I have been through the heat cycle for many years with my German shepherd and learned a lot on this journey. German Shepherd is a beauty, and anyone can desire to have puppies from this beautiful dog that are adorable like their mother.
If you are looking forward to this, there might be several questions in your mind like, what is the length of a heat cycle of German Shepherds? What happens to a German shepherd female in heat?
So, I thought to educate people based on my experience and knowledge, which I gained by keeping shepherds.
How long does a German Shepherd bleed during the heat?
Bleeding in the heat cycle usually lasts for nine days in German shepherds. But for better understanding, let’s look at the different stages of the heat cycle.
The heat cycle of a German shepherd consists of four stages, Proestrus, Estrus, Diestrus, and Anestrus, with each having different behavioral signs. The GSD bleed during the proestrus phase, which could be nine days long. During this phase, the female is not receptive to the male, but her body starts to prepare for pregnancy.
After the proestrus, the estrus phase begins in which the color of this discharge starts to change into straw-colored fluid. This phase lasts for 9 days and mating mostly happens during this phase.
The diestrus phase can be 70-80 days long, and mostly the dog’s hormonal profile is similar to a pregnant dog during this phase. Even if the dog is not pregnant, she will start mothering other animals. If a female is pregnant, it can last for 60-64 days, after which the female enters the anestrus, where it has zero sexual receptivity and can last for 2-3 months.
This phase is generally a resting phase for the dog.
Helpful fact: A reddish discharge is an obvious indicator that your GSD female is in heat and mark this day as Day One of the heat cycle.
So, now you know – how long does a German Shepherd bleed during the heat, let’s talk about what is the heat cycle and signs of it.
What is the heat cycle?
The heat cycle, also called the estrus cycle, indicates that the female dog has reached sexual maturity. The dog’s heat cycle may be confusing for some people. It is sometimes referred to as dogs’ menstrual cycle, similar to the females in humans.
When a dog comes in heat, she has elevated hormone estrogen levels, which drop off quickly, producing signals for ovaries to release eggs. While you see some obvious signs indicating heat in your shepherd, your dog will be ready for breeding to produce litter during that period. But for that, you have to be well aware of the signs of heat in GSD.
Interesting fact: A shepherd produces pheromones in heat, which have a specific smell that attracts the males for mating! Woah, the male can sense this smell from miles to MEET AND GREET the female!
What are the signs of heat in GSD?
I saw blood spots and got panic if my dog is hurt the first time she came into heat.
At that time, I was not aware of the signs of heat in dogs.
Funnily, I rushed to the vet clinic where the vet delightfully told me about the real thing happening to my beautiful shepherd while smiling on my anxious face. Don’t be panic if you see similar signs.
Along with blood mixed discharge, frequent urination is also an obvious sign during estrous. You may also notice a swollen vulva and the dog licking and cleaning this area. If you observe so, don’t try to disturb her.
The female German shepherds become nervous and distracted due to the surge of hormones during the heat cycle. This nervousness is due to the confusion about what is going on with her, which she feels during the first heat cycle. This is not necessary for all dogs; some take it very simply.
The female dog presents her vulva to the male dogs in the vicinity, known as the act of flagging. Flagging indicates the receptiveness of females for breeding.
Helpful fact: Be careful in choosing the mate for her during the heat cycle. The sire must be vaccinated and checked by a veterinarian to have the best progeny.
When does a German shepherd start coming in the heat?
German shepherds are large dogs, which means they exhibit their first heat after a year or wait for two years. Knowing this fact, you still have to watch your German shepherd dog to closely observe these signs of heat at four months of age.
All female dogs exhibit the heat cycle once they become sexually mature at a certain age. The age of sexual maturity largely depends upon the breed and size of the dog.
Generally, most female dogs enter the estrus cycle at six months of age, but some wait until a year or even longer to begin.
The exception of the above discussed general rule occurs with the spayed females. A spayed dog will have reproductive organs removed, so she will no longer enter the estrous cycle.
Helpful fact: For a healthy German Shepherd in heat, you don’t have to intervene much. Her body knows it all; what’s going on.
How many times a year will my German shepherd come into heat?
As German Shepherd is also a large breed, they will exhibit only one heat during a year. This interval can be even longer, showing one heat every eighteen months.
It is something that cannot be claimed with surety, but you can only guess. There is a considerable variation to answer this question, despite the perfectly normal dog’s physiology.
If we generally talk about dogs, they exhibit heat twice per year, but with the larger breeds such as Great Danes, there are more extended periods between the heat cycles.
Helpful fact: It is okay to try predicting and planning for a heat cycle, but don’t always write it in stone. It can fluctuate from the expected occurrence time. Relax!
How to care for your German shepherd during the heat?
There are many ways you can care for your German shepherd during her heat cycle, both in terms of keeping her safe and also make her feel comfortable. It would be best if you keep in mind that this period makes the dog uncomfortable, and you, as a pet owner, owe the responsibility to look after her on this journey.
a. Secure the property
When a GSD female is in heat, she can run away from your home to find a dog for mating. So you need to be careful and watch for your dog when she is in the yard. In the same way, you have to look for the male dogs in the vicinity; if there is a neighboring male dog, he will sense that your GSD is in heat and can do anything to reach her, such as digging below your fence or climbing from it. Make sure to keep your property safe during these days.
b. Give attention to her
During the heat cycle, your GSD will be going through many mixed emotions, and it would be best if you give a lot of attention and care to her. Find more time to cuddle with her and make her feel secure; she will feel comfortable by having your attention.
c. Bath your German Shepherd
Though she will try to keep her clean during the cycle, but cannot do it thoroughly. So you should maintain her on regular bathing during her cycle. Bloodstains on her body can stick to the fur and make her unhygienic, so try using a conditioner for her. Do not exceed over bathing; it will make her skin dry.
If your GSD is reluctant to take a bath during this period, don’t force her to do so and take her away very calmly and gently. Instead, try using fragrances to make her smell right.
Interesting fact: Your grown-up GSD can also use pampers like a human baby! Yeah, you read it right. Pampering the female during heat will help protect furniture from the blood spots.
d. Appetite check
Your GSD can lose or gain more appetite during the heat cycle. If you observe a decline in her appetite, provide her with her favorite food. If she is entirely anorectic, you can take her to a vet.
If, like my GSD, you observe an increase in appetite, you should monitor her feeding. Try not to provide excessive amounts of food and maintain a gap between this meal and the next one.
The heat period for a GSD may be a time of stress, frustration, and mess for everyone. But there are some positives with it as well. If you prepare yourself for the coming weeks right in time, you can manage this phase of your dog quite well; you only need to be vigilant, be kind and be affectionate with your dog to make her come out of this phase happy, healthy, and with cute little puppies.