How Long Does a Dog Stay in Heat? A Comprehensive Guide

how long does a dog stay in heat

As responsible pet owners, it’s important to have a solid understanding of the breeding cycles of our canine companions.

Just like human women have periods, a bitch’s reproductive cycle is marked by the heat cycle, also known as estrus, not too different than a period. It can start before her first birthday or up to two years and marks sexual maturity in the dog.

 During this period, the female dog becomes sexually receptive, and male dogs display increased interest.

In this article, we will explore the duration and stages of a heat cycle, along with providing tips on managing and caring for your dog during this time.

How Long Does a Dog Stay in Heat?

When a dog go into heat or dog is in heat, the duration for bleeding can vary depending on several factors, including the breed, size, and individual differences. 

How long does a dog bleed can vary. Small dogs bleed less while most dogs of the larger dogs categories bleed longer.

Note that larger dogs have fewer estrus cycles compared to the small breed dogs.

On average, a female dog stays in period for approximately two to three weeks. However, this can range from nine days up to four weeks in some cases.

 It is important to note that bleeding is not consistent throughout the entire cycle. The dogs go into heat and bleeding typically lasts for about one to two weeks, but the entire heat cycle can last longer.

Understanding the Heat Cycle: What Are The 4 Stages of a Dog in Heat?

A female dog’s reproductive cycle consists of four stages: proestrus, estrus, diestrus, and anestrus. Each stage brings different physical and behavioral changes.


This is the initial stage or the heat start, lasting around nine days on average. During this phase, the female dog breed estrogen levels rise, and she may show swollen vulva.  Most pet owners get alarmed by this estrus stage but it is normal and part of a healthy cycle.

Additionally, a bloody discharge, known as estrus stage, is often observed during this time same way. Female dogs are not receptive to male dogs during proestrus.

Estrus cycle

The stage called estrus refers to the period when the female dog is sexually receptive. The estrus cycle typically lasts for about five to thirteen days. 

The bloody discharge may change to a lighter, blood-tinged discharge. The female’s behavior may also change, becoming more flirtatious and attracting the attention of other dogs. Please note that dogs react differently during the cycle and nothing is definitive.

According to the experts at VCA Hospitals, small breeds have estrous cycle up to thrice a year while giant breeds like Tibetan Mastiffs may have estrous cycle only once a year. Some dogs may take up to eighteen months for their cycles to become regular.


Diestrus follows estrous cycle and is the stage where the female dog is no longer receptive to males. It usually lasts for about two months.

 During this period, the female dog’s hormones start to normalize, and if fertilization occurred, pregnancy may be established.


 Anestrus is the period of sexual inactivity between cycles. It’s the longest stage, lasting for several months, and is characterized by hormonal quiescence.

During this stage, the female dog’s reproductive system rests and prepares for the next period.

How Do You Known When Dog Heat is Over? Signs That Indicate the End of a Dog’s Heat

Determining when a dog’s period is over can be crucial for managing their behavior and preventing unwanted pregnancies. Here are some signs that indicate the end of a dog’s heat cycle:

The Bleeding Stops

The bloody vaginal discharge will gradually decrease and eventually stop towards the end of the cycle. Her vulva will be normal size.

This is a clear indicator that the period is coming to an end. Smaller breeds tend to bleed less while some large ones could bleed for weeks on and off.

Changes in Behavior

 Female dogs may become less receptive to male attention as their period concludes. They may display less interest in mating and may become less flirtatious.

More Energy Levels

Many dogs become lethargic during their period. After the period is over, their energy levels rise as they proceed through the different stages.

Managing a Dog in Heat

When a female dog is in estrus phase, it’s important to take certain precautions to ensure their safety and prevent unwanted litters. Here are some tips for managing a female dog in heat:

Keep your female dog indoors

 To prevent access to male dogs, it’s essential to keep your female dog indoors or in a securely fenced yard during her heat.

Male dogs can sense a female in heat from a considerable distance and may try to mate, potentially leading to unplanned pregnancies. Note that the female dog stay in heat for weeks so follow precautions throughout.

Consider dog diapers

 Dog diapers or doggie diapers can be useful in managing the bloody discharge, blood tinted discharge, or vaginal discharge during a dog’s heat.

