The Heat Cycle Of A Female Dog Explained

How much do you love your dog? Isn’t it a good thing to live with them? For many, a dog is one of the best pets in the homestead. Controlling the number of your litter is important factor achieved by observing the females heat cycle. In order to make this possible you will need to observe  it. Normally the dogs will start showing signs of coming into season at around 6 to 24 months after birth. The small dogs are said to have their season sooner than those larger breeds that lasts for about 18 to 24 days.


Some of the details and images below may not be suitable for children. 


Here are the stages of a female dog heat cycle:

Proestrus Stage

This is the first stage where the dog starts to show the first signs of coming into the season. The period often lasts about 7-10 days but many of them experience about nine days. Some of the symptoms shown are;

  • An increase in in the oestrogen level and the eggs in her ovaries begin to mature. 
  • The vulva will swell and become pliable and the female tends to lie on her tale when other dogs are around.
  • The personality of the dog will also change by some becoming more affectionate than usual while others act directly to the opposition of their character. 
  • You will also notice that during this period some of the dogs have a higher appetite than usual which can result into her even raiding the trashes. 
  • It will also be noticeable that the dog will start discharging blood from her vulva which is light at the first few days but becomes heavier in the mid-week. It is important to note that during this stage the dog will not be mostly attracted to the males.

below is a picture I found online that shows the difference in a females swollen vulva and one that is not swollen


Estrus stage

This stage lasts for about 9 days characterized by the decline in the oestrogen level while the level of progesterone rises. Some of the signs that the bitch will have at this period are;

  • The bitch flags her tail high and starts to behave in a flirtatiously manner in order to make sure that the male smells her scent. She can also turn her back on the male while holding her tail high. By doing this it’s like an invitation to the male to mount on her.
  • The vulva starts to soften and returns to a size enough to make it easy for the male to penetrate.
  • The discharge will also lighten and change the color from bright red to pinkish.
  • When mating takes place at this stage pregnancy will occur.
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If you do choose to breed your bitch, make sure that when it is successful and they “tie” that you make sure they hold still, and they do not try to pull apart otherwise serious injuries could occur in not only the bitch, but also the stud. The picture below shows what a tie will look like, the males penis will be basically “stuck” (enlarged) inside the females vulva from 5 to 30 minutes typically. When dogs tie that is usually to “best” way to be very sure your female will get pregnant. When the male successfully “ties” with the female, he will then typically flip over and they will then have their butts touching as you can see in the bottom of the image below.



Diestrus Stage

It is at this stage that the fertile portion of the dog’s heat cycle will come to an end. The signs shown at this stage include:

  • The vulva swelling is disappears gradually but the vulva remains enlarged slightly after that first heat cycle.
  • The female will also lack the need for mating regardless whether breeding has taken place or not. 
  • The discharge will turn from pinkish, back to red but disappears at the final week. 
  • If breeding was successful, you will start seeing signs in your female has different changes in her eating habbits, her temper will usually get grouchy and tempermental towards some other dogs, and she will start to get noticably fatter after about the first 30-40 days.

Anestrus Stage

This is the last stage often referred to as the resting period often lasting from five to eleventh month of inactivity. After that period the female goes back to into the proestrus stage and begin a new cycle.

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Something To Consider ….

It is important to observe the signs of the cycle in order to prevent the unwanted litter by having control. Mostly this will be a challenge to your dog but it will be an important factor to consider. Please get your pet fixed (spayed/neutered) if you DO NOT want puppies or do not have plans for them, there are always to many dog pounds filled with unwanted dogs, the world does not need more sad, homeless dogs that are unwanted, I am a breeder on a small scale but it is always important to know what you are doing and making sure that your puppies will have homes which is usually good to plan before you even breed, make sure you are with your dog the entire time she is coming into labor as well and make sure all the puppies are okay when that time comes, you need to talk to your local reputable breeder or vet to see if your bitch is healthy enough to have puppies as well as to be prepared for when the puppies come, if you do wish to take this route plan to spend a good amount of money to do things right and have lots of time to attend to as well as care for the puppies and the momma!