HEAT INFORMATION AND CARE
A female dog usually comes into her first heat between 6 and 12 months of age. Ten months is average but some pups wait until 18 months or longer. Most females will exhibit some or all of the following signs prior to coming into season:
At the start of heat, there is a bloody discharge, indicating the beginning of the fertile time. The discharge is typically pale in color and light in amount at the beginning of the cycle and becomes increasingly heavy and darker red as the cycle progresses. It then lightens near the end of the cycle. This usually lasts about 21 days (3 weeks). Male dogs will show interest in the female and may hang around your house and doorstep.
- More than normal shedding a month or more prior to beginning heat.
- Swelling of the vulva, the external genitalia, one to three weeks prior to heat, accompanied by excessive licking.
- Increased frequency of urination.
For the entire time of the heat and for two weeks thereafter, please follow these guidelines:
Even after the discharge has stopped and you think that your pup is out of heat, you must be very careful. A few females remain receptive to breeding and may have fertile eggs lingering in the reproductive tract for a week or more after the discharge has stopped.
- Do not allow your puppy out-of-doors except on a short lead, which is attached to a responsible person.
- If you must take your puppy for a walk to get busy, stay in the immediate vicinity of your home.
- Do not allow her the free run of an enclosed outdoor play area.
- Be extra careful when opening house doors that access the outside. Some pups will try to bolt doors during their heat.
- Keep your puppy away from ALL intact (un-neutered) males of any breed or age.
Dogs are not picky about a mate. They will mate with a brother, father, a dog they normally like, a dog that they normally do not like, a dog that is of the same or another breed, a purebred or a mixed-breed. They will also show great ingenuity when seeking a mate. They have been known to mate through crates and fences; they can climb six-foot high barricades, tear down doors, dig under fences, etc. Well-behaved females have been known to rush through an open door to run off and find a date. Guiding Eyes policy states that the dog should never be off leash or unattended at any time. This is especially important during and immediately after the heat cycle. REMEMBER, NO AREA IS SECURE FROM A MALE DOG WHO WANTS A FEMALE!
Sometimes people are unsure if a mating has taken place. Semen can be deposited on the vulva without actual mating. Therefore, do not let an intact male dog near the female in heat, even for a moment. During mating the male dogs mounts the female from the rear. She stands with her tail aside to allow the male's penis to enter her vagina. The male thrusts his penis into her vagina. Dogs can get to this stage in just seconds. Ejaculation usually occurs soon after penetration. After mating has occurred, the male gets off the female, but his penis will have become enlarged and he gets “stuck” inside the female. This is called a “tie” and is normal. Do not attempt to separate the dogs. This could injure both of them. When tied, the female and male will stand side by side or rear to rear. When the penis swelling subsides, the dogs will separate. A tie can last from five minutes to an hour. Twenty minutes is average.
IF AN ACCIDENTAL MATING HAS OCCURRED, OR YOU THINK ONE MAY HAVE, CONTACT YOUR AREA COORDINATOR OR THE BREEDING CENTER IMMEDIATELY! DO NOT GO TO THE VETERINARIAN; WAIT FOR YOUR CALL TO BE RETURNED IF YOU DO NOT REACH SOMEONE AT ONCE.
Occasionally a female will exhibit signs of pregnancy even though she has not been bred. This is called false pregnancy. She may lose her appetite soon after the completion of her heat cycle. Approximately two months later she may exhibit nesting behaviors such as digging and shredding paper. Some females even produce milk. The best response to this is to give her lots of tender loving care and perhaps a soft stuffed toy to care for. The signs will usually go away on their own within a few weeks.
Please contact your Area Coordinator or Puppy Evaluator with any questions.