What is the Oldest Age a Dog Can Have Puppies? [Better Early Than Late]

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

Picture this: it’s a sunny afternoon, and you’re enjoying a lovely walk in the park when suddenly a fellow dog owner drops the bombshell that their nine-year-old pooch is expecting!

Cue shock and confusion.

“What is the Oldest Age a Dog Can Have Puppies?” Trust me, I’ve had my fair share of queries about this from friends and family.

In this post, I’m here to unravel the truth and make you become the next doggie pregnancy expert.

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Navigate this post
  1. What Are the Oldest Dogs to Have Puppies?
  2. What is the Oldest Age That a Dog Can Have Puppies?
  3. When Should You Stop Breeding a Dog?
  4. What Are the Risks of Breeding Older Dogs?
  5. When is a Male Dog Too Old to Breed?
  6. Factors to Determine Whether an Old Dog Should Be Bred
  7. How to Prevent an Older Dog From Having Puppies?
  8. Benefits of Ovariohysterectomy (Spaying)
  9. What Should You Do if a Senior Dog Gets Pregnant?
  10. At What Age Can Dogs Start to Have Puppies?
  11. What Are the Signs That Your Dog is in Heat?
  12. How to Tell if Your Dog is Pregnant
  13. At What Age Can a Young Dog Have Puppies?
  14. How Many Litters Can a Dog Have?
  15. What is the Best Age to Breed a Female Dog?
  16. How Many Times Can You Breed a Female Dog in a Year?
  17. How Many Times Can You Breed a Female Dog in a Lifetime?
  18. What Are the Benefits of Waiting to Breed a Dog?
  19. How to Prevent Your Dog From Going Into Heat?
  20. Should I Breed My Dog?
  21. Do I Need a License to Breed Dogs?
  22. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
  23. In Conclusion: What is the Oldest Age a Dog Can Have Puppies?
Dear Dog Owner

What Are the Oldest Dogs to Have Puppies?

What Are the Oldest Dogs to Have Puppies

Unlike us humans, dogs are technically able to have puppies until the day they pass away.

I’ve heard of dogs getting pregnant at 12 years old, but such cases are extremely rare and dangerous. 

In fact, The Kennel Club avoids registering births from females that are 8 years and older because their pregnancies are very high risk. 

One example of a dog successfully giving birth to puppies until old age is the case of the fox terrier named Pebbles.

She had a total of 32 puppies, and although it is not 100% clear, it seems that the last time she gave birth was when she was 16.

But is that the normal age for dogs?

What is the Oldest Age That a Dog Can Have Puppies?

What is the Oldest Age That a Dog Can Have Puppies

The age at which dogs can successfully have puppies differ between males and females.

Let’s investigate the differences below.

What is the oldest age that a male dog can sire puppies?

Male dogs can continue siring pups until they pass away, but their fertility does decline as they get older.

Nevertheless, they can still technically impregnate their mate regardless of age.

Note that male dogs that have been bred frequently over their lifetimes might experience a decline in semen quality and sperm count.

This reduces their chances of successful breeding in old age.

What is the oldest age that a female dog can have puppies?

Female dogs have a more defined age limitation for having puppies.

The window for successful pregnancies starts to close at around 6 to 7 years old.

In addition, females with a history of multiple litters may have more difficulty conceiving and carrying a pregnancy to term as they age.

The age at which male and female dogs can have puppies is determined by multiple factors such as breed, overall health, and prior breeding history, similar to the number of puppies a dog can have in its life.

For instance, some smaller dog breeds may retain better reproductive abilities in their senior years compared to larger breeds.

When Should You Stop Breeding a Dog?

As dogs age, their ability to have puppies safely may decrease, which can lead to more risks during pregnancy.

This is why, it’s so important to know when to stop breeding a dog.

Your top priority is always to consider a dog’s overall health.

It is recommended to avoid breeding dogs that have had multiple litters (4-6 being the general limit guideline) before, as excessive breeding can lead to health complications.

The same is true for dogs with previous injuries or health issues.

If your pet gets injured or sick in a way that will make them having puppies more difficult or painful, it’s time to stop. 

Responsible breeding also means thinking about genetics – if a dog has certain health problems in their family, it’s best to avoid letting them have more puppies to prevent passing on those problems to their babies.

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What Are the Risks of Breeding Older Dogs?

As female dogs get older, it becomes harder for them to get pregnant and have puppies.

Their heat cycles may become irregular, making it challenging to know the best time for breeding.

Plus, the quality of their eggs can decrease.

All this lowers the chances of a successful pregnancy. 

And that doesn’t even cover the physical demands of giving birth on the dog’s body. 

When is a Male Dog Too Old to Breed?

Male dogs can keep breeding until they become seniors.

But in my opinion, it’s a good idea to think about stopping around 10 years old or even younger.

This gives them a chance to be neutered and to enjoy it second half of its life without the stress on its body.

Certain small breeds may retire from breeding at seven years, while others can keep going until they’re 12 (the limit imposed by AKC).

