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How Many Puppies Can an Australian Shepherd Have?

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Felicitations! I'm assuming your vet recently confirmed to you that your Australian Shepherd is pregnant. Full-grown Australian Shepherds are cute, but have you seen them as puppies? Aussie puppies have a unique and attractive appearance that makes them heartbreakingly cute. As such, you must be very excited to welcome them into your home. However, you might be wondering how many puppies your Australian Shepherd can deliver.

Average Litter Size

On average, Australian Shepherds can have around seven puppies. They can sometimes have smaller litters, though. Litter sizes can vary depending on a few factors including diet, health, age of both parents, and genetics.

You should expect your Australian Shepherd to give birth to about seven or eight puppies if this is her first litter. For first-time mother Aussies, this is the national average. On the other hand, if this is not your pregnant Aussie’s first litter, expect her to have between six and nine puppies. It is extremely unlikely that your pregnant Aussie will have a single puppy birth. 

It is also possible but not common for Australian Shepherds to have up to twelve puppies. Also, it is sometimes possible for an Australian Shepherd to give birth to eight puppies, but only four or five survive. Due to a variety of reasons, some puppies can be stillborn. In other words, born dead. On the other hand, others may not survive the first 24 hours of life.

On a side note, your Australian Shepherd will not need your assistance during the birth, even though this is her first litter. Her instincts will kick in as soon as she goes into labor.

Maximum Litter Size

At maximum, Australian Shepherds can have around nine puppies. However, as I have pointed out above, litter sizes of a dozen puppies or more are possible but not common with Australian Shepherds. A few years ago, someone took to Reddit to share how their Australian Shepherd named Scarlett gave birth to a total of 11 puppies! Of the 11 puppies, only 2 are females. According to the pet owner, Tony, it really was an amazing thing to witness. 

Tony said this was Scarlett's first litter of puppies. Nevertheless, the first-time mother knew exactly what to do. Tony said Scarlett made a nest out of towels they gave her and would lick the baby clean and then move them close to her after they came out. Interestingly, all of the 11 puppies survived and have each found a forever home! Below are some adorable pictures of Scarlett and her puppies.

a litter of 11 Aussie puppies

Scarlett, the Australian Shepherd and her 11 puppies

Scarlett, the Australian Shepherd and her 11 puppies
                                    Source: Duke and Scarlett Pups

How Long Are Australian Shepherds Pregnant For?

According to Dr. Kara, a vet with over 20 years of experience, first pregnancies tend to go a little longer than subsequent pregnancies. Generally speaking, the more puppies in a litter the shorter the length of the gestation period. Dr. Kara says if your Aussie, for example, only has two puppies, she may have a longer pregnancy. The normal length of pregnancy in dogs, including Aussies, is approximately 63 days from conception, although most dogs deliver at about the 65th day. During the first four weeks of your Australian Shepherd's pregnancy, she may show the following symptoms:
  1. Morning sickness
  2. Becoming overly affectionate
  3. Having an excess desire for food
  4. Swollen and tender nipples
  5. Drop in physical activity
The top signs of impending labor in Australian Shepherds, as well as other dogs, include:
  • Drop in body temperature: One of the early signs of impending labor to watch out for is your dog’s temperature. For example, if your Aussie's body temperature drops from 38.5°C to 37°C, she is likely to go into labor around 12-24 hours after that. Throughout the final week of your dog's pregnancy, it is advisable to take her temperature twice a day with a rectal thermometer.
  • Restlessness: Your Australian Shepherd may be restless during the final week of her pregnancy.
  • Nesting behavior: Your mum-to-be Australian Shepherd may move the nest you made for them to a quiet area. Your Aussie finds this place comfortable so it is advisable not to move it.
  • Start of milk production: Most Australian Shepherds will start milk production a day or two or a week before delivery.
When your Australian Shepherd enters the active stage of labor, her first puppy should come out within 2 hours. Female Australian Shepherds have about eight to ten nipples, arranged in two rows. If your Aussie has eight nipples and gives birth to, for example, ten puppies, you'll have to make sure all of them get their fair share of milk.


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