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 Do German Shepherds Go Into Their 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.
Later on in life, GSDs may also go into heat. Some GSDs even start getting pregnant between 18 – 24 months. All of these deviations from the norm are OK, and it is dependent on your particular dog.
Although your dog might be in heat, it doesn’t actually mean that they are fit to give birth. In reality, seasoned GSD breeders are aware that it is preferable to wait for the subsequent heat, if you can.
This provides them enough time before mating to properly enter the cycle.
In actuality, waiting until your dog is in her 2nd or 3rd heat provides a healthier pregnancy because her eggs aren’t yet developed fully for procreation during the initial heat cycle. By this period, your dog’s uterus will also be fit for procreation.
How Often Do German Shepherds Go Into Heat?
Every six months, or twice a year, German Shepherds go into heat. This is common of huge dog breeds, while smaller dogs could go into heat 3-4 times annually, and the largest kinds only once a year.
In German Shepherds, the time between heat cycles is roughly 6 months. German Shepherd interestrus intervals were reported to be 208.2 days (6.9 months) and 198.5 days (6.5 months) in two investigations on canine estrus cycles.
Depending on your dog’s body clock, this could fluctuate. Your German shepherd’s cycle length might change depending on a number of variables, including:
Age – Following a German Shepherd’s first heat cycle, future heat cycles may initially be a little erratic but will eventually become more regular. In order to find out whether your dog’s irregular cycles are normal or whether there are underlying issues, you might wish to consult a veterinarian.
The cycles of senior German Shepherds will be slower and have fewer heat seasons.
Notwithstanding this, your dog will continue to go through estrus throughout her life and is still capable of becoming pregnant despite the shorter estrus seasons.
Conception – Gestation delays menstrual cycles and reproductive seasons, just as it does in humans. Similar to this, following whelping German Shepherds and other dogs’ interestrus intervals, or the time between estrus seasons, are lengthened.
Seasons – It’s not impossible, even if seasonality is typically disregarded as a non-factor in the frequency of estrus in German Shepherds and other canines.
How Long Is A German Shepherd In Heat?
The estrus phase of a German Shepherd’s heat cycle lasts for 4 to 15 days during the first heat. Your GSD is fertile right now, so mating with her could result in a pregnancy.
However, keep in mind that if a female German Shepherd mates before the estrus period, she may become pregnant.
This is due to the fact that canine spermatozoa can potentially live for up to 11 days in the female genital canal and are mobile.
It’s possible that you’ve read that a dog’s initial and subsequent heat seasons continue for two to four weeks.
This is due to the fact that many people believe the proestrus and estrus heat cycle stages to be included in the heat period.
However, a dog’s heat period is technically the estrus phase. She is now fertile enough to become pregnant and is ready to mate.
Common Behaviours Of A Female German Shepherd In Heat
You may spot your German Shepherd’s period by keeping an eye out for certain indicators, such as:
- a vulva that is swollen with huge teats.
- a shift in the discharge’s hue (blood-stained not pinkish).
- a lot of urine.
- a side-facing tail (flagging).
In addition, a dog may become more aggressive toward other female dogs and display unusually increased interest their male counterparts.
Urine marking, repeated genital licking and excitement are other signs that your dog wants to breed. It’s a little known fact that, males are not the only ones who enjoy GSD spraying!
Make sure your dog is leashed when out for walks if you have an unspayed German Shepherd and don’t want to breed her during this period since your pet will be in search of a mate.
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.
- 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.
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.
When Is A Female German Shepherd Most Fertile?
Even while it’s frequently advised to breed your dog around days 10 and 14 of their cycle, this isn’t a surefire strategy to have a good litter.
Each dog is unique, and depending on when in their cycle they become fertile.
Veterinarian vaginal smears or serum progesterone tests are the only accurate ways to find out when your dog is ovulating.
While the serum test tracks the peaks and valleys of progesterone, the smear will follow changes in the cells in and around the vagina.
Each of these tests ought to be able to be completed in-office by your veterinarian, however, occasionally sending samples to a lab can result in more precise findings.
To track alterations in the vaginal cells over a period of days, the smear test is often performed each day. It is hardly risky and only slightly intrusive. It is less precise than a serum progesterone test, though.
How Do Male Dogs React To A Female’s Heat?
Since male dogs don’t experience a heat cycle, they can breed all year long once they reach puberty, which occurs at about 6 months of age.
If your dog is more than six months old and not spayed or neutered, you probably already are aware of some of the problems of sexual maturation.
When he gets the chance, an unfixed dog that is male will usually mount things and run away to get close to the area bitches. He is always willing to mate.
Male dogs do not go into heat, but the female dog’s period of being in heat may still have a big impact on your male dog.
Male dogs can recognize the scent of female dogs who are in heat thanks to the distinctive pheromone methyl p-hydroxybenzoate. This stench has the potential to drive your intact male dog mad.
Once he feels sexually motivated, he might focus solely on hunting the female dog. In unneutered dogs, this drive is strong and natural, and its main goal is mating.
Using a GPS dog tracking system to keep tabs on your dog can help ensure that they stay out of danger during this time.
Can A German Shepherd Get Spayed While In Heat?
You can have your German shepherd spayed before she goes into her first heat. It’s crucial to understand that sex hormones play a crucial role in your dog’s growth.
In fact, several studies have found that spaying your German Shepherd puppy before it is fully mature (six months) can put your dog at risk for cancers including mast cell tumor and lymphoma as well as joint abnormalities like hip and elbow dysplasia.
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.