Is Our Bitch Nesting?


Nesting can be a sign that a bitch is nearly ready to whelp, but is this instinctual behavior a guarantee that a litter is on the way?

Visitor Wonders: Is Our Bitch Nesting?


We have a female Maltese/Bichon that we bred to our male Maltese/Shih Tzu. She would be due to have puppies on October 1st if the mating worked. She doesn't look like she's getting bigger, but she does seem tired all the time.

We saw her in the yard digging a hole, taking branches from the tree and putting them in the hole. Can you please tell us if she is pregnant or not? We thought that maybe she is pregnant because it seemed like she was making a bed to have her pups in. We think that if she is pregnant she may only have one pup in there, because she hasn't put on any weight. Do we need to get her checked by a vet, or should we just wait and see if she does give birth?

Thank you~~ Tracey

Expert Reply

Hi Tracey,

This does sound like nesting behavior. If there isn't a whelping box available, most dogs will try to find a secure spot to deliver their pups. They typically like to tear up materials to line their "nest", and this may be what your dog has in mind. I think assuming she has at least one pup tucked up high in the uterus is the right approach to take. There's no guarantee she is pregnant, but I recommend staying with her when you take her outside in case she does go into labor and try to have her pups in her "burrow".

Do you have a place set up inside your house for her to have her litter? If not, go ahead and get a low sided box ready just in case. You can also begin taking her rectal temperature today. Take it once in the morning and once before bedtime. The average temperature for a dog runs around 100-101 degrees, but a bitch will drop below 99 degrees and stay there for two readings about 24 hours before going into labor. This will give you a clue whether a birth is imminent.

As long as your bitch isn't producing an oddly colored or smelly discharge from her uterus, I don't think you need to visit the vet yet. I would simply keep an eye on her for any unusual behavior or signs of illness.

Thanks for your question, and I hope all goes well.

~~ Kelly

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Is Our Bitch Nesting?