Zyklus und Läufigkeit bei der Hündin [Teil 1]

Cycle and heat in the bitch [Part 1]

The cycle of the bitch is an exciting topic that helps us to better understand our dog's behavior. Changes in behavior are normal during a cycle and are influenced by the change in hormones. With the help of the series on the cycle of the dog, you will get to know the cycle and its phases, as well as the typical changes in behavior. We explain the differences from pseudopregnancy and false motherhood, the Changes that a bitch goes through over time and which ones aids help during heat and false pregnancy. In the further course, tips for your Household with a bitch in heat and handling male dogs. 

cycle of the bitch

an intact one Bitches usually come into heat for the first time between 6 months and 24 months. The point in time is mainly dependent on size and breed:

  • Small dog breeds come into heat earlier, i.e. from the 6th month of life.
  • Medium-sized breeds come into heat between 8 and 13 months of age.
  • In very large breeds, heat begins later.

Already a bitch can become pregnant with the first heat. Although the cycle only levels off with the second or third heat, this does not change anything in terms of fertility. Special forms like that "silent heat" and the "Split-Austria" can also occur. Bitches usually come into heat in spring and autumn. Especially the first two heats bring a lot of uncertainty in bitches. They behave atypically and very differently. We therefore recommend that you take care of your bitch, especially during the first two heats. You will notice that your bitch's third heat is already going more solidly. In the further heats, there are also behavioral problems due to the hormonal structures and changes, which are completely normal to a certain extent: 

  • Reduced general condition
  • loss of appetite
  • Increased Marking
  • Intense sniffing
  • restlessness
  • Worse basic obedience
  • Increased need for rest
  • More need for contact with people
  • Aggressive behavior may increase
  • But more about that in the blog post about the changes in behavior during the false pregnancy. 

    The cycle is the cycle that a bitch goes through from one heat to the next. The cycle of an intact bitch lasts usually 7 months, with individual cycles between 4 months and even 12 months also occurring. The female cycle is divided into 4 (or 5) phases: 

      1. Proestrus
      2. Oestrus
      3. Diestrus
      4. Anestrus
      5. (pre-proestrous)
      Caution: Some bitches have a somewhat atypical first heat, as their cycle has to settle down first. Changes in behavior, heavier bleeding or even barely visible signs of heat can occur.

      Proestrus - preparation for pregnancy


      The proestrus and the estrus are colloquially referred to as the "heat" or the "heat" of the bitch.

      Proestrus is also called pre-oestrus and lasts about 9 days. During this time, the bitch's egg cells mature in the ovaries and the bitch's uterus prepares for a possible pregnancy. Externally, you can easily recognize the proestrus, because the outer vagina (vulva) of the bitch swells a lot and is reddish. This is particularly noticeable in bitches with a short coat. There is also a bloody discharge from the vagina. In the case of particularly clean bitches, the discharge is hardly noticeable. It also often goes undetected in bitches with long fur on the hind area. Bitches that do not clean themselves regularly can be supported with positively trained heat panties.

      Danger! Please practice beforehand, because panties in heat, like all aids (muzzle, harness, collar, etc.), must be positively linked.  



      • Bitch's body is preparing for pregnancy
      • Duration approx. 9 days (approx. 3-20 days possible)


      • Vulva swells
      • Bloody vaginal discharge
      • Increased Marking
      • Intense odor


      • Males show increased interest (also neutered males)
      • The bitch sometimes fends off the males violently
      • Intense sniffing
      • Basic obedience may temporarily decrease
      • Normal or increased activity
      • Increased Marking
      • Licking the vagina and/or vulva

      Tip: Since bitches and their cycles are very individual, one should not rely on the bitch's defensive behavior to prevent pregnancy. 

      Oestrus – Mating readiness and ovulation

      Post-oestrus is followed by estrus, which lasts about 7 to 9 days. In this phase, the bitch ovulates. This means that the bitch can become pregnant during mating at this stage. The exact determination of the frustrating days is determined with the help of a veterinarian based on the LH peak. The discharge is now lighter and significantly less. In some bitches it is then hardly recognizable. The vulva is now also slowly swelling down. With the estrus, the bitch shows willingness to cover, which is why this phase is often called "standing heat". 

