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The sexual cycle in the female dog

When a female dog is in heat, it's important to keep a close eye on her as well as the males in her neighborhood, especially if you don't want her to have puppies a few months later. In order to know when to put your female dog to sleep, it's best to have an idea of how the female's sexual cycle unfolds. Let's take a look at the sexual maturity of a female dog, the four stages of her cycle and the veterinary procedures that can be used to avoid this famous heat.

Age of sexual maturity in the female dog


On average, the female dog reaches sexual maturity at the age of one year, knowing that in some females the age of puberty is only 6 months, while in giant breeds, it does not occur before 2 years. It is useful to note that the smaller the breed of dog, the earlier sexual maturity occurs.

Although the female dog has reached puberty, she is not yet 100% fertile, far from it, and it is not recommended to cover her so early because at this age her growth process is not yet complete. When you don't know if she has already been cycled or not, it is usually sufficient to inspect the female dog's vulva. The vulva is always larger in a female dog that has already gone into heat.

Each heat period lasts about three months and there are 4 to 13 months between estrus, the breed having a strong influence on this duration. Each of these episodes is referred to as inter-estrus.

The four stages of the sexual cycle in the female dog


Here is how the sexual cycle unfolds in four distinct phases in the female dog.

Stage 1: pro-estrus.

Lasts from 3 to 17 days. This marks the beginning of the heat period. Hormonal changes take place. Males are attracted to the female dog but she refuses to mate. She loses blood more or less abundantly (it varies from one female to another), her vulva is turgid.

Stage 2: estrus.

Duration from 3 to 21 days. During this phase called heat, the vaginal discharge is pink and begins to be less abundant. Ovulation begins following the increase in progesterone levels and lasts only 2 or 3 days. This is the moment when the female dog agrees to mate with a male, but it is sometimes possible that the one chosen by her master is not suitable, in which case she refuses him. In case of fertile mating, fertilization takes place.

It should be noted that the heat in the female dog appears every six months, at the latest every 7 months. The cycles are thus relatively regular.

Stage 3: diestrus (metestrus).

Duration between 57 and 65 days. This term designates the phase during which gestation or pseudo-pregnancy (nervous pregnancy) takes place. The female dog refuses to be covered by a male. Her vulva deflates, her udders swell because the mammary tissue swells more or less depending on whether or not a gestation is in progress. At the hormonal level there is a high level of progesterone.

Stage 4: anestrus.

Duration between 2 and 9 months. The genital system of the female dog enters then in a phase of rest. On the hormonal level, we find normal levels of progesterone and estrogen.

How to prevent your female dog from going into heat?


The heat period is not always appreciated by the owners of a female dog. To put a definitive end to it, you must opt for sterilization. It is performed under general anesthesia and is irreversible. Before taking this decision, you must be sure that you do not want to keep any of the puppies that the female dog may give birth to.

However, it should be noted that sterilization is an act that protects the health of the female dog at different levels, namely against unwanted litters and against many serious diseases such as malignant tumors (cancers). Sterilization also has a direct effect on the dog's behavior. The female dog becomes calmer. The same is true in the case of castration of the male, an operation that protects his health.

Another solution is to opt for temporary sterilization, either by pill or by injection. This sterilization is not definitive. It simply secures the reproduction periods.

The sterilization is covered by the dog health insurance. To find out the amount of the reimbursement, it is necessary to compare the formulas proposed by the mutual insurance companies for dogs by going through an online comparator.