German Shepherd Heat Cycle and First Heat

photo by wikimedia

Your female German shepherd is acting weirdly, and her body is undergoing some serious changes. Plus, this is the first time you’ve seen your pet do this. It’s only natural to be concerned if you’re in this situation. If you see your cute dog in pain, it’s a natural pet owner’s instinct to find a way to help her out.

But alas, you have no knowledge of what’s happening, so you’re having second thoughts. So what do you do now? Will you help your pet or just wait and hope for the best? If only you know what’s happening to your female German shepherd. Fortunately, that’s precisely what this article is all about.

Today, we’ll discuss everything about the German shepherd heat cycle and what you need to do during this period, especially in a German shepherd’s first heat.

An Overview of the German Shepherd Heat Cycle

Some view German shepherd first heat the same as a human girl’s first menstrual period. Sure, there are similarities, but the differences make up for them. Besides, if you’re a male, you might not even know what makes up the menstrual cycle.

Let’s start by knowing what “heat” means.

What Does “Heat” in Dogs Mean?

Heat, or estrus, refers to the period in a female dog’s life where estrogen levels increase and she becomes ready for mating with males.

The German shepherd’s first heat is also the earliest that she can get pregnant.

When is a German Shepherd’s First Heat?

For large breeds such as the standard German shepherd, the first heat occurs from 9 to 12 months of age. However, depending on how large the breed is, the first heat may occur at varying times.

With that said, smaller breeds, like miniature German shepherds, can have their first heat as early as 6 months from birth.

How Often Do German Shepherds Go Into Heat?

In general, dogs experience the heat cycle every six months or twice a year. Smaller breeds, however, can come into heat every 4 months.

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How Long is a German Shepherd in Heat?

The overall German shepherd heat cycle can last for up to 4 weeks. At this duration, you will notice the symptoms in a female German shepherd being in heat. However, different stages compose the 4 weeks duration of the heat cycle.

How Do You Know When Your Dog is no Longer in Heat?

To understand the signs that the heat cycle is ending, you should first know what to expect when your female German shepherd is in heat. After all, there is no indication that the heat cycle is ending besides the fact that the signs start to fade away.

How Do You Tell if a Female GSD in Heat?

There are four stages in the heat cycle, and the signs that a female German shepherd is in heat depend on which stage she’s currently in.

  • Proestrus: This is the stage where males are attracted to female GSDs, while the female isn’t. This lasts for an average of 9 days.
    The most obvious sign of this stage is when male dogs start to crowd outside of your house. This is because it’s how male dogs react to a female in heat. They become attracted.
    However, your pet is likely to reject them since she still isn’t susceptive to mating. Plus, fertilization isn’t possible at this point.
    Regardless, your female dog will start to show vaginal bleeding at this stage, although the blood becomes lighter as the period progresses.

  • Estrus: The female GSD will be susceptive to mating at this stage and it can last anywhere from 4 to 21 days. This can be called the “flagging stage”.
    During the flagging stage, the dark red vaginal discharge will turn lighter. You may also notice your pet rubbing their rear end against furniture or other objects.
    These are indications that your female German shepherd is ready to mate. This is also the stage where mature eggs are released from the ovary.
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  • Metestrus: Matestrus can be considered as the stage for pregnancy and can last for an average of 9 days.
    There aren’t many signs to tell if your female GSD is in this stage already. The most noticeable sign is a bulged abdomen, for obvious reasons.
    If fertilization doesn’t occur at this stage, your female dog will revert to the fourth stage, anestrus.

  • Anestrus: Anestrus is the period between each heat cycle and as previously said, it lasts for about 6 months. While we mentioned this as the fourth stage, it’s not exactly a part of the heat cycle.
    Regardless, at this stage, there will be no growth and development in the female German shepherd’s reproductive organs.

Some signs will be shown by the female German shepherd throughout the whole heat cycle. Here’s a look at those signs:

  • If you’re wondering if your dog is in pain when in heat, then yes. It’s similar to a human’s menstrual cycle in this aspect.
  • A female dog in heat not eating is a normal occurrence throughout the heat cycle. While they may not eat much, you should stock up for when the time comes for them to make up for their lost weight.
  • Female dog aggression during the heat cycle is another sign that your pet is in heat, regardless of the stage. It’s also one of the most obvious ones since they are normally gentle.

Taking Care of a Female German Shepherd in Heat

There are many ways of caring for a female German shepherd in heat. With what you learned in the previous topics, you should already have an idea of what to do.

Practice Good Hygiene: As previously mentioned, one of the signs that a German shepherd is in heat is bleeding.

So, to avoid stains in your house, you should keep your female German shepherd clean at all times. She may also clean herself by licking.

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In this case, you can simply cover your furniture since your female GSD are likely to rub against them. That way, you can leave your dog be and let her clean lick herself as a dog should.

Attend to Your Dog’s Needs: A female German shepherd in heat is likely to undergo some personality changes. That’s why you should always pay attention to what your dog is doing.

For example, if she’s being restless, you can play with her, brush her hair, or do anything that involves activity.

Keep Your Dog Inside: If you don’t want your female dog to be pregnant, I’d suggest leaving the doors closed every time you go out. Why?

During the heat cycle, male dogs will be hanging out in your place waiting for your female pet to go outside. So to minimize the risks of accidental mating, it’s only natural to avoid these male dogs.

If you’re able to do all these, you don’t have to worry about any problems coming your way with a German shepherd in heat.

However, you can prevent this from happening, and you can do this by spaying your female German shepherd. For more information, read our article about neutering or spaying a GSD.


Before, you have no idea what to do with your female German shepherd pet when she’s in heat. You probably didn’t even know what “heat” means.

Taking care of German shepherds is a lot of work, and you don’t have to blame yourself if you don’t know everything about them. But you must always seek the opportunity to achieve a better understanding of your pets.

This blog post had shown you what heat cycle is, the signs of an in-heat female GSD, and how to take care of them. Now, you can be assured that every time your female GSD is in heat, you are prepared.

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