When a female dog is in heat, this biological process is known as estrus. Some people also refer to it as in-season or dogs period. Estrus is when a sexually matured unspayed female dog goes into an occasional cycle as they prepare for reproduction and breeding.
A German shepherd generally goes into heat from around 6 to 12 months. However, some can even go past one year up to two years to begin heating. On average, a complete heat cycle takes about six months. This means, in a year your dog will have 2 heat cycles.
German shepherds delay their first heat cycle due to their large bodies. The only time that a female German shepherd fails to experience this cycle is when it is spayed. A spayed German shepherd means its reproductive organs have been removed.
What is a heat cycle in a German shepherd?
A heat cycle is experienced by female dogs once they reach sexual maturity. The dog’s body releases the hormone estrogen in large quantities, then the level drops quickly. This signals the ovaries to release eggs.
At this point, your dog is ready for breeding. However, if you are not ready for a litter of puppies, you can consider spaying. It is okay to spay your dog as early as possible since it has some health benefits.
For first-time dog owners, the heating cycle may cause some panic. Do not worry; your dog will give some signs as she goes into heat and this will help you get prepared and ready.
Signs of heat in German shepherds
Here are some potential signs you can expect to see when a German Shepherd dog is on heat:
- Frequent urination. This is the first signal that will alert you that the heat cycle has begun. The urination is also her way of spreading the scent to announce her readiness to breed.
- Blood-stained discharge which you can’t miss to see. At this moment, despite the dog cleaning itself, you will be required to provide female dog diapers for your dog to keep your floors and furniture clean from the discharge.
- Swollen vulva. You will notice your dog licking the place frequently. Do not disturb her since she won’t hurt herself by doing so.
- The surge in hormones will make her nervous and distracted.
- Increased nervousness especially for first-time females going through the heat cycle
- Flagging; You will notice your German shepherd flipping her tail to one side and presenting her vulva to any male dog on sight within her reach.
How long do heat cycles last for German shepherds?
It is impossible to know the actual period your dog will be in-heat. However, on average, your lady can approximately go into heat once every six months.
The assumption can vary depending on several factors. For instance, larger breeds like Danes will have longer periods between each heat cycle. They will also have delayed starts. German shepherds, being among the larger dogs, may also experience the same duration and possibly end up having one cycle per year.
The length of the cycle also varies for different breeds. It is highly influenced by size and age. On average, German shepherds go for about three weeks. Nonetheless, this might change as the dog ages. The heat cycle can either increase or shorten.
How to care for a German shepherd on heat
Heating can be so terrifying to a young German shepherd who has never encountered this before. It is also quite the deal for older dogs that had a rough time in the previous cycle. They end up getting upset and stressed.
This is the point you will have to remind your dog how much you love her. You can do this by speaking softly, being gentle and kind. Avoid yelling or punishing her since she can’t help herself, it is a natural call.
Provide a special room
To keep your house clean, you should find your dog a room or an outdoor dog kennel while on heat. Make sure the room is tiled or has a linoleum floor that will be easy to clean.
The estrus discharge has a strong smell, especially when left for long, and it can create a mess. Dogs only clean up themselves but leave the floor, beddings, toys, and furniture to you for cleaning.
Isolate your dog
Isolating your dog may seem like a cruel thing to do but you are helping her. During the heat cycle, your lady will not be herself; neither will she be thinking straight. Keeping her indoors separate from other dogs will help her have privacy. At times, female dogs can be aggressive towards one another.
Usually, when your lady is in heat, it will attract many male dogs. If you are not planning on breeding, this will be disastrous. It will not take long for the two to mate, especially being in the same area.
Leash your dog
It is advisable to always keep your dog on the leash even in your yard. Since every male dog will be after her, it will be easier to control and stop them from getting together and making unexpected puppies.
If you are wondering at what age does a german shepherd go into heat, she can start heating from 6 to 12 months. However, this is not guaranteed since it can also go up to one year. Just like a human (female), the cycle duration differs for different dogs; some may be shorter than average while others have long cycles that exceed one month.