French bulldogs have been selectively bred by humans to the point where they are (in the majority of cases) no longer able to breed naturally. Getting a French bulldog pregnant will mostly happen via artificial insemination. Once successful, how long will they be pregnant for?
French bulldogs are like any other dog breed when it comes to gestation length. You can expect a Frenchie pregnancy to last between 58 and 68 days, with the average pregnancy length typically being 63 days from conception to birth.
French Bulldog Pregnancy Calendar: In addition to this advice, below you can see an easy to reference French Bulldog pregnancy calendar I have put together for reference purposes.
French Bulldog pregnancy calendar
Week 1 (days 0 to 7)
The Frenchie female has been fertilized successfully, and you should continue on with her usual exercise and food, with no changes to activity or diet.
Your Frenchie might experience some form of morning sickness, and you might see a small pink discharge coming out. Don’t panic, this is all perfectly normal.
Week 2 (days 7 to 14)
This is the time during the French Bulldog pregnancy calendar when the cells will start to grow, and the embryos move into the uterus area.
As with week 1, there are is no need to make any chances to your dog’s diet or exercise program.
Week 3 (days 14 to 21)
The small Frenchie puppy foetuses are now starting to develop properly, being extremely small at around 1 cm in length.
Just like in weeks 1 and 2 of the pregnancy calendar, there is still no need to make any changes to her diet and exercise. However, you should keep an eye on her, as some dogs will want to eat more.
Week 4 (days 21 to 28)
At this point in the pregnancy calendar, the puppies will start to form more, and in fact it might even be possible for your vet to detect them simply by feeling your dog’s belly.
This is one of the most important weeks in the French Bulldog pregnancy calendar and is the point of highest risk to the developing puppies. Be careful with her, and start to limit any over-exertion and rough activity.
The foetuses are now starting to resemble a dog, with spinal and facial areas growing, but the puppy foetus is still only 1.5 cm long.
Your female Frenchie may start to get swollen nipples and a clear discharge from her vagina. Again, this is perfectly normal and nothing to panic about.
Your vet will need to advise on whether or not you need to change her diet, or supplement her food with any more nutritional additions.
Week 5 (days 28 to 35)
At this point, the foetuses are more robust with feet, claws, and whiskers starting to appear. This is also the point whereby the sex of the puppy will develop, with genital areas developing.
You will notice weight gain in the female Frenchie, and it’s the point whereby her food intake will need to be increased to help with the puppy development.
Vets can perform a scan during this period so you can find out how many puppies you can expect in the litter. Here’s what the average litter sizes are.
Week 6 (days 35 to 42)
You will now definitely notice a difference in your female in terms of how large and pregnant she looks. It’s almost as if she is growing more and more each day… it’s that rapid!
Her nipples will also become darker, and there will also be color changes to the growing puppies too as they start to develop their unique markings.
The mother will demand more food, so keep feeding her as much as she has the appetite to take. You will also be supplementing her own food with puppy food too and can also consider supplements into the diet.
Week 6 in the calendar is also a good time to prepare her area for giving birth. She will want to start the nesting process so find somewhere quiet and secure that she can feel relaxed in.
Week 7 (days 42 to 49)
If you now start to see a lot of hair coming off your female now, don’t worry. This is her body’s way of preparing for the birth, as she shed’s hair from her stomach.
The puppies are now almost completely formed into their adorable French Bulldog shape.
From a dietary perspective you can now stop the puppy food ratio and get the mother back onto her regular diet… but with more volume.
By doing so you can let the mother store valuable calcium deposits in her system. The calcium will help the puppies develop further and stronger.
Week 8 (days 49 to 57)
It’s not unheard of for some Frenchies to give birth this early in the calendar, so prepare for the unexpected! Just let her be relaxed and avoid any form of over activity as this could lead to her body trying to deliver the litter early.
You will see the mother start to nest properly now, and you might even be lucky enough to see some movement in her belly as the puppies move around.
Week 9 (days 57 to 65)
The Frenchie puppies are coming! The mother will be very quiet and could even start eating less as she prepares herself for the birth this week.
Handy Hint: If your Frenchie is pregnant and you want to estimate when the puppies will be due, use this pregnancy calculator.
How to get a French bulldog pregnant
Ah, the whole bees and the bird’s conversation…
Full disclosure here. I am not a breeder, I am simply a lover of Frenchies, and own one – his name is Claude and you will see photos and videos of him elsewhere on the website.
He’s no Romeo, and the likelihood of him getting a female pregnant is virtually zero (by design).
Breeders will artificially inseminate the female (dam), even if the male is in the same room. Yep, the don’t get much privacy do they!
But in most cases, the male won’t even meet the female, with the semen being shipped to the breeder, many times being frozen.
It’s a complex procedure including timings, blood tests, temperatures, and loads more technicality that I am not qualified to comment on. In the future I will look to interview a breeder so I can publish more expert insight.
How many months is the pregnancy of a dog on average?
