German Shepherd Heat Cycle Guide

Learn about the stages of the German Shepherd heat cycle. I’ll walk you through all 4 stages and what to expect.

Estrus, like eating, drinking, feeding, walking, running, sleeping, and waking, is a normal bodily response. Many people become concerned when they encounter the event of estrus, also known as the German Shepherd heat cycle.

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For owners who are experiencing this event for the first time, it can be particularly confusing. Understanding the normal occurrence of the heat cycle is necessary if you are not sterilizing your female German Shepherd.

German Shepherd heat cycle

German Shepherd Heat Cycle

The heat cycle, also known as Estrus, is a four-stage cycle comprising of proestrus, estrus, diestrus, and anestrus that occurs in a female German Shepherd when she reaches puberty and begins her first menstrual period.

This typically occurs at the age of four months in most German Shepherds but can vary based on factors such as nutrition, age, and environment. Various changes, including behavioral, clinical, hormonal, physiological, and cytological, can be observed during this time.

How long are German Shepherds in heat?

It is important for owners to be aware of when their female German Shepherds will mature and reach puberty, as well as the duration of the heat cycle, signs of puberty in a female dog, the number of estrus cycles in a year, and any normal or abnormal parameters observed during the heat cycle.

Here are explanations of the events and answers to the above questions described one by one.

When do German Shepherds get their period?

The normal age at which a physiologically normal female German Shepherd begins her menstrual period is between 6 to 10 months of age. This age is referred to as the age of puberty.

The first bleeding during the proestrus stage of the heat cycle is considered to be the onset of puberty. At this stage, a female German Shepherd is capable of reproducing and giving birth to offspring.

The age or time of puberty can vary between 4 months to 2 years. A bitch that is older than 24 months and has not shown any signs of heat is considered abnormal.

How often do German Shepherds go in heat?

Female German Shepherds are considered nonseasonal and monoestrous, meaning they do not experience heat continuously or seasonally. The heat cycle lasts for 6 to 7 months and can vary depending on factors such as age, environment, and nutrition. As a result, a female German Shepherd typically goes through heat twice a year.

This is only possible if the female German Shepherd is provided with proper nutrition, a healthy environment, and proper management. If the female experiences stress, the estrus cycle may be disrupted, resulting in variations from the normal average values.

To ensure normal estrus cycles, provide a proper environment with normal healthy temperature, humidity, and well-balanced, nutritious feed. Consult your nearest veterinarian or dietitian for the formulation of a diet plan.

German Shepherd in heat signs

The German Shepherd will exhibit different signs when it is in heat. The following are signs of heat, which are divided as follows:

Sr. No.Method of definingEstrus signs
01BehavioralA female dog in heat may exhibit a desire to mate with a male dog, spotting, scooting, being overly friendly, turning her tail to the side, licking her genitalia, mounting other males and females, restlessness, changes in posture, aggression, irritability, changes in feeding habits, anxiety, depression, laziness, hyperactivity, and withdrawal.
02ClinicalDuring heat, the vulva becomes swollen and soft. A straw-colored discharge (which may contain blood, mucus, tissue debris, or lochia) can be seen from the vulva, and the vulva itself becomes enlarged.
03HormonalDuring heat, levels of GnRH (gonadotropin-releasing hormone) increase, as do levels of FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone). Additionally, levels of P4 (progesterone) increase, and levels of E2 (estrogen) decrease.
04PhysiologicFolliculization and luteinization occur.
05Cytologic90% cornified cells. Less red blood cells and few to no white blood cells.

How long do dogs bleed for when in heat?

No, not all female German Shepherds bleed continuously while they are in heat. The bleeding starts at the beginning of the cycle during proestrus and continues throughout the entire proestrus stage.

It typically ends near the time of mating. After mating, there is no discharge of blood seen in females. This stage only lasts for 7 to 10 days.

The bleeding can vary in amount depending on the size of the dog, with larger dogs bleeding more and smaller dogs bleeding less. Not all females will bleed equally, some may bleed heavily while others may not.

It is not a cause for alarm or panic. It is a normal physiological response of a female dog during her estrus cycle and does not cause any pain for the dog. However, if you observe that your female German Shepherd is showing obvious signs of pain, take her to the nearest veterinary clinic.

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What are the 4 stages of a dog in heat?

There are four stages of heat. These stages of heat are medically termed the estrus cycle. They are as follows:

  1. Proestrus
  2. Estrus
  3. Diestrus
  4. Anestrus

1. Proestrus

Proestrus is a stage during which a female dog exhibits changes in behavior and physical appearance. Characteristics of this stage include the presence of serosanguineous (containing both serum and blood) discharge from the vulva and swelling.

The discharge should not have a strong odor or contain blood. This stage typically lasts for 9 days on average but can range from 0-17 days.

2. Estrus

Estrus, also known as the standing heat stage, lasts between 3-21 days on average, lasting 9 days. During this stage, a female German Shepherd will allow a male to breed and mount her.

The discharge from her vulva shifts from serosanguinous to a straw color, and the vulva itself becomes softer. Female German Shepherds may also mount each other during this stage.

3. Diestrus

Diestrus is the stage that follows estrus if a female German Shepherd is bred. The discharge from the vulva initially turns milky and then stops. This stage can last up to 60 days.

The attraction of male dogs toward the female German Shepherd also ends during this stage. The female may also become a little lethargic during this time.

4. Anestrous

Anestrus is the stage of reproductive dormancy. As the name implies, “an” means “no” and “estrus” means “heat”, it is a stage during which a female German Shepherd does not experience heat.

During this stage, hormonal changes occur in the female’s body as it prepares for the next cycle. This stage can last up to 4.5 months, and the next cycle usually begins in 7 months. The size of the vulva also decreases during this stage.

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