How Long Does a Dog Stay in Heat? | Herepup
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How Long Does a Dog Stay in Heat?

Dog in Heat

Although dogs have their instincts regarding breeding, there are times when human intervention is necessary. After all, this can save your furry acquaintance from having loads of puppies in their lifetime. The dog heat/ estrus cycle, a significant part of breeding, remains an excellent phase of the mutt’s life where humans can step in to control the number of puppies that their four-legged companions give birth to. Better yet, intervening at this stage can help manage other reproductive issues.

That said, most dog owners, especially first-timers, are often caught by surprise when the dog heat process starts. So, to help, below is an in-depth guide on navigating this natural phase. 

The Four Phases of a Mutt’s Heat Cycle

The heat season of female mutts consists of four phases. Let’s examine each of them.

Proestrus: Lasts a Week to Twelve Days

It’s the commencement of the heat cycle. At this point, your mutt’s body is prepping for mating, and some noticeable changes will be present. For instance, the vulva of your feminine dog will swell, and they may start discharging a bloodied vaginal substance. However, since many mutts tend to be quick to clean up their messes, it might be hard for you to take note of this discharge.

Another thing you might observe at this phase is that the dog will hold their tail closer to the body and hang out very close by your space, even becoming attached. Furthermore, your dog will catch the attention of male dogs but won’t be amicable with them, often becoming agitated when they go up to mount. With that said, how long does a female dog stay in heat at this stage? Usually, for about nine days.

Estrus: Lasts a Week to 9 Days

It is the mating stage and will last for an average of nine days. At this point, the blood discharge will gradually decline and stop eventually. Nonetheless, sometimes it does not actually halt but instead changes to a straw shade. 

Female dogs at this phase won’t be agitated when males mount them and will welcome them more freely. Two to three days after mounting, ovulation kicks in. At this moment, you may realize that your dog is peeing and marking sites inside and outside of your abode. They perform these actions to signify that they’re ready for breeding. When a male dog is present in the compound, your female will probably present themselves, typically with their hind side at the fore and the tail tucked aside.

Diestrus: Lasts Approximately 65 to 90 Days

Immediately after the “in heat” phase, diestrus sets in and spans almost two months. The body of your female dog will continue with a pregnancy or get back to resting status. An observable development at this moment is the shrinking in the size of the vulva as it shifts towards normal. Furthermore, the secretion from the vagina will cease, and the four-legged companion will be unwilling to be mounted. 

When your dog is pregnant, this stage will last for the whole gestation duration of sixty-three to sixty-five days. However, if they aren’t pregnant, diestrus will span seventy-five to ninety days.


It’s the whole duration from the termination of the diestrus to the commencement of the next proestrus phase. During this season, the reproductive system of your dog sets itself to rest. There’s no sexual or hormonal activity observable in the dog in this season. Typically, this stage lasts anywhere between ninety and one-hundred-and-fifty days. 

Note, the moments of the heat season that are easy to identify are proestrus and estrus. Generally, these stages are what people refer to when they say a dog is “in heat.”

Defining Estrus or Heat

Estrus, or heat, is a point in the reproductive cycle of female mutts when they’re ready to mate with males of their species. This season is characterized by hormonal changes, whereby estrogen levels first peak and then rapidly decline. Still, during this moment, mature eggs will be released from the female mutt’s ovaries, and the four-legged companion will present signs such as a swollen vulva, bleeding, mounting other dogs, and increased attention to male mutts.

How Long Does a Mutt Stay in Heat?

Dog Heat

Typically, unspayed female mutts will go into heat for the maiden time when they’re anywhere from the age of six to twenty-four months old. For smaller dog breeds, the maiden heat commences earlier at four months old. Larger mutts, on the other hand, will begin their first heat when they’re between eighteen and twenty-four months old. 

It is highly advisable not to breed young female mutts when they’re still in their first or second heat cycles. At these moments, often, their eggs are not mature enough, and the mutts haven’t achieved maturity. As such, if you’re keen on breeding your dog, it’s sensible to consult a veterinarian to know if your four-legged companion is mature enough to carry and bear puppies.

That said, here’s an important question - how long does a female dog stay in heat for? Each heat period spans about eighteen days. Male mutts will be drawn to the females for the entire eighteen days, while the females will only be receptive for approximately half of that time.

What Signs to Indicate That My Mutt Is in Heat?

When you understand your mutt’s cycle, you’ll be more prepared for shifts in behavior as well as physical changes that may happen when she’s in heat. Typically, mutts experience a lot more discharge than other pets during the heat stage of their heat cycle. So, this sign is one of the things you will notice. However, there are other indications of heat that you can look out for during the different phases of heat. Here are some other signs you should check: 

  • Constant urination;
  • A change in tail positioning;
  • Constant Licking the genitals;
  • Nervousness or aggression;
  • Abnormally large vulva;
  • Shows more affection;
  • More attentive to male mutts.

