How Long Will My Dogs Breast Sag After Giving Birth?

After giving birth, female dogs undergo many changes as their bodies adjust back to a non-pregnant state. One noticeable change is in the dog’s mammary glands and breast area. It’s natural for a dog’s breasts to enlarge and sag due to milk production and nursing demands. However, this is usually a temporary effect that resolves over time as the breasts return to normal.

A dog’s breasts enlarge significantly during pregnancy and remain swollen while nursing puppies. The swelling places extra weight on the breast ligaments, which can cause temporary sagging. Hormonal changes also play a role. It’s important for dog owners to understand these post-pregnancy breast changes are natural and not a cause for concern. With time, proper nutrition, and weaning puppies, a dog’s breasts will typically go back to their pre-pregnancy size and appearance.

Breast Changes During Pregnancy

A dog’s breasts will start changing and enlarging early in pregnancy as they prepare for nursing. According to South Seattle Veterinary Hospital, one of the most common signs of pregnancy is a change in the dog’s nipples, which usually occurs 2-3 weeks after conception.

During pregnancy, increased levels of estrogen and progesterone cause the mammary glands to enlarge and swell with milk. This causes the nipples to become more prominent and enlarged compared to a non-pregnant dog. Rexipets notes that the nipples will also darken in color and protrude more. Essentially, the breasts are going through changes to get ready for milk production and nursing once the puppies are born.

In addition to changes in the nipples, the breasts themselves become heavier and increase in blood flow and weight. The udders will also enlarge. These changes are all part of the preparation for nursing, ensuring the dog will be able to produce enough milk for the litter of puppies. The most significant breast changes occur in the last 3-4 weeks of pregnancy when milk production ramps up and the breasts enlarge even further.

Breast Changes Right After Birth

A dog’s breasts go through significant changes immediately after giving birth. As her milk starts to come in, the breasts become engorged and swollen. This engorgement typically peaks 24-48 hours after delivery as the milk supply is established.

It’s very important to allow the puppies to nurse frequently during this time to relieve engorgement. The nursing stimulates the dog’s body to produce just enough milk for the litter. If the breasts are not emptied, it can lead to complications like mastitis. Gentle massage and warm compresses can also help express milk and keep it flowing properly.

Mastitis is an infection of the milk glands that causes swelling, pain, and redness. It usually results from milk buildup. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, mastitis most often occurs within the first two weeks after whelping. Catching it early and allowing puppies to nurse regularly can often clear up mild cases. More severe infections may require antibiotic treatment.

By keeping the milk flowing, nursing helps prevent engorgement and mastitis. It also strengthens the bond between mother and puppies. Allowing the litter to nurse on demand is crucial in the days after birth.

Breast Changes in Nursing Period

During the nursing period, a dog’s breasts go through repeated cycles of engorgement and draining as the puppies nurse. This can take a toll on the breast tissue, leading to changes in the appearance and feel of the breasts.

The constant filling and emptying of the mammary glands causes them to become enlarged and swollen. According to the AKC, this repeated engorgement and draining can result in more pendulous, saggy-looking breasts1. The weight of the milk in the engorged glands causes them to stretch out.

In addition, nursing can make the nipples look larger, more pronounced, and darker in color. The skin may take on a bluish tint at times. All these changes are temporary and tend to resolve once nursing stops and the breasts return to normal size.

However, in some cases, the pendulous, saggy appearance persists beyond the nursing period. This tends to happen when the dog nurses large litters repeatedly over many heat cycles. The breasts simply don’t have time to return to normal before the next pregnancy and nursing session.

Factors Affecting Breast Sagging

There are several factors that can affect how much a dog’s breasts sag after giving birth:

  • Number of puppies nursed – Dogs that nurse larger litters are more likely to experience sagging. The more puppies, the more the breasts are stretched and drained during nursing.
  • Breast size – Larger, heavier breasts are more prone to sagging due to the effects of gravity over time. Smaller breasts may be less likely to sag.
  • Genetics – Some breeds are genetically prone to heavier, pendulous breasts that are more likely to sag eventually. Examples are Basset Hounds and Bloodhounds.

According to the American Kennel Club, the number of puppies in a litter is a big determining factor for sagging breasts after nursing.[1] The more puppies there are, the more the breasts enlarge during pregnancy and nursing. After weaning, a dog who nursed a large litter may be left with more stretched out, saggy breast tissue.

