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Are Irregular Heat Cycles Normal?

Hi Dr. Barchas, I have a question about my sweet little Yorkie. She's 2 yrs. 4 mo. old and has had only one heat cycle...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  May 2nd 2009


Hi Dr. Barchas,
I have a question about my sweet little Yorkie.
She’s 2 yrs. 4 mo. old and has had only one heat
cycle which was about a year ago. She’s in
perfect health. I asked this question on the
‘answers’ part of this website and I got
nothing but chewed out because I mentioned that I
would like to breed her. Please don’t chew me
out about all of the precious animals out there
who need homes. I’m so very aware of that.
I’m just picking your brain so to speak. I know
I need to take her to my vet. Thank you for your
thoughts.

Kelly
New Braunfels, TX

Heat cycles in dogs and cats are controlled by hormones. I won’t bore you with the details (trust me–the details are, indeed, boring!), but I will say that irregularities in heat cycles usually are nothing to worry about.

Most female dogs experience their first heat between nine and 16 months of age. On average, female dogs experience two heat cycles each year. Dogs can become pregnant any time they go into heat. Unspayed female dogs will continue to experience heat cycles until they become elderly. At some point in their lives, most unspayed female dogs go through menopause.

A tremendous amount of variation is possible and normal in heat cycles. I have known dogs who cycled four times each year, and I have known others who went into heat only every two years. Based upon your description, I don’t think your dog’s cycles are anything to worry about.

You should talk to your vet before you breed your dog. You’ll want to make sure she is free of parasites and has received appropriate vaccines prior to becoming pregnant. A fully vaccinated mother passes some of her immunity to parvovirus and other diseases on to the puppies.

Also, Yorkshire Terriers are prone to a number of hereditary problems including kneecap problems, liver anomolies, baby teeth that do not fall out, and small hernias at the site of their belly buttons. Your dog should be screened for the major genetic issues. If one is discovered, I would recommend against breeding her.

Photo: I believe that Minnie is spayed. She undoubtedly is cute.