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If you bring a female German Shepherd puppy into your home, you will probably experience at least a heat. During part of this heat, your dog is fertile and could become pregnant. Pups are great fun, but no one wants an unplanned litter.
So it's important that you keep a close eye on your dog when she's in heat. To do that, you need to know a few things – when do German Shepherds go into heat, how to recognize the heat, what are the phases and how to get through it.
When do German Shepherds Go into Heat?
The first heat of animals is equivalent to puberty in humans. The appearance of the first heat varies between breeds, with earlier appearances in small breeds than in larger ones. In the case of German Shepherds, it is common for it to appear around 2 years of age.
In addition to the breed, environmental conditions also influence the appearance of the first heat (some studies indicate that it happens more often in spring or summer), as well as the presence of other females or the administration of medications.
How Often do German Shepherds Go into Heat?
Heat usually occurs twice a year, although this is quite variable, with some dogs having heat once a year.
How Long are German Shepherds in Heat?
The heat comes to last about 15-18 days. The bitch is a monoestrous female, which means that she has a single sexual cycle per heat season, in which a single ovulation of several eggs occurs. Ovulation is spontaneous, since it occurs whether the bitch is mounted or not, contrary to what happens for example in the cat, which does not ovulate if it is not mounted.
German Shepherd Heat Cycle Chart
The sexual cycle of the German Shepherd bitch is divided into four phases:
The Proestrus phase lasts approximately nine days; it is easily recognized by the bloody discharge from the vagina. It must be remembered that it is not menstruation and it has nothing to do with the sexual cycle of women since it means totally the opposite.
The bitch's character changes during this phase; they are prone to urinate more or in unusual places, others like to escape or insist on walking.
During this stage the female attracts the males by sending a pheromone signal into the air, which the males can smell. It can also cause the beginning of the cycle in other females. At this stage, she does not allow mounting as she is not yet ready to get pregnant.
The beginning of the estrus phase is the heat itself and it is the moment when the female German Shepherd accepts the male and can last between 5 to 10 days. The bleeding continues, although less intense, and after this moment she stops accepting the male.
This is the stage when she can get pregnant. If she is mounted on the 11th day of the discharge, she may still get pregnant, depending on each case.
The metestrus phase is the completion of heat. The duration of the metestrus is variable, ranging from 110 to 140 days. If the bitch has become pregnant, this is the moment when the embryo nesting, gestation and lactation occur.
Its duration is variable with an average of 75 days. It is the period of sexual inactivity between cycles.
The frequency of heat in bitches is determined mainly by the variation in the duration of the mount. The normal interval between these is 5 to 10 months.
Puberty is usually reached around 6-7 months of age, with a range of 4-22 months. Large breeds may not start cycling until they are 18 months of age. The sexual cycle in bitches last throughout their entire lives, without the occurrence of menopause like in women. However, fertility may decrease after 7 years of age.
The age recommended by veterinarians to mate your dog for the first time is the third heat, which usually coincides with age of a year and a half. Many owners do not know or do not give importance to the heat of the bitch. In fact, it is a very important time to be attentive because if we are not careful, she can mate with any stray dog or neighbor's dog and produce unwanted litters that end up abandoned in public parks or in a dog shelter.
It is advisable, for the health of our German Shepherd, to stop mating beyond seven years, this being so variable for different reasons that it is always good to consult with a veterinary professional.