Heat Cycle

Most breeders would prefer to own a bitch or a female dog initially when starting their kennels. The reason for this is that females get pregnant and therefore produce offspring that will multiply the number of their dogs they have. This will be the start of their kennel.


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If you do own a female dog, it is imperative that you be aware of their heat cycle. Knowing their heat cycle will allow you to determine the right time for the dog to mate and have a higher probability of producing puppies. The best way for you to monitor their heat cycle is by knowing their menstrual cycle, also known as Estrus.

The first Estrus will be evident at the age of 6 months. For some late bloomers, it could occur when the bitch is 12 to 24 months. After the first menstruation, the cycle will happen regularly after that approximately every six months. If the dog’s cycle is irregular, the interval may be earlier or later than six months.

The Heat Cycle is divided into four periods. In each period, the levels of hormones in the dog’s body changes. These changes and variations of hormonal levels affect the fertility and receptiveness of the dog towards sexual activity.

The first period of the cycle is the Proestrus. This is the time when the bitch secretes bloody discharge from its vulva. The discharge has a distinct smell that attracts male dogs. The size of the vulva enlarges and becomes swollen. The Proestrus period lasts from 9 to 10 days. During this time, the bitch becomes irritable and will not let any dog approach her.


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The second period is the Estrus. During this time, the female dog becomes more passive and will start choosing potential mates. This would be the time when she becomes fertile. This is also the best time to mate her with a male dog or a stud. This period lasts 9 to 10 days. Ovulation occurs during the first 48 hours but will vary among different dogs.

The third period is the Dietrus. This is the period when the reproductive tract is controlling the hormone progesterone. This period, which takes place 60 to 90 days from the Estrus will occur whether the bitch becomes pregnant or not.

Your dog, if mated only for the first time may experience false pregnancy or technically termed as Pseudo Pregnancy. This is a state that a female dog may go through where she will show signs and symptoms of being pregnant but has actually not conceived. Vets and expert breeders say that this occurs when the dog is not yet fully developed to produce or conceive puppies.

The last period of the heat cycle is the Anestrus. It lasts 3 to 4 months depending on the individual dogs. During this period, the dog undergoes no mating or sexual activity.

Usual practice of breeders deviates from having their dogs mated during the first cycle. They would let her develop fully by waiting until the second cycle, which makes the dog a 1 year or older of age, before letting her conceive.  Show dog breeders on the other hand will wait until she turns 2 before letting her mate. Because they want to ensure the quality and physical conditions of the litters, most dog registering bodies and dog clubs will not accept registration of puppies produced by bitches or studs younger than 8 months or 12 years of age.

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