Factors to Determine Whether an Old Dog Should Be Bred

should an old dog be bred

While it’s true that dogs can have puppies at any age, it doesn’t necessarily mean they should.

As a dog owner, you need to make responsible decisions about breeding your furry companions in order to ensure their health and well-being, as well as that of any potential offspring.

Let’s take a look at some things you need to consider deeply before pulling the trigger.


Age is a crucial factor in deciding whether to breed dogs. 

For females, 8 years old or younger is considered an appropriate age to discontinue breeding due to the increased risk of complications during pregnancy and birth.

I would personally recommend to stop when they are 5-6 years old.

As for males, they may generally continue breeding until around 10 years old.

Overall health

The health of your pet is a critical factor when considering whether they should have puppies.

In certain situations, it may even be more important than their age. 

If a dog has any health problems or illnesses, it just doesn’t make sense to breed them.

These issues can pose significant risks to both the dog and any potential offspring.

For example, if a female dog has a heart condition or a male dog has joint problems, breeding them could be risky and potentially harmful.

Previous litters 

The number of times your furry momma has given birth is another thing to consider when planning future breeding. 

As I mentioned earlier, if a female dog has had four to six litters, it’s better for them to retire.

Frequent pregnancies can affect the dog’s health and increase risks during birth.

Previous injuries

Giving birth is not just painful, it can cause injuries to worsen.

That’s why you should think twice about breeding your pet if they suffer from a chronic health condition or an injury. 

For example, male dogs with joint problems may find mating painful.

Female dogs with hip issues could face a risky and painful pregnancy. 


Different dog breeds have different lifespans and abilities to have puppies comfortably, and this should also play a part in the decision to breed your pet.

For example, large breeds like Great Danes or Saint Bernards have shorter lifespans, and their overall health may start declining earlier. 

So, they should retire from breeding at a younger age, around 4 to 5 years old. 

On the other hand, smaller breeds like Chihuahuas or Dachshunds live longer, so they can continue breeding until around 7 to 8 years old.

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How to Prevent an Older Dog From Having Puppies?

There are really only a couple of methods you can consider.

First, you can have your pet undergo surgical procedures to prevent them from having more puppies.

Spaying, which involves removing the ovaries and uterus, is a permanent option for females, while neutering, which removes the testicles, is a similar solution for males. 

Hormonal birth control, like oral contraceptives or injections, can be also used (but generally not recommended by vets).

Another option is to keep males and females away from each other during heats. No contact means no unplanned pregnancies.

Benefits of Ovariohysterectomy (Spaying)

Ovariohysterectomy is more commonly known as spaying, and it’s probably the best option to prevent your female dogs from getting pregnant.

Since the procedure eliminates the risk of pregnancy, it also prevents the potential complications associated with it. 

According to research, it also helps prevent certain reproductive health issues such as the risk of uterine infections, and significantly lowers the chances of mammary tumors, especially if the procedure is done before your pet’s first heat cycle.

What Should You Do if a Senior Dog Gets Pregnant?

Expecting puppies! If your senior dog finds herself in this situation, don’t panic and handle it with care.

Schedule a vet visit ASAP to assess your pet’s health and discuss the best course of action.

In the meantime, you can also use this dog pregnancy calendar and calculator to figure out its due date.

After birth, you may want to consider spaying to prevent future surprises. 

At What Age Can Dogs Start to Have Puppies?

Dogs can start having puppies once they reach sexual maturity, which varies among breeds and individual dogs.

Small breeds may become sexually mature at around 6 to 9 months old, while larger breeds might take 12 to 18 months.

What Are the Signs That Your Dog is in Heat?

When a female dog is in heat, she may exhibit various behaviors to attract potential mates.

Look out for increased affection, frequent urination, and a swollen vulva. 

She might also leave a scent trail for male dogs to follow.

Keep a close eye on her, as this phase can last for about 2 to 4 weeks.

At what age do male dogs become sexually mature?

Male puppies reach sexual maturity earlier than females. Depending on the breed, males usually reach puberty between the ages of five and eight months.

At what age do female dogs become sexually mature?

Female dogs typically reach sexual maturity around six to twelve months of age. Again, this can vary based on the pet’s breed and size. 

How to Tell if Your Dog is Pregnant

Do you suspect your pet to be pregnant? Look for physical changes such as swollen nipples and a larger abdomen. 

An increase in appetite and nesting behavior may also indicate pregnancy.

Your pet might start gathering blankets and pillows in a corner or a secluded spot, preparing for the arrival of her puppies. 

However, the most accurate way to confirm pregnancy is through a veterinary examination or ultrasound.

At What Age Can a Young Dog Have Puppies?

Dogs can start having puppies as soon as they reach sexual maturity. For male dogs and smaller breeds, this can be as early as 5 months. 

For female dogs and larger breeds, it’s typically around 6 to 9 months.

How Many Litters Can a Dog Have?

Most experts recommend that female dogs have no more than 3 to 4 litters during their lifetime. 

This is to prevent overbreeding which often results in health issues that reduce the quality of life for the mother and her puppies. 

