Litter size varies widely among dog breeds; Labrador retrievers average 7.6 pups per litter while German shepherds average 6.6 and American Cocker Spaniels average five as reported by the American Kennel Club, or AKC. The size of the breed can be a predictor of litter size; larger breeds tend to produce larger litters, and smaller breeds usually produce smaller litters.
Although the AKC lists an average number of pups for litters of different breeds, it also points out that there is a wide range when it comes to litter size. Labrador retrievers can produce a typical range of five to 10 puppies, while German shepherds may produce from four to nine pups and American cocker spaniels can produce from three to seven pups. Thus, even if a dog has a potential to produce 10 puppies per litter, it is still within normal limits for her to produce fewer puppies, and some may even produce more.
Small breeds like Yorkshire terriers and Chihuahuas usually produce from two to five pups, but more than 80 percent of them produce fewer than four pups.
The AKC points out that nutrition is a key component in ensuring successful breeding in dogs. Nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, folic acid and biotin along with minerals like manganese, zinc and copper are important for ensuring the health and breeding success of the mother.