There is very little written about failure of pregnancy in dogs.

A breeder survey about pregnancy failure and stillbirth in puppies in France was reported by Chastant-Maillard et al (2016). Abortion rate was reported as 6.8% or 37,946 litters. Stillbirths were 7.4% of 204,537 puppies from 37,946 litters. No specific disease statistics were provided.

Chastant-Maillard S, Guillemot C, Feugier A, Mariani C, Grellet A, Mila H. Reproductive performance and pre-weaning mortality: Preliminary analysis of 27,221 purebred female dogs and 204,537 puppies in France. Reprod Dom Anim 2016;



Non infectious disease


Dystocia appears to be the major cause of noninfectious death of puppies. In a study of 103 puppies from 24 bitches, 3 were stillborn and 11 died within 48hrs - 5 were euthanased for malformations.

Groppetti D, Martino PA, Ravasio G, Bronzo V, Pecile A. Prognostic potential of amniotic fluid analysis at birth on canine neonatal outcomes. Vet J. 2015; 206: 423-425.


In a study of 97 puppies (from a total of 103) from 24 bitches, 3 were stillborn and 11 died within 48hrs - 5 for malformations. There were a total of 8 malformations

Groppetti D, Martino PA, Ravasio G, Bronzo V, Pecile A. Prognostic potential of amniotic fluid analysis at birth on canine neonatal outcomes. Vet J. 2015; 206: 423-425.

Excessive numbers fetuses

There is little written about excessive numbers of fetuses being a cause of Failure of Pregnancy. Identical monozygous twinning is reported, but not as a cause of fetal loss.

Joonè CJ, De Cramer KGM, Nöthling JO. The first case of genetically confirmed monozygotic twinning in the dog (pages 835–839). Reprod Dom Anim 2016; 51: 836-

Infectious disease

Givens and Marley (2008) list the following as infectious causes of reproductive loss


Givens MD, Marley MS. Infectious causes of embryonic and fetal mortality. Theriogenology. 2008; 70: 270-285


Brucella canis

Brucella canis is acquired by the dog either through oral (ingestion) nasal, conjunctival, or venereal routes. Dogs acquiring the bacterium by ingestion initially develop lymphadenitis of the head and neck and bacteremia. Epididymitis and testicular degeneration are the lesions in male dogs, and pregnant females develop placentitis and fetal endocarditis, pneumonia, and hepatitis.

Microscopically, there may be multifocal regions of coagulative necrosis of the placenta and adjacent to these are neutrophils and macrophages (Gyuranecz et al 2011). Trophoblasts of the marginal hematoma and zonary placenta are packed with Brucella organisms and there may be neutrophils within the chorion. Other possible lesions include a lymphocyte and macrophage rich portal hepatitis of the fetus (Gyuranecz et al 2011), multifocal renal hemorrhage, and lymphadenitis.

Bitches can abort several times.

Brucella abortus, Brucella melitensis and Brucella suis are reported in dogs and produce a similar disease to that of Brucella canis. Brucella canis is by far the most common.


Brennan SJ, Ngeleka M, Philibert HM, Forbes LB, Allen AL. Canine brucellosis in a Saskatchewan kennel. Can Vet J. 2008; 49: 703-708.

Carmichael LE, Kenney RM. Canine abortion caused by Brucella canis. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1968; 152: 605-616. 

Gyuranecz M, Szeredi L, Ronai Z, Denes B, Dencso L, Dan A, Palmai N, Hauser Z, Lami E, Makrai L, Erdelyi K, Janosi S. (2011) Detection of Brucella canis–induced reproductive diseases in a kennel. J Vet Diagn Invest 2011, 23:143–147




There are a couple individual case reports of Campylobacter jejuni as a cause of reproductive failure with abortion and perinatal mortality.

Bulgin et al (1984) reported culturing Campylobacter jejuni from a Wheaton Terrier bitch which aborted and from aborted Poodle pups. Campylobacter spp are then on the list of bacteria that cause failure of pregnancy in dogs.

Odendaal et al (1994) reported the culture of Campylobacter jejuni from the vaginal discharge of 3 German Shepherd bitches that aborted in late gestation.

Sahin et al (2014) described a case were an aborted fetus had low numbers of neutrophils within the lungs. Campylobacter jejuni was cultured from the placenta and lung and liver.

Bulgin MS, Ward AC, Sriranganathan N, Saras P. Abortion in the dog due to Campylobacter species. Am J Vet Res 1984; 45: 555-556.

Odendaal MW, de Cramer KG, van der Walt ML, Botha AD, Pieterson PM. First isolation of Campylobacter jejuni from the vaginal discharge of three bitches after abortion in South Africa. Onderstepoort J Vet Res. 1994; 61: 193-195.

Sahin O, Burrough ER, Pavlovic N, Frana TS, Madson DM, Zhang Q. Campylobacter jejuni as a cause of canine abortions in the United States. J Vet Diagn Invest. 2014; 26: 699-704.









