What’s a Typical Litter Size for a Golden Retriever?

Golden Retriever mix with bone in mouth on the golf course

Your Golden Retriever is pregnant, and you’re curious what a standard litter size looks like for this big, loveable, friendly dog. I’ll tell you in today’s article! 

What’s a typical litter size for a Golden Retriever? The typical litter size for a Golden Retriever is anywhere from 4 to 12 puppies. During her first litter, a Golden Retriever will usually have fewer puppies (about eight), but the number often increases with subsequent litters. 

In today’s informative article, I’ll talk more about how Golden Retriever litter sizes vary from first pregnancy to later pregnancies. I’ll also discuss how many litters a Golden Retriever can have in a year and across a lifetime, so check it out! 

How Many Puppies Can a Golden Retriever Have in Their First Litter?

Golden Retrievers will birth about eight puppies the first time around. It could be fewer, but it will not be more than eight unless in rare circumstances.

Eight is a lot of puppies anyway, especially if you plan on adopting some out and keeping the rest. You’d more than have your hands full. 

I should take this section to note that unfortunately, not every puppy always survives after birth, especially in a Golden Retriever’s first pregnancy.

These kinds of circumstances are not unique to the Golden Retriever and could happen to any breed. 

It’s especially likeliest if your dog experiences early contractions that lead to premature labor.

If puppies are born more than 10 days sooner than they were supposed to be, most probably won’t survive.

Even in normal birth circumstances when everything is on time, some puppies could still die in a first-time mother’s litter. With at least seven others though, it stings less. 

Does a Golden Retriever Birth More Puppies After Her First Litter? 

It’s been some time since her first pregnancy and your Golden Retriever is pregnant again. This is a momentous occasion, as you still have some of her pups running around the house (the rest were adopted into loving furrever homes).

Now that she’s over the first-time pregnancy hump, can you expect your Golden Retriever to give birth to more than eight puppies?

Well, it depends. She could birth more puppies, or it could be fewer. 

If it’s on the lower side of the number spectrum, then you should expect around six puppies. 

Your Golden Retriever could birth 10 to 12 puppies as well. I’ll talk more about the average litter size of Golden Retrievers later, so keep reading! 

How Many Litters Can a Golden Retriever Have in a Year?

Breeders might be interested in increasing the number of litters a Golden Retriever produces, which could theoretically mean getting the dog pregnant several times per year.

How many litters can a Golden Retriever have in a year?

It all depends on how many times a Golden Retriever experiences estrus, which is more colloquially referred to as the dog going into heat.

During her estrus cycle, a female Golden Retriever will be more receptive to male mates. More so than that, she’ll also be more fertile so she’ll hopefully become pregnant.

The amount of estrus cycles a healthy female dog goes through depends on the size of her breed.

For example, a much smaller dog like a Havanese might have three estrus cycles a year, which would mean three potential litters if the dog got pregnant each time. 

Larger dogs tend to have fewer estrus cycles than smaller breeds.

The Golden Retriever certainly counts as large considering that females are about 22 inches tall and can weigh up to 75 pounds.

In bigger dogs, it’s not uncommon to have only one estrus cycle per year. 

In some years, you might get lucky, and it will be two estrus cycles, but anything more than that would be uncommon.

Thus, per year, I would say that you should plan for one litter of puppies from your Golden Retriever but possibly two.

You could have anywhere from 12 to 20 puppies and possibly more if your Golden Retriever births two healthy litters in one year!

How Many Puppies Do Golden Retrievers Have on Average?

A pregnant Golden Retriever can deliver four to 12 puppies, with a more average litter size between six and 10 puppies. 

Why the disparities in litter size? Let’s explore the factors at play in this section.


Just like it becomes increasingly dangerous for a human woman to get pregnant as she gets older, the same is true for dogs.

Golden Retrievers only live for 10 to 12 years. Even before your dog hits double digits, she shouldn’t be giving birth anymore.

You want to curtail that behavior when the dog is between eight and nine years old. 

I’ve talked about this elsewhere on the blog, but I must reiterate here that when an older dog gets pregnant, her health is at risk, as is the health of the puppies.

Stillbirths are more likely. This can affect only some puppies in the litter but sometimes the entire litter. 

An older pregnant Golden Retriever might only birth a single puppy even though her litter size is supposed to be bigger. 

Her pregnancy will be a lot more difficult, and she could need an emergency C-section at her age as well. 

Even if you decided that you wanted to keep breeding a Golden Retriever long after you shouldn’t, her ability to consistently get pregnant begins to drop off at around seven years old. 

The dog’s estrus cycles might occur less frequently around this age. 


Another factor that affects a Golden Retriever’s litter size is how healthy she is. 

Is the dog free of diseases or medical conditions that can affect her ability to carry a healthy pregnancy to term and birth healthy puppies? 

If so, then is her mate, known as the stud, healthy as well? If one dog is healthy and the other isn’t, that can still affect the overall health of the puppies. 

First vs. Later Pregnancies 

This goes back to my point from before. During a dog’s first pregnancy–breed normally notwithstanding–her ability to birth a large litter is less compared to subsequent pregnancies.

Even if you wished that your Golden Retriever had had a bigger litter the first time around, you should try to get her pregnant again rather than be discouraged. 

The second or third time, her litter size might be closer to double digits! 


A study done by Woodhaven Labs, was performed that assessed the diet of female dogs to determine what effect that diet had on pregnancy and litter size. 

The pregnant dogs, three in all, were on moderately different diets.

One dog only received premium dog food. The second got premium dog food plus some cottage cheese. The third dog had premium dog food with cottage cheese as well as meat. 

The cottage cheese was shown to have potentially negative consequences on pregnant dogs and might have led to fetal abortions. 

Although some protein in a dog’s diet is good, too much might lead to smaller litter size.

Dogs need a well-rounded diet without any additional supplements to birth the healthiest litters. 

If you have concerns about your Golden Retriever’s diet, I’d recommend going over what your dog eats with your vet. 

How Many Puppies Can a Golden Retriever Have in a Lifetime? 

To wrap up, I want to talk about how many puppies a Golden Retriever could have in her lifetime.

Golden Retrievers have their first estrus cycle between 10 and 14 months old. 

Although technically, a dog can get pregnant as young as six months old, most responsible breeders and dog owners give the canine more time to mature. That means waiting until a dog’s second or third estrus cycle.

Let’s say your Golden Retriever has an estrus cycle twice per year. By the time her third estrus cycle is over, she’d be two years old. 

You can then start breeding her. Canine pregnancy is very short, lasting 58 to 68 days. Your Golden Retriever would give birth to her first litter of puppies before her third birthday.

Since this is her first time being pregnant, you can expect that your Golden Retriever’s litter size will be smaller at around eight puppies max. 

Now let’s say that, at the age of two onward, your Golden Retriever gets pregnant twice per year. This continues until her ninth birthday, when you decide she’s had enough of childbirth for her lifetime.

That gives you seven years to work with and two litters for each of those seven years.

If your Golden Retriever births six puppies each litter twice per year, that’s 12 puppies a year for seven years. The grand total is 84 puppies. 

Should she give birth to 10 puppies per litter twice a year for seven years, that’s 20 puppies per year for seven years or 140 puppies!  

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