German Shepherd Heat Cycle – All that you need to know

German Shepherd Heat Cycle

German Shepherd heat cycle may be a foreign phrase for many; it, though, is an integral part of a dog’s life. It is as simple and as relatable as the ‘Menstrual Period” in female humans.

Yes, female dogs also go through their menstrual period, commonly known as their Heat Cycle. Not all dog owners are familiar with the heat cycle. Even dog-owning individuals may have a bleeding canine; however, they passed unknown to the cause.

However, on the other hand, GSD or other dogs in their heat cycle requires care, warmth, and love. They are then going through a lot of body discomfort, pain, and hormonal changes. Once you know what they have been experiencing, you can ensure their comfort and care.

In this detailed article, we will discuss the heat cycles of German Shepherd dogs. What are the different stages of their heat cycle and how you can take proper care of them? How long does a GSD go into heat and how to prepare for that. Let’s start with the guide for the German Shepherd heat cycle. It complies with all the insights and details every dog parent should know about.

Article Published on 19th December 2021 » Updated on 13th January 2022

aditi chef editorWritten By Sergey Uhanov Certified Veterinarian.
Sergey Uhanov is a certified veterinarian for dogs over 10 years, breeding 3 dogs. He loves dogs and has his own pet clinic in Israel. He likes to help other people with their dogs by sharing his experience and knowledge.

What does ‘German Shepherd Heat’ mean?

Heat in a German Shepherd simply means that your dog is now fertile and ready to breed. Of course, like the human menstrual period, dog heat only appears in female dogs.

However, unlike humans, dogs do not go through their heat cycle every month. Instead, for most dogs, the process happens twice a year.

While large breeds like German Shepherds may experience heat once or twice a year, the small breed can experience it even thrice.

When does a female German Shepherd experience her first heat?

Commonly a female German Shepherd or other large breeds experience their first heat cycle between 9 to 12 months.

However, it isn’t unusual if some experience it at 6th month or maybe later after 12 months.

Stages of German Shepherd heat cycle

The heat cycle or Menstrual period in dogs is not all about Bleeding. Their body goes through a lot of chances and transformation, which breaks down into four stages. Here’s a quick glimpse through them:

Proestrus stage

Proestrus is the first stage of the heat cycle which can last for a week or from 4 to 20 days.

  • The first sign of this stage is frequent urination.
  • During this stage, the dog will bleed, and you may find some traces in your couch, mattress, or so. However, because most dogs lick and clean themselves, keeping an eye is crucial.
  • Your dog may not always lick because they have bled, but if you observe a swollen Vulva, her heat cycle has begun. Signs are, her Vulva and teats will swell, becoming larger than usual, and her lower abdomen may darken.
  • She will now tuck in her tail, trying to cover her Vulva. It happens because the female GSD does not want any male dog coming physically close/ attracted to her. And like women, dogs too become more quiet, clingy, and nervous just at the beginning of their period.

Estrus stage

Estrus is the second stage which is also the primary stage of the heat cycle. While the other three are additional, this is the main. It may last from 4 to 15 days, and during the phase, your dog is ready to mate.

  • The most common sign includes a change in the color of the discharge. Instead of the red blood discharge, your dog will release clear or transparent jelly-like liquid.
  • Their tail now may turn a little upright, no longer shielding her Vulva.
  • On alone days, the dog may behave sluggishly; however, she will go excited with any male dog around.
  • During this stage, your female GSD will go through her most fertile phase. If you want to avoid any accidental pregnancy, keep her distance from other male dogs. However, if you are looking for breeding, this is definitely the right time to make that happen.

Diestrus stage

Diestrus is more likely a returning stage to the Proestrus. It lasts from up to 60 to 90 days with similar symptoms as the Proestrus stage.

Your female GSD will still carry the scent of the heat; however, her fertile window is now over.

Anestrus stage

Anestrus is the last stage of a dog’s heat cycle. It lasts up to 60 to 90 days or until she enters the Proestrus stage once again.

This is probably the best time to neuter the dog.

TIP: The day your female GSD show signs for the Proestrus stage make sure you note the date and keep a check further. It will help you figure out the best time to figure out when you can get them neutered.

How long do German Shepherds go into heat?

There are several speculations on how long are German shepherds in heat? Here is the right explanation for the same: The main stage of the heat cycle, the Estrus stage, may last from 4 to 15 days. It is when the dog is her most fertile and one must keep a close look upon.

If you aren’t up for her breeding yet, keep her from mingling with the male dogs. Female dogs during their heat cycle, specifically the Estrus stage, generate that natural instinct of mating.

Unless you have not kept them away from male dogs for every minute, chances are they may reproduce.

How To Care for a German Shepherd In Heat?

Heat Cycle for German Shepherds or any other dogs is as stressful as for women. Females definitely have an understanding of how easy or worse it can go.

However, if being a male, you do not have any idea of ‘how to care, here are a few tips you can follow:

  • If your dog wants, allow her to take more rest. Especially during the Proestrus and Estrus stages, you can ease down her exercise routine and let her stay rested.
  • During the Estrus stage, your female GSDs will likely bleed for up to 3 weeks. Though they will keep themselves clean, but will likely mess the couch. Thus, consider making them wear dog pants and diapers.

Note: Do not keep your dog in pants or diapers for the whole day. Give them time to lick their genitals and clean themselves.

  • Dogs lose their appetite during the Heat cycle (Estrus). However, because they are losing most of their energy, make sure you are feeding them enough. If they refuse one food item, try offering them the other, ensuring their nutritional needs.
  • During walks, always keep them on lease. While on heat, female GSDs will likely roam around to search male dogs. If not found, they can even get aggressive. Thus, no matter how obedient your dog is, while on heat, keep her on the lease (during walks).
  • Give her some extra love. Heat cycle in dogs means hormonal changes which directly affect both physical and emotional health. From pain to discomfort and mood swings, your dog will likely go through a lot. Thus, make sure you give them enough alone time to relax yet shower them with love. Keep the surroundings calm, probably free of noises. If required, you can comfort your dog with a heating pad as well.

Dogs & Menopause – What’s the truth?

Dogs do not experience Menopause. No matter how old they get, they will continue experiencing heat cycles. However, the phase will last fewer days than earlier, and their fertility will decrease.

In case your dog is not neutered and still has missed her heat cycle, it may be a sign of illness. Once you notice the same, take her to the Vet immediately.

Wrapping up

Moving towards the end, we hope you now have a clear idea about the “German Shepherd Heat Cycle.” Dealing with a dog’s heat cycle is not stressful, however, it is a task that requires more carefulness.

Because nature has made her go through the entire process, at first, let her deal with it naturally. However, if you sense any kind of discomfort, make sure you are always there to comfort your dog.


Sergey Uhanov, a certified veterinarian, has authored all of the content here. With over 20 years of experience in dog care and breeding three dogs of his own, he has a deep passion for these furry friends. Sergey owns a pet clinic in Israel where he provides care and treatment to dogs. He enjoys sharing his expertise and knowledge to assist others in caring for their dogs.

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