What is Heat?

It’s the estrous cycle during which a female dog may get pregnant and similar to human menstruation.

Symptoms Your Dog is in Heat

There may be swelling of the vulva and increased urination.  Male dogs will want to mate with your female.  You should notice some bleeding from the vagina but not much.  You will need to pay close attention to identify a dog’s first cycle.

Age When First Heat Occurs

The first Heat cycle should occur at about six months of age.  Watch for that first cycle, and if she hasn’t had her first heat by 14 months of age, you should take her to a Vet.

Length of Heat Cycle

It usually lasts about three weeks, but two weeks or four weeks is also normal.

Frequency of Heat Cycles

Most female dogs will have two heat cycles per year, but once every eight months can also be normal.

When Can A Female Dog Get Pregnant?

A dog can only get pregnant during the heat cycle, and the most fertile days are between the 11th to 15th day of a heat cycle.

Breeders often will test for progesterone levels to more precisely identify the most fertile days.

Few females will accept a male when they are not in heat but will permit any male dog to mount her during a heat cycle.

Breeding During First Heat Cycle

It is possible to breed a dog during its first heat cycle.  However, a responsible breeder would not breed a dog during its first heat cycle, waiting for genetic testing.  Some serious health issues don’t show up until a dog is two years old.

Taking a Dog in Heat Out for a Walk

You will want to exercise caution if you take her out for a walk at this time as she is a magnet for males.  She can’t be trusted off her leash or out of your immediate control.  She shouldn’t be let outside by herself even in a fenced yard if there is any possibility of a male dog anywhere nearby.

If you want to take her for a walk, it would be best to take her by car to a remote area to avoid the scent of her urine and vaginal discharge to lay a trail to your home.

Age For a Female be Spayed

Vets used to advise that a dog go through at least one heat cycle or to have one litter before spaying.  Vets now spay a dog as early as six weeks old.

Do Dogs Go Through Menopause Without Spaying? 

A dog’s fertility declines with age, but they don’t experience menopause comparable to a human.  Even as a senior dog, she will still be able to become pregnant.  Once you decide you don’t want her to have any or more litters, you should have her spayed.


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