How Long Can A Puppy Hold Their Poop? (With Quick Tips!)

June 13, 2023
June 13, 2023

You’re probably wondering, “How long can my puppy hold its poop?” Well, the answer is that it depends on your dog. Every puppy is different and there are many factors that determine how long each one will be able to go between bathroom breaks.

It helps you plan, right? You just need to know what sort of a time frame is normal so that you can work back from that! So that’s what we’re going to discuss, so that you can set reasonable expectations for your puppy. 

It helps with setting up a routine, and knowing how long you can build up to know how long they can be home alone, or how to schedule in naps to prevent overtiredness

Still we all know and understand that a puppy can’t hold it as long as healthy adult dogs, so, realistically, how long between each dog poop?

How Long Can a Puppy Hold Its Poop?

The average holding time for puppies is about three hours. 

This is the amount of time it takes for your puppy to poop after eating, so if you feed your dog at 7 a.m., expect him or her to do their business around 10 a.m. A general rule of thumb is that small dogs and puppies can hold it up to 4 hours, whilst larger dogs, and growing dogs can hold it up to 8 (which I would expect to see around 8-10 months of age, so teenagers). But this varies dramatically on individual dogs, the set ups they’re given and the training that takes place. 

There are many factors that can affect this number: the size of the meal, how active your pup is and even how old puppy is!
As far as breed goes, some breeds have been shown to have longer holding times than others–but only slightly longer (about 15 minutes as puppies).

puppy hold poop 1
This is the main dictator in how long your pup can hold their tummy, and it’s basically how long the distance is between mouth and butt (bluntly), do remember though, there’s a good chunk of intestine all curled up in there too.

What Dictates How Long A Puppy (or Dog) Can Hold It’s Poop?

The amount of time a puppy can hold its poop depends on a number of factors, including:

  • Age. Puppies are more likely to have accidents in the first few weeks after they’re born because their digestive systems haven’t fully developed yet. As they get older, their bladders and bowels become stronger and they’ll be able to hold it longer. Elderly dogs (senior dogs) will also start decreasing in how long they can hold it, usually due to health problems.
  • Size. A larger dog will have a larger GI tract (the whole route the food takes, from mouth to anus), which means that the longer it will take for your dog to process their meal through that length. So, larger dog, longer time they can hold it, smaller breeds of dog? Less time!
  • Diet. Whether your dog is fed a kibble, fresh or raw diet, they all process at different speeds A high-fiber diet can help dogs go longer between bathroom breaks, but if your dog is eating too much fiber it may cause diarrhea or constipation instead of helping him go longer between trips outside!
  • Number of times they’re fed. If you feed four times a day? You can expect approx four smaller poops as your growing puppy processes that food through their system!
  • Exercise level: A tired pup will have an easier time holding his poops than one who’s been running around all day at the park with you!
  • Stress level: If your puppy has been through some stressful situations recently (like being boarded at the vet), then he might need extra help from you when it comes time for potty breaks so he doesn’t make mistakes indoors
  • Sleep: Sleep makes a big difference too, much like humans, our GI system slows down when we sleep – so does our dogs! 
  • Health issues: Health issues may make things wait a long time, or decrease the amount of time. 

Essentially, it’s all about the length of the digestive tract! Which varies a lot in our canine friends, and as younger dogs grow, you will slowly see them increase the time between puppy poops break.

puppy hold poop 2
Play is a phenomenal way to loosen up a puppy’s bowels.

Breed-Specific Differences

There are some breed-specific differences that can affect how long a puppy holds its poop.

  • Smaller dogs vs. larger dogs: Dogs with smaller bodies, like Chihuahuas and dachshunds, tend to have a faster transit time through their GI tracts than larger breeds like Great Danes and Newfoundlands. This means that they will likely poop more frequently than their larger counterparts–sometimes every day or even multiple times per day!
  • Working dogs vs. companion dogs: If your puppy is being trained for work (such as hunting or tracking), then it may need to go out more often than if it’s just hanging out at home all day with you as a companion animal.
  • Purebreds vs mixed breeds: There isn’t much research on this topic yet because there aren’t many studies comparing purebreds with mixed breeds; however, there have been some preliminary findings suggesting that purebreds tend not only to have shorter intestinal lengths but also higher fecal retention times compared with mixed-breed dogs

Overnight is easier

You’ll be able to eliminate the middle of the night puppy’s poop pretty quickly, as their activity level drops, the Gastrointestinal processes slow down, and consequently as they age, they may be able to hold their poop for twice as look as they might during the day. This (wonderfully!) means that you’ll get your full night’s sleep pretty quickly! 

If you can’t do the overnight (for whatever reason), there is a way better option than puppy pads, and that’s real grass alternatives!

puppy hold poop 5
After your puppy gets a good drink, it’s good to take them out to go to the bathroom.