The gestation and pregnancy time period for almost any breed of dog is between 58 and 58 days, meaning 63 days is the average.
That’s about 2 months in total and Frenchies are no different.
How many puppies do French bulldogs usually have?
Frenchies are a brachycephalic (short skull) breed of dog. These breeds rarely give birth to large litters, and Frenchies are just the same.
French bulldogs tend to have on average around 3 puppies with each litter. Typically, the litter sizes will range between 2 and 4 puppies, with litters over 5 puppies being unusual. Occasionally you might hear of 7 or more puppies being born, but this is very, very rare.
Compare that to other dog breeds such as a Golden Retriever, whose average litter size of puppies is 8, or Beagles who average 6 puppies, you can see why Frenchies are so expensive.
You can see some research I put together below on the most popular worldwide dog breeds and how many puppies they have on average.
|Dog breed type||Average litter size|
|Basset Hound||5 puppies|
|Bernese Mountain Dog||8 puppies|
|Boston Terrier||4 puppies|
|British Bulldog||4 puppies|
|French Bulldog||3 puppies|
|German Shepherd Dog||8 puppies|
|Golden Retriever||8 puppies|
|Great Dane||8 puppies|
|Miniature Schnauzer||4 puppies|
|Shih Tzu||3 puppies|
|Springer Spaniel||7 puppies|
|Yorkshire Terrier||3 puppies|
The size of a French bulldog female (the dam) means that they simply don’t have the room to accommodate for large litters. When an unusually high number of puppies is born to one female, the chances of the puppies surviving will decrease.
The puppies will probably be underweight, with the weaker ones having a far lower rate of surviving the first few weeks from birth. Larger litters can also put undue stress on the dam as she will need to feed for longer and provide more milk.
Do French bulldogs always need C-sections?
One of the most common misconceptions with Frenchies is that they can only give birth via a Caesarean section (or C section for short). Whilst this is the case most of the time, it’s not always that way.
Estimates show that around 80% of French bulldog puppies are delivered by C section. The reason is due to the way they have been selectively bred to have small and narrow hips, and the puppies have very large heads making it almost impossible for them to be delivered via the birth canal.
Vaginal births are dangerous for French bulldogs. If a puppy was to get lodged in the birth canal, then death is almost inevitable. There is also the risk of internal damage and injury to the mother.
French Bulldog C-sections cost on average between $500 for a planned procedure and up to $2,000 for very specialised or emergency Caesareans.
How often do French bulldogs go into heat?
When people say a dog is in heat, what they actually mean is that they are in their oestrus cycle. It is very similar to when a human female gets a period.
When a Frenchie dam is on her oestrus cycle it means she has gone into heat and will accept a mate and could end up getting pregnant.
French bulldogs go into heat from the point they reach sexual maturity. The regularity of their oestrus cycles tends to be every 6 months on average but will vary from dog to dog. It can take up to 2 years for a French bulldog to develop regular heat patterns.
Female French bulldogs can gain sexual maturity as young as 5 months old. At that point, if they have started to have regular oestrus cycles, they are at risk of getting pregnant.
Want to know more? To find out more about French Bulldog heat cycles, read this guide.
And at that young age, they aren’t even fully grown, so the pregnancy could come with increased risks to the dog, and the puppies.
If you don’t want your lady Frenchie getting pregnant, then keep her indoors or on a lead during heat, or more ideally get her spayed.
But wait, didn’t I say natural insemination between Frenchies was rare earlier?
Yes, but other breeds of frisky dogs won’t have the hip issue I will go into in a moment, and could very well get your lady dog pregnant.
The stages of a French bulldog pregnancy
If you’re really keen on knowing all the various stages that go into the French bulldog pregnancy period, here’s a breakdown of what it all means with the medical terms.
There are four stages of their reproductive cycle:
- Proestrus: the “getting ready” stage where blood can discharge – around 9 days
- Oestrus (aka estrus): the “mating” stage – around 9 days
- Diestrus: the “pregnancy” stage – around 63 days
- Anestrus: the “recovery” stage – until the next oestrus cycle starts – can be 6 monthly
Can French bulldogs breed on their own?
Yes, and no. But in the world of French bulldog breeding and ownership, mating by themselves leading to pregnancy is very unusual.
Due to those narrow hips and the way this breed has been engineered by the human race, it’s very difficult for them to mate successfully. The male will struggle to mount the female, and so natural conception is virtually unheard of.
Almost every single Frenchie on the planet today will be a result of artificial insemination, following by a C-section.
It’s very unlikely that you would be able to breed French bulldogs naturally.
Did You Know? If you are thinking about breeding your Frenchie, read this guide to the breeding cycle. It includes details on how often they should be put through the breeding process in their lifetime.
If you are thinking about buying a Frenchie, please do your research, and make sure that you are buying from a registered and well-renowned breeder.
Many people farm their females to produce as many puppies as possible, and as frequently as possible too. It can take a huge toll on their bodies and isn’t fair.
Please research and buy responsibly.