Female dogs go in heat when they reach sexual maturity, and the German shepherds are no exception. Most dogs like the German shepherds undergo two heat cycles per year, which start after they hit six months of age.
However, each dog’s heat cycle can vary depending on the breed and the size.
Thus, as a responsible dog owner, it is essential to learn what happens when your German shepherd is in heat and why it’s occurring.
Worth to note is that spayed dogs don’t undergo the heat cycles as their reproductive system is absent.
That said, in this article, you will learn how long does a German Shepherd stay in heat, guides on caring for your dog in heat. Last, you will learn the benefits of spaying your female hound.
How Long Does a German shepherd Stay in Heat?
Per every heat cycle, the German shepherd stays in heat for an average of 3-4 weeks. Thus, during this phase, the German shepherd is fertile and ready to breed with an intact male.
However, you ought to learn that female German shepherds have four stages in their heat cycles. These heat cycles are Proestrus, estrus, metestrus, and anestrus.
Proestrus is the initial stage when your dog is in heat. It’s during this stage that you can note slight vaginal bleeding and vulva swelling.
During this stage, the female German shepherd is reluctant to mate with a male stud. On average, this heat stage last for nine days.
The Eostrus /Estrus Stage
The second stage is the estrus stage, during which the German shepherd in heat is ready to mate.
Key features you can note during this phase are vaginal bleeding, of which the discharge is light with blood stains. Also, the vulva swells as the heat stage progresses.
Flagging is also present in this heat stage as the female dog exhibits her readiness to mate and breed.
This estrus stage lasts for an average of 4- 24 days, and fertilization is more likely to happen in between these days.
Metestrus is the third stage, and probably it is the stage that’s come after mating.
Many vets name the stage as the stage of pregnancy. Others call it the phantom pregnancy or false pregnancy stage.
The metestrus stage can last for 55-65 days in case fertilization happened in the previous stage. During this stage, the female dog has minimal vaginal bleeding, and the vulva retracts back to its original size.
The Anestrus stage is the period of sexual and hormonal dormancy. Thus, in this stage, the female German shepherd is reluctant to mate. Vaginal bleeding stops, and the vulva is now back to normal.
On average, this stage lasts for 60-90 days.
How Can I Know My German shepherd is in Heat?
You know, various German shepherd dogs exhibit specific behaviors and symptoms. Many of the symptoms are visible, whereas other signals are subtle.
Thus, here is how you can tell whether your German shepherd dog is in heat.
Frequent urination is a significant indication of a German shepherd in heat. You can note this tendency of frequent urination as you walk with your dog.
The imbalance of hormones brings frequent urination, and also it’s a way of spreading pheromones that attract male dogs.
Pheromones; secretions produced by dogs, and more so, each dog has its distinctive smell of its secretion.
Dogs use the pheromones to communicate with one another.
A swollen vulva can signify that your German shepherd is on heat. However, if the vulva swells longer than usual, you should call your vet for a health checkup.
Vaginal bleeding is common in dogs in heat. More so, depending on the heat stage, the bleeding may be bloody or clear.
Licking of Genitalia
A key feature that may signal that your dog is in heat.
However, excessive licking can signify there is an infection.
When on heat, your GSD may try mounting on everything. Yeah, they may even try mounting on you. However, don’t punish or scold your dog when you note this mounting behavior.
Although laughable, it is out of their reach.
Perhaps you have also noted this behavior in other dogs.
The dog may try raising its tail to expose the vulva, mainly to entice the male dogs. This behavior is frequent during the estrus stage.
I have even seen dogs flagging their owners. Although offending, just let it pass. It’s a natural thing.
Frequent Visit by Male Dogs
Neighboring or strange dogs may visit your home when your dog is on heat
Male dogs crowd your house as the distinctive smell of your German shepherd in heat is irresistible.
It’s during this period you should keep your dog inside to avoid unwanted breeding. Also, be keen to close any holes in your fence to keep away unwanted dogs.
I have heard of a case where a lab was impregnated through the fence, Shocking, Right?
When on heat, your GSD may show signs of behavioral and personality changes.
