Just like any animal or dog breed, litter size can vary. There are a range of factors that contribute to the overall litter size. Often genetics play an important role in the size of the litter. The size of the breed as well as the overall health of parents effect the total litter size.
In smaller breed dogs, litter sizes are of course are lot smaller. Since golden retrievers are often considered a large breed dog, their litter sizes are generally larger. Many sites state various different ranges. Websites, with less authority, like Ask and PetPlanet have a range of 4-12 puppies per litter. Their overall average is 8. The American Kennel Club used to state that the average litter size was in the range of 5-10. However, that information can no longer be found.
After being around golden retrievers, and breeders, I’ve seen many different litter sizes. I’ve seen a litter of 14 golden retriever puppies. Additionally I’ve heard breeders on forums state that they had a litter of only 3. Both are on the extreme ends, and odds are that doesn’t happen very often.
Abnormal Litter Sizes
With both extremes, complications may or could have occurred. With smaller litters it could quite possibly be that the bitch was not bred at the proper time. Some of the eggs may not have been fertilized. The stud may have tied too early, or too late. Or it could have been possible that the sire was too old and not producing enough sperm. The overall health of both parents can also be considered. It could also be a problem with the mother, such as injury, or physical defects. With litters on the larger end, sometimes they may have to be delivered cesarean. If a mother can’t get all her puppies out in a comfortable time whereas the mother becomes too exhausted, a cesarean may be needed. If the time of delivery is too long, some puppies may be stillborn. Cases have occurred where a puppy may be retained in the uterus causing other problems. Litters this large are generally not in the best interest of the mother.
From experience though, most litters are indeed around 8-9 in number. A bitch’s first litter may be smaller than consecutive litters. It is also important to note that male and female ratios can go in either directions. It is also possible to have a litter with all one gender. Our recent litter from Tina came out all female. She had eight female puppies at once. I was told by another breeder that she had a litter of 10 that were all female. It is very unlikely, but it does happen.
In conclusion, it is possible for the average golden retriever litter size to be around 8. A breeder can find out how many puppies a female may have while pregnant via x-ray or ultrasound. An x-ray can be taken after the bones have ossified. That occurs around 47-49 days of gestation. Ultrasounds can be taken around 20-22 days to confirm pregnancy, but confirming the litters size is less accurate. It is however less damaging on the mother and puppies.
Let us know in the comment sections below how any puppies you had in your litters. We’d like to know what everyone’s average is.