Female Labrador Retrievers will go into heat twice yearly. Each period of being in heat lasts about 20 days. This is the time to introduce the sire. Typically, a Labrador Retriever’s gestation period is 58 to 64 days. Most deliver around days 60 to 62. I know this because I am the proud owner of an AKC registered Lab.
Labor generally begins the day before the pups are born.
You may not know exactly when she conceived or when she is due. However, there will be a few telltale signs the day before the pups are born. Your lady Lab may ask to go out more frequently. She may be a little whiny. She will likely have a decreased appetite. She will lay in one spot, get up and move to another spot. She will want extra attention. Labrador Retrievers are very sweet, sensitive dogs. When they don’t feel well they tend to cling to their owners more. They want love and affection. A laboring mother Lab will be very uncomfortable as labor begins. This is why she will lay down, get up, lay down, get up. To help her through this pay close attention to her actions. Give her the love and attention she needs.
When your laboring mother Labrador is in full labor…
She will act a little panicky. She will search for a place to lay down to have her pups. Labradors, as explained above, are sensitive, loving dogs. Your laboring mother Lab will most likely come to you to let you know it’s time. Pay attention. Help her to find a suitable place to have her pups. Lay down an old blanket to protect your floor. Pet her gently and talk to her. Tell her she’ll be alright and that you are right there.
Offer water even if she doesn’t want it.
Place a shallow bowl of fresh, cold water next to her. She may not want anything to drink at first. However, at some point through the birthing process she will. If it’s not available she may get up to go look for it.
Stay close but not too close.
As labor progresses your lady Lab will want you close, but not too close. Keep a little distance but at the same time stay near her. She will want to know you are there for her so check on her often and offer words of encouragement. Tell her she’s doing great and she’s a beautiful girl. Let her know it’s okay and that she’s going to be a mother dog soon. Labs are very intelligent. They do pick up the human language when they are talked to frequently. She may understand your exact words, and even if she doesn’t she will benefit from hearing the encouraging and gentle tones of your voice.
After she gives birth to the first pup…
Stay close to her. Do this not just for her sake but for the sake of the pups. You will need to make sure that she does not accidentally lay on one of them. It’s also important to make sure she is cleaning them and removing the sac. It’s instinct for a mother dog to do this but sometimes with a first litter she may not.
When a puppy is born dead…
It’s sad but it happens. Many times, especially in first litters, a puppy will either be born dead or will die within a few minutes of being born. Remove the dead puppy from the rest immediately.
When she has finished giving birth…
Your laboring mother Labrador will know when she has delivered her last pup. Once she knows she is finished with the birthing process, she will try to get up. Let her. Be sure that her pups are all safe and take her outside for a walk. Allow her to go potty then bring her back in and offer her some food. While she’s eating gently move the pups for a minute and change the blanket. Place a clean blanket in the same spot as the old one and put the pups on it. The place she chose to give birth will also most likely be her “nest” spot for the next two weeks or so. It’s where she will lay to feed her pups and where the pups will remain until they begin to roam.