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How Long Do German Shepherds Stay in Heat? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQ

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By Nicole Cosgrove

long haired german shepherd dog

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

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The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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A German Shepherd female will enter the heat cycle, known as estrus, at around 6 to 12 months of age. Your pet is about to go through some serious changes in her body as her estrogen levels rise, and she will need to be kept comfortable and safe during the heat cycle, which lasts about 21–28 days.

Read on to learn more about the length of the German Shepherd heat cycle and how to take care of your dog.

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German Shepherd Heat Cycle

German Shepherd females usually have their first heat cycles starting anywhere from 6 months to 12 months of age. The heat cycle will last about 21–28 days, and there are roughly two heat cycles per year. There are three stages of heat: proestrus, estrus, and anestrus.

The Three Stages of Heat:
  • Proestrus is the first stage of the heat cycle and you will notice your pet’s vulva start to swell, she’ll urinate more often, and vaginal bleeding will appear. A bloody red discharge will appear at this time. Your German Shepherd will not be interested in mating during this phase, and it lasts approximately 7 to 10 days.
  • Estrus is the time during which your German Shepherd female will be interested in mating. It will last around 9 days but could last 3 to 21 days. Your female could become pregnant during this phase of the heat cycle. The bloody discharge turns a lighter red and may become straw-colored during this time. Females will flag by raising their tails or placing them on the side to expose their vagina, which means your dog is ready to breed.
  • Anestrus is the stage where the heat cycle ceases and it lasts about 4 to 5 months until the next heat cycle begins.

How Often Does a German Shepherd Go Into Heat?

Some German Shepherd females may go into heat every 6 months, while others may only have one heat cycle per year. The length of the cycle might also vary with some dogs experiencing cycles that last longer than 28 days. Every female German Shepherd will have her own cycle, and you will need to learn to anticipate it to help your dog through the process.

german shepherd
Image Credit: adamkontor, Pixabay

How to Care for a German Shepherd in Heat

When your female German Shepherd goes into heat, you will need to take special care to separate her from any male dogs for at least 21 days, unless you are planning on breeding her. She will also often lick at herself to clean her blood, or you can use a diaper to catch the blood and help ensure that a male will not be able to breed with her. She will also get more vocal as her heat cycle continues. Your female may also display signs of nervousness and anxiety during this time. Play with her, give her love and attention, and let her exercise to her preferred level, as she may have less energy than normal.

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Final Thoughts

German Shepherd females will experience a heat cycle that lasts approximately 21–28 days. During this time, she will go through the first two phases of heat, known as proestrus and estrus, during which she will bleed and be ready to breed. The third phase of the heat cycle, known as anestrus, will last 5 to 6 months, and she won’t be able to breed during this time.

It’s important to track all these phases of your pet’s heat cycle so both you and your dog will be prepared for each heat cycle to lessen the chance of your dog becoming pregnant.

Featured Image Credit: adamkontor, Pixabay

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