When Breasts Return to Normal

The timeline for a dog’s breasts to tighten and lift back to normal after pregnancy and weaning can vary quite a bit between individual dogs. However, it often occurs within weeks or months after weaning the puppies.

According to Rexipets, it typically takes around 6-10 weeks for a female dog’s nipples to recede and tighten up after pregnancy. This gives enough time for the puppies to fully wean and stop nursing from their mother [1].

Similarly, responses on Quora indicate it usually takes a few weeks for a mother dog’s nipples to return to normal post-weaning. However, some users note it can take up to 2-3 months in some cases [2].

According to Pets4Homes, a dam’s nipples will begin to shrink back after weaning as her body recovers. But for some dogs, the nipples may never fully return to their pre-pregnancy size and appearance.

Caring for Breasts Post-Weaning

It’s important to take proper care of your breasts after weaning your puppies. Your breasts may feel engorged, sore, and tender as milk production slows down. Wearing a supportive, well-fitted bra can provide comfort and lift during this transition period. According to Mastitis in Dogs – VCA Animal Hospitals, cabbage leaf compresses applied to the breasts can help relieve engorgement and swelling. Cold compresses after nursing can also help soothe soreness and reduce inflammation. Gently massaging your breasts in a circular motion can assist with milk flow and drainage while weaning. Proper breast care post-weaning helps prevent issues like mastitis from developing. If your breasts remain enlarged, hot, or painful more than a few days after weaning, contact your veterinarian.

Getting Back Firm Breasts

After nursing puppies, it’s common for a dog’s mammary glands to sag or droop. However, there are several things you can do to help firm them back up [1]:

  • Exercise – Building chest and abdominal muscles through exercise can help tighten breast skin and tissue. Going for regular walks, swimming, or engaging in canine sports like agility can all help strengthen the chest. Start slowly, especially if your dog is still nursing, and build up activity over time.
  • Healthy diet – Providing a nutritious diet with high-quality proteins, fruits, veggies, and oils can improve skin elasticity. Omega fatty acids are particularly helpful. Ask your vet for diet recommendations.
  • Medical options – In some cases, a vet may recommend medications or surgical options like mastectomy to remove and tighten excess skin. Discuss options with your vet if saggy breasts remain problematic.

With time, patience, and the right care, you can help your dog regain firmer breasts after pregnancy and nursing. Pay close attention to any signs of infection or mastitis, like hot, red, or swollen breasts, and see a vet promptly if those occur [2]. If you have any concerns about your dog’s health or recovery, check with your veterinarian.

When to See the Vet

It’s important to monitor your dog closely after giving birth. Contact your veterinarian right away if you notice any of the following signs:

Mastitis – This is inflammation of the mammary glands and can occur during lactation. Signs include redness, swelling, pain, and warm glands. Dogs with mastitis may seem more restless and feverish as well. Mastitis requires prompt veterinary treatment with antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. Sometimes the puppies may need to be weaned early.

Unusual pain or changes – Your dog should start feeling better within a few days after whelping. But if she seems to be in more pain or discomfort, continues panting heavily, stops eating, or acts lethargic, contact your vet. These could signal an underlying problem requiring medical care.

Any other abnormal signs after birth should also be evaluated by your veterinarian to check for potential complications like retained placentas, metritis, trauma during birth, or eclampsia.


The sagging of your dog’s breasts after giving birth is a normal, temporary change. With proper care and time, her breasts will likely return to their pre-pregnancy state. It’s important to gently clean and care for your dog’s breasts and nipples after weaning to promote healing. Regular gentle massages can help improve circulation and regain firmness. Don’t be alarmed by initial sagging right after nursing, as breasts take some time to tighten back up once milk production ceases. With a nutritious diet, hydration, rest, and your loving care, your dog’s post-weaning breasts should regain a reasonable amount of perkiness. However, dramatic sagging persisting many months beyond weaning or any signs of inflammation warrant a veterinary visit to rule out medical issues. With patience and proper care, your dog’s breasts can recover from the natural effects of pregnancy and nursing. Their appearance may not be exactly the same, but your dog will be healthy, happy, and ready for her next adventures with you!

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