The heat cycle, or estrus, is that special time in your dog's life when she's ready to mate. She'll be letting off all kinds of scents to let intact male dogs know she is fertile. During these cycles -- which last for many days -- you'll need to keep her away from dogs of the opposite sex. Otherwise you could wind up with an unexpected litter of puppies.
Expect your fur pal to have periods one to three times a year -- typically about every six months is average. Each time she goes into heat, her cycles will last for roughly 14 to 21 days, according to VCA Animal Hospitals.
The exact age your canine pal will start her cycles depends on her breed. It can happen as early as 6 months of age, but she may not have her first heat until she is closer to 2 years old, the ASPCA states. Typically smaller breeds start sooner, while larger dogs don't start until a bit later. Your dog will continue to have heat cycles her entire life or until you get her spayed.
By Melodie Anne Coffman
About the Author
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.