Dog 101: How Long Are Dogs In Heat For?

Roberto Manzotti

Wondering how long your Golden Retriever will stay in heat?

A female dog she starts her heat cycles when she reaches about six months of age, and they continue throughout her life. So, your dog will be in estrus once about every six months which is when she will be receptive to mating.

A lot of hormonal changes take place during this time.

These changes cause pronounced differences in your dog’s behavior which can indicate to you that she’s, in fact, in heat. These include frequent urination, a swollen vulva, bleeding, increased nervousness, and alertness.

In this blog post, I will answer the question, “How long are dogs in heat?” in as much detail as I possibly can.

So, let’s jump right in, shall we?

Let’s start.



A Golden Retriever Owner’s Guide to the Estrus Cycle

In this section of the blog, we will go through some of the frequently asked questions about the Estrus cycle and explain them to you in detail to help you understand the dog’s heat cycles better.

Here we go.

When Will My Golden Retriever’s Heat Cycles Start?

Your Golden Retriever can go into heat when she is as young as six months old. For dogs that are of a smaller breed---the average, however, is the age of six months. But, on the other hand, giant breed dogs go into heat as late as 18-24 months.

One crucial thing that you should keep in mind is that you must not breed your dog in the first cycle because she is still growing and is---for all intents and purposes-- even a puppy herself.

You should wait for the second or the third cycle to breed your Golden Retriever. The vet will assist you in determining the right age.


How Long Are Golden Retrievers in Heat For?

Golden Retrievers are in heat for usually between 2-4 weeks.

During the early phase of the Estrus cycle, your dog may not be receptive to male dogs. However, there are some that are receptive regardless of the phase.

The cycle can be shorter or longer depending on the individual Goldy.

The only effective way to know is when the vulva returns to its normal size and there’s no discharge or bleeding.

It is important to note that there is a small window when your dog is most fertile during the heat cycle.

But, she can still get pregnant until the end of the cycle.

golden retriever heat

Is the Estrus Cycle a Lifetime Thing?

Once the estrus begins, it takes a while for the cycles to become regular.

For some dogs, it can take up to eighteen months until their cycle gets regular. Keeping a record of the cycle during the early days is a good idea. Once the cycle becomes regular, your dog will get into heat once every six months on an average.

Your Golden Retriever will get estrus throughout her life.

However, the time between two heat cycles increases as she ages. It is best to get your dog spayed to avoid unwanted litters. Spaying can also help reduce the risk of mammary cancer and other conditions as well.

Contact your vet for more information.


Are there tests that determine when to mate your Golden Retriever?

If you plan on getting your Golden Retriever mated, there are two simple tests available that help determines the right age to do so.

These include:

  1. Vaginal smear test
    The test refers to a simple microscopic examination of the cells of your dog’s vagina. The test detects changes in the numbers and cell appearance and has been used for years because it is reliable.

    Most of the vaginal smear tests are performed serially over the course of several days to look for changes in the cells that help predict ovulation as well as the best time to breed the dog.

  2. Serum progesterone test
    The serum progesterone test measures the level of progesterone in the dog’s blood. The test is sensitive and is a popular one due to its accuracy. With some pets, several tests are required to predict ovulation.

Both of these tests can be easily performed and are readily available in the veterinary practice.

The serum progesterone test is the one that gives a good indication of the time frame for when the mating is most likely to be successful. This test is useful for females dogs with a history of unsuccessful mating.


What can you do to ensure mating is successful?

While mating, it is the male dogs that are more sensitive to stress as compared to females.

So, for a mating session to be successful, the male dog should be in a familiar and comfortable environment which is why the female dogs are taken to the male dog’s home for breeding.

Another extremely critical factor is the time of mating.

Experts recommend that you should get your female Golden Retriever tested to determine the optimal days for breeding. Usually, the best time for breeding for females is between the 10th and 14th day of oestrus.

But, testing is important because some females ovulate on the third or fourth day while others ovulate at the eighteenth day!


Final Words: How Long Are Dogs in Heat?

When female dogs are about six months in age, they start with their first heat cycle which is also known as estrus which starts happening once every six months or so. This usually depends on a lot of other factors as well.

On an average, a female dog is in heat for 2-4 weeks.

During the early phase of the cycle, the female dog may not be receptive to male dogs. However, there are some that are receptive regardless of the phase. The cycle can be shorter or longer.

The only effective way to know is when the vulva returns to its normal size, and there’s no discharge or bleeding.

Still, do you have any questions? If so, let me know in the comments section, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

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