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How Long are Dogs in Heat?

Female dogs become reproductively active from six to nine months of age (wider interval for certain breeds) and remain through the course of their whole lives.

While our blog’s mascot is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, these tips apply for any breed.

What is the Best Age to Breed a Female Dog?

From the first time a female enters a heat cycle, roughly every six months, if everything is normal with her reproductive tract, the cycles will repeat. Smaller breeds of dogs tend to go into heat as often as 4-3 times per year. On the other hand, giant breeds can have large intervals between cycles and go into heat every 12 to 18 months. As the dogs get older, the period between cycles tends to get longer and longer.

How Often Do Dogs Go into Heat?

Each dog heat cycle in a female dog in heat lasts from 14 days to 28 days.  During this period the reproductive organs change their physiological characteristics drastically during the three stages of the cycle. These stages are proestrus, estrus, and diestrus, after which anestrus (out of heat) takes place. Proestrus is the first stage lasting around 8-9 days. During this stage, the female attracts males but will generally reject them for mating. Recognizable signs are swollen vulva and bloody discharge from the vagina.

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What are the Signs that your Dog is Going into Heat?

Heat is the time when the dog is receptive to mating. There are many signs which indicate that the dog has entered a heat cycle, such as vaginal discharge and bleeding, swollen vulva, behavioral changes and restlessness, frequent urination etc. When encountering other dogs, males to be exact, the female will greet them by raising her backside and putting the tail to one side of the body.

When Can I Breed My Female Dog?

Estrus is the next stage of the heat cycle when the dog is receptive to males. It can last anywhere from 3 days to 11 days. The vulva of the dog while the estrus lasts is soft and enlarged and the vaginal discharge is rather lighter in color compared to the previous stage. Determining the right time for mating is important in order for the female to conceive, so veterinarians take vaginal smears and do blood work to determine the best possible timing.

The final stage of the heat cycle is diestrus. Typically, diestrus occurs 2 weeks after the dog went into heat. The vulva returns to normal form and the discharge is redder than before. The female won’t permit males to mate with her anymore once this stage starts. Between diestrus and the next proestrus, there will be a period of around 6 months called anestrus when there are no reproductive activities in the body.

How to Keep your Dog Comfortable During the Heat Cycle

Female puppies start going into heat while still young. Even though they can get pregnant no owner should permit females younger than 18 months to perform reproductive activities. A dog’s body physically develops about a year and a half and it will be a great burden for any female dog to get pregnant before completely maturing physically.

Every responsible owner should consider talking to a veterinarian about breeding his female dog and get acquainted with the benefits, risks and best practices in order to keep his dog and the newborns healthy.

 

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