All dogs go through it. Heat is a natural cycle for female dogs that lets them know when it’s the best time to make some puppies.
While it’s instinctive for her, it isn’t the same for you. If you want to know when your golden retriever is going into heat, you’ll have to watch for the signs.
When do Golden retrievers go into heat? Golden retrievers usually go into heat the first time when they are 10-14 months old. They will fall into a cycle that repeats itself on a pretty reliable timeline for the rest of their life. Heats tend to be between 9 or 10 months apart.
Your Golden retriever will let you know when their heat is beginning and ending. Continue reading to learn more about the cycle your dog goes through and what symptoms come along with it.
When Do Golden Retrievers Go into Heat?
This can vary depending on how big your dog is, with smaller sized dogs going into heat earlier and larger dogs going into heat later. A golden retriever will typically have her first heat between 10 and 14 months old
If you have a younger golden retriever puppy around female dogs that are already in heat, she may begin her first heat earlier than normal.
It’s common to hear that female dogs go into heat every 6 months. This is more of a generalized average, as noted by the AKC times can vary widely, depending on breed and size
When it comes to Golden retrievers, you will see periods of at least 7 months between heat cycles, if not more. It’s not uncommon for a golden retriever to go 9 or 10 months from one heat to the next.
Eventually, your golden retriever will get into a steady cycle. It may take 2 or 3 heats before a real cycle begins to appear, but it will happen. Once your dog is on a cycle, she is unlikely to stray from it.
Keeping track of how long your golden retriever goes between heats and how long her heat lasts is a great way to prevent any accidents. You will be well prepared whenever the season arrives and be able to keep her clear of any eager suitors.
How Long Are Golden Retrievers in Heat?
Every dog is an individual, which means they will have a cycle to follow. But, generally speaking, you can always expect the length of heat to fall in the range of 2 to 4 weeks.
Golden retrievers are fertile for the entire length of their heat cycle, so it’s important to know when it begins and ends. You don’t want to mistakenly end up with puppies because she was allowed around males too early.
The best way to know if your golden retriever has completed her cycle is if there is no longer any discharge or bleeding. Her vulva will also return to normal size when her heat comes to a close.
Once you determine how long your Golden retriever tends to be in heat, it’s a great idea to keep track of it. Mark the date as soon as you notice the first signs of heat so that you’ll know when to expect the end of it.
Dogs do go into heat for their entire life. As she ages, the time between your Golden retriever’s heat cycles will start to increase, but they won’t disappear. You should keep your eye on your older dogs if they haven’t been spayed, as they are still fertile later in life.
Signs Your Golden Retriever is in Heat
As your golden retriever grows close to the age of her first heat, it’s a good idea to start watching out for the signs that it’s beginning.
The first time your dog is in the heat is not a good time for her to get pregnant, as she’s still young, so you need to keep her away from any unwanted attention during this time.
The following signs and symptoms can alert you that your dog is in heat.
1. There Are Bleeding and Discharge
You’ll probably notice bleeding first and foremost when your dog goes into heat. Every dog is different when it comes to the amount, color, and consistency of their discharge. There’s also no set time for how long their discharge will continue.
When bleeding and discharge stop, it’s usually a good sign that their heat is coming to an end. As your dog grows and you witness more of her heat cycles, you will become accustomed to how this sign shows itself.
2. Her Vulva Is Swollen
Usually, this is the first sign that your dog is going into heat. Her vulva will swell 3 to 4 times its normal size due to the change in her hormones. This change isn’t painful for your Golden retriever, and it’s not something you have to worry about.
3. She Starts Odd Mounting Behaviors
Don’t be surprised if your dog starts to mount dogs, objects, or your legs. She’ll probably do it a lot. It won’t matter if the other dog is male or female. It’s a natural reaction to the hormones she’s experiencing.
She will also be much more tolerant of other dogs mounting her. If this isn’t normal behavior for your golden retriever, don’t worry, it will end when her heat cycle is over.
