Maltese. This means the birth is likely to happen within a few days as the body of the female is getting ready to take care of the soon to arrive Maltese puppies.

What are the Best Tips for Looking after a female Maltese after the pregnancy (post pregnancy) ?

Once your Maltese has given birth there are a number of things you can do that will help her post pregnancy:

  • Remove any soiled bedding and blankets. These will have bodily fluids from the birth and allowing your Maltese puppies and Maltese mother to sit in the fluids will increase the likeliness of an infection occurring.
  • Use a warm damp towel to clean off the mother. Use a dry towel to gently pat her dry to make her comfortable. Removing the body fluids from her will lessen the chance of any infections occurring.
  • Provide lots of water in the next few days as your Maltese will be producing milk to feed her puppies. She can get hydrated without adequate access to clean water.
  • The mother may ignore food for a day or two but after that she should be eating. Ensure that you feed her adequately as she is providing the nutrients for the litter. She will need larger than normal meals. If she rejects her food beyond a couple of days get vet advice.
  • Take your Maltese and her puppies to the vet for a checkup. The vet will be able to confirm the mother is healing well and that the puppies are all healthy.
  • For a couple of weeks keep an eye on the drainage of your Maltese. If it smells or is of a white/grey or black color then you she likely has an infection and will need medical intervention from a vet.
  • The teats of your dog can get infected and inflamed. This is commonly known as Mastitis. It occurs whenever bacteria gets into an cracks in the skin near the teat due to feeding. This can be very painful so if it occurs see your vet immediately.
  • Talk to your vet about eclampsia and how to prevent it as its a common in small breeds.
  • Eclampsia is especially common in smaller breeds such as Maltese so be very careful. While calcium during the pregnancy was not advised eclampsia is a condition where your Maltese is not getting enough calcium. Symptoms include disorientation, not nurturing the puppies, fever, whining, panting, walking funny and laying with straight legs. ECLAMPSIA IN MALTESE IS LIFE THREATENING and you should see a vet immediately. If any of these symptoms occur in the weeks following your litter arrival while the mother is feeding them then take it very seriously.


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