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A Dog's Estrus Cycle (Heat)

The canine estrus cycle is divided into four stages: proestrus, estrus, diestrus, and anestrus. Although the first three stages of the cycle are referred to as active heat, the period during the cycle when a non-spayed female dog is receptive to breeding and capable of getting pregnant (in season) usually only lasts from 18 to 21 days. Males will travel several miles to get to a female in season, so to avoid unintended litters, you must be extra vigilant in keeping her away from intact males during this period.

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Proestrus (3 to 17 days): This first stage of the heat cycle lasts an average of nine days. The female will emit an odor (pheromones) that attracts males, but in this first stage of the cycle she will reject their advances by jumping, snapping, and growling at any interested males. Physically, you may notice a slight bloody discharge and a notable swelling of her vulva. A few days before estrus begins the bitch may let a male mount her, but she wont stand for breeding. Proestrus ends as soon as she is receptive to the male.

Estrus (7-9 days): The second phase of the heat cycle is called estrus, or standing heat. This is when the female is willing to accept a male for breeding. During this time the discharge changes to a light pink or straw color and the female will often lift her pelvis and raise her tail to the side to signal her readiness to breed. Because she can get pregnant during this time, keeping her safely away from intact male dogs is critical. Estrus lasts an average from seven to nine days (the range is 2 to 20 days) and ends when the female once again refuses to stand for the male.

Diestrus (60-90 days): This final stage in the active part of the cycle begins when the female refuses to stand for breeding. Most males lose interest now, too. The discharge may become redder for a few days before stopping completely and the vulva slowly returns to its normal size. When the discharge and swelling have ended, the heat cycle is considered complete. Diestrus lasts about 60 days, and then merges with anestrus. If the female was allowed to become pregnant during estrus, diestrus lasts until the she gives birth, approximately 63 days after conception.

Anestrus (130-150 days): The fourth and final phase of the estrous cycle consists of little to no ovarian activity. This is the time between the end of one heat cycle and the beginning of a new heat cycle. The length of anestrus varies, lasting on average 130 to 150 days.

Facts about the canine heat cycle:

Females dogs (bitches) become sexually mature when they have their first heat period. This usually occurs between 6 and 12 months of age, although there can be considerable variation among individual dogs and breeds. Toy breeds become sexually mature several months earlier than giant breeds. Sexual maturity does not correspond to physical maturityachieving an adult height and weightwhich generally happens at about 14 months of age in medium-sized dogs.

Ovarian activity and the ability to conceive begin to decline after 6 years of age and ceases (in most females) at around 10 years of age.

Most female dogs will come into heat twice a year until they are spayed. Some may come into heat every five to nine months. Basenjis are noted for only having only one heat per year. The heat cycle is specific for each individual and not influenced by external factors such as hours of daylight. Many females have their first heat cycle at approximately the same age as their mother did.

Although a female dog may be able to physically conceive as young as 6 months, she should not be bred until she is at least 2 years old. There are two reasons for this: 1) a young dog is not yet emotionally mature enough to deal with a litter, which may cause her to harm or abandon her puppies and 2) the common tests used to screen for health abnormalities prior to breeding (hips, elbows, heart, eyes) will not provide accurate results until she is 2 years old.

Some dogs heat cycles get messy, while others are hardly noticeable. Doggie diapers and are available to protect your house, and you may also want to clean her vulva area once or twice a day with a damp cloth to prevent skin irritation. Be prepare for some behavioral changes, too. Your your dog may appear tired, cranky, agitated, attempt to mount other dogs, or try to escape and breed.

Source: Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook, Fourth Edition; The Merck Veterinary Manual, Seventh Edition; Personal Experience.

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September 12, 20130 found this helpful

The shelters are full of unwanted pets. The streets are also the "home" of homeless pets. Please, Please, Please spay or neuter your pets.

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March 16, 20150 found this helpful

Or if you are concerned about complications with anesthesia/surgery, don't want to cause hormonally-related medical problems (of which there are more involved with spaying than with not), and you think you have it in you to be responsible enough to not allow your pet outside unattended during her heat cycle (and/or to keep close tabs on your males), then you can help control the pet population without putting your animal through unnecessary, elective surgery.

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But, if you got a dog to release into the backyard to bark at your neighbors while you surf different forms of media, by all means spay/neuter your pet. The surgery's a risk you'll just have to take as a result of your unwillingness to be vigilant.

Most people aren't...thus the s/n mantra recited at all of us like religious dogma (pun intended) every time we take three steps... like Dorothy being inanely reminded over and over again to follow the %@#! yellow-brick road!

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November 13, 20160 found this helpful

Ok so i ended up stuck with a females yorkie in heat. My 10 year old in tact malé GOT her. She had 3 pups, AFTER being told he was to old to sire. One runt died, left me two females, I kept one cause my malé is so old. Well my female momma is in heat AGAIN. Pp was born 7/30/16. Now after the first pregnancy being so hard on her physically i dont want another pregnancy.

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She is constant licking. And we seperate and watch all the time. Since i dont see how they hooked up the first TIME. ( unless in my bed as i slept which is gross) how do i know if they hooked up. Would he still be wanting to pounce her and would she still be backing into him and such. Please help.....

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October 1, 20170 found this helpful

Hey I have a bitch dog she started bleeding since last Thursday witch is 11 days ago so when is the best time to breed her??

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