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How Often Do Dogs Go Into Heat? Vet-Verified Facts & FAQ

Written by: Krystal Facey

Last Updated on June 12, 2024 by Dogster Team

Male and Female Dog

How Often Do Dogs Go Into Heat? Vet-Verified Facts & FAQ


Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo


Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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When dogs are physically ready to reproduce with a mate, they usually begin to show different signs and behaviors that make it easily known to other dogs and owners alike. This is a period that dogs who are not spayed will go through in cycles until they are impregnated. These cycles in a female dog’s life can be referred to as heat cycles or reaching sexual maturity. Most dogs on average will go into heat two times in twelve months.

Continue reading to get an overview of this cycle and how often it occurs.

When Do Dogs Go in Heat?

It is common for dogs to start their first cycle of being in heat when they are young, generally around 6 months of age. This can vary depending on the breed and their average size, as larger dogs can take longer to reach this maturity in comparison to smaller breeds.

Breed and size differences in dogs also come into play in terms of how often dogs will be in heat. On average, most dog breeds will go into heat two times within twelve months. This can be lower in larger dogs and more often in smaller dogs.

Dog smells a dog in heat
Image Credit: sanjagrujic, Shutterstock

What Are the Signs of a Dog in Heat?

As mentioned, there are different physical and behavioral signs that dogs will show when they are going through this period of their lives.

  • One of the first physical signs to note when a dog goes into heat is the swelling or engorgement of the vulva. This might not be very obvious in some dogs.
  • Another more obvious sign will be blood or discharge from the vulva. Again, this varies depending on the dog and can take longer to appear depending on breed, size, and age.
  • You will notice your dog urinating more often than normal. This is actually how female dogs alert other dogs that they are reproductively ready in their cycle. They may also be seen marking different areas of the home by peeing on them.
  • You may also notice some behavioral changes, such as your dog licking their genitals more often than normal.
  • Additionally, they may begin to act much more friendly, humping items around the house like pillows or stuffed toys, and in some cases, they may tend to act more inward.

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How Long Are Dogs in Heat?

The estrus stage is the name for a female dog’s heat. This stage will vary slightly depending on the dog, but in general, it will be a period of one and a half to two weeks of signs. The most fertile period for a female dog is referred to as ovulation, like humans. It falls at the middle point in their estrous cycle, but they can still get pregnant at any time during this period.

Dog Heat Cycle
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Caring for Your Dog in Heat

There are things you can do to help your dog through the process by supporting a more positive environment both physically and socially. This can include things like giving them a lot of attention and keeping them happy with their favorite toys and, in some cases, plenty of treats.

Keep them away from male dogs who are not fixed to avoid unwanted pregnancies. You can also keep the home free of any carpeting or bedding that they may bleed on. An easy way to combat this is to put something around their backend, like a dog diaper.


If you notice some of these physical and behavioral changes in your female dog, they may have started their estrous cycle.  There are simple things you can do to keep your dog comfortable and happy during this time.

It is a good idea to make sure they do not have access to unneutered males to prevent unwanted pregnancies. You will want to check in with your vet to decide on the right time for them to get spayed. This procedure is usually done when dogs are relatively young, to prevent unplanned puppy litters. A spay surgery will also stop any signs of being “in heat” from then on.

Featured Image Credit: JACLOU-DL , Pixabay

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