When do dogs stop having their menstrual cycle? Essential Tips

What exactly is a ‘season’ in dogs?

A season is what we call the time when a bitch is able to get pregnant (reproduce). An average season lasts approximately three weeks, during this time the vulva (outside part of the bitches vagina) becomes pink and swollen, there is often a bloody discharge for around 9 days, this is followed by ovulation (eggs being released from the ovaries). After this time, things start to settle back to normal.

Bitches usually have one to two seasons a year. During a season bitches give off pheromones, which attract entire male dogs from a long-distance away. Also at or near the time of ovulation the bitch may stand with her tail held up and to the side to allow herself to be mated. Some bitches can become aggressive during their season, others more clingy.

  • Anoestrous – not in season, around 6-8months
  • Proestrous – around 9 days, vulva swells, vaginal bleeding
  • Oestrous – around 9 days, usually stop bleeding allows mating
  • Dioestrous – around 2-3months, high levels of the hormone progesterone which can sometimes lead to false pregnancies
  • The above is just a simple example of an average season, there can be lots of variation in how a bitch behaves and shows its season and of the length of the individual parts of the season.

    When Do Dogs Go Into Heat?

    The term “time of the month” in relation to our canine companions is a misnomer. Female dogs do not cycle every month, but usually only once or twice a year. The average is about every seven months.

    Just as the duration of a human menstrual cycle varies from person to person, every dog is different, and there can be variations among breeds and even variations from one cycle to another in the same animal.

    A female dog’s reproductive cycle is called an estrous cycle and is broken down into three different phases:

  • Proestrus is the beginning of the heat cycle. It’s characterized by swelling of the vulva and a blood-tinged vaginal discharge. Female dogs will not allow mating to occur in this phase. This phase can last anywhere from a few days to four weeks. On average, it lasts 7-10 days.
  • Estrus is also known as “heat.” This is the time when the female dog will allow mating to occur. This phase of the cycle lasts anywhere from 3-21 days, with an average length of 9 days.
  • Anestrus is defined as the timeframe when cycling ceases. This phase usually lasts about four to five months.
  • When do seasons start and finish?

    Seasons usually start at around six months of age but can be as late as one year to eighteen months. It is often thought that small bitches usually start their seasons sooner than larger bitches of dog as they take longer to mature.

    As your bitch gets older it seems reasonable to assume that they will stop having seasons, in humans what we call the menopause. However in the case of bitches this does not happen; female dogs continue to have seasons for their entire lives and therefore could potentially get pregnant.

    Do dogs stop getting their period?