How Long Will, Your Female Great Dane, Be in Season?
Part of having an intact, or unspayed female Great Dane, is dealing with a heat cycle about twice a year. Knowing how to tell when your female is in heat and how long it will last is something that you need to know about.
How long do Great Danes stay in heat?
In most cases, the cycle will last two to four weeks. Veterinarians and breeders estimate the length of the heat cycle based on when the dog’s hormones change, rather than the length of visible discharge.
What is the Heat Cycle, and How Does It Begin?
A dog’s heat cycle refers to her reproductive cycle. In short, this is the time when your Great Dane is capable of pregnancy. If you’re not breeding her, caution is necessary.
Females have heat cycles one to four times a year. However, dogs as big as Danes are most likely to have their cycles every 12 to 18 months. Usually, females have their first heat cycles when they are around a year old because of their bigger size.
Although often compared to a woman’s menstrual cycle, dogs have one significant difference.
Unlike humans, who go through menopause and are no longer fertile, dogs remain capable of pregnancy for the rest of their lives.
Do Great Danes’ Heat Cycles Have Phases?
Great Danes will go through four phases during their heat cycles. These phases, with symptoms, are:
- Proestrus – Swollen vulval area and bloody discharge, licking of the vulva, clingy behavior toward the owner, tail-tucking, and hostility toward males
- Estrus – Urine-marking to demonstrate mating willingness, seeking out male dogs, carrying the tail off to the side, other-female aggression
- Diestrus – Fertility ends until the next cycle, discharge stops, and genitals return to standard size.
- Anestrus – Period in between the heat cycles
How Do You Know If Your Great Dane is in Heat?
When your Great Dane is in the fertile part of her cycle or close to it, there are clear signs that are hard to miss. If breeding, you’ll need to watch closely for the estrus phase.
The proestrus signs include a swollen genital area, discharge, clingy behavior, and non-receptiveness to males. At this stage, males might be interested but will not be receptive. However, she is close to being fertile.
Once your female enters the estrus stage, she will be more receptive to males. The female will approach males willingly, putting her tail to the side to invite mating. An otherwise-loving female may be aggressive to other females at this time.
You’ll notice your female urinating more, and there is a practical reason for this. This increased urination is a type of scent-marking designed to let males know she is ready to breed. Male dogs from pretty long distances away may show up.
The time when your dog is at her most fertile is when you’re more likely to encounter disruptive behavior. A female may bark, whine or cry a lot if intact males are not nearby. Your Great Dane may try to get out of the yard in search of a mate.
If you notice neighborhood dogs hanging out near your home, this may be another sign your female is in heat or nearly in heat, even if her estrus signs are not apparent to you.
What Stands Out About the First Heat Cycle?
Some owners of big dogs like Great Danes may wonder if a heat cycle that seems delayed is normal. In most cases, there are no worries.
Although these dogs can come into heat around a year old, don’t be surprised if the time of your Dane’s first heat is closer to two years old. A dog, the size of a Dane, takes longer to reach sexual maturity than many smaller breeds.
Other than the timing of the cycle occurring later than in smaller breeds, there is nothing exceptional about the first heat cycle. Owners will need to be prepared to deal with managing a cycle in a dog that is bigger and may require some cleaning.
How Long Will, Your Great Dane, Be in Heat?
Although a Great Dane’s heat cycle lasts two to four weeks, she is only capable of breeding for part of that cycle. This part of the heat cycle, estrus, is what most people think of when they consider a female dog in heat.
The time when your dog is most receptive to breeding and likely to get pregnant is when she has a straw-like, rather than bloody, discharge. If she’s acting friendlier than usual towards males and snappish towards females, she is in her estrus stage.
What is the Best Way to Care for a Great Dane in Heat?
Whether you’re letting your Great Dane breed during her cycle or trying to prevent pregnancy, there are some essential steps to consider taking for her comfort. These steps are beneficial for everyone else in your home, too.
The most important thing to remember is that your female will be determined to breed, no matter what.
Your dog or suiters may try to get over or through your fence or dig under it. Although rare, there have been known cases of dogs successfully mating through fencing. One thing to remember is that a dog’s urge to mate is powerful.
Limiting the time your dog is outside when in estrus is a great idea to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Someone should remain outside with the dog to ensure she has no uninvited visitors.
Contrary to one popular belief, dogs lack the aversion to sexual activity with close relatives that humans possess. Close male relatives must be treated the same as other male dogs and kept away from your female while in estrus.
You’ll also need to exercise caution while walking your Dane during her estrus phase. Leashed females won’t have a problem trying to mate with males encountered on walks. Your dog may even try to get loose if she knows a male is around.
If your Dane should mate accidentally and you prefer she doesn’t have the litter, you should check with your vet for guidance. A vet can terminate a pregnancy without hindering your dog’s ability to have a future litter.
Should You Spay Your Great Dane?
Although some owners intend to breed their Great Danes, others do not. Spaying is the best way to prevent unwanted litter and future health problems. However, your female must be an appropriate age for the surgery.
In recent years, there has been a trend to spay or neuter very young puppies to reduce the number of homeless dogs. However, delaying spaying is often a better option for dogs as big as Great Danes.
Because these dogs are so large, spaying or neutering at too early an age can interfere with healthy bone growth. Disruption to bone development often leads to health issues later in life, including cancer.
Waiting until your dog has finished or nearly finished growing to spay her is healthier all-around. Although you may have to deal with a heat cycle before the spay, this will be a minor inconvenience compared to the consequences of spaying too early.
Great Dane heat cycles are relatively sporadic but can cause some disruption. Knowing how often your dog will be in heat, how long it lasts, and what to expect will make this process easier on your dog.