These diapers can help keep your home clean and prevent any unwanted messes due to her vaginal discharge throughout the duration for which the dog is in heat.

With smaller dogs, most discharge is licked off and barely noticeable.

Also Read: How to Clean Dog Bed?

Caring for Male Dogs During a Female’s Cycle

Male dogs also require special attention during a female dog’s heat cycle. Here are some tips to help calm both genders when a dog is in heat and prevent unwanted mating attempts:

Provide a Safe Space

Create a comfortable and secure area for your dog, preferably away from the presence or scent of a female in heat. This can help reduce anxiety and prevent frustration.

Supervise Outdoor Activities

When taking your dog outside, always keep them on a leash and under close supervision. This will ensure that they don’t come into contact with any female dogs in heat.

Distract and Redirect His Attention

 Engage your male dog in interactive play or training sessions to redirect their focus away from females in heat. Mental and physical stimulation can help alleviate their heightened instincts.

Preventing Unwanted Mating

If you’re concerned about preventing unwanted mating attempts, there are several measures you can take:

Neuter your Male Pet

 Neutering your male and female dogs can significantly reduce their urge to mate. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate time for neutering your dog. Note that the risk of mammary cancer will also be lower after spaying.

Keep Male and Female Dogs Separated

 During a female dog’s estrous cycles, it’s crucial to keep male and female dogs separated to prevent any unwanted pregnancy. Ensure that fences and barriers are secure to prevent any accidental mating during the heat period.

The Male Dog’s Heat Cycle

Contrary to popular belief, male dogs do not have a heat cycle like females. Instead, they experience increased interest and sexual behavior when they encounter a female in heat. Their behavior may vary depending on individual temperament and hormonal influences.

Obvious signs of sexual maturity occur between six and nine months. When the puppies reach puberty they could show aggression. They may even masturbate or hump objects. If a female were to go into heat and reach puberty near the male, he will wait if she’s receptive and try to breed with her.

Spaying or neutering is the best way to prevent pregnancy and avoid the several stages of dog period.


How long is a dog in heat bleed?

On average, a dog in heat will bleed for approximately one to two weeks. However, the duration can vary from dog to dog.

How long does a puppy’s first heat cycle last?

A puppy’s first heat, also known as the onset of puberty, typically lasts for about one to three weeks. However, the duration can vary among individual dogs.

How long are dogs bleeding in heat?

Dogs in heat could bleed for about 7 to 10 days but this can vary based on the dog’s age, overall health, etc.

How do you keep a female dog out of heat?

To keep a female dog out of heat, spaying (ovariohysterectomy) is the most effective method. It is a surgical procedure that removes the ovaries and uterus, preventing future heat cycles.

How do you calm a male dog in heat?

To calm a male pet during a female dog’s heat cycle, create a calm and secure environment for him away from the presence or scent of the female in heat.

Engaging him in mentally and physically stimulating activities can also help redirect his attention and reduce anxiety.

How do I stop my male dog from trying to mate?

To stop your male pet from attempting to mate, it is recommended to keep it away from female dogs in heat.

Ensure that the dog is in a securely fenced area or on a leash when outside to prevent any encounters.

Neutering your male pet can also help reduce his sexual behaviors and instincts. Please consult with a veterinarian for guidance on timing and the procedure is advisable.

What are the 4 stages of a male dog in heat?

Male dogs do not go through a heat cycle like females.

However, they exhibit increased interest and sexual behavior when they encounter a female in heat. Therefore, there are no specific stages of a male pet in heat.

Key Takeaways – How Long Does a Dog Stay in Heat?

Understanding a dog’s heat is crucial for responsible pet ownership. Female dogs go through four stages during their heat: proestrus, estrus, diestrus, and anestrus. 

The duration for dog stay in heat varies, but on average, a female dog stays in heat for about two to three weeks. 

Monitoring the signs of the end of the cycle, such as the cessation of bleeding, is important for managing a dog’s behavior and preventing unwanted pregnancies. 

By following the tips provided in this article, pet owners can ensure the well-being and safety of their furry companions during this natural and normal reproductive process.

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