When Does Puppy Need A Potty Break?

Typically, toilet breaks should be happening after;

  • Eating
  • Sleeping
  • Playing
  • Drinking

And then semi-regularly will help too. These sorts of things can be helped by things like crate training, then taking them straight out to the potty spot, and it’ll really quickly result in house-trained dogs.

How Can I Set My Dog Up To Succeed?

If you’re potty training your puppy and you feel like they’re not really working their best there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Patience is key: Remember, potty training is a process that takes time and effort. It’s important to be patient with your puppy and not get frustrated if they have an accident in the house. Consistency and positive reinforcement will go a long way in helping your puppy learn what’s expected of them.
  • Use a consistent command: When you take your puppy outside to go potty, use a consistent command like “go potty” or “do your business.” This will help your puppy learn what you want them to do and associate that command with going outside to relieve themselves.
  • Make it a positive experience: When your puppy does go potty outside, be sure to praise (a simple “good boy”) them and give them a treat. This positive reinforcement will help them understand that going potty outside is a good thing.
  • Watch for signs: Watch for signs that your puppy needs to go outside, such as sniffing around or circling. When you notice these signs, take your puppy outside immediately to avoid accidents in the house.
  • Be consistent: Consistency is key when it comes to potty training. Stick to a regular schedule for feeding and taking your puppy outside. This will help your puppy learn when it’s time to go outside and make it easier for them to hold their bowels.
  • Be prepared for accidents: Accidents will happen, especially in the early stages of potty training. Be prepared for this and have cleaning supplies on hand to clean up any messes.
  • Gradually increase the time between potty breaks: As your puppy gets older and becomes more potty trained, you can gradually increase the time between potty breaks. However, always be aware of your puppy’s needs and take them outside if they show signs of needing to go.
  • Worm them: make sure they’re regularly wormed as a healthy dog or puppy has the best chance of pooping regularly or on schedule, without failure. 
  • Manage the environment: using crates to control the space our dogs have access to when we’re not paying attention is really valuable.

Overall, potty training your puppy takes time and effort, but with patience and consistency, it can be a successful process. Remember to always consult your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your puppy’s health or potty training progress.

puppy hold poop 4
after sleep is a good idea to get your puppy out to the bathroom, as this tends to push the 4 hours that a puppy can hold their bowels, as the GI processes slow down. So when they wake up? That’s time to get them outside.

What Happens When a Puppy Doesn’t Go to the Bathroom?

What happens when a puppy doesn’t go to the bathroom?
The consequences of not going to the bathroom are wide-ranging, and can affect both your puppy’s physical health and mental well-being. If your puppy doesn’t relieve itself for too long, its body will start to react with uncomfortable symptoms such as diarrhea or constipation. This can lead to dehydration if not treated quickly enough–and even death if left untreated for too long!

How Do I Know If I Need To Be Concerned?

How do you know if a vet trip is a good idea? Usually it’s when your furry friend doesn’t stop, or won’t start… Either of these times is when we might be looking at a medical issue. These are the most common temporary things, but more serious underlying medical conditions can also be the cause, such as inflammatory bowel disease. 


Diarrhea in puppies can be a common occurrence, and it’s not always a cause for concern. However, if your puppy’s diarrhea persists for more than a day or two, it’s important to monitor their behavior and look for any signs of distress. When diarrhea is accompanied by other symptoms such as lethargy, poor appetite, or vomiting, it may be a sign of a more serious issue and you should contact a veterinarian immediately.

If your puppy is experiencing diarrhea, it’s important to keep them hydrated to prevent dehydration. Make sure they have access to plenty of clean water at all times. You can also try feeding them a bland diet of boiled chicken and rice, which can help to settle their stomachs. Avoid giving them any human foods or table scraps, as this can make their diarrhea worse.

It’s also important to monitor your puppy’s stool for any changes. In some cases, diarrhea can be caused by an infection or parasites, which will require medical treatment. If you notice blood in your puppy’s stool or their stool is black and tarry, this could be a sign of an intestinal bleed and requires immediate veterinary attention.

In summary, while diarrhea in puppies may not always be a cause for concern, it’s important to monitor your puppy’s behavior and take action if their diarrhea persists or is accompanied by other symptoms. Remember to keep your puppy hydrated and feed them a bland diet, and contact a veterinarian if you notice any concerning changes in their stool.


If you suspect that your puppy is constipated, there are several signs to look out for. The most common symptoms of puppy constipation include fewer than two or three bowel movements per day, 24 hours without having any bowel movement at all, infrequent bowel movements for two or three days in a row, dry, hard stools that are difficult to pass, and straining without producing a bowel movement. If your puppy is experiencing ongoing constipation, they may also experience a loss of appetite and may lose weight or fail to gain weight appropriately. In more severe cases, the puppy’s bowel lining may become inflamed, which can result in the release of mucus or dark fluid that accompanies the fecal matter.

