When do dogs get their periods?

Our question this week was:

When do female dogs get their "periods"? My dog, Lady, is 4-years-old and hasn't gotten her period yet, is that normal?




Hi – thanks for your email. Female intact dogs also referred to as "bitches", reach sexual maturity (puberty) between 4 to 18 months of age, at which time they experience their first estrus.

There is a tremendous variability in the maturation age between breeds, and even within a breed of dog. Estrus is the period of breeding lasting approximately five to nine days; together with proestrus in known as the time of being "in heat". Some breeds will cycle once every 4 months (e.g. German shepherd) while others will cycle once every 12 months (e.g. basenji). In general, older bitches (female dogs) cycle less frequently than those younger.

Some dogs will not get their "periods" on a regular basis. This can be caused by medical problems such as ovarian cysts or hypothyroidism. If you are not planning to breed her, I'd recommend having her spayed.

An article that might be helpful to you is The Heat Cycle of Dogs.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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