How Long Do Dogs Stay In Heat?

Female dogs who are not sprayed will normally have their first heat cycle two to three months after reaching full adult size. This is usually between 6 and 8 months of age for smaller breed dogs, although it can be as young as 4 months. This could be as late as 2 years old for larger breed canines. Dogs can be in heat for two to three weeks on average, passing through a two-phase heat cycle.

Female dogs can be in heat for about two or three weeks, with some females having a “silent” heat. ©Nancy Kerns

How frequently do female dogs become pregnant?

Most female dogs will have another heat cycle in around six months if they do not become pregnant as a result of mating during their heat cycle.

However, some dogs may begin their second heat cycle as soon as four months later, while others may begin as late as eight months later. Find out what is usual for your breed if you have a purebred dog. The Basenji breed, for example, has only one heat cycle per year.

What should you expect if your dog is in heat?

Just before the heat cycle begins. Dogs can:

  • I don't have as much energy as I usually have.
  • Their appetite may dwindle.
  • They might become tense and easily startled.

It is crucial to remember that similar symptoms can also accompany a variety of ailments that are unrelated to the heat cycle. If you have any concerns regarding changes in your dog's behavior, please contact your veterinarian.

How long do dogs bleed when they are in heat?

The heat cycle in dogs is divided into two stages. There will be a bloody flow from her vulva during the initial period (called proestrus). Her vulva will swell and become visible. Male dogs will develop an interest in her. During the early stage of this phase, she may become hostile against male canines. She will quit being aggressive toward male dogs as this period advances but will sit when they approach her.

Proestrus lasts nine days on average, however, it can last as little as three days or as long as 17 days.

During the second phase (known as estrus), the discharge from her vulva will turn straw-colored with a tint of brown or crimson. When a male dog approaches, she will stand and elevate her tail over her back or hold it off to the side (this is known as "flagging"). Her vulva will shrink in size yet remain swollen. She will allow a male dog to mount her for mating when she is ready. Estrus lasts nine days on average and can last as little as three days or as long as 18 days.

Both phases of "heat" take roughly two to three weeks to complete. By the conclusion of the second phase, the female dog's vulva will no longer discharge and will gradually return to its previous size.

If she mated with a male dog during estrus and became pregnant, her pregnancy will last about 63 days (nearly nine weeks).

What is a female dog's quiet heat?

Some dogs may appear to miss one of their heat cycles without displaying any evident signs of proestrus or estrus, such as vulvar enlargement or vaginal discharge, even if they are experiencing those stages and are capable of becoming pregnant. This is referred to as a "silent cycle" or "silent heat." 

Owners of intact females should be aware of this possibility if they do not want the female to become pregnant - and how often do dogs go into heat (13000), how long do dogs bleed when they are in heat (200), and what to expect when your dog is in heat (100).

What you can do to keep your dog from becoming pregnant?

A variety of operations can be performed to prevent your dog from becoming pregnant. The most common "spaying" operation is an ovariohysterectomy, which is a surgical procedure that removes her ovaries and uterus. Some pet owners prefer that their vets undertake an alternative operation known as an ovariectomy. Only the ovaries of the dog are removed. Ovariectomies are easier to conduct, and dogs recover faster as well.

Some research in recent years has revealed that intact dogs have fewer health issues than dogs who matured without the influence of normal secondary sexual hormones on their development. However, the studies do not reveal a definite association, and there are differences depending on the breed and size of the dog. Furthermore, the higher risk of breast cancer in intact females and late-spayed females has been widely documented.

Owners who want to prevent pregnancy in their dogs but keep the source and influence of the female's sexual hormones can seek out a veterinarian who can perform tubal ligation surgery (in which the dog's fallopian tubes are cut and/or blocked) or a hysterectomy (in which the uterus is removed but the ovaries are left in place).

It is important to note that dogs that have maintained their ovaries will continue to have heat cycles and attract the interest of male dogs. They cannot become pregnant, yet when in estrus, they are amenable to mating.

If your dog is currently in heat, you must wait three weeks after her heat cycle has ended before having her spayed. This helps the uterus to regain its natural size, lowering the chance of surgical problems.

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