Well I’ll be! Here’s a new (at least to me it’s new) old trick from the breeders of yesteryear and I’m simply tripping over myself wanting to try it. I’ve never heard this one before, it sounds nifty and I’m wondering if any of you have ever tried (or heard of) this pregnancy predictor? Arlene Czech writes about the “Gum Check” in her article for this month’s column in ShowSight Magazine.
How to perform the test: exactly 21 days after the FIRST tie mating start looking at the gums on your bitch by lifting her lips as though you are checking her bite. If she is pregnant the gum will appear very white, much whiter than their normal red color. (see photo below) This color change will occur between the 21 to 24 days after that first mating. It would be ideal for you to begin checking the gums earlier than the 21 days so you have a good picture in your mind of her normal gum color. If she is not pregnant the gum tissue will not change color.
Why it works: According to Arlene’s article, this is the time when the fetus implants itself on the uterine walls. During this process a good deal of the blood flow is redirected from the body of the bitch and focused on her uterus instead.
We’d sure like to hear back from those of you who may have already been aware of this trick and have used it, as well as those who give it a try on your next breeding. Simply send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment at the end of this article.
For information about medical methods to determine pregnancy click this link to our article “Is she…or isn’t she?”
Thank you to our reader Carol Wilson for sending the following email and photos:
These photos were shared from one of our readers (thank you Shelley Ellison) who reported …my images of my Labrador Retriever girl Katy when I bred her last year. The darker image was taken on day 21 after ovulation, and the brighter gum color was taken on day 24 after ovulation. I did progesterone timing for shipped chilled semen and she had 9 beautiful puppies.
Sally Gift, Mesa AZ
Gordon Puppy Photograph courtesy of Debbie Bjerkestrand
(Read Arlene Czech’s article by clicking the blue link below). I’ve included a brief excerpt and photos from the article here.
This is what he told me, and I would like to pass it on to others. No need for a visit to the vet, just a simple check. He demonstrated with his dog as to how to tell if a bitch is pregnant. He simply held her head while he lifted her lip, as if checking the bite when judging. He said the gums will be very white at this time. The time? Exactly 21 days from the first tie in breeding. Actually, you need to start a few days before to become used to the gum color. Just a quick look is all you need. The only problem is that it does not stay white forever. Why it is white is that this is the time that the little fetus/egg implants itself on the uterus? In doing so, blood is drained from the bitches’ body and goes to the uterus. You need to check for several days after since some aren’t ready to implant. Recently I have taken pictures of my recent bitch on her 21st day had white gums, and then several days later I took another picture showing her red gums. Breeders do not believe me until they try it themselves and then say “they did turn white!” And if it is not a success then the gums stay red.
In all the intervening years, I have had success with this over 55 times. I missed once because I didn’t catch her on the 21-24th day. Then I take my bitch to my vet to palpate on the 28th day to see how many.
I understand from several breeders of farm animals that they too check the same way to see if the breeding took. I didn’t ask how many days they use, but the method was white gums.
by Arlene Czech
34 thoughts on “Is She Pregnant? Check her gums!”
Beautiful but i need to know more
Hi I’ve mated my pug and have tried this method I took pics on the 19th day she had very red gums I also took a pic everyday from the the 21st day and have noticed that they are really light in colour ..we are now on day 25 and they haven’t returned to normal colour yet..I’ve booked her for a scan on the 35 day..keeping everything crossef she is pregnant and that your method is proved correct..
Tried this on my Malamute and definite change of colour and yes we had 7 puppies
I breed Old English Bulldogs and began trying this last year. The first time I used this method and there after it was a success. I’ve recently bred a female that I had only a slip mating with. According to this she is probably pregnant. I really have my doubts since it wasn’t a tie that I would have wanted to see. She has a sonogram Friday so we then determine if indeed it is 100% factual in her case.
probably dumb question but you say check exactly 21 days after the first tie mating….So we had our dogs artificially inseminated on the 2nd of March….Do I count the 2nd of March as day one?
