Bitch ‘Seasons’ and ‘Seasonal issues’

” This is one for the ladies…….. “


Many, understandably, who purchase a female puppy don’t know overly much about seasons, or, may have dim memories from childhood dogs, but its all got a little blurred.

I hope this helps.

Q: When should I expect my bitch to have her first season?

This varies enormously. Asking your breeder how old MUM was can give a rough guide as these things are often passed along (but not always). However sometime between 6 and 14 months of age would be the most common period (no pun intended). Rarely younger than this, but fairly often some bitches are very late and have their first as late as 18 months to 2 years. Very often a first season can be a little ‘lighter’ than subsequant ones, therefore sometimes bitches this *late* have HAD a first season without anyone noticing too much!

Q: What signs should I look for that my bitch may be coming into season?

Generally speaking for about a fortnight before she will increase in attractiveness other dogs, both male AND female, who recognise the fact that she is starting to smell ‘odd’. She will start to wee more frequently, marking, sometimes lifting one leg and she squats rather like a male. Her vulva will often swell a little, peaking at the height of her season bit starting a good few days before she comes ‘in’. Some bitches show ALL these signs plainly. Many show NONE of them just to make life difficult If you think your bitch *may* be approaching her season, throw a white sheet over her bed/the sofa/in her crate and you will not miss the browny then red blobs to show she has come ‘in’.

Q: How long does a season last?

This is the million dollar question that is VITALLY important. A season lasts approximately 28 days. Roughly 4 weeks. HOWEVER during that season your bitch would only be able to concieve for between two and five days, basically the days when eggs aare released – called ‘Ovulation’. The PROBLEM is that bitches vary HUGELY during a season in when they Ovulate. Some ovulate as early as day 7 – 8, some as late as days 20/21. The majority of bitches ovulate around days 12 – 16, but remember this is a process which lasts a good 3 – 5 days in a healthy bitch. Probably the most important thing to realise is that when a bitch is ovulating SHE WILL NOT BE BLEEDING OR DROPPING BLOOD. Therefore she will usually bleed for 8 – 12 days or so, then the blood will tail off and seemingly to the ‘naked eye’ she is ‘all clear’. But infact it couldn’t be further from the truth because infact when the blood ends she is on her red hot days when she not only COULD concieve but will be an absolute magnet for males! To make matters worse her hormones will actually have her WANT to be mated so therefore none of the usual defensive body language will occur when males approach. She will twirl for them like a poledancer Once ovulation has completed, some bitches never bleed again, but many then drop blood for around another 3 – 7 days until the season has run its full course.

Q: Can I walk her at all during her season?

A contentious issue. Every owner needs to make their own mind up but no is the simple answer. The more complex and realistic answer is yes, up to about day 6 or so, but then warning and accepting other dog owners that she may attract unwanted attention. You will need to be broad shouldered to take their reaction to that news sometimes Rightly so because natural desires and interests ensure that males will be interested from day one, but from the time she starts to ovulate will be FRANTIC beyond any behaviour you will have ever seen displayed. As a bitch owner you may be able to rugby tackle the boy off and bolt for home, but that MALE owner will have weeks and months of undesireable behaviour to try and sort out in what could have been a well behaved male to deal with.
So generally speaking, days 6 – 21/22 your bitch should be kept at home OR lead walked around pavements with you crossing the road at the approach of any dog, incase it is a male. Be aware even castrated males may wish to hassle or mount your in season bitch – they have some of the same desires just not the ability make her pregnant. be aware a castrated male can STILL mate AND tie with a bitch.
Should you have private land of course that is ideal.
Walking at night might be the best you can offer, but to be honest I believe that to be even more risky than during the day as you cannot see dogs approaching. Also an important point to remember is that often dogs with poor temperaments are walked at antisocial hours to avoid the bulk of the local dogs. If you run into THESE you are in very bad trouble.

So really staying home is the key. Its only a few days and can give you the time to work on training issues you have been building up on. That 30 minutes you would of been in the park can be put to good use in the garden!

Emergency advice: If you DO insist on walking your in season bitch and are approached by a male, kneel by her side and cup your hand over her vulva and hold it there till the males owner gets to you. Do NOT get her to sit as an ovulating bitch will sit then stand up again for the dog. Do not abuse the male, just put your hand there covering her bits and call or wait for help. His penis may bash against your hand but it cannot then penetrate your bitch.

Q: How often do bitches have seasons?

Averagely about every 6 – 8 months throughout their lives. Unlike women, bitches do NOT have a menopause and therefore cycle right up to death unles they are spayed. Many tales of 10 and 11 year old bitches concieving have been proved to be completely accurate.

Diana Stevens

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