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Thread: The Heat Cycle of a Female Dog

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    The Heat Cycle of a Female Dog

    There is always someone out there that is starting the breeding process and doesn't have all the answers. I've made up some of what I think are important items to know about before breeding. This is the 1st one...the heat cycle.

    Estrus Cycle is divided into 4 groups:
    • Anestrusis the rest time between heats.
    • Proestrus is the first days of heat, swelling of the vulva , start of blood, the follicles containing the eggs mature over a few to nine days. Fertilization cannot happen at this stage.
    • Esterus or standing heat is when the female will accept the male. Her blood will turn to a lighter shade of red or straw colored. She will exhibit behavior like lifting her tail rubbing her rear end against objects and moving her rear end sideways. This behavior is called flagging. To test if she is flagging, rub your palm down her back to the base of her tail. If she lifts her rear end up in the air she is flagging. Ovulation occurs during this flagging stage.
    • Metestrus is the stage that readies the uterus for pregnancy. If fertilization does occur the fertilized eggs take up to a week before they attach themselves to the uterine wall.
      If fertilization does not occurs this stage reverts back to anestrus.
    A female dog usually comes into "heat" or is "in season" every 6-9 months.
    The entire "Heat" period lasts an average of 21 days, but this may vary with some dogs. The actual "breeding time" is only a matter of 2 or 3 days in the 3 week period, but this time can be very difficult to determine.

    Grab hold of your nose...seriously. Your nose is like the shape of her vulva. Like a pyramid. Your nostrils are the base and the top of your nose is the peak. At the base of your nose feel the firmness. Kind a hard, firm right? Her vulva will have this firmness a few weeks before she is due to come into heat. Now hold on to your lips. ...feel the squishiness, they're soft and plump. Right before you see blood her vulva will feel just like your lips.
    Now check a few times a day for blood. Use a white tissue and insert it in her vulva.
    If you see pink colored blood, then you have found day one of her heat cycle.....

    The symptoms at the beginning of the heat cycle usually starts with her paying a great deal of attention to and licking at her vulva frequently, and there is some hard swelling around the vaginal area. She will begin dark red bleeding from the vagina. The flow may be fairly heavy the first few days and usually decreases in amount over the next week. The color also changes from dark red to salmon color as the heat progresses. The vulva, or area around the vagina, swells considerably and then begins to soften, as her progesterone level rises and her body prepares to release the eggs from the ovaries. She will curve her tail over to the left or right side as she becomes closer to the actual mating time and will urinate frequently to spread her scent for the males. As a long time breeder, it is my experience that the external, or visible symptoms do not necessarily reflect what is really happening inside her body.
    Some females are very determined to not be bred, and will attack the male viciously. Other females will breed with every dog in the neighborhood if they are given the opportunity to do so. For stubborn females, a muzzle is sometimes necessary. ALWAYS stay with the pair while they are breeding. Trouble can start on a moments notice and it's your responsibility to control it.

    The vagina opening is quite small, and enlarges with the onset of heat and never returns to "puppy size", but it does decrease in size after the heat is finished. The vagina inside the dog is NOT a straight tube. The first 1 - 2 inches of the vagina (depending on the size of the dog) is at a 45 degree upward angle and then it levels out and runs about another 3 - 4 inches ending at the 'cervix' - the bottom end of the uterus. Also, inside the vagina, partway up, is the opening to the bladder - the tiny urethral opening, which allows the urine to run out of the vagina. Inside the vagina, as well, is a very strong ring of muscles, placed at about where the angle of the vagina changes. These muscles have a purpose. Once the male has entered the vagina, the bitch tightens these muscles to hold the penis in place.
    This 'tightening action' creates what is commonly known as a 'tie'.
    Once the tie has occurred, you MUST WAIT until the female relaxes the muscle and breaks the tie to release the male. If you attempt to pull them apart, you will cause serious pain and damage to both the male and the female dog. Pulling them apart will not prevent a pregnancy.
    By the time the female has 'tied' the dog, he has already ejaculated and enough of the sperm are on their way to the fallopian tubes, (where her eggs wait to be impregnated) to make a pregnancy. The 'tie' only assures that the seminal fluid - the ejaculate - will not leak back out and the slower sperm have a chance to swim up to the fallopian tubes.

    The uterus in the female dog is not like a human uterus which is pear shaped.
    The dog uterus is Y shaped. The base of the Y is the cervix, which is usually tightly closed to prevent infection from getting into the uterus. It opens for the birthing of puppies. The two arms of the Y is where the whelps (puppies) develop, each in its own individual compartment. The 2 fallopian tubes sort of dangle over from the top of each arm of the Y and are each attached to the 2 ovaries where the eggs are made and then released to the fallopian tubes when the egg is mature. The eggs are not released all at once by the ovary to the fallopian tube. ******* are multiple ovulators, which means that they make several eggs, and release them over a period of several hours, or even a day or so.

    It is the bitch who determines the number of puppies to be born.
    The male - the dog - determines the sex of the puppy.
    The ovaries not only make the eggs, they also produce the estrogen and the progesterone hormones.

    Last edited by Country-Side Br; 07-09-2005 at 02:33 PM.
    Patty Lemke
    Breeder of German Shorthaired Pointers

    *Whoever said you can't buy happiness forgot about puppies.*

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