Do dogs sense pregnancy?

A woman is holding 3 baby scan pictures by a golden retriever. Does the dog sense pregnancy?

Expecting a new arrival is so exciting, and you might be wondering do dogs sense pregnancy? Whilst there is no scientific proof that they do, there is evidence that dogs can pick up on other changes.

Why do people think their dogs sense pregnancy?

Dog and woman in a cave, dog is smelling her stomach as if he senses she is pregnancy.

You have probably heard stories about how a dog’s behaviour changed when someone was having a baby. Some dog owners are certain their dogs knew before they did.

If you are pregnant, you may be feeling the same way. Is your dog acting differently towards you? Are they being more protective, or staying unusually close?

Amongst the behaviours reported were:

  • Increased attachment and clingy behaviour
  • Whining and barking
  • Choosing to sleep on their owner’s stomach
  • Guarding and being more protective than usual
  • Being incredibly gentle

With no scientific proof that dogs sense pregnancy, how could this be explained? Perhaps there are other clues they are picking up on.

Can your dog smell pregnancy hormones? 

Dog sniffing pregnant woman's stomach, perhaps he senses she is pregnant

Dogs have 300 million scent receptors in their nose compared to about 6 million in humans, and they are 40 times better at analysing smells.

This is why some people think dogs can smell pregnancy hormones like Oestrogen, Progesterone, and HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin). As these hormones increase so too does metabolism, weight, and blood flow. 

These changes raise a woman’s body temperature causing her to sweat more resulting in a change in body odour.

Jamie from UK Sniffer Dogs explained ‘If there are changes to saliva, sweat or breath, dogs can pick up on it. They can be trained to respond to these in ways that are helpful to humans.’

Their incredible sense of smell means they undertake important jobs like detecting illness, disease, explosives, and drugs.

So whilst there is currently no evidence that dogs can smell hormones, they can smell the changes in body odour that these hormones create.

Changes to your mood and emotions

Pregnancy can change a woman’s behaviour, mood, and emotions.

A 2022 study reinforced what dog owners may already know. Dogs can differentiate between human emotions through scent alone. 

Your dog may not understand why you are experiencing different moods and emotions. They will probably notice that they are different.

Changes to your body and body language

Dogs are excellent at observing visual clues. It is no wonder they notice changes to both your body and body language during your pregnancy. 

You may move slowly and cautiously, have a more difficult time getting up, or walk with a different gait. Your body is also changing shape and you may naturally adjust how you interact with and cuddle your dog to accommodate your growing baby bump.

Changes to your behaviour and routine

Woman under a blanket snuggling up with her two dogs, they are all asleep

There could be unavoidable changes to your dog’s routine while you are pregnant. 

  • If you have morning sickness, the walking schedule may be different
  • You may be starting maternity leave and be at home more
  • You may spend more time resting and relaxing
  • Pregnancy cravings could mean you bring home new and different-smelling foods

These types of things, whilst only subtle changes, will not go unnoticed by your dog. 

Can my dog hear the foetal heartbeat when I am pregnant?

Dogs have very sensitive hearing. On average they can hear four times better than humans and can hear sounds that we are unable to hear.

This has led to some debate about whether dogs can hear the baby’s heartbeat whilst they are in the womb. Whilst it is possible, this has not yet been proven.

Are different breeds of dogs more likely to sense pregnancy?

Gemma from UK Sniffer Dogs explains, ‘Breeds play a part in how efficient a dog is at detecting changes through scent. For example, Blood Hounds and German Shepherds have more scent receptor cells than breeds like pugs and bulldogs. So they would be naturally better at detecting changes.’

Remember, scent is only one sense your dog uses to detect differences. It is possible that all dog breeds can sense the changes pregnancy brings.

Will my dog sense I am going into labour?

Many women have reported changes to a dog’s behaviour just before they went into labour. Behaviours range from a dog being clingy, pacing, and vocalising right through to hiding and ignoring their owner.

Again a lot is changing here that your dog is likely to be aware of:

  • A lot of pregnancy hormones peak when labour starts. The increase in hormones results in changes to natural body odour which can be detected by your dog. 
  • Braxton-Hicks contractions are known as false labour contractions. They typically occur in the last trimester. These can be painful and your dog might detect the changes in your emotions and behaviour.
  • You are also likely to be at home on maternity leave towards the very end of your pregnancy. This is a change in routine for your dog, one they will probably love. 
  • Even little things like packing your hospital bag could be noticed by your dog.

There is no scientific evidence that dogs can sense labour but it is reasonable to assume your dog could be aware something is different.

Will my dog’s behaviour change during my pregnancy?

Whether your dog changes during your pregnancy could depend on many factors. They all have unique personalities, genetic traits, and previous experiences. Some dogs are more sensitive and all dogs tolerate change differently.

Here are some possible behaviour changes you could expect to see:

  • Protective – Your dog could respond by becoming more attached to you, following you around and being more affectionate.
  • Guarding – Some dogs have been known to become more reactive. They may bark more, growl, and not allow other people to sit with you. If you are at all concerned by your dog’s behaviour consider getting help from a professional dog trainer. Reactive behaviour could intensify once the baby is born.
  • Rebellious – Some dogs respond to change with increasing anxiety. This could include urinating in the house, being destructive and chewing up items.
  • Distant – It has been known for some dogs to react by ignoring their owner, and not engaging with them at all.

Dogs tend to like routine, and change can be unsettling. Do your best to prepare your dog for the new baby and try to be extra patient, especially if your dog is acting out of character. Find time to do some fun things with your dog so they still know they’re number one (even if they may have to share that top spot soon).

Most dog’s behaviour goes back to normal when they get used to the changes and the new routine. 


The scientific evidence does not yet prove that dogs can sense human pregnancy. However, dogs can pick up on the changes to their routine that pregnancy brings. They may also notice any differences in your scent, mood, emotions, behaviour, body, and body language. It is no wonder your dog might realise that things are not as they once were.

Did your dog seem to know you were pregnant? I would love to hear from you, please feel free to share your story in the comments.

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Pixie Greatorex is a Freelance Writer in the Pet industry specialising in search engine optimised blogs. In simple terms...Pixie writes content which helps your customers find your business on the internet.
Pixie Greatorex pet industry blog content writer