Ultimate Guide How Often Do Dogs Go into Heat?

How Often Do Dogs Go Into Heat
How Often Do Dogs Go into Heat?

Most female dogs become sexually mature at approximately six months of age. Although some breed can be a little earlier, at four months and larger breeds can be around 24 months. When a female dog become sexually mature, estrogen levels increase, and then decrease sharply. It is at this point when her ovaries release eggs.

Reputable breeders will wait until her third heat, around the age of 18 – 24 months old before breeding. A Responsible breeder would never breed any dog before her third heat. Consult with your veterinarian if you want to breed your dog. They will carry out any genetic tests which need doing and be able to inform you when she will be ready.

How Often Do Dogs Go into Heat?

This varies, many times there is a pattern in the frequency of the dog heat cycle, but not always. Saying that, most commonly, female dogs go into heat twice a year, or every five to nine months. Smaller sized breeds often go into heat three to four times in one year, and the largest dog breeds may only be once per year.

The dog heat cycle usually lasts for three weeks on average, but can be anything between two and four weeks. Their cycle will begin with a vaginal discharge, and ends when the bleeding has ceased.

A female will sometimes let a male dog mount her during any point of her cycle, but most will only accept being mounted during the later stages of her cycle.

Once a Female dog has started her first cycle, she will go into heat throughout the rest of her lifetime, dogs do not undergo the menopause. As a female dog gets older, the time between the dog heat cycle will begin to increase.

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Know When Your Dog Is In Heat

Signs of your dog coming into heat (Proestrus) will last five to nine days and may include an increase in urinating, discharge containing blood, and swollen vulva. As well as these early warning signs, she may also appear distracted, nervous, change in appetite, mood swings (Sound familiar?) and will also start to become receptive to males (Estrus).

During this period, she may start “flagging” to males.

Flagging is when a female dog will raise her rear towards a male dog while deflecting her tail to the side. It is this period when your dog is most fertile and ready to mate. This behavior will continue until her cycle has ended which normally lasts for between four and fourteen days.

If it is your intention to breed your dog, this is when it needs to happen.

As well as flagging, during this time, female dogs produce a pheromone that male dogs can detect from far away. Male dogs will possibly fight for her and the female will become aggressive towards other females.

After this, comes, “Diestrus” your female dog has passed the fertile part of her cycle and she will either be pregnant or her body will start to go back to normal. The vulva swelling will subside, the discharge will cease and the flagging will stop.

Sometimes, female dogs behave as though they believe they are pregnant. It is best practice at this stage to visit your vet and have them checked.   

The final stage is “Anestrus,” this is when your dogs hormones have returned to normal and they are no longer in heat. This is the longest stage of the cycle and will last until they enter into the proestrus stage once again.

Over time, owners of female dogs begin to recognise the early stages of their pets’ cycle and changes in their dog’s behaviour.

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handling a female dog in heat
Handling a female dog in heat

Tips if you don’t intend on breeding your dog:

Keep your dog away from male dogs.

Do not leave your dog alone outside, even in your own yard or garden.

When exercising your dog, keep them on a leash.

If you have a puppy and don’t intend to ever breed her, consider having her spayed before she goes into heat for the first time. Doing this will prevent your dog from becoming pregnant by removing her ovaries and uterus. Not only will this stop your dog from becoming pregnant, but will also stop her from ever coming into heat.

Benefits of spaying

You don’t have to worry about dealing with unwanted attention from male dogs.

Saves you from doggy sanitary pads or finding your pooches discharge mess around the house.

Spares you the unpleasant odor of a dog in heat.

Spaying also has health benefits by reducing the risk of mammary gland cancer and pyometra. The latter, being a common infection of the uterus, which can be life threatening.  

Often, spaying makes dogs calmer.

what age should a dog be spayed?

If you decide you want to spay your dog, speak with your veterinarian as soon as possible, they can then give you their expert medical opinion on what age should a dog be spayed.

It is best that dogs are spayed before their first heat cycle and can be carried out any time after eight weeks old.

Most dogs come into heat for the first time around six months old and some vets may advise waiting until nearer this age. As dogs of this age are more likely to tolerate the anaesthesia needed.

The breed of dog may also be a deciding factor as it can be harder to spay a larger dog than a smaller one. But vets are more than capable of spay dogs of any size, big or small.

Again, speak to your veterinarian as soon as you can once you have decided and take their expert advice on this and all health concerns you have.

If you have an older dog, which hasn’t been spayed, their heat cycle will need to be taken into account before any surgery takes place. Vets will normally wait two or three months after a dog’s heat cycle has ended before spaying.


Hopefully this has answered your question: How Often Do Dogs Go into Heat?

As well as at What age should a dog be spayed?

And also given you a good understanding of a dog heat cycle, as well as the information you need to make an informed decision on whether to spay your dog or leave her as she is.

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7 thoughts on “Ultimate Guide How Often Do Dogs Go into Heat?”

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