4. She Is Licking Herself a Lot
This is your dog attempting to keep herself clean during her heat cycle. Most Golden retrievers are very good at keeping themselves clean, which limits how much you have to worry about cleaning up after them.
However, if your golden retriever is older (or just lazy), you may benefit from picking up some doggy diapers to keep from having to do a lot of extra laundry over those 3 weeks.
5. Her Behavior Changes
Dogs in heat tend to be clingier and more irritated than at other times. Your Golden retriever may show you a lot more affection than she usually does, wanting to be close to you and loved on. She also might seem more nervous around this time.
You could notice some changes in your dog’s appetite. She may be less interested in food during the first week or so of her heat. She could also start to pace and whine out of frustration with her situation.
Aggressive behavior isn’t uncommon, and it’s something to watch out for. If your Golden retriever starts to initiate fights with other female dogs, you should do your best to put a stop to it before it gets out of hand.
6. She Is Urinating More Often
While in heat, your dog wants every other dog to know about it. She is biologically programmed to try to attract males to her area. Urinating more frequently is a good way to do that. She is making her mark and letting others know it’s that time again.
Don’t get frustrated if your dog has more accidents or needs to be taken out more during her heat cycle. It’s completely natural and will pass when she is no longer in heat.
7. Male Dogs Are Coming Around More Often
Because your Golden retriever is in heat, she is giving off pheromones to attract other dogs. Male dogs can smell your dog at this time from a mile or more away and won’t hesitate to track her down.
Make sure you stay with your dog while she is outside during her heat. There is no barricade high enough to keep a determined male from making it into your yard if he knows your dog is in heat. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
The Stages of Your Golden Retriever’s Heat Cycle
A Golden retriever’s heat follows a cycle every time it happens. There are 4 stages to the canine heat cycle that your dog will go through. Knowing about these stages may help you know what to expect as they go through them.
The 4 Stages of the Heat Cycle:
Let’s take a closer look at what each of these stages entails.
Stage One: Proestrus
The Proestrus stage marks the beginning of a Golden retriever’s heat. While it can last anywhere from 4 to 20 days, the average is typically from 7 to 10 days.
During Proestrus, you’ll start to notice the first tell-tale signs that your dog is in heat. This is when the vulva starts to swell, bleeding begins, and her appetite and personality changes slightly.
Stage Two: Estrus
This is the main stage of a dog’s heat cycle. During estrus, her ovaries are releasing eggs, and she is ready to breed. This is when she is most likely to be in search of the company of male dogs, and when you should be the most vigilant.
Estrus can last anywhere from 5 to 14 days, depending on your dog. During this time, her discharge may lighten in color, and she will probably want to be outside more frequently. She’s the most fertile at this stage, so keep a close eye on her.
Stage Three: Diestrus
Diestrus is the time of the heat cycle when your dog is no longer fertile. It usually begins around 24 days after the beginning of her heat and will last from 60 to 90 days.
You should wait until her bleeding has stopped entirely before taking her back into public places and around other dogs. Until then, she will still have the scent of heat on her, which can lead to unwanted attention.
Stage Four: Anestrus
The longest stage of the heat cycle, Anestrus, is essentially the time when your dog isn’t in heat. It can last as little as 60 days or as long as 150 days. It will more than likely be longer for a Golden retriever due to their size.
Once the Anestrus stage is over, the heat cycle will start all over again. For a quick summary of this cycle, take a look at this video presented by Beech House Veterinary Centre in the UK.
What to Expect the First Time Your Golden Retriever Is in Heat
Your dog’s first heat will more than likely be like any other. The first thing you’ll notice is some bleeding and maybe some extra attention from any male dogs in the house. It shouldn’t be hard to determine if she is really in heat or not when the symptoms start to show.
Your Golden retriever’s first heat may be a little irregular. There are times when the first heat is more of a silent heat, with less prominent symptoms. This doesn’t make them any less fertile.