You are to count 21 days AFTER so obviously the day OF is not the 1st day AFTER, 24 hrs AFTER would count as day 1.
What is the likelihood of the gums going pale at day 16 past the first breeding? I’ve been checking her daily for the last several days and today her gums are noticably whiter, but it is several days earlier than I expected.
Candace, I have never used this gum method but I am mating 2 German Shepherd females this week so I’ll see how I go. However, I will also have them ultra sounded at 28 days to confirm if they are pregnant and approximate numbers of puppies. I always get my bitches progesterone tested and then mate them around 2 days AFTER ovulation. If you didn’t progesterone test your bitch she may have ovulated quite a few days before the first mating, hence her very white gums at 16 days after the first mating. Bitches will vary using this method I think. But it sounds feasible, so I’ll give it a go. I’ll also run it by my Vet as he specialises in fertility. Bitches usually whelp 63 days plus/minus a day from ovulation, although if a large litter they can whelp early. I would be interested to know if your bitch whelped quite a few days earlier than you expected. I have been breeding for 45 years.
I am wondering the same thing about the AI? Are you counting from ovulation or mating which may be several days apart.
Would this still happen with a false pregnancy?
No Shelby I would guess that it wouldn’t as the phenomenon is caused by the blood flow being rerouted to the uterus when the pups attach to the uterine wall. In a false pregnancy there would be no puppies to cause the rerouting of the blood flow.
Thanks for asking!
No it wont 🙂
I have taken pictures of my Brittany at day 14 for a comparison and started at day 20 taking pictures and at day 21-24 had differences. She ate slower than normal for the 21-24 days. She is a chow hound at eating so it was a difference at watching her eat. I think she’s in whelp due to changes in her attitude and wanting to eat all the time. She will be due around the 8th of Nov (that’s 63 days and first litter) so will make sure I let you know. I will x-ray to see how many right before.
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My vet has done 2 ultra sounds atvdays 25 and 32 and found nothing. I emailed pictures to you if her gums. I just can’t believe she’s not pregnant. All signs say yes and never had one go into a false and act like this.
I am sooooo sorry! such a huge disappointment.
My female frenchton has very pink gums on day 27.He harmones have started and I do believe she is pregnant. .How accurate is this?
Thanks for writing. This isn’t a scientific test by any means, and the white gums only last a day or two so as far as accuracy we can’t claim to know for sure. Good luck, hope your puppies materialize!
Hi, hope that is the case with my lottle girl Hazel. We’ve been very worried about her over the past couple of days. Had to rush her to the emergency vet as she could not open her right eye and she suddenly had an infection in her lip fold. She was mated 30 days ago so the vet did an ultrasound to determine if she was pregnant so they could establish what medication to give. The result was positive, but that meant that they were restricted in what medication they could give.
I had to return to my own vet today to get her checked over and he is concerned that she has lost weight in the last 3 weeks and doesn’t want to eat, plus bringing up any food that she has eaten. Her temperature is normal, so that is one good thing. However he was very concerned that her gums are very pale so has decided to take a full blood count, results due back tomorrow or Wednesday.
I’ve been researching on the web what could be causing her pale gums and saw your article – I’m praying that it is the pregnancy that has caused this and she will soon be back to her normal self.
Wendy, the pale gums from the pregnancy is a very short term thing, your issue sounds more serious than that. I hope all is well and that your vet has been able to determine what’s going on for your girl.
Hi! The gums must be checked on day 21 after the first cover. They are pale for only about 24 hours so at 30 days they should look normal. I hope everything is ok with your girl
I recently read your article about checking a bitches gums to see if she was pregnant. I must admit I had never heard of if before, but as I had just mated my long coat Chihuahua I thought why not try the test.