How Should I Care for My Dog When She Gets Her Period ?

If a dog is unspayed, she will go through menstruation when they go in heat, much like what women experience. Her first period begins when she hits puberty at around six months. During this time, she may have bloody discharge. This bleeding happens when the vulva becomes swollen. 

The amount of bleeding will depend on the animal. Some will bleed almost unnoticeably, while others may leave bloody spots on the floor or their sleeping area. If the dog experiences high bleeding intensity, purchase a pair or more of reusable pet pants or disposable diapers. These pants will help contain the menstruation/ discharge. You can get these products in online stores such as Amazon, local pet stores, or at your vet’s clinic. Once you get acquitted with when your canine is in heat, you can begin preparing them for this new adjustment a bit early so that they are used to it when the period kicks in.

When Does a Bitch Experience Her First Heat?

Typically, a bitch will get their first estrus/ heat period at about half a year in age. However, it might delay until 24 months. The breed of a bitch will most often dictate when she experiences her first heat cycle. Small breeds are more likely to attain sexual maturity (first heat) early in their lives, while large breeds may get it much later. For the latter, they may not come in heat until they reach 1 ½ to 2 years.

How Frequently Does a Bitch Go in Heat?

Image of Dog Traces

For the majority of mutts, heat cycles may happen every half a year (two times annually). Similar to the period it takes a dog to come in heat for the first time, how often a bitch goes in heat is also dependent on the breed. If your pooch is a small breed, you can expect her to experience at least three or even four cycles annually. But if your dog is a giant one, it is normal for her to come in heat just once annually.

How long does a dog stay in heat the first time? The initial cycles may be irregular. Coupled with the fact that heat periods for most canines are not affected by seasonal changes, these cycles can be quite unpredictable. A young pup may take up to two years to begin experiencing heat at regular intervals, and it may last anywhere from two weeks to a month. A pro tip is to start early record keeping to identify a pattern quickly.

How Can I Easily Tell If My Dog Is in Season?

Some dog owners are not aware of the signs to watch in their female canines. For this reason, they fail to prepare for this period adequately. The easiest way to tell if your dog is about to experience heat is to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is there any vaginal discharge? What color is it? 

If there is discharge, check if it is tainted with blood. Menstruation is the surest sign of a bitch coming in heat, and it is usually red or pink in the early days. Later on, you will see that the discharge is less and has faded to a straw color. That window is the most delicate as she’s more receptive to the opposite sex, and she may even initiate sexual contact. 

  • Are there male dogs hanging around your home? 

While we humans may be slow to detecting heat signs, male canines will sniff a bitch on heat from afar. So, if your dog is on heat, you’ll probably see a male dog marking your home by urinating at various points around it. 

  • Is your dog overly alert or distracted?

Apart from physical signs such as unusual discharge, your dog may also change their behavior as a result of hormonal changes. You might notice that your pooch is super alert to her environment, gets distracted easily, is very neat, and tries to initiate contact with male dogs.

What Should I Do to Stop My Dog From Going in Season?

Spaying your dog is a practical solution. This procedure prevents a dog from reproducing. The version that’s done on male canines is referred to as neutering. To spay a bitch, the vet removes her uterus and ovaries through a safe surgical procedure. Sometimes, the vet may just cut out the ovaries along and leave the uterus intact, which is referred to as ovariectomy. Both methods eliminate heat and the ability to give birth. In the majority of cases, spaying will also activate behavioral changes related to breeding. 

What’s the Recommended Age to Spay a Dog?

Spayed Dog

Spaying is not only safe but also effective in preventing unwanted litters. It can also help your dog to live a long and healthy life. But at what age should a dog owner consider spaying their canine? 

Traditionally, four to six-month-old dogs are considered to be of age and ready for the procedure. However, it may also be done early or later, depending on the breed or vet’s assessment. If you’re in doubt about when to spay your bitch, talk to your vet about the matter.

Final Words

Now you know the answer to the question: how long does a dog stay in heat for? Unless you plan to breed your canine, it’s much more convenient to spay your dog before she becomes of age (that is, sexually mature). If you choose to leave your bitch unspayed, pay attention to these tips so that you’re always prepared for when she comes in season.



Alexander is a successful content creator on tech, agility, travel, and pets verticals. A number of websites hosted his writing where his passion for using words and images to capture the spirit of life was greatly appreciated. His expertise lies mostly in pet wellness and animal behavior but he also has a keen interest in trips.

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