At what age do puppies go into heat?

April 13, 2012

Puppies are irresistible! To bring one home is a good idea. A puppy would certainly make a wonderful addition to the family. A puppy is adorable but coupled with the decision to get one is the responsibility to ensure the well being of the pet. While some breeds will grow rapidly, others will grow at such a slow rate so that even after a year, the pet will still be viewed as a puppy. This is especially true with breeds that retain their puppy-like playfulness through adulthood. It must be realized that the puppy will mature and be an adult capable of producing a litter of cuddly fur balls. Surely, a dog owner would not want to be surprised. Some owners will welcome the new arrivals, others will not. So when will you start to make sure that the pet would not have illicit dates with the dog next door? And when would you start to count the days until you can hold a living replica of the beloved pooch in your hands? A dog owner should have an idea when the pet will go into heat. The reproductive cycle varies from breed to breed. Generally puberty will occur as early as 6 to 12 months in small breeds and as late as 2 years in large breeds. Some dogs would come into heat earlier than six months and can get pregnant in the first heat although it is advisable to breed the dog when it is about 2 years old or after the dog has gone into the 2nd or 3rd heat.

Small breeds mature faster than large breeds. This means that a Great Dane female can come to its first heat from one to two years of age while an Affenpinscher or a Shih Tzu would go into heat for the first time from 6 to 12 months of age. Breeding the pet to produce a litter of healthy and adorable puppies will be very rewarding. Some dog owners would breed for profit and others would do so to be able to share the valued breed with friends. However, not all dog owners would want to breed the pet. The cost of stud service as well as vet fees for checkups and help for the whelping can be a financial burden especially on a tight budget. The potential health risk to the pet would discourage any doting dog owner.

Understanding the reproductive cycle of the dog is therefore very necessary. Sexual adolescence in males starts at about six months of age. From the start of sexual adolescence, male dogs will always be fertile. Dogs would always be willing to mate with a receptive female. This is different with a female dog. The heat period of a female dog would range between 8 to 30 days but this does not mean that the bitch will accept a male during the whole period. The “flagging” behavior that signals the willingness of the bitch to be mated is commonly manifested on the 10th to 16th day after the cycle has started. If the there is no intention to breed the dog, you have to make sure that it is confined for about 3 weeks. Dogs will remain fertile well into advance age. Small breeds sexually mature earlier as compared to larger breeds. Breeding though is not recommended before the 2nd or 3rd heat cycle regardless of the age when the dogs first come into heat. Bitches bred after the age of five commonly have difficulty in conceiving and in carrying a litter. Bitches bred at an advanced age are noted to have smaller litter size. The dog may also have whelping difficulties.

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