Rearing a female dog is not easy because one day you will know that it can become receptive to breeding. Canine lifespan is about 12 years but they could reach as old as 20 years or even more than that depending on the breed, size and care provided to them.
Female dogs enter into reproductive age as early as 6 months and as late as 24 months. Female dogs do not need a monthly menstruation cycle for them to get pregnant; what seems to be like a menstruation is actually vets call as the oestrous cycle which occurs every four to six months.
Stages of dog’s fertility cycle
The fertility cycle of female dogs are broken into four stages: Proestrus, oestrous, diestrus and anestrus.
The proestrus stage
this is the very first stage of the estrus cycle in which early signs of a female dog in heat can be observed because of the vaginal discharge that seem to be similar with menstruation in humans. Your female dog will be discharging blood from its vagina at this stage but it is not yet ready for mating until the next stage which is the estrus.
The estrus stage
Nine days after the proestrus stage or after the first day you notice a menstrual-like discharge from your female dog’s vagina, this stage is actually where ovulation or pregnancy occurs and is accompanied by a swollen vulva and receptiveness of your female dog to mating. Ovulation may last up to 5 to 13 days in this stage but it is at its peak during the 9th to 13th day counting from the proestrus stage or from the first day of your dog’s season.
Diestrus or Matestrus stage
This stage is comes after your dog’s season and will last about 60 to 90 days. If your dog is mated during its estrus stage, it should whelp between 58 to 65 days from the first day of first mating. However, even female dogs that are not mated may show signs of pregnancy or whelping during this period and it is what they call as phantom or false pregnancy.
The final stage before a female dog will get in heat again. This is a 2 to 3-month period of hormonal and sexual inactivity in dogs. By the time their previous litter reach the age of four month, female dogs may begin to show signs of proestrus again.
Your female dog can be in heat twice every year so if you are not planning on breeding it better ask professional veterinarian to perform spaying on it or neutering to its male partner. Irresponsible breeding sometimes causes nuisance such as stray dogs and rabies outbreak so if you are a responsible dog owner, you have to carefully plan your breeding and do it only if you are sure that you can responsibly take care of large number of dogs in your backyard. Puppy milling is another problem of over breeding and it is illegal in the US as specified in their animal welfare laws.