Understanding the female’s cycle
A female dog will only come into heat for the first time between the age of seven months and anytime up to a year of age. Occasionally this period may be longer. The age at which they first come into heat is governed by a combination of factors but usually smaller breeds start at a slightly younger age than the larger breeds. This is by no means a set rule as there is a great variation. Once she has started to cycle, a female dog will then come into heat every 4 to 7 months but your giant breed dogs may only cycle once every 12 to 18 months. It can take up to 2 years for them to develop regular cycles. Once started the heat cycle can last 2 to 3 weeks. There are two main parts to a female’s cycles namely pro-oestrous and oestrous. Pro-oestrous is the period during which her vulva will be very swollen, she may have a bloody discharge (volume varies greatly) and she will not allow any males to mount her. This is essentially the non-receptive part of her cycle. The second part is known as oestrous. At this point her vulva is still swollen, any bleeding has stopped and most importantly this is the period during which she is receptive to males and will allow mating. It is essential to understand this to avoid unwanted pregnancy. It is only when the bleeding stops that she is in full heat and at her most fertile.