The first pic was taken about 2 weeks after mating and the second pic 22 days after the first tie. You can see how much paler her gums are. I was fascinated when I saw the change in her gums, but the article did make a lot of sense.
My girl is definitely in whelp she is 5 weeks along now, so the test worked for us. I will definitely be using this method again future.
Thanks for sharing
Email from our reader:
I have been checking my bitches gums but being a Groenendael & having partly black gums it was not so easy.
Yesterday was day 21 but I could see no change in colour but her nipples are raised. She is to be scanned in two weeks.
Lynn Mathers wrote – Hi, just read a quick overview of your article on the gums turning white(er) on pregnant bitches on the 21st day post initial tie. Question, I have Kerry Blue Terriers, who have black gums (full) if correct breeding. If I’m looking for white gums, would black gums turn grey, white, ? or maybe a combination of colors? Thanks, I’ve always checked their nipple at day 10 from last breeding and if their pinker at the base, a little more full or erect, and the hair has started swirling around and away from the nipple, for me and those who do it in the breeds I’ve been involved in, would swear by this. We haven’t had a missed call in all the years I’ve been breeding. Good article, I look forward to seeing more. Thank you
Blue Mtn Terriers
Like you my dog has mostly black gums but the pink is still pink on day 21.
I use nipples test the same as yourself at the moment nipples are up so fingers crossed.
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I’ve used this method before, it worked great. The biggest problem was that they sucked it dry and when first starting them on it it took a bit for them to accept it. So my daughter and I figured out a great method. I’d hold the saturated sponge in the puppy’s mouth, when it started to get dry she’d take a syringe of milk and inject it into the sponge! Worked like a charm.
From our Facebook reader: Jane Cuthbertson – My first setters gums went a far paler shade during pregnancy and her tan almost went black before returning to normal. With my second litter the bitch smelled different within a week so I knew she was pregnant. On both occasions I knew my bitches were pregnant within the first couple of weeks.
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From our Facebook reader – Carla Joyce: Cheri Dunham (Cheridan GS) told me about it. We both tried it and it worked. Now need to try it on a bitch that hasn’t been bred.
As you can expect it is gradual on both sides, not instant on and off. You really need to start looking several days ahead several times a day in different lights. I started a week ahead and checked 3-4 times a day, inside, outside, daylight and dark (indoor lighting) anytime she was underfoot. Kept checking as they pinked back up (few days).
You can see my response re: white gums. Feel free to share my experience. It was kinda cool. Breeding for over 30 years and I had never heard that. Now want to follow a bitch that was not bred or didn’t take.
Also wanted to tell you I used your puppy glucose sol. With a litter of 11, Mom needed a little help. It worked just like you said. It kept my puppies hydrated and happy for about 24hrs, they started refusing it after that and it was clear they needed food. Started supplementing using the cosmetic sponges. This was my first chance to try it. Wow, whoever thought of this is a genius. Kinda messy but I may not have good technique yet. The first time I cut the wedges in half (lengthwise). A Gordon puppy can suck a lot of sponge😏. After that I just trimmed a bit off the corners.
Wanted to share this easy recipe from my vet. She can raise anything. She studies and adjusts to the species needed. This is her recipe for puppies. I have used it for many litters, always with great success.
4 oz. Condensed Goats milk
1 1\2 oz water
1 1\2 oz whole milk
1 oz 1\2&1\2
Whole milk plain yogurt can be added for a boost of probiotics.
Tandera Gordon Setters
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What kind of sponges do you use?
The sponges used are the triangular shaped make-up sponges you can pick up in the cosmetics aisle at any drug store, Walmart, etc. https://gordonsetterexpert.org/2015/01/26/sponge-feeding-newborn-puppies-great-idea/
11:21 AM (19 hours ago)
We recently bred a Gordon setter and tried this and it worked.
Load of rubbish.
I have Scottish Terriers and I learned about this 2 years ago. I take pictures and it has worked for me each time. If there was no change the bitch was not in whelp.