How to tell sex of puppies soon after birth is a quandary faced by many who breed dogs. This article will attempt to explain in easy terms how to tell if a puppy is male or female. It is not as difficult as it might seem. All you need is to understand the anatomy of both sexes.
This is important because, unlike humans, dogs cannot have an ultrasound that shows the gender of the puppy before their birth. This is because the puppies are not fully formed before birth. Usually, dogs are too small to be able to see their genitals before birth.
How To Tell If A Puppy Is Male Or Female
When puppies are born they are completely formed, unlike other mammals where the development of reproductive organs might continue after birth or like marsupials developing in their mother’s pouch.
At the same time, the vulva and the penis can certainly look-alike in a newborn puppy. However, you will find them separately if you look in the right places. When a puppy is born the mother clears most of the placenta, makes sure the pup can breathe, and then moves on to the next one. The mother will also cut the umbilical cord.
It is important to follow certain protocols when handling newborn puppies and looking for ways to tell what their sex is. You want to be extremely careful in handling newborns and I would suggest that unless you must know their sex immediately, you wait a few days at least.
If you are going to check newborn puppies or ones who are a few days old, make sure your hands are clean and don’t touch the area of the umbilical cord until it has healed. Make sure the pup’s mother is not over-anxious about your handling her pups. If she doesn’t want you handling them, wait until she is ready.
Your best bet is to wait until the pups are 3-4 weeks old before determining their sex. This is not possible however for breeders who have waiting lists for their pups. These breeders need to know their pup’s sex as soon as possible after the litter is born.
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If this is the case you will want to handle the puppies very carefully to be sure their mothers will take them back after you handle them. These newborns are also very fragile.
Handling New Born and Young Pups
When handling a young pup or a newborn, we need to be incredibly gentle. These little beings are delicate and fragile. Plus they might not yet be as bonded with their mother as they need to be. They cannot hear and they cannot see until they are several weeks old.
When you pick them up be very gentle and cup your hands around the pup. Gently turn them over to look for the telltale signs of gender. Support the puppy/s entire body while you are doing this and remember how fragile they are. Don’t squeeze them or press on their spine.
Newborns do not control their body heat and they get cold easily. You might put a warm towel on your palm before you pick them up. A few things not to do:
- Don’t hold them too long or handle them too much until they are several weeks old.
- Do not pick them up by the scruff of their necks or by their tails even if their mother does this.
- Don’t let them get over chilled.
- Do not pay attention to their nipples. Male and female dogs are like humans and both genders have nipples.
The bigger the breed or puppy, the bigger the genitals will be. This means it will be easier to determine the sex of larger breed dogs. The smaller the dog, the harder it will be.
Now let’s look at the dog’s anatomy and see how we can tell what their sex is.
Female Puppy Anatomy
Let’s start with the female although she is usually harder to define than the male. The female genitals are mostly internal while the males are external. There is very little difference in the way these reproductive systems look than in a human. Size is the variable. The females have a vulva, oviducts, and ovaries. The vulva is lower in the female than where the penis is in the male.
So when looking for it look from the tail up to the lower abdomen. Females have two openings in this area. The anus and the vulva. The vulva will be located between the legs while the anus is located below the tail. Two holes indicate a vulva and a vulva indicates a female puppy. Females will also have a leaf-like shape to the vulva that is very different from a penis on a very young male. Female sex organs like ovaries, oviducts, uterus, cervix are internal while the vagina is open to the outside of the body.
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Puppy Anatomy Male
The male puppy has external sex organs in both testes and the penis. To tell if a pup is male, the penis will be below the belly. It will be covered with prepuce – or foreskin. The penis is also below the umbilical cord area. In small pups, the penis will obviously be small and may be hard to find. It may look like a little dot.
Reach between the pup’s legs to see if you can feel the testes. If you don’t feel them, don’t assume the pup is a girl. Some dogs do not “drop” their testicles immediately at birth. Don’t try to unsheathe the foreskin from the penis until the puppy is at least 6 or 7 months old. For instance, you could damage the penis bone or penis itself.
So you can see it can indeed be a challenge in answering the question of how to tell sex of puppies soon after birth. If the pups are well developed it is easy. This is also true if you know where to look. Hopefully, this article has pointed you in the right direction.
Family Dog Expert Author
Hi there! I’m Stuart, a devoted dog lover and family dog expert with over a decade of experience working with our furry companions. My passion for dogs drives me to share my knowledge and expertise, helping families build strong, loving bonds with their four-legged friends. When I’m not writing for SirDoggie, you’ll find me hiking, playing with my beautiful dog, or studying music.