      • Bitch is ready to mate and can become pregnant
      • Duration approx. 8-10 days (approx. 3-14 days possible)
      • Vulva swells slightly
      • Vaginal discharge subsides and is less bloody
      • Own odor decreases
      • Bitch shows willingness by "offering" by spreading hind legs and raising tail
      • activity decreases
      • Heavy panting is possible
      • Licking the vagina and/or vulva

      Diestrus - Pregnancy or pseudopregnancy

       After heat, the phase of diestrus (post-oestrus) begins, which lasts 2-3 months. Diestrus takes place regardless of whether the bitch is pregnant or not. This means that even in a non-pregnant bitch, the hormone progesterone is produced, which is intended for implantation of the fertilized egg cells and maintenance of the pregnancy. It comes to "false pregnancy“. The bitch's body breaks down progesterone after 9-12 weeks. When progesterone drops, production of the hormone prolactin increases. The release of prolactin in some bitches leads to a pronounced "bogus motherhood“. 

      You can find out more about false pregnancy and false motherhood here

      Every bitch becomes pseudopregnant. The course and the intensity of the course is different. Especially the fake motherhood makes most bitches to create. 

      In the case of a false pregnancy, the bitch goes through a hormonal "pseudo-pregnancy" even though she is not pregnant. The false pregnancy lasts just as long as a pregnancy, i.e. approx. 63 days. The corpus luteum hormone is responsible for this because the corpus luteums continue to release progesterone even after ovulation. In the case of sham motherhood, the hormone prolactin causes changes in the bitch. It takes place approx. 2 months after estrus (standing heat). Prolactin is also known colloquially as the “parent hormone” and lasts for 2-4 weeks.


      • Pregnancy, false pregnancy, false motherhood
      • Duration approx. 2-3 months


      • Possibly pregnancy
      • Swollen nipples
      • Possible leakage of milk from teats
      • girth increase


      • Sluggish behavior
      • Apathy or depressed mood
      • Nest building
      • Attachment and search for positive social contacts
      • Protecting toys (especially stuffed animals) as puppy substitutes
      • Increased need to eat or loss of appetite


      Anestrus - resting phase

      After the bitch has gone through many hormonal changes, the hormonal balance stabilizes and with the anestrus the rest phase in the cycle begins and the normal state levels off. The bitch is now back to normal and the hormones progesterone and estrogen remain constant (or show only minimal changes).  


      • rest and regeneration of the body
      • Duration approx. 4-6 months


      • No


      • Typical behavior of the bitch

      Pre-proestrus - preparation for heat

      The preparation for the menstrual cycle is clearly noticeable in some bitches. 


      • Preparation for heat
      • Duration only 1-3 days


      • The vulva is supplied with more blood and is redder
      • Slight swelling of the vulva begins


      • Constant urination
      • restlessness
      • Indicates she wants out 


      Special forms: Silent heat or heat & split estrus 

      The silent heat or quietly heat sometimes too white heat, becomes one unnoticed heat called the bitch. Typical symptoms are very weak or hardly noticeable. The vulva neither swells nor does the typical bleeding occur. Nevertheless, the bitch is considered hormonally ready to mate and if necessary shows typical behavior according to its cycle. A silent heat occurs more often during the first heat and then goes unnoticed. Male dogs usually notice the hormonal change anyway and show a keen interest in the bitch. In adult bitches, the silent heat can take place if heat should actually take place, but does not appear to be. Especially then you should pay close attention to your dog's behavior. If you want to be sure, silent heat can be diagnosed via vaginal swabs and blood tests. 

      (Younger) bitches can also have one Split-Austria experience. The heat of the bitch begins, will then be for a period of time paused and starts again. In the meantime, male dogs are vehemently rejected, only to show behavior when offered again a few days later. 

      With both special forms, there is no need to worry at first. Monitor your dog closely and respond to any behavioral changes and needs as appropriate. With good observation you will recognize both forms of heat well. Pay particular attention to pushy male dogs with these two special forms. 

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