The number of litters a dog can have depends on various factors, including their health, age, and breed.

What is the Best Age to Breed a Female Dog?

The perfect age to breed a female dog is when she has reached full physical and mental maturity. 

For small and medium-sized breeds, this is typically around 2 years of age. 

Larger breeds may take a bit longer to reach full maturity and are generally ready for breeding around 2 to 3 years of age.

How Many Times Can You Breed a Female Dog in a Year?

On paper, they can breed about 2 times per year, but veterinarians and breeders recommend limiting breeding to one litter per year for female dogs. 

This allows them ample time to recover and ensures the best chance of healthy pregnancies and puppies.

How Many Times Can You Breed a Female Dog in a Lifetime?

Technically, female dogs can have over 10 litters during their lifetime, but that doesn’t mean they should be made to do so.

The reason for this is simple: you want your female dog to give birth only during its prime years when it’s healthy and strong.

That’s also why many countries set a limit of 4-6 births in a female dog’s lifetime.

What Are the Benefits of Waiting to Breed a Dog?

This topic is often met with lots of controversy and conflicting opinions.

On one side, animal rights activists want to see breeders waiting to breed a dog in order to give the female’s body time to heal and become strong again after having puppies and nursing them. 

Their opinion is that if dogs are bred too often, they can have more health problems and face difficulties during pregnancy and giving birth, which is true.

On the other hand though, there’s been good research and information (particularly by Dr. Robert Van Hutchison) that supports breeding dogs back-to-back.

Here’s an excerpt from an interview he did when asked about continued breeding:

Absolutely. It’s suggested not to skip a season, because we have been preserving the uterus from the effects of progesterone; what would be the benefit of exposing her uterus to two months of progesterone? Progesterone’s effect on the uterine lining is the reason why bitches six and over have a 33.3 percent less chance of conceiving than bitches under 6 years of age.

Rather than going into it in detail, I would point you to this page if you wanna know more.

How to Prevent Your Dog From Going Into Heat?

If you want to make sure your female dog doesn’t have puppies and avoid those heat cycles, spaying is the way to go.

It’s a permanent solution since it involves removing your pet’s reproductive parts aka the ovaries and uterus.

No more heat cycles mean no more surprise litter. 

Should I Breed My Dog?

Deciding whether to breed your dog is a big responsibility.

If you want to go down that path, you’ll need to have a good reason and be ready to put in lots of effort, time, and resources.

Breeding dogs requires a lot of knowledge and dedication.

You need to make sure your pet is in good health and that you can provide excellent care for the mother and the puppies. 

Do I Need a License to Breed Dogs?

In most places, for example here in the US, yes, you need a license to breed dogs. In fact, some states even have enhanced laws to make it stricter for dog breeders.

Rules can vary depending on where you live, so it’s better to check with your local authorities about any breeding regulations or licenses needed in your area.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can a mom and son dogs have puppies?

No. Breeding mother and son dogs is strongly discouraged by veterinarians and experts due to the increased risk of the offspring inheriting genetic issues. 

Is it bad for a 1-year-old dog to have puppies?

Dogs may reach sexual maturity around one year of age, but breeding a 1-year-old dog is generally not recommended. At this age, they may not be fully physically and emotionally mature to handle the challenges of pregnancy and motherhood.

Can a 9-year-old dog have puppies?

Yes, a 9-year-old dog can still have puppies. At this age, it’s considered quite late in the dog’s reproductive life, and pregnancies at this age carry higher risks.

Can a 12-year-old dog have puppies?

Yes, a 12-year-old dog can still get pregnant. It is, however, very risky due to their age, and it’s best to avoid breeding at this stage.

Can an 8-year-old dog have puppies?

Yes, but it’s considered a high-risk pregnancy due to their advanced reproductive age. It can lead to complications and health issues during pregnancy and delivery. Close monitoring and proper care are essential.

Which dog breed has the lowest life expectancy?

The breed with the lowest life expectancy is the Dogue de Bordeaux, also known as the French Mastiff. On average, they have a life expectancy of around 5 to 8 years.

When is a dog considered to be a senior?

Dogs are considered seniors at different ages based on their size. Small dogs become senior citizens around 11-12 years old, medium-sized dogs at 10 years, larger dogs at 8 years, and giant breeds at 7 years.

How old can a dog be and still get pregnant?

Female dogs can get pregnant until they reach the end of their reproductive life, usually around 10 to 12 years old. However, any pregnancy after the age of 7 may be considered risky due to their advanced age.

In Conclusion: What is the Oldest Age a Dog Can Have Puppies?

As you can see, there are so many things that goes into a dog’s pregnancy, and the oldest age a dog can have puppies depends on factors like breed and health.

Although there are the occasional stories of dogs reproducing at advanced ages, I think we can both agree that it’s generally best to breed dogs before they reach 7 years old.

This lowers the risk of complications during pregnancy and promotes the overall well-being of both the mother and the puppies.

Good luck with your journey and feel free to leave a comment down below!

Hey! If you found this post useful, check out these dog breeding articles too:

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Canine Care Central!

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