Whelping

Great Dane Temperatures Before Labor

Echo 2017

These are Echo’s (Great Dane) temperatures before whelping / labor

For those of you that are like me, and love to know every detail about what to expect before a dog goes into labor, you’ve probably read dozen’s of articles on the internet about what to expect during your dog’s labor. You may have even read my article “The last week of a Great Dane’s Pregnancy“.

So, these temperatures prior to my dog’s labor are mind candy for those of you who are just like me and want to know as much as possible about a dog’s temperatures prior to labor!

A dog’s normal temperature is about 101. – 102.5 (38.3 – 39.16) before the progesterone levels change causing the dog’s temperature to drop and then rise again, which sets labor in motion.

While you will read many different things online about what is considered a “drop” in temps, I have found that all of my dog’s temps drop below 98 degrees, anywhere between 97.5-98 degrees up to 24 hours prior to labor.

I have read that the dog’s temperature will drop below 100 degrees and while this is true, the drop below 100 degrees can last several days and is not an indicator of the immediate onset of labor or whelping, in my experience. In the final days prior to labor, my dog’s temps generally go below 100 degrees and move back and forth, up and down, between 99.1 – 101 degrees before the real drop occurs.

Knowing that anything 99 or above isn’t anything to wake the family for, I can relax and catch up on all of that sleep I’ll soon be missing. This is, of course, if I’m taking the temperatures regularly and how “regularly” depends on what day into the pregnancy we are on and what her current temp readings are.

For example: If I get a reading of 99.3 (37.89) and we are on day 58, I generally will take the temperature again in 1 – 2 hours. If it remains at 99.3 (37.89) or higher, I leave my dog alone for awhile before taking her temperature again. However, if her temp dropped since the 99.3 reading, I will take it again in 1-2 hours and see if it has dropped, stayed the same, or risen. This gives me an idea of how fast the temperature is changing and whether it is going up or down. If it’s going up, I leave her alone for several hours before checking again. If it’s going down each time I take it, I will continue to take it every 1 – 2 hours.

My Great Dane’s temperatures have dropped to 98.9 (37.16) degrees and gone back up into the mid-90s again without the onset of labor within 12 hours (or even 24 hours, in some cases). My rock bottom drop may actually have been hours later when it hit 98.7 (37.05). So, here we are again… a drop may not be enough of a drop. You don’t know if you’ve dropped enough until you’ve hit rock bottom.

What to do? If you have a reading below 99 (37.22) degrees, take it again in an hour. The temperature should drop and if you’re checking every hour, it will either continue to drop a little or it will hover at that “rock bottom” number for at least a couple of hours before it begins to rise again.

One thing is for sure… if you’re consistent, you are very likely to see the drop (and then the rise) because this method works on MOST dogs. Some dogs may never show a temp drop or you may not have caught the drop when it happened. My experience has been that all of my dogs drop and then rise again up to 24 hours before labor starts.

Of course, the temp drop may occur at night while you’re sleeping so setting an alarm when you think the temp is on the decline can help make sure you don’t miss it.


Here are my current Great Dane’s temperatures in the final week of pregnancy:

Day 56
8:00 pm = 100.5 degrees (or 38.05 celsius)

Day 57
3:00 AM = 99.1 degrees (37.27)
9:00 AM = 99.4 degrees (37.44)
12:00 PM = 100.1 degrees (37.83)
6:00 PM = 101.2 degrees *(38.44) (max high since I began taking her temperature)

Day 58
8:00 AM = 100.2 degrees (37.88)
11:00 AM = 100.8 degrees (38.22)
7:00 PM = 101.4 * (38.55) (new max high since I began taking her temperature)
11:00 PM = 99.4 (37.44)

Day 59
5:30 AM = 99.2 (37.33)
7:30 AM = 99.8 (37.66)
10:40 AM = 99.7  (37.61)
1:00 PM = 99.5 (37.5)
2:00 PM = 99.0 (37.22) ** LOWEST TEMPERATURE YET **

So far, in my “temperature chart”, Echo’s temperatures look like this: (I do not mark EVERY reading in the graph now because I am taking the temperature several times a day at this point).

pregnant great dane temperature chart, pregnant great dane whelping temperature chart, pregnant dog whelping temperatures

In the last week of pregnancy, it is normal for a dog’s temperature chart to resemble a heart beat in the graph, bouncing up and down within the 99 – 101 degree range. We are watching for a significant drop somewhere 99 degrees or below.

Also note that during late evening and early morning hours, a dog’s temperatures usually go down lower than they are during the daytime. This could be because of the temperatures outside as well as the dog being less active during the evenings.

As you can see by the graph, on day 59 her temperatures are staying lower than average since I began charting. On day 57 and 58 her temperatures were averaging around 100 degrees. On day 59 they are hanging out in the mid-90s.

On the evening of day 59, her temperatures dropped to the 98.7 – 99.0 range and stayed there for at least 3 hours. I did not continue to monitor her temps as I knew it was time to get as much sleep as I could.

By 9:30 AM on day 60 she was in labor, had heavy nesting instincts, and was circling around in her bed frequently. Although she almost never showed panting, she was pushing by 11:00 AM and delivered 8 healthy babies within 7 hours.

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