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When Do Golden Retrievers Go Into Heat? Vet-Reviewed Cycles, Signs & FAQ

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

By Rachael Gerkensmeyer

golden retriever dog relax on the hay bale

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg

DVM (Veterinarian)

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

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Golden Retrievers were named the third most popular dog breed by the American Kennel Club, so it’s no surprise that these dogs can be found in many households throughout the United States, as well as the rest of the world. However, while the breed is popular, that doesn’t mean they should be allowed to freely breed, as this would likely result in serious issues like maltreatment, bad health, and an overabundance of unwanted dogs for communities to take care of.

Spaying and neutering is the best way to ensure that your Golden Retriever will not reproduce. However, sometimes owners of Goldens may not wish to or be able to have this done for their dogs. If this is the case, it’s important to understand when a Golden Retriever will first go into heat, how often they will do so, and the signs of the onset of heat so you can protect your pet from unwanted pregnancies. If you’re looking to breed your Golden Retriever, you should understand their heat cycle so you can properly and effectively plan for the reproduction process.

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When Do Golden Retrievers Go Into Heat for the First Time?

Golden Retrievers go into regular heat cycles just like all dog breeds do. They tend to begin their first heat cycle between the ages of 10 and 14 months. Some may begin their cycle a little earlier, while others a bit later. Therefore, it’s a good idea to start looking for signs of your dog’s first heat cycle by the time that she is about 9 months old. If your dog has not gone into her first heat by the age of 16 months, it’s a good idea to schedule a checkup with your veterinarian to ensure that everything is okay.

Golden retriever lying on light floor
Image Credit: Tatyana Vyc, Shutterstock

How Often Do Golden Retrievers Go Into Heat?

Once your Golden Retriever goes into heat for the first time, the heat cycle should last between 2 and 3 weeks, and this is the peak time for reproduction. After the heat cycle ends, you can expect another heat cycle to take place about 6 months later. This process will continue throughout the course of her entire life or until she is spayed. Technically, an un-spayed Golden Retriever can get pregnant twice a year.

Signs That a Golden Retriever Is Going Into Heat

Several signs typically display themselves when a Golden Retriever gets ready to and begins going into heat. Spotting these signs will give you a clear indication of when to breed your dog or to keep her from coming into contact with male dogs so she doesn’t become pregnant.

These signs include:
  • A Swollen Vulva — The vulva gets larger and softer 2 to 3 days before the heat cycle begins. Although it might look painful, your dog should not feel any pain during the process.
  • Excessive Licking — Dogs tend to lick their vaginal area more frequently when they are preparing to go into heat. They do this as a response to the extra blood flow in the region.
  • More Frequent Urination — Your dog might need to go outside for restroom breaks more often than usual when she is ready to begin her heat cycle. She might even wake you up at night in the need to relieve herself.
  • Abnormal Mounting — Some female Golden Retrievers may try to mount their human companions or objects in their homes when they go into heat, as a means of relieving their pent-up energy.
  • Vaginal Discharge — As your dog’s heat cycle begins, she will likely start to release vaginal discharge in the form of blood or milky substance. The discharge can last as long as the heat cycle does, which could be up to 3 weeks.
american golden retriever sittingh on patio
Image Credit: rustyc, Pixabay

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A Quick Recap

Golden Retrievers go into heat during their first year of life, and every 6 months afterward if they never get spayed. Understanding the heat cycle is important for breeding control, whether you are looking to make puppies or you want to avoid doing so. Hopefully, the information outlined here has helped make the heat cycle process clear and given you a better understanding of what to expect from your un-spayed dog.

Featured Image Credit: SasaStock, Shutterstock

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