The first heat in the female

My bitch is in heat! 

Your puppy has moved in and you are enjoying the time to play, learn and cuddle. But slowly your bitch is getting older and you wonder when she will actually be in heat. How does such a dog cycle actually work and how long and often does the lady dog actually go into heat? It is normal to be a newbie in this field, so it is even more important to do your research in good time to be prepared for this exciting time.

When does the bitch go into heat?

Your young bitch will come into heat for the first time when she is six to twelve months old. The timing also depends on the breed and size of your dog, because usually the heat comes earlier with smaller bitches than with larger ones. Sometimes it can take up to two years for the bitch to get into heat for the first time, so you don't have to worry if it takes a little longer than you would have expected.

The time of year can also play a role in heat. The most likely is autumn or spring. Here, too, it can never be said exactly, because every bitch is different and for some the season has no influence at all.

The duration of heat is about 21 days and it repeats every six to seven months. Depending on the breed, your bitch will come into heat twice a year.

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The bitch's cycle

So that you can imagine all this a little better and know what is going on in your dog's body, you should know what the dog's cycle looks like in the first place.

Basically there are four phases of heat, the pre-oestrus (proestrus), the oestrus (oestrus), the post-oestrus (metostus) and the resting phase (anoestrus):

Pre-estrus (Proestrus)

  • Duration: 3 to 17 days
  • Swollen vagina, bloody discharge
  • The bitch is not ready to mate and is vicious towards males

Heat (oestrus)

  • Duration: 3 to 21 days
  • Less swollen vagina, watery to slimy discharge
  • Days two to four are the fertile days
  • The bitch is ready to mate and seeks contact with males

After-estrus (metostrus)

  • Duration: nine to twelve weeks
  • Vagina decongestion, discharge stops

Resting phase (anestrus)

  • Several weeks or months, depending on the breed and bitch 


Hormonal Changes & Symptoms

As with humans, the bitch also has various symptoms that can be traced back to hormonal changes in the body. Shortly before heat, for example, your bitch may urinate more intensely in order to set off scent marks for the males. Secretions of bloody vaginal secretions are also a symptom that you are bound to notice.

The dog girl probably has less appetite than usual, especially when she first heats up. Typical symptoms of puberty, such as forgetting to bring up a child, also occur. The state of mind can also vary and a gentle and shy female dog suddenly turns into a stubborn bitch. Some bitches get restless, others more anxious or even more aggressive. Your girl is likely to be aggressive towards other bitches in particular.

Active looking for males, especially on walks, is also typical for bitches in heat. Here in particular, care should be taken to ensure that no unwanted pregnancy occurs.


In order to make the heat of your dog lady pleasant, you should approach the matter with calm and patience. In addition, practical items, such as trousers or pads for your doggie's sleeping place, can create a more relaxed atmosphere. So you are definitely well prepared for this exciting time.

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Was your bitch already in heat? If so, please tell us how you mastered this time and maybe you have great tips for expectant dog mums and dads!