Coxiella burnettii

Dogs seroconvert to Coxiella burnettii and human disease is linked to exposure to canine placenta and fluids. The overall prevalence is low, however. its role in failure of pregnancy is not known.



Shapiro AJ, Norris JM, Heller J, Brown G, Malik R, Bosward KL. Seroprevalence of Coxiella burnetii in Australian dogs. Zoonoses Public Health. 2016 Sep;63(6):458-466





Canid herpesvirus 1 (CaHV 1)

Pratelli et al (2014) examined serum from 865 bitches and found a seroprevalence of 15-18% (depending on method).

It is possible for CaHV 1 to produce a typical herpes type failure of pregnancy however the majority of animals with disease are newborn puppies usually within the first two weeks of life but occasionally up to 12 weeks of life.

Pratelli A,  Colao V, Losurdo M. (2014) Serological and virological detection of canine herpesvirus-1 in adult dogs with and without reproductive disorders. The Vet J 2014; 200: 257-260

Canine Minute virus

CnMV is of the Order Unassigned, Family Parvoviridae, Subfamily Parvovirinae, Genus Bocavirus

CnMV, formally called Canine parvovirus 1 or minute virus of dogs, is a cause of early embryonic mortality, stillbirth and perinatal mortality, and neonatal mortality in the first weeks of life. Single cases are often missed. Whole litters can be affected and there may be myocardial necrosis and pneumonia, and enteritis. The age of affected puppies reflects when the pup was infected.

CnMV in experimental challenge causes fetal resorption and the birth of dead or weak pups. Spontaneous disease was not reported until 2012. Lesions in affected pups include anasarca and myocarditis. Intranuclear inclusion bodies are seen in duodenal epithelial cells and within bronchial epithelial cells.

Decaro et al (2012) reported on a litter of puppies where 5 of 6 died. One was stillborn and the others died witin 3 weeks.

Decaro N, Amorisco F, Lenoci D, Lovero A, Colaianni ML, Losurdo M, Desario C, Martella V, Buonavoglia C. Molecular characterization of Canine minute virus associated with neonatal mortality in a litter of Jack Russell terrier dogs. J Vet Diagn Invest. 2012 Jul;24(4):755-758

Bluetongue virus

BTV is of the family Reoviridae, genus Orbivirus. BTV is usually a virus of ruminants spread by Culicoides insects.

Many years ago Evermann et al (1994) reported infection of dogs with BTV 11. The source of the infection was a contaminated vaccine. The bitches were vaccinated late in pregnancy with a modified live vaccine. An aborted fetus and placenta has placental vasculitis. The dams also died and had fibrin on the pleura and interstitial pneumonia. Some vasculitis was seen and also fibrin thrombi in glomerular capillaries. Virus was isolated from the dams, but not the puppy. Lesions suggest endothelial infection with the virus.

Howerth et al (1995) found 1 of 130 canine serum samples to have antibody to BTV 11. This study was in Georgia USA.

Dubovi et al (2013) reported isolating BTV 11 from 3 aborted puppies from Cornell. The pups were autolysed and no lesions were found.

Gaudreault et al (2015) reported on the sequences of BTV 11 recovered from 2 cases of abortion from Texas and Kansas. These were naturaly acquired and evidence suggests it was vector borne.



Dubovi EJ, Hawkins M, Griffin RA Jr, Johnson DJ, Ostlund EN. Isolation of Bluetongue virus from canine abortions. J Vet Diagn Invest. 2013; 25: 490-492.

Evermann JF, McKeirnan AJ, Wilbur LA, Levings RL, Trueblood ES, Baldwin TJ, Hughbanks FG. Canine fatalities associated with the use of a modified live vaccine administered during late stages of pregnancy.J Vet Diagn Invest. 1994; 6: 353-357.

Gaudreault NN, Jasperson DC, Dubovi EJ, Johnson DJ, Ostlund EN, Wilson WC. Whole genome sequence analysis of circulating Bluetongue virus serotype 11 strains from the United States including two domestic canine isolates. J Vet Diagn Invest. 2015; 27: 442-448.

Howerth EW, Dorminy M, Dreesen DW, Spires EA, Stallknecht DE. Low prevalence of antibodies to bluetongue and epizootic hemorrhagic disease viruses in dogs from southern Georgia. J Vet Diagn Invest. 1995; 7: 393-394


Family Paramyxoviridae, Subfamily Paramyxovirinae, Genus Morbillivirus, Canine distemper virus (CDV)

Canine distemper virus, by virtue of its multisystemic effects. Two scenarios are reported in experimental infection: abortion but no fetal infection, and birth of virus infected puppies.


Krakowka S, Hoover EA, Koestner A, Ketring K. Experimental and naturally occurring transplacental transmission of canine distemper virus. Am J Vet Res. 1977; 38: 919-922.

Non infectious disease


Genetic disease

Cushing TL, Lopate C, Schlafer DH (2011) Benign Placental Mass with Fetal Growth Retardation in a Bull Mastiff. J Comp Path 2011 145: 352-354

Trophoblastic/placentall hamartoma or chorioepithelioma! of allantoic cavity