There is also a chance that your puppy may experience a broken heat the first time. She may stop bleeding and then start again a few weeks later. It’s not something to worry about. Her body is just getting used to going through puberty.
This article by breedingbusiness.com discusses several different types and irregularities of heat in dogs.
How to Take Care of a Dog in Heat
While she is in heat, your Golden retriever will need extra attention and care. She will likely want more of your time. It’s a good idea to spend the extra energy on her at this time to ensure she is happy and safe during this vulnerable time.
Ways to Care for Your Dog During Heat:
- Don’t let her outside alone
- Avoid taking her to public places
- Find a good balance of exercise and rest
- Get some doggy diapers
- Use a GPS tracker
- Talk to your vet
No matter how secure you believe your yard to be, don’t let your dog go outside alone while she is in heat.
Male dogs can easily dig under or jump over a fence when they feel the need. It’s also best to keep her on a leash during any walks, no matter how obedient she might normally be.
Going to the dog park or the pet store isn’t the best call when your golden retriever is in heat. The presence of other dogs, particularly males, will only lead to trouble. You should keep your dog at home through the 3 weeks that she is in the heat for her safety.
Every dog is different. Some get more active during their heat cycle, while others just want to lay around all day. In terms of rest and exercise, don’t push your dog one way or the other. Get to know what’s best for them and allow them to be comfortable.
Doggy diapers are a wonderful resource for any dog that isn’t very tidy while in heat. It limits the amount of discharge that gets on bedding and carpets. You can find disposable ones and reusable ones to save your sanity.
A GPS tracker may not seem necessary, but you never know when it may come in handy. Accidents happen, and a dog in heat is more determined than ever to break free of your home or yard. Having a GPS tracker can help you find your runaway quickly, so unwanted pregnancies are avoided.
Even though it’s nothing to be concerned about, it can still ease your mind to talk to your vet about things you can do for your golden retriever while she’s in heat. They may be able to provide more helpful advice that is specific to your dog to make the cycle easier on you both.
This is a helpful video about calming your dog when she’s in heat – this one’s about a smaller dog, but the advice about offering comfort is universal.
The Best Time to Spay a Golden Retriever
If you don’t plan to breed your golden retriever, having her spayed is the responsible thing to do to avoid an unwanted pregnancy. You won’t have to worry about watching for the signs of heat and keeping your dog caged up when it happens.
Though a lot of puppies are spayed well before their first heat, this isn’t recommended for golden retrievers. Research has shown that spaying a golden retriever before their first heat can lead to negative effects on their health.
This study conducted on Golden retrievers found that certain joint disorders and cancers were higher in dogs that were spayed compared to those that weren’t. Early neutering is especially responsible for increases in hip dysplasia and ligament tearing.
This is thought to be because when a dog is spayed or neutered, their ability to produce certain hormones essential for growth is removed. Spaying your golden retriever before their first heat, and thus before puberty, means they haven’t finished growing.
You should certainly still consider having your golden retriever spayed if you don’t feel comfortable with her going into heat twice every year. It is a big responsibility to keep her away from males during these times, which can interrupt your schedule significantly.
To learn more about some of the positive benefits of neutering, check out this article by Colorado State University.
Talk to your veterinarian about when you should consider spaying your dog and other options such as sterilization that avoids desexing her entirely. Do what’s best for your family and your dog.
Don’t Be Concerned About Your Dog’s Heat
The heat cycle is the most natural thing your dog can experience. While it may be a trying time for both you and your Golden retriever, it will always pass. It’s important to take good care of her during these stressful times. She’s just as annoyed as you are, we promise.
Remember these common signs that your Golden retriever is in the heat:
- Bleeding and Discharge
- Swollen Vulva
- Odd Mounting Behavior
- Licking Herself
- Behavioral Changes
- Excessive Urination
- Male Dogs Coming Around
Her heat will end just as quickly as it begins, and you won’t have to worry about it for a while. If you keep her intact, though, it’s essential to keep an eye on her. It’s the best for her health and her safety if you know how to handle it.