When on heat your dog may become irritable, lazy, and develop a poor appetite.
All of the above signs will help you single out a German shepherd on heat. However, it’s always advisable you call your vet if you are unsure.
Additionally, your vet can perform some health tests to check whether your German shepherd is in heat.
Checking for Heat on a German shepherd
A vet can tell whether your dog is in heat or ready to breed by analyzing the superficial cells of the vagina.
Hormonal blood tests include checking progesterone and estrogen levels. That said, the levels of progesterone could tell whether your German shepherd is in heat or not.
Cervical Imaging through Ultrasound
It’s when on estrus that the cervix widens from its standard shape.
Taking Care of a German shepherd In Heat
Your dog needs love and care when it is on heat. Other naïve pet owners take their dogs to doggy daycare for careful supervision.
However, it’s not right.
Your dog is distressed and irritable during periods like these, but you can alleviate your precious girl from this agony by following the below.
Buy Protective Garments
You can buy reusable doggy diapers or even washable fabric diapers to control vaginal bleeding. However, most vets don’t recommend dog diapers as they stop the dog from grooming herself.
Diapers can also control the mess done by your dog in the house. However, you can have wooden floors since they are easy to clean. You can also get leather sofas that have an easily washable fabric.
Secure Your Home
Have a fenced yard in case your dog is on heat.
To avoid accidental mating with other males, ensure your property is well secured, not unless you know your German shepherd is spayed.
It’s when on heat that your German shepherd may sneak out to mate with an intact male.
Feed Her Emotions
It’s when your dog is in heat that emotions may flare-up. Your dog may become clingy, grumpy, and irritable. First-time dogs on heat are irritated by the strange changes happening on them; thus, your dog needs emotional support during this period.
You can play games with your dog, perhaps introduce a new trick, you know just something to keep her busy and offer a temporal relief from her stressful condition.
Keep Your Dog Clean
Hygiene is essential when your dog is on heat.
The reason being bloodstain may get tangled on the fur, thus promoting matting.
Remember to trim the fur near the back legs; it will help the dog clean up.
Use a Leash
A leash should come in handy when your German shepherd is on heat. For example, while walking with your German Shepherd, having a leashed dog will prevent other males from mounting her unnecessarily.
Keep Her Inside
I always advise other pet owners to keep their German shepherd in heat indoors. While inside, you can tame and monitor what she is doing all along. You can secure a crate where she can sleep while in heat. Also, ensure you have wooden floors.
Keynote: it is your responsibility to take care of your German shepherd on heat.
What Should I Do In Case I Don’t Want Puppies?
Vets and experts narrate the importance of spaying of female GSDs, not unless you are a certified dog breeder.
According to the American Kennel club, female dogs should not be spayed before having their first heat cycle.
However, the good thing is that the benefits of spaying outweigh the risks. So, what’s the importance of spaying?
Benefits of Spaying
Prevent Unwanted Puppies
Spaying your female German shepherd can help control the population of dogs. Spaying will also help control or stop the spread of unwanted genes, for example, dwarfism.
Do not breed your puppies, not unless you are a certified dog breeder.
Unspayed dogs are more likely to suffer from pyometra, an infection of the uterus. What’s more, spayed dogs have a lesser risk of developing mammalian cancer.
No More Stress after Spaying
After spaying your dog, you won’t struggle with issues that come when your German shepherd is in heat.
No cleaning up of the discharge on your sofas or floors, since your dog will not be undergoing the heat cycles.
Spaying is beneficial to your dog in many ways. However, consult your vet to help you decide whether or when to spay your pet.
By now, I hope you can understand the definition of a heat cycle in a dog.
As noted, the German shepherd stays in heat for an average of 3-4 weeks.
It’s during this heat period that you can decide whether you want your dog to have puppies. Worth to note is that breeding of dogs should be left to dog experts to prevent the inheritance of unwanted genes.
Consider spaying or neutering your dog if you don’t want unwanted dogs. Also, spaying will help reduce the number of homeless dogs that get euthanized per year.
Additionally, it’s your key responsibility to care and keep your female German shepherd dog comfortable while in heat.