It’s important to note that if your puppy has not had a bowel movement in 48-72 hours or is experiencing lethargy, decreased appetite, vocalizing, or vomiting, it’s time to call your veterinarian. Other clinical signs of constipation in dogs include decreased appetite, vomiting, small amounts of watery feces, or feces that contains mucus without a normal stool, and weight loss. Some constipated dogs will have a tense, abdominal pain and cry or growl if you press on their stomach or lower back. 


Intestinal parasites can change how often your puppy poops. Intestinal parasites such as worms, hookworms, and roundworms can cause diarrhea or constipation, which can affect how often your puppy poops. 

puppy hold poop 3
everytime our puppy eats, it takes 3-4 hours to pass through their system, however, if we start playing or getting excited, that might just encourage them to go quicker.


If your puppy suddenly starts producing less poop or straining, they may have eaten something that is causing an intestinal blockage, which can be an emergency situation. It is important to have your puppy tested for intestinal parasites regularly and treated if necessary to ensure their health and wellbeing.

Bacterial Infections

bacterial infections can cause changes in bowel movements, including diarrhea or constipation, which can affect how often your puppy poops. It is important to take your puppy to the veterinarian if you notice any changes in their bowel movements, as bacterial infections can be serious and require prompt treatment.

Common Potty Training Mistakes

We all make mistakes when training our dogs, but these are the ones I see most often in toilet training

  • Punishing the puppy. This can be a very effective way of training your dog, but it isn’t always appropriate for all puppies. If you punish your puppy when it has an accident in the house, you may end up scaring them into holding their poop even longer than usual because they are afraid of being punished again.
  • Ignoring the signals. Most puppies will give you cues that they need to go outside and potty; if you don’t notice these signs and take them outside immediately when they do happen (or even just before), then there’s no chance that they’ll learn how long they can hold on until next time!
  • Not taking them out often enough–or at all! If your puppy doesn’t get enough exercise during the day, then his or her bowels could become backed up with waste material that needs to come out eventually–and this could lead him/her having an accident indoors instead of waiting until after playtime is over before relieving himself/herself outdoors like he should have done earlier today when we went walking around our neighborhood park together while talking about how much fun it would be if we could go camping together sometime soon too since I know how much fun camping trips were back when I was growing up so maybe next summer would work best since school ends June 12th this year which means we’d have plenty time between now & then…
  • Multi-puppy homes when you have more than one dog in the home, it always makes toilet training slower for the new puppy owner. One dog’s bowel movements get muddled with the other and house training becomes a full-time job, and you need a lot more than a little patience.

It’s also good to note that regression is totally normal! And you may think you’ve achieved extended period between bathroom breaks, but sudden changes in routine, or removing access to the appropriate place, or removing the tasty treats too quickly results in regression. Luckily it’s easy to fix.

Toilet Training Doesn’t take forever. 

As your dog grows, they’ll slowly build up their ability to hold their poop! That’s the good news. 

Toilet training sure is frustrating, but honestly, the most important thing is that we look to understand our individual dog. Our dog’s ability to hold their poop will change over the course of their lifetime, and being able to read your dog’s bathroom habits will make a world of difference for our adult or older dogs. 

As dog parents, this should help you set a routine, and understand what needs to happen, just in case something changes or needs to change to facilitate your toilet training. Good luck! 

If you need some help on toilet training, we have tonnes of info on that! Go here Toilet Training Your Puppy

Author, Ali Smith

Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.

Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!

Thanks to for the images!


Deschamps, C., Humbert, D., Zentek, J., Denis, S., Priymenko, N., Apper, E., & Blanquet-Diot, S. (2021). From Chihuahua to Saint-Bernard: How did digestion and microbiota evolve with dog sizes. International Journal of Biological Sciences18(13), 5086-5102.

Hernot, D. C., Dumon, H. J., Biourge, V. C., Martin, L. J., & Nguyen, P. G. (2006). Evaluation of association between body size and large intestinal transit time in healthy dogs, American Journal of Veterinary Research67(2), 342-347. Retrieved Apr 18, 2023, from

Sandri, M., Dal Monego, S., Conte, G. et al. Raw meat based diet influences faecal microbiome and end products of fermentation in healthy dogs. BMC Vet Res 13, 65 (2016).

Weber, M. P., Stambouli, F., Martin, L. J., Dumon, H. J., Biourge, V. C., & Nguyen, P. G. (2002). Influence of age and body size on gastrointestinal transit time of radiopaque markers in healthy dogs, American Journal of Veterinary Research63(5), 677-682. Retrieved Apr 18, 2023, from


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