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10 Facts About Puppies and Dog Pregnancy

Fact: puppies are one of the cutest creatures on the planet. Okay, that may not be a true "fact" by definition (though it's probably commonly accepted as reality by most people). But there are lots of real and fun facts about puppies that you may not know. Here are 10 facts about puppies and dog pregnancy that might surprise you:

1. Female dogs are pregnant for 63 days on average.

Dogs are usually pregnant for 58 to 68 days, which is much shorter than the 240 days that humans are pregnant. A pair of dogs who aren't spayed or neutered can produce 66,000 puppies in 6 years.

2. The number of puppies in a litter depends on a few factors.

On average, dogs have litters of five to six puppies. But this number varies widely depending on the breed, size and age of the dog. For example, older or smaller dogs tend to have smaller litters with three to four pups on average. And different breeds have different sized litters.

3. Puppies are born blind, deaf and toothless.

Puppies can't hear or see until they're about two weeks old because their central nervous system is still developing after birth. They don't even open their eyes until then so they can continuing developing safely. Until they can see and hear, puppies rely on their sense of smell and heat sensors in their noses to find their mom. Puppies are also born toothless and don't get teeth until around four weeks of age.

4. They spend 15–20 hours a day sleeping.

Puppies sleep more than adult dogs because of the rapid body growth phase they're going through. This isn't very uncommon for the young - for example, human babies sleep around 16 hours a day.

5. Mother dogs help their puppies poop.

Puppies can't poop on their own until around they're about two weeks old. Until then, the mom helps by licking around the anal area, after which the puppy should have a bowel movement within one to two minutes.

6. Puppy coats are different from their adult ones.

Puppies are born with a single layer of fur that's softer and fuzzier than adult dog fur. At the age of four to six months, they will shed their puppy coat and their adult one will grow in. Adult coats are thicker, coarser and often consist of two layers (called a double-coat).

7. Puppies lose their first set of teeth.

Puppies lose their first set of teeth between three and four months of age. This is most often when you see teething, although they can start this behavior as early as when their first set comes in. 

8. Puppy paw size relates to how big your dog will be.

You can use a newborn or puppy's paw size to estimate how big he or she will grow to be. In general, larger dogs will have larger paws as puppies, and vice versa for smaller breeds. This is because your dog's paws need to be able to support their weight and size.

9. Early socialization is critical for puppies.

Socialization is super important for puppies as it allows them to begin learning and become a better-adjusted dog later in life. The earlier the socialization, the better as the optimal time to socialize a puppy is before 14 weeks of age. It's important to socialize them in a controlled and safe environments to avoid negative or dangerous experiences. This is because puppies create "learning files," which means that early experiences may stick with them throughout their adult life.

10. Puppies become "adults" at the age of one or two.

Most puppies become physically, mentally and emotionally mature by the age of one or two years old. This means that their bodies have finished developing and, more specifically, that they have:
  • Reached their adult height and weight (and need less food to maintain a healthy weight).
  • Permanent, larger adult teeth.
  • Adult coat, which they'll have for the rest of their life.
  • "Closed" growth plates in their legs (meaning the calcium and minerals around their bones have hardened).

You should also see less puppy behaviors such as chewing, misreading body language, not understanding social cues and other mischief. Though you'll still see lots